Before reading the rest of this post, take a minute to reflect on the impression this video leaves you with:
Two eight-year-old boys are detained. A soldier approaches and offers his hand to one, before crouching down to the boys’ eye level.
Soldier: “Why do you throw stones at us?”
Boy: “We went to get cigarettes.”
Soldier, taking off his helmet: “But I saw you were about to throw stones. That’s not nice. You know that it’s not allowed, that it hurts people?”
Boy shakes his head.
Soldier: “You don’t know? It seems they don’t explain this to you enough at home, you know? That’s the problem.”
Boys’ guardian: “He doesn’t know Hebrew.”
Soldier: “He understands me.” To the boys, “Right?” No response. “Right?” A pause, “Isn’t the photographer ugly? She is, isn’t she?” No response. “Great. Okay.” He stands. “Cutie pies. Have a magical day.”
What do you make of this exchange? Was the soldier justified in detaining the boys? Was he justified in speaking to them as he did? Or were his words and actions objectionable, possibly even reprehensible?
To help you decide, consider which of the following circumstances would be most likely to involve a similar exchange:
- Syrian soldiers catch a rebel child as he prepares to hurl stones at them
- Nazis catch a Jewish child as he prepares to hurl stones at them
- Hamas soldiers catch the child of a Fatah member as the child prepares to hurl stones at them
- Fatah soldiers catch the child of a Hamas member as the child prepares to hurl stones at them
- A random stranger catches a child as the child prepares to hurl stones at him
The first four children would, of course, be lucky to survive with life and limb intact.
The last child, if he is among the luckiest children in the world, might be lucky enough to get the same compassionate but stern talking-to that the kids in the above video received. Few people get down on their knees to be face to face with a child. Few people give children the chance to explain themselves. Few people criticize in a calm voice. And even fewer people end scoldings with, “Cutie pies. Have a magical day.”
Sure, the comment about the photographer was an immature dig, but it could hardly be called an exceptionally vile comment – it certainly doesn’t match the vitriol of some of the comments posted on Youtube and Facebook by the video’s viewers, among them:
- “Hope those Jewish swine get decapitated. Outlaw Israel internationally.”
- “Would like to see those ZioJew soldiers shot in the face with a shotgun”
- “Await Holocaust 2 and I will be a supporter”
- “Bastard Israeli soldiers. They will rot in hell those racist scum”
- “Allah will finish them”
And these people think they’re the best judges of morality.
These comments, both inherently anti-Semitic and out of all proportion to the events of the video, once again reveal the strong ties between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism. It’s this anti-Semitism that explains how other viewers could conclude that the video reveals “civilian oppression” and “apartheid and fascism,” as though oppression, apartheid, and fascism involve nothing more than soldiers lecturing wayward children.
The fact is, there are millions of children around the world who could only dream of being treated as well by their loved ones (let alone by soldiers of any kind) as the kids in this video were treated. This includes, by the way, Palestinian children, over half of whom must deal with domestic violence. That this video is being circulated as showing the “cruelty” of “the occupation” tells you something about the circulators and it tells you something about “the occupation.”
Something to keep in mind the next time someone slanders the IDF.
Note: This video was taken by an Arab “field researcher” on behalf of B’tselem, a self-described Israeli human rights organization, which, according to its site, “endeavors to document and educate the Israeli public and policymakers about human rights violations in the Occupied Territories.” B’tselem has often made false accusations against Israel and the IDF – for example, here.