By Emily Gian
Not long ago, a group of 49 State and Federal Australian MPs signed a petition critical of the alleged “cruel” mistreatment by Israel of Palestinian minors in detention in the West Bank (actually the number is 48 because at least one alleged signatory denies having signed it).
The petition has also spurred a number of articles written for online publications that follow the narrative that whatever Israel does is evil, and that the Palestinians can do no wrong. These articles usually display no balance and have little or no connection with fact or context which makes them misleading and often woefully deceptive.One such article appeared on the political website New Matilda by Kristen Zornada entitled “We can’t ignore the cruel treatment of Palestinian children in Israeli detention because it’s politically convenient”. She states that “more than 400 children are being held in military jails for crimes as minor as throwing rocks”, and that Australians should speak out.
In her article, the author asks why Palestinians are tried in military courts, but the mere question proves that she is simply too lazy to do the basic fact checking. Israeli citizens (both Jewish and Arab) are subject to the laws of the State, while non-citizens are not. Israel has not formally annexed the West Bank and Israeli law does not therefore apply. As Honest Reporting points out, “it is clear that she has been cherry picking which parts of so-called international law she wants to use to make her case. Wouldn’t she protest if all Palestinians were prosecuted under Israeli law were it to be administered throughout the disputed territories, which she would consider to be illegal?”
The politicians and journalists who seem eager to protect children’s rights are only too willing to overlook the seriousness of the offenses, or at least downplay them completely. In the New Matilda article, the writer raised rock throwing as if to suggest an image of tiny children tossing even tinier pebbles. In doing so, it ignores the fact that rocks can and have killed and caused serious injury in the past.
Take the case of two-year-old Adele Biton, who was travelling in a car hit by a truck that swerved to avoid a barrage of rocks. She was critically injured and suffered for two whole years before sadly passing away. Five Palestinian teenagers were arrested for throwing the rocks that caused the crash and in 2015 they were sentenced to 15 years in prison.
In January this year, a 16-year-old Palestinian youth (Morad Bader Abdullah Adais) murdered Israeli mother Dafna Meir in front of some of her children with a butcher knife in her home. He said, “I stabbed her until I could no longer pull the knife out of her body.” sne wonders whether the politicians who put their names to the petition were aware that this monster is one of the minors they claim to be protecting and whether they believe their victims might also need some protection.
As MK Anat Berko said, “a society is allowed to protect itself. To those who are murdered with a knife in the heart it does not matter if the child is 12 or 15. We’ve witnessed numerous cases where 11-year-old children were suicide bombers. Perhaps this law will also do something to protect these children from being used to slaughter people”.
Berko is right to suggest that people should be more concerned as to why Palestinian youths are carrying out these attacks.
The answer must be more than simply “the occupation” which is the fall-back explanation for those who are not cognisant of (or simply wish to ignore) the complexities of the current peace process which was designed to put an end to the decades long conflict between Israel and her Arab neighbours and would therefore by definition end the occupation. Suffice to say, the peace process has broken down, mainly as a result of the well-documented lack of preparedness by the Palestinian leadership to continue dialogue necessary to achieve a diplomatic resolution.
This has gone hand in hand with a policy of incitement by the Palestinian Authority (and the thugs who rule Gaza) which has resulted in its own children taking part in violent acts against their Israeli neighbours.
If the Australian politicians were truly concerned with the problem of Palestinian children in Israeli detention, it is suggested that they need to get to the root cause instead of going after the legal system that deals with them after the commit crimes.
If this is genuinely about justice for Palestinian children, the first thing needed is to advocate for an end to indoctrination and for a better education system – or at a base level – one that does not teach children to hate.
One of the basic tenets of a peace process is to encourage an end to enmity between peoples. By ignoring what Palestinian leaders both in the political and religious spheres are doing to their children by their indoctrination and incitement to violence they are in fact helping dampen the prospects of peace and assisting in further damaging the children they claim to be seeking to protect.
Just last week photographs emerged showing young Palestinian children role-playing with guns and knives along with video footage from earlier in the year. Is it any wonder that these same children grow up and go on to commit terrible acts of violence against Israelis?
Politicians and journalists in the outside world must stop making excuses for this real abuse of Palestinian children by their leaders, by putting their names to the petition, the 48 State and Federal MPs are aiding and abetting the real cruelty being committed upon Palestinians and Israelis alike.
At a time when millions including children are suffering right across the border in Syria t is sad that these politicians are concerned with the Palestinian minors who have committed crimes and in attacking the legal system that deals with them while the world has been yawning for 5½ years doing precious little to protect endangered children in places like Aleppo (and including Palestinian children in refugee camps outside Damascus) until very recently when it was all too late.
One should not neglect cruelty to children in any form and that includes real cruelty to Palestinian children, but the 48 politicians have acted too hastily in supporting this ill-informed petition which reflects a preoccupation some people have towards damning Israel rather than any care for the children or for that matter, for the cause of human rights.
This is no better demonstrated by the comments this week of Ban Ki Moon as he prepares to finish his ten years as Secretary-General at the UN – and by his own admission that the bias against Israel is unhelpful to the Palestinian cause. The disproportionality of the bias is clear when you try to balance the hundreds of resolutions of the UN (many of them based on false or irrational claims) in recent years against the Jewish nation with a handful against rogue states like Syria.
The mindset of Ban Ki Moon described is precisely what is wrong with the petition and why it adds to the suffering of all children in this troubled region.