Sunday, July 14, 2013

Please Pray for the Children!

I get a lot of my news from the Internet these days.  First of all, our “local” daily newspaper, The Oregonian, is a thin shadow of its former self.  Not only do its sketchy local reports make TV news look “in-depth,” its international news consists of one page (including advertisements!) with one-paragraph stories that range from Russia to Syria to Ireland.

No, if I want to know what is going on in the world – and specifically in Palestine/Israel - the Internet is not only my best option – it’s the only option!  (With apologies to Washington Reports, whose in-depth coverage of the Middle East is awesome, but as a less-than-monthly magazine, by necessity its reports are often dated.) 
Five-year-old and his father (blindfolded) detained by Israeli soldiers
So, although my “fat” Sunday Oregonian had no coverage of the story of a five year old Palestinian boy being arrested/detained (sources vary) in Hebron, last night and this morning I read three different versions of this story on line.

One story said that the boy was five years and nine months old – the exact age of my next-to-youngest granddaughter, Cora.  I wondered if they, perhaps, shared a birthday.  Does he, like Cora, likes to have “chapter books” read to him (she’s into “Boxcar Children” and the “Little House” books)?  Will he start school this year too?  I’m sure, were they to meet, they would simply see each other as potential playmates; children of that age don’t see differences as we adults do.

Cora can enjoy just being a kid!
But mostly I thought of the trauma he must have suffered at the hands of the Israeli soldiers.  The photos accompanying this piece are second-hand, lifted from images that accompanied on-line stories.  I share them here with the hope that those who read this will be as outraged as I am – and will share this story with those whose eyes are still closed about the apartheid regime in Israel, and the United States’ blind support of this sort of terrorist activity.

The “story” seems to be that this little boy may (or may not) have been throwing stones at Israeli vehicles, and the soldiers decided to make an example of him.  As anyone who has spent any time around them know, children have been throwing stones since time immemorial!  Yes, there probably is more of it in Palestine and Israel – they’re readily available there, and children have fewer options for “constructive” play, such as my granddaughter and others like her can enjoy here.

But Palestinian children are not the only stone-throwers in that part of the world.  Israeli children, particularly settler children, throw stones at the Palestinian farmers whose land the settlers are “occupying.”  They throw them at Palestinian cars, and at Palestinian homes.  Are they arrested or detained?  Of course not!  The worst thing that can happen to them is that they are told to go home.

Five-year-old being detained by Israeli soldiers
Israeli law provides that Israeli children under  18 receive special treatment if they do happen to be detained by authorities. The same law provides that Palestinian children 16 or older are treated as adults. And even this law is not followed, as can be seen by the detention of this five-year-old! Sadly, stories about Palestinian children being arrested and/or detained are not uncommon in the news sources I follow, although, until this report, the youngest child “detainee” I ever read about was 7!

I could go on about the sadness and the unfairness of this “situation,” which apparently has been continually deteriorating even in the short time since I left in late April.  I could use that popular expression, “What were they thinking?” with reference to the actions of the soldiers. I could also tell you what I would have done to those soldiers if Cora had been the detainee in that story (or maybe I couldn’t because I’d already be incommunicado behind bars!). 

But… The sermon that I heard this morning in church talked about “compassion fatigue” – about turning your cares over to God and not worrying about all the things you cannot change.  So, I’m just going to ask everyone reading this story to give the children in your lives an extra hug today.  Tell them how much you love them.  And pray these atrocities will end!

To read more about this incident:

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