The following was written by Ghassan Andoni, the executive director
Centre for Rapproachment between Peoples in Beit Sahour. It addresses one
of the questions which
has been repeated asked of us here - do Palestinians send their kids to be
I hope you find it a valuable resource for education.
Rev. Sandra Olewine
United Methodist Liaison - Jerusalem
In a BBC documentary film covering the recent crisis in Palestine, the
issue of Palestinian kids participation in the Intifada activities was
raised again. In an interview with Yom Tov Samia, the Israeli Army
commander of Gaza strip he was asked if he thinks that Palestinian parents
from other parents including Israeli ones. And if he truly think that
parents are pushing their kids to the front lines to be killed in order to
embarrass Israel. His answer was " unfortunately yes they are different"
The name of this commander if translated to English is " good day".
the one who decides on the adequate Israeli military actions and reactions
in the whole Gaza strip. He is the one who gives the orders for when and
how to use the military arsenal that the Israeli army has. If Mr. good day
thinks of Palestinians as a different kind of creatures, no wonder that
dozens of them where killed and thousands injured through direct orders
submitted to his soldiers.
Dehumanizing the enemy is a well-known strategy in the history of local
national conflicts. The enemy should be presented as powerful, aggressive,
inhuman, and dreadful. A major problem is encountered when the enemy
consists of masses of civilians demanding an end to a long-standing inhuman
occupation. The level of dehumanization have to be raised dramatically to
provide a moral justification for brutality used against them and a
reasonable excuse to continue employing lethal methods against their
When brutality and oppression reaches a level at which all the age groups
of the oppressed society including kids, women, and elderly participate in
the protests, the need for dehumanizing the whole society, raising doubts
about its internal human relations such as parenthood, family caring, and
human sensibility towards human loses is even greater.
I wonder what was the dehumanizing process that the Nazis employed against
their poor victims including the Jews. How did they manage to establish the
internal moral basis to convince Germans to massively get involved in the
dreadful holocaust? Out of this dehumanizing process I doubt that any of
the Germans involved thought about Jews as being similar to others
including Germans all thought they were different.
Nazis were as powerful as Israel is now and Jews were as poor and helpless
as Palestinians are now. I guess even in some places Jews tried to resist
and in other places some resorted to arms to protect their lives and
revenge against the enemy. And I am sure that part of this legitimate
resistance was employed to dehumanize more the victims.
I am aware of the difference in scale and the different historical context
but the techniques of dehumanizing the enemy are the same. Such employment
of dehumanization techniques against Jews was not only a way to incite
Germans to be involved in the atrocities against Jews but as well to
provide the basis for other nations to be able to live with and turn a
blind eye towards the holocaust.
Providing a false image of equality in power and wrong doings is one
effective way of neutralizing others. The image of both are equally bad is
one way to de-legitimize the right of people to fight against foreign
occupations. This right that is guaranteed in all the documents issued by
the United Nations and practiced almost by all the world nations at
different historical stages.
Yes it is important that Palestinians will choose the most effective
most peaceful means in their legitimate struggle for freedom and
independence. But there should be no ambiguity about their right to use all
methods including their right to defend their selves against occupation and
aggression. I join my voice to anyone who demand from Palestinians to
choose peaceful means in their struggle but I will stand against anyone who
allows himself to de-legitimize and dehumanize Palestinians because they do