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National Prayer Network


By Rev. Ted Pike
22 Feb 11

There is no more admired image in Judaism than young David felling Goliath with a stone. Yet in today’s Israel there is no tolerance for Palestinian children who throw stones against Jewish settlers who are stealing their homes and land. Last fall Knesset member Michael ben Ari suggested a government policy of shooting to kill Arab children whose stone throwing might be perceived as endangering settlers' lives. In the YouTube news video reporting his words, you can also see footage of a settler leader ramming his car against two stone-throwing youths. One is catapulted high into the air and lands head-down on the cement while the leader drives away. In two incidents in late January, near Nablus and Hebron, two Palestinian youths were shot to death by settlers following rock-throwing incidents. (See, haaretz.com Palestinian killed after settlers open fire in West Bank village and Palestinians: Rock-throwing teen shot dead by West Bank settlers)

BBC reports that 26 Palestinian children were shot by Israel in 2010. UNICEF found that 11 Palestinian children were killed and 360 injured in Gaza and the West Bank in the same year. (By contrast, no Israeli children died and only two were injured.) Fifty-eight of the injured kids are under age twelve. In the past 10 years, more than 250 Palestinian kids have been killed specifically by an Israeli bullet to the head. The Palestinian Ministry of Information reports that there are approximately 320 children in Israeli prisons today, enduring interrogations that include torture. UNICEF agrees, “Palestinian children continue to be detained and subjected to ill treatment, and in some cases torture, during arrest and interrogations by Israeli security forces.” Children as young as seven are arrested!

Why do Arab children still throw stones, knowing they might be beaten all over their bodies or shot in the head? They know like David that their modern Goliath is intent on devouring their lands and homes. They have watched “Goliath” bulldozers (that’s what Caterpillar calls them!) flatten all that their parents possess, displacing them for hundreds of illegal Jewish settlements. Jonathan Cook, writing from Israel in Counterpunch, describes the crushing power of this modern day Goliath, especially against Palestinian children who defy it.

Israeli police have been criticized over their treatment of hundreds of Palestinian children, some as young as seven, arrested and interrogated on suspicion of stone throwing in East Jerusalem.

In the past year, criminal investigations have been opened against more than 1,200 Palestinian minors in Jerusalem on stone-throwing charges, according to police statistics gathered by the Association of Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI).

Tensions between residents and settlers have been rising steadily since the Jerusalem municipality unveiled a plan in February to demolish dozens of Palestinian homes in the Bustan neighborhood to expand a Biblically themed archeological park run by Elad, a settler organization.

In a recent report entitled "Unsafe Space," ACRI concluded that, in the purge on stone throwing, the police were riding roughshod over children's legal rights and leaving many minors with profound emotional traumas.

Testimonies collected by the rights groups reveal a pattern of children being arrested in late night raids, handcuffed and interrogated for hours without either a parent or lawyer present. In many cases, the children have reported physical violence or threats.

Last month 60 Israeli childcare and legal experts, including Yehudit Karp, a former deputy attorney general, wrote to Mr Netanyahu condemning police behaviour. "Particularly troubling," they wrote, "are testimonies of children under the age of 12, the minimal age set by the law for criminal liability, who were taken in for questioning, and who were not spared rough and abusive interrogation."

Ronit Sela, a spokeswoman for the Association of Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), said . . . "We have heard many testimonies from children who describe terrifying experiences of violence during both their arrest and their later interrogation."

The 60 experts who wrote to Mr Netanyahu warned that the children's abuse led to "post-traumatic stress disorders, such as nightmares, insomnia, bed-wetting, and constant fear of policemen and soldiers".

Last year the United Nations Committee Against Torture expressed "deep concern" at Israel's treatment of Palestinian minors, saying Israel was breaking the UN Convention on the Rights of Children, which it has signed.

Goliath’s Spear Bearer: “Israel First” Evangelicals

Israel is not the only monster in the scarred minds of these children. Beside him stands Goliath’s assistant: “Christian” America. Arab children know American Christians consider them inferior to “God’s chosen people.” They know evangelicals will block any move to lighten Israel's military oppression. Israeli hardware includes the huge impervious tanks supplied by America, a primary target of rock-throwing Arab children as they rumble through their towns.

During Ariel Sharon’s 2002 invasion of the West Bank, video shows such a tank on the street of a West Bank town. Its IDF occupants flattened Palestinian cars for fun, each car representing livelihood to a Palestinian family. American evangelicals are more loyal to this modern Goliath than to God’s love and compassion for suffering Palestinians and their children.

Goliath’s spear, Scripture says, was large as a “weaver’s beam.” It was as formidable to ancient Israelites as Israel's arsenal to Palestinians today. Leaders of the religious right like Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee insist that Israel can use such power against Arabs and occupy the land of Israel as defined by Old Testament boundaries. They insist Israel's horrific weapons (including laser-guided missiles, cluster bombs, and flesh-eating white phosphorous bombs) continue to be subsidized by at least $3 billion annually. They back Israel’s intention to utterly crush Palestinian hopes and eventually expel them entirely.

Hagee: Hitting Back Against Rand Paul

Last month we saw the speed of Pastor John Hagee’s legion to support Israel's military power.

I had encouraged calls to Senator Rand Paul’s office to support his public opposition to borrowing Chinese money to fund Israel's arsenal. Paul’s office told me they were deluged for several days by hundreds of calls of support. Yet by midweek, calls from Hagee's supporters and the Jewish community equaled ours. Christians United for Israel amassed 20,000 evangelical signatures to an online petition demanding that Paul abandon his supremely reasonable position.

This week BBC TV showed a segment organized by Save the Children, in which children’s author Michael Morpurgo visited Gaza. He described widespread malnutrition and threat by epidemics. Poverty is so rampant that children in donkey carts flirt with death near forbidden areas, trying to salvage rubble for building material, a commodity Israel has banned. During filming, a cartload of screaming children arrived, bearing a child shot by automated Israeli machine-gun fire. The child had transgressed an Israeli boundary.

In a follow-up discussion between the moderator, Morpurgo and a British representative of Israel, the moderator pointed out that the command to kill the child came from an Israeli observer. The Jewish representative maintained that such incidents are unfortunate but Israel has no choice but to shoot such children! Hamas, she said, uses them as human shields, strapping explosives on them and sending them to be blown up in Israeli towns. Morpurgo said he never encountered evidence of such abuse by Hamas. (Watch the video here.)

Ending Free Speech for Israeli Human Rights Groups

Israel certainly includes moral objectors. Courageous human rights groups—such as B’Tselem, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, the Israeli Committee against House Demolitions and others—express moral outrage at human rights violations including torture and traumatizing of Arab children. (See, Torture in Israeli Prisons) Yet increasingly, under leaders like foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman, these voices of dissent are portrayed as seditious, the “enemy within.” A new bill, promoted by Prime Minister Netanyahu, is moving rapidly through Knesset to bring human rights groups under special suspicion.

Clearly, Israel is moving away from even the pretense of democracy. It moves toward racism, xenophobia, violation of international law and even more extensive human rights abuses. The next stage is outright fascism.

Yet Israel remains confident of evangelical support for any injustice against Palestinians. Israel and deluded Christians are joined like Siamese twins in a moral free fall.


Rev. Ted Pike is director of the National Prayer Network, a Christian/conservative watchdog organization. 

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