Remember These Israeli and Palestinian Children

Published: Mon 15 Nov 2004 01:21 PM
Remember These Israeli and Palestinian Children
By Sonia Nettnin
A joint project of the American Educational Trust, Americans for Middle East Understanding, Black Voices for Peace, and Jews for Peace in Palestine and Israel published remembrance pages for Israeli and Palestinian children killed as a result of the conflict at
Since September 28, 2000 when the second Intifada began, hundreds of youth died from the gunfire of Israeli forces and Palestinian suicide bombers. The web site documents their deaths chronologically.
In a letter to President George W. Bush, March 5, 2002, Palestinian children wrote: “Like all children in the world, we just want to live a normal and peaceful childhood, to be able to reach school safely and to be able to sleep at night…the images of funerals, humiliating checkpoints, and injured friends, and the fear of the sounds of shelling and gun ships. Are we asking too much?”
Excerpts and quotes from children, parents who lost children, leaders of UN and NGO organizations, activists, and Israeli objectors/Refuseniks line the pages. Images of children on their way to school show Israeli tanks in the background. Children walk over the debris of home demolitions and through destroyed graveyards. They run from gunfire and they wave peace signs in the air.
One picture shows three, Palestinian boys at the funeral of their friend, Ali. They live in Rafah, where Israeli shooting killed the seven-year-old boy. A red carnation rests near Ali’s face. Men pray in the background.
Below the picture is a quote from another Palestinian mother who lost her son.
“All we have are our children. Our children are our land and our lives, and we’d do anything to protect them…Our people have struggled and we are tired. We just want to live and we want our children to live. But our children keep dying.”
The sentiments of mothers on both sides of the conflict share the same tragedies.
“For me, to end the war means to understand that all bloods are equal and that killing in a guerilla fighting is not more cruel than killing by tanks and airplane,” an Israeli mother said. “It takes so little to kill a child and so much to keep her alive.” She lost her child to a suicide bombing in Jerusalem.
The joint project received their information from “…human rights organizations and official sources, including B’Tselem, the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, and LAW, the Palestinian Society for the Protection of Human Rights and the Environment.” They gathered the information so that the international community will not forget about these children.
Pictures of the children show that their lives were not just names, ages and causes of death -- they were human beings who had families and friends. If they did not grow up in this conflict, they would be immersed in childhood activities like playing with their friends.
A quote from Israeli poet and professor of Hebrew literature, Dan Almagor summarizes the conflict in these lines from one of his poems: “They are as human as we are, as we are. At least, as we used to be only forty one years ago. No less diligent, no less smart as sensitive, as full of hope. They lost their wives and children as we do, no less. And our children now shoot theirs with lead, plastic bullets, and gas.”
The compilation in memoriam encourages people to write their government representatives about stopping the violence. At the very least, it communicates to their families and friends that the international community did not forget their children.
Sonia Nettnin is a freelance writer. Her articles and reviews demonstrate civic journalism, with a focus on international social, economic, humanitarian, gender, and political issues. Media coverage of conflicts from these perspectives develops awareness in public opinion.
Nettnin received her bachelor's degree in English literature and writing. She did master's work in journalism. Moreover, Nettnin approaches her writing from a working woman's perspective, since working began for her at an early age.
She is a poet, a violinist and she studied professional dance. As a writer, the arts are an integral part of her sensibility. Her work has been published in the Palestine Chronicle, Scoop Media and the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. She lives in Chicago.

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