Child Sacrifice, Palestinian Style

by | Nov 13, 2002

Israel is criticized for alleged insensitivity to the risks of casualties among civilians, especially children, during counter-terrorist missions. But the tragedy of unintended casualties from justified military actions cannot be compared to a society’s deliberate abuse of its children as explosive devices. Even in the first Intifada, the media glorified “children of the stones” as […]

Israel is criticized for alleged insensitivity to the risks of casualties among civilians, especially children, during counter-terrorist missions. But the tragedy of unintended casualties from justified military actions cannot be compared to a society’s deliberate abuse of its children as explosive devices.

Even in the first Intifada, the media glorified “children of the stones” as latter-day “Davids” struggling against the Israeli “Goliath.” Young Palestinians, armed with slings and stones, were on the front lines of the struggle against “occupation.” Behind them, often, stood Palestinian gunmen, sniping at Israeli troops from behind these human shields. The photographers focused, not surprisingly, on the children.

But what are we to make of the phenomenon of child martyrdom that has swept Palestinian society and become an essential core value of all social strata? In schools, on television, and in family homes, an entire society glorifies the martyr, celebrating those who die to kill Israelis and secure a place in a Paradise filled with waiting virgins.

Mothers appear with their sons in videos recorded before they go on suicide missions, praising their child’s dedication to die in Allah’s name. After the missions, the mothers ululate in pride for their dead Jew-killing children, saying that they brought children into the world for just this purpose. Fathers proudly claim having trained their sons for such missions, and pledge to send their remaining children to become martyrs, too.

Of course, one cannot dismiss the economic motivation for their celebration. The Palestinian Authority, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Iran are among the nations paying huge sums, by local standard, for each death and injury incurred in the Palestinian struggle. Encouraging one’s child to become a martyr, and collecting the subsequent compensation, is apparently an irresistible economic option for some struggling families.

But the economic incentive is subservient to the ideological and religious passion to kill the Israeli infidels, who Islamic preachers and spokesmen routinely dehumanize as “pigs” and “monkeys.” The world was shocked at the photograph of a small Palestinian tot dressed up by his parents in the costume of a suicide bomber, complete with an explosive belt.

While Palestinian spokespeople subsequently dismissed the photo of this “baby boomer” as a joke, one cannot dismiss the thousands of posters of young martyrs plastered all over the Palestinian territories. Palestinian polls reveal that overwhelming majorities in Gaza and the West Bank support suicide bombing. Arab leaders see “martyrdom operations” as the super weapon that can bring Israel down.

Child sacrifice has a long history in this region. Local tribes practiced this, perhaps the most characteristic expression of primitive idolatry. Against such abominations emerged a central monotheistic theme, represented in the Bible as Abraham not slaying Isaac and in the Koran as Ibrahim not slaying Ishmael. God commanded the Israelites to drive out and destroy the Molochites for their practice of infanticide. The Ishmaelites have now brought it back, reintroducing it to the region like a plague long thought eradicated.

Queen Silvia of Sweden, speaking in a meeting of the World Childhood Foundation at the United Nations, strongly criticized Palestinian parents for abusing their children in this way. “As a mother I’m very worried about this. I’d like to tell them to quit. This is very dangerous. The children should not take part.” She was unequivocal in her assignment of blame for this phenomenon. “The Palestinian leaders are exploiting them and risking their lives in a political fight.”

The Palestinian response to all this, of course, is to blame it all on “the occupation.” Eliminate the occupation, they say, and this phenomenon, along with all other bad things, will go away. The trouble is that the “occupation” in Palestinian education is defined as the existence of a Jewish country anywhere between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. The perverted education of these children creates a future force resistant to any compromise. Whatever the current or future Palestinian leadership decides, these children will have been brainwashed to celebrate murderous martyrdom.

A society that glories in sacrificing its own children is one that undermines utterly its own right to exist. Any short-term value Palestinians derive from blowing up its own kids to kill Israelis will reap the whirlwind of a justified Israeli reaction to this child-sacrifice. When Palestinians began sending boy and girl bombers into our cities, they planted the justification for Israel to consider any Palestinian civilian, however innocent, as a potential murderer, fit to kill in self-defense or to expel preemptively as a future threat, a ticking bomb. If Palestinians encourage their children to be ticking bombs, they can’t complain when we treat them accordingly.

Yesterday, a seventeen year old Palestinian boy from Beit Jalla, dropped off by his adult handler in central Jerusalem, became disoriented, walked in the wrong direction, and blew himself up in a virtually empty falafel stand. Today a bomber opted not to kill himself but contented himself with killing or maiming Israeli and foreign students on a campus dedicated to peaceful coexistence.

One wonders what in the world we can do to change this horrific phenomenon? All of this was triggered after the Palestinians took control of the local media and revamped the local school curricula to make martyrdom the highest value.

And what now: Shall we turn off their TVs? Replace their books? Jail their parents as child abusers? Rescue the kids so they can be deprogrammed from their murderous and suicidal brainwashing? Adopt them and invite foster families to raise them in Canada or Sweden? Something tells me the Canadians and Swedes would be less than enthusiastic about the idea.

In the Bible, God called on the ancient Israelites to drive the practitioners of child-sacrifice utterly from the land. Today we Israelis are being pushed, against our will and against our humanitarian instincts, to take extreme steps to try and protect our own children.

Golda Meir, a former Prime Minister of Israel, once said: “We will have peace with the Arabs when they love their children more than they hate us.” Tragically, that day seems far, far off.

When the Palestinians started sacrificing their own sons and daughters as a matter of policy, as a sacred ritual, they sacrificed their own future as a people and immolated their basic human rights.

Israelis yearned for a world where Palestinian kids are raised to live and learn to coexist with us. We were prepared to make painful sacrifices for such coexistence. But now, we are afraid, too many Palestinian parents are raising their babies to be boomers. This erases all hope and ends all chances of peace.

Regardless of their political sympathies, the people of the whole world must understand this one thing, and say it, loudly and clearly, to Palestinian society: “You are practicing child sacrifice. You are violating the basic human rights of innocent youth. You are abusing your kids. You are destroying their future. Until you stop, we won’t support you. We shun you.”

As long as Palestinian parents and teachers and leaders indoctrinate their kids to kill themselves to kill Israelis, they should expect no help from even the most merciful and open-minded and humane among us. We’ll be too busy protecting our own.

Reuven Koret is publisher of Israel Insider and CEO of Koret Communications.

The views expressed above represent those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the editors and publishers of Capitalism Magazine. Capitalism Magazine sometimes publishes articles we disagree with because we think the article provides information, or a contrasting point of view, that may be of value to our readers.

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