Protecting the Children


When I was in Israel, I saw a few things that made me laugh. One of those things was the way many Israeli Jews take helicopter parenting to new levels – I call them bubble wrap parents. I find it humorous and at the same time kind of sad because I know the overprotectiveness comes from a place of profound fear of loss. If one believes in genetic memory as me and my people do, you realize that it’s an echo of pogroms and the Holocaust that would drive this fear of losing loved ones.

Anyway back to the amusing part. The most common thing I heard being yelled at Israeli parks and playgrounds were “teezahehr” and “die”  I was told that one means BE CAREFUL and the other means something different from what it means in English. Israeli kids remind me of Rez kids – wild, busy and always looking for trouble. My buddy’s littlest guy Ari was always trying to get me to climb on things and jump in puddles with him. I am far too dignified for that sort of behavior so I only jumped in a few puddles. I was lucky enough to visit Tel Afeq with him and his dad and brother. We hiked up a “secret way” that was off the path, and Ari proceeded to find the only mud puddle ( I did not jump in that one).

This brings me to something that struck me. In Israel, there are many beautiful parks and playgrounds, inside the Green Line and outside. In the “safer” places, I saw tons of kids but even then they were supervised either by older siblings or parents. In Hevron I saw playgrounds in Tel Rumeida but they had large fences and barriers. I found out they were there because a toddler was shot and killed by a sniper. Imagine the hate you would have to have to in order to use a rifle to murder a toddler. They say using sniper rifles is the most personal method of killing using a firearm, because you actually see your target clearly. Think about that. But my main point is that even in communities that are struggling or living in actual danger, there are children’s parks and in those parks there are children playing, albeit usually supervised and sometimes inside walls.

I also visited the Arab-controlled areas, including some places where the homes were palatial and included massive outdoor pools, but in those communities with their multi million shekel homes, the yards were ill-kept, no grass, and kind of shitty places to play if you are a kid. It goes without saying that in the slums they like to call refugee camps (which are actually just slums run by Arab slum lords). There are no playgrounds that I saw, kids play in dirt fields or just run around unsupervised.

Here’s the thing: people who are living in “open air prisons” or “under occupation and oppression” always do similar things, if they live under actual occupation and oppression that is. If you genuinely fear a military power you avoid pissing them off, you hide your most valuable things (children) and protect them. You keep them in your sight whenever the oppressor is near because of your fear that they may be harmed by the oppressive forces. You teach them to keep their heads down and avoid making the occupier angry.  You teach them to be respectful even if resentful because you understand that talking back or standing out will get you killed in a real occupation and you want your kids to survive no matter what, because alive is always better than dead. You know how I know this? Because Indians on reserves manifest these behaviors very strongly even in today’s world. Guess who else does? It rhymes with Pews.

Now the Arabs would have us believe that in the PA-areas, they are oppressed and occupied, that they are living in fear but “bravely resist” yet when you travel in the PA, what do you see in most villages and towns and even the city? Large groups of young children roaming around unsupervised. They will come up to you if you are an obvious north American or European and scream “Shekalim” as though you are required to give them money. They don’t seem very fearful. The parents often use the kids as props – who could forget this video?

Now there are really only 2 things to take away from that: either the guy knows that the Israelis never purposefully harm children and avoid it at all costs – in which case he is a scumbag who is using his kid to get cheap political points in a misleading video – or he  genuinely believes the Jews will murder his son in which case exhorting his son to throw stones at people who will kill him would suggests he doesn’t really care about his son.  So which is it?

I often say this is really war between good and evil, and I believe this is yet another way to see it. You have Jews who genuinely fear losing their children and you have Arabs who say they love their children but don’t act like it. You have Arabs who target children and you have Jews who do everything in their power to avoid harming children.

You don’t have to be a genius or a moral paragon to see who we should be supporting here.

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A member of the indigenous Metis people, Ryan grew up in the far north of Alberta, Canada with no power nor running water. Ryan was unsure if his real name was "Go get water!" or "Go get wood!" In his free time, Ryan plays Canadian Rules Football , reads books, does advocacy work for indigenous people and does not live in an Igloo.