A photograph from a Palestinian demonstration

A while back I saw a post featuring a photograph of a big, fully armed IDF soldier with his boot on the back of a very small Palestinian child. It was a picture worth a thousand words. I was embarrassed by it even though I’m not Israeli. By the way, in spite of what I’m about to write, I still am. 

When I saw such posts I tended to keep my mouth shut unless I was sure I agreed with the point of the post, like the recent shooting of a sixteen year old demonstrator in Gaza by the IDF. 

But then a question occurred to me:

How did the child get there?

I’m not saying that a child who looks about five years old in the photo is at fault for finding himself in that position. A child of about five isn’t at fault for much. But how did he get there?

We can be reasonably sure that the soldier didn’t wade into a crowd of Palestinians, pick up a little child at random, and pose for an awful picture that certainly doesn’t do his country any good. The way a child ends up in that position is by throwing rocks. 

I can tell you a few things about rocks. I was once struck by a hard object, in this case a piece of coral, in the head that was thrown accidentally in my direction by a nine year old girl. My scalp bled rather profusely. 

I’ve also, oddly enough, had the experience of being threatened by a group of very young (pre-teen) Palestinian boys brandishing rocks in a field adjacent to Jerusalem in 1980. I was with my younger sister, and the purpose of brandishing the rocks was to extort money out of us. The effort was successful as every other choice was a great deal more dangerous. 

But back to the child in the photo. Most of the people on this site are parents. Can you imagine bringing a five year old child to a demonstration that has a high probability of getting violent? Worse, can you imagine encouraging your child - or permitting your child to be encouraged by authorities - to do something at that demonstration that is likely to put the child in harm’s way?

Do you think it’s ever appropriate to use a child that young as a soldier? 

The probability of harm’s way is actually backward here. The point of the child’s participation was to get in harms way in that specific fashion, because the most valuable outcome for the Palestinian government (either the PA or Hamas but especially Hamas) is the Money Shot, the picture worth a thousand words that goes around the world and shows very graphically how oppressive the Israelis are. 

The problem is that getting it involved exploiting a small child. 

And, as with any photograph exploiting a small child, publicizing that photo is part of the exploitation process because it encourages putting more little children in harm’s way. 

This conflict is not simple. There are no clean hands here. 

Views: 163

Comment by Maui Surfer on April 30, 2018 at 9:27pm

No, not a clean hand here. Some very good people on both sides, all drowned out by either a holier than thou settler with automatic weapons, or, someone so deranged they would subject a child, of any age, to such a hostile environment intentionally, and with intent.

Children are not incapable of being dangerous. I don't feel good looking back, but, on more than one occasion as an adolescent my friends and I rushed adults, held them down, and took their wallets, watches, anything of worth. And this was simply out of pure resentment, who the hell did they think they were coming to our Island and "acting" like they were better than those of us already living there. But, we made those decisions on our own, and eventually had to have a reckoning. Our lives were not in danger, our houses would not be blown to bits. In fact, the juvenile judge, to be perfectly honest, had a racist bent and gave us leniency as he too resented the outsiders and their attitudes. This was similar to what you and your sister experienced.

Separately, to "use" a child as a living prop, to endanger their lives while scaring them permanently ... this puts you in the same camp as Boko Haram or any other extremely primitive and otherwise lawless and amoral group. And, we've seen this in the Levant, way more than once, and for a long time now.

Comment by Ron Powell on May 1, 2018 at 5:13am

The child's hands are clean, even if he did throw rocks, he had no idea of what he was doing or why he was doing it.

However,  his memory and conscience will forever be sullied and stained by that experience....

Comment by Ron Powell on May 1, 2018 at 5:23am

Kosh, I'm not sure whether or not this is the photo you are referring to, but it’s been described as a "fake" photo of a little Arab girl being mistreated and abused by an Israeli soldier...It went viral....

Comment by koshersalaami on May 1, 2018 at 5:38am

I don’t remember the photo in detail, so I don’t remember if this is the photo or not. If it’s fake, the perpetrators are guilty of something different. It wouldn’t be the first time. Thanks. 

I made a point of saying in the post that the child wasn’t responsible. 

Comment by koshersalaami on May 1, 2018 at 5:39am

If the photo you just showed was posted here, was there ever a retraction? That’s not easy to look up because that blog is Private. 

Comment by Ron Powell on May 1, 2018 at 6:10am

The photo is not part of a post... I have no idea re a retraction....

Comment by koshersalaami on May 1, 2018 at 6:13am

OK. I’ve seen a photo like that posted here but I don’t remember if it’s that one in particular. 

Comment by alsoknownas on May 1, 2018 at 7:04am

You're hoping for a consistent and moral code of conduct that doesn't libel, create fictionalized accounts of suffering and endeavors through the use of propaganda sources to sway opinion, when factual information could accomplish the same.

I wouldn't advise looking for it in the same place where you have been disappointed in the past. Nothing will change.

Comment by koshersalaami on May 1, 2018 at 7:27am

I assure you that I am not hoping for it. At this point I assume I’ll never see it. The Al Aqsa thing really drove that home, as did the comparison of ADL to Hamas. I used to view this argument as emotional and “passionate,” but at this point I’ve come to view it as coldly tactical. Once I do, too much makes sense. Maui assumes a lot of this is pathology. At this point, I think a lot of it is actually strategy. Before I reached that conclusion, I wouldn’t have written this post. 

Comment by Maui Surfer on May 1, 2018 at 8:56am

One might call it a pathological strategy; those are hardly unheard of.

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