Israel’s missing teens – hypocrisy or empathy?

June 21, 2014 10:15 am

Image 1On Thursday the 12th of June, three Israeli teenagers went missing outside an illegal settlement in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Since then, the Israeli and US government have suspected and blamed the Palestinian Islamist party, Hamas, of the incident and it is now widely believed that they have been kidnapped. It was then that the IDF (Israeli Army), which has a strong presence on twitter, decided to launch a social media campaign; Titled #bringbackourboys:  It is at this time that individual Israelis and those people who see themselves as lovers of Israel, should be very careful in how they react to the situation. My personal belief is that armed struggle against military targets, and military only, is acceptable for the Palestinians and so the kidnappings are an unfortunate incident. Image 3But for Israelis, it is an opportunity for disaster or redemption – for moral collapse or achieving a moral high ground. As pointed out by pro-Palestinian activists, the IDF’s online campaign for the kidnapped Israeli teenagers is hypocritical. For the IDF itself, a strong part of Israel and Israeli society, has been arresting Palestinian children for years. And not only that, but interrogating them, forcing them to sign confessional papers they do not understand, imprisoning them and not letting the parents know where they have been taken or when they will return:

Israeli soldiers stand guard over Palestinian children arrested in the West Bank city of Hebron.

Israeli soldiers stand guard over Palestinian children arrested in the West Bank city of Hebron.

I know how Israel justifies this. They say that these Palestinian children threw stones at soldiers, and stones are deadly. They say that it is for the security interests of Israel. But just because it is law does not make it morally right – oppressors always write oppression into law, and it takes an external moral compass to overcome this injustice. If Israelis really want to live with a clear conscience, they cannot ignore the occupation, its laws and what it does to Palestinians. The kidnapping of these Israeli teens is, put in a vulgar way, a taste of their own medicine and a warning sign. I was fortunate enough to attend a talk given by one Palestinian who was a child prisoner, and who shared his experience with us, and I have written about it here, the following is an extract:

sraeli soldiers arresting a Palestinian boy for allegedly throwing stones at an Israeli police station.

Israeli soldiers arresting a Palestinian boy for allegedly throwing stones at an Israeli police station.

He was transferred to the interrogation centre at the illegal settlement of Maale Adumim. He was still blindfolded as the interrogation happened. There were two people, one playing good cop and one playing bad cop in an effort to get him to confess whatever crime he was arrested for. He was not informed of his right to silence. However, when he did refuse to answer a question he was beaten while blindfolded; usually it was direct hit/slap on both ears at the same time to cause loss of balance and disorientation. They also threatened to physically and sexually abuse him.”  Israel can go two ways regarding this incident – hypocrisy or empathy. But given the opportunity to slam Palestinians as backwards and not interested in peace, I am going to guess they will go by the route of hypocrisy. Not because Israel is evil, but because that is politics. prisoners

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