The bodies of three Israeli teenagers were discovered Monday. My heart weeps for them.
Talking about Palestine and current events in the Middle East with a friend recently, she asked me “how do you keep your spirits up and your attitude positive when there’s so much depressing news over there?”
We had just been reciting a litany of human rights abuses, settlement expansions in the West Bank, home demolitions in East Jerusalem, Netanyahu’s intransigence and much more.
Without skipping a heartbeat, I told her it was the children I met in Gaza who give me hope. I can see them —- all of them —- in my mind’s eye every time I write or talk about Gaza, and my spirits are lifted.
Truth be told, I lay awake some nights worried about these children.
They’re very vulnerable, living under occupation, in a war zone, pawns in a geopolitical battle not of their own making! And the numbers don’t lie, they prove that too many Palestinian children are paying the ultimate price. (Child fatalities by month recorded here.)
Now we’ve learned that three Israeli teenagers paid the ultimate price too. Their bodies were found in the West Bank under a pile of rocks about 15 miles from where they disappeared 18 days ago. (New York Times piece.) Despite Netanyahu’s assertion that Hamas is responsible for their abduction and killing, no evidence has been shared linking Hamas or anyone else to this horrific crime, and Hamas has denied responsibility.
“The story of the disappearance and killing of the three settlers is based on the Israeli narrative only,” Sami Abu Zuhri told AFP. “The Israeli occupation is trying to refer to this narrative in order to justify its wide-scale war against our people, against the resistance and against Hamas.”
We don’t know the perpetrators but we do know the names of the three teenagers, where they were studying, that one teenager had ordered a new pair of glasses shortly before his disappearance and, sadly, what his mother was wearing when she was informed of his death. (See details here.)
Many in the West have been following the daily news reports of the disappearance of these teenagers, the IDF’s Operation Brother’s Keeper to search for them, and their tragic fate.
Do we know the names of the Palestinian children killed? The circumstances of their deaths? What their mothers and fathers were doing when they learned the news?
By one account as many as one Palestinian child has been killed every 3 days for the past 13 years! But the Western media and Western politicians fail to acknowledge this tragedy! Do we have a blind spot, or worse, a double standard when Palestinian children are killed at the hands of the Israeli military? Do we sanitize their deaths by labeling them collateral damage?
Rarely do we know how the parents in Gaza feel when their children are murdered but in January 2009, Israeli citizens heard the anguished cries of a Palestinian doctor live on TV as he shared the traumatic killing of his young daughters and their cousin moments after Israel shelled his house in Gaza.
Journalist Harry Fear reminded anyone who would watch and listen of the names of all of the victims of Operation Pillar of Death in Gaza in November 2012.
These children (Palestinian and Israeli) should not be pawns on our chessboard in the Middle East but, sadly, that’s what it feels like. And it feels like we’ve chosen sides, thinking some pieces are more valuable than others. “As a father”, President Obama mourns the death of the 3 Israeli teenagers, but I’ve never heard him express any concern (much less sorrow) for the deaths of Palestinian children. Why? Can’t his paternal feelings identify with the Palestinian parents in Gaza?
There’s something very wrong with how we compartmentalized our grief and sympathy. The human spirit needs to evolve. That would be the best way to honor those 3 Israeli teenagers and all children around the world murdered so callously on our chessboard.
P.S. My daughter made this cake chessboard. 🙂