This little Palestinian boy in full military regalia is going to the graduation ceremony of 17,000 youth trained at the Vanguards of Liberation military camp in Gaza run by the Al-Qassam Brigade. At the week-long camp, young people aged 15 to 21 are trained in the use of weapons, martial arts, & self-defense.
Media has shown several photos of small children attired like this, likely with the intention to portray Palestinians as warlike & belligerent. To do that they have to tap into massive cognitive dissonance because the sale of war toys & video games based on exterminating the enemy is a multi-billion dollar industry in the US alone. Since the US has troops stationed in several countries, it’s imperative to inculcate children with the spirit of aggression & war. That’s not what’s happening in Gaza where the entire population is fighting for their lives against Israeli ethnic cleansing.
Moralists & pacifists can tsk-tsk this till the cows come home but children were directly targeted by Israeli bombers & Palestinians have a right–for heaven’s sake, they have a duty–to teach their children to defend themselves.
No child should ever be raised with the specter of carpet bombing for purposes of ethnic cleansing. According to many reports, most children in Gaza suffer extreme psychological distress from the bombing which lasted over 50 days (& which still continues in sporadic drone sorties over Gaza). Part of the healing involves giving children a sense of empowerment through self-defense. Certainly in part, that’s a false sense against Israeli bombing. But what is essential is teaching children the spirit of Intifada, to rise again against colonialism, apartheid, & ethnic cleansing.
The greatest defense the children have is the international solidarity movement. This is a time to build that movement through teach-ins, forums, other educational events, & rallies which explain the justice of the Palestinian cause & evangelize for the economic & cultural boycott (BDS) of Israel.
Long live Palestinian Intifada! Take it international.
(Photo by Suhaib Salem/Reuters)