Palestinian Journalists, Intellectuals Condemn Promotion of Child Martyrs and Terrorists

Palestinian child suicide bomber (Israel Defense Forces / Flickr / CC / Cropped)
Israel Defense Forces / Flickr / CC / Cropped

TEL AVIV – More and more Palestinian intellectuals, including noted journalists, are speaking out against the participation of children in terror attacks against civilians. 

The Palestinian leadership has not condemned any of the stabbing or shooting attacks in the latest wave of violence, and has often glorified them. However, despite the ongoing incitement against Israel by the PA, several Palestinian intellectuals and prominent journalists have expressed anger at the participation of teenagers in stabbing attacks against Israelis.

Their claims, gathered in a report by MEMRI , are that childhood must be protected and that the values of life, study, and work should be greater than the values of death. They further accuse the Palestinian leadership of “trading in the blood of children” by sending kids to their deaths in terrorist attacks.

Journalist Mahmoud Fanoun condemned the pervasive culture of pointless death. “You hear children younger than 10 wishing to die a martyr’s death. … When a youth dies wielding a knife – what is the wisdom of this?”

 Fanoun also says the belief that martyrs die and go to Paradise to be received by virgins is not enough to justify cutting a  life short at a young age. Fanoun also asks why children are educated to die instead of being educated to “struggle, plan, and train for combat.”

Hafez Al-Barghouti, the former editor of the PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida and a Fatah Revolutionary Council member, writes, “Better for the enemy to kill us than for us to encourage our children to march towards this end in vain. … Death is not a goal in itself, so do not praise it, so that we do not die in vain. It is our duty to educate the younger generation and instill in it the love of life, study, and diligence.”

In another article, Barghouti asks Palestinian leaders: “Those who scream and roar, congratulating a child for pulling out a knife or a schoolgirl for taking up a pair of scissors … would they agree to throw their son into this furnace? … They only trade in the blood of others and place themselves as the patrons of our blood, while never spilling a single drop of their own. … Children are not robots that you activate by the push of a button and can shut off as you wish. The blood of these children is on your conscience.”

Journalist Mohammed Daraghmeh claims that non-violent resistance must be the way forward in order to protect children. “You can block roads, shout, and make your voices heard to the deaf world. If it does not hear you today, it will hear you tomorrow. But do not die. The homeland needs you alive.”

Daraghmeh claims that today, young Palestinians have been swept up in a “madness of destructive revenge.” Daraghmeh notes that during the second Intifada, which triggered dozens of suicide bombs between the years 2000 and 2005, mistakes were made and Palestinians were in danger of losing their humanity. He writes that only at the end of the Intifada did people have the courage to question whether it was all worth it. Daraghmeh claims that today, the lesson of the second Intifada should be heeded, and Palestinians must take a stand against glorifying death.

“Indeed, anyone who takes up a knife and attacks a soldier is committing suicide, because the well-trained and armed soldiers will kill him. Every day several Palestinian youths are killed, yet we remain silent or even praise their deaths. We should stand as one and say ‘enough.’ ”

According to some of the writers, abstaining from attacks on Israeli civilians will also prevent comparisons to global terrorism – such as that committed by ISIS – which undoubtedly harm the Palestinian cause.

Barghouti states, “Today, after the Paris attacks, we must keep a low profile so as to avoid being associated with the crimes of ISIS and its ilk.”

Meanwhile, Daraghmeh claims that the world will ignore the Palestinian cause as long as they engage in terror. “The world will resolve the Palestinian problem only if we maintain the humane character of our national struggle. The world will not accept stabbing and vehicular attacks against civilians, just as it opposed suicide attacks.

“Palestine is an international problem that will be not solved in a round of knife or suicide attacks, or protests and rallies, but only when the world understands that it must intervene and draw borders as it did in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, and North and South Korea.”

In a rare article that called for preventing harm to civilians, columnist Hamada Fara’na expressed hope that Palestinian intellectuals would display the same courage in opposing terrorism as Israelis did when they condemned Jewish terror against Palestinians.

“The Palestinian struggle against Israel’s Jewish-Zionist imperialist enterprise is legitimate, just, and even necessary in order to ensure that Israel pays a steep price for its occupation,” writes Fara’na, “However, the Palestinian struggle must be clean of any suspicion of terrorism and must not target Israel’s Jewish civilians. It must be a humane and just struggle against the imperialist enterprise that is occupying Palestinian land, and [it must be] the complete opposite of the Islamic terrorism of Al-Qaeda and ISIS.”

Fara’na concludes, “We must be brave and condemn every act of terrorism, whether it is perpetrated by Palestinians or Arabs, by Muslims or Christians.”


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