Monday, January 12

The Children of Gaza

As I talk or watch the news with neighbors and friends in Palestine, the subject of children and how they have been killed, injured or are frightened is the topic that we talk about most. I am not yet a parent so it’s hard for me to imagine exactly what my feelings would be, but I can easily picture our neighborhood kids, my Monday afternoon girls craft club, our friends’ children and young relatives. As I sat with a woman originally from Gaza who now lives in the West Bank, we talked about her family still living in Gaza. Tears ran down her eyes as we talked about the children suffering from this terrible event. We talked about both the children in Gaza and children living in surrounding Israeli towns. “They are children. They need food, milk and their parents,” she said. “I saw one little girl on the television who was in the hospital and now has suffered injury to her legs, saying ‘mama, mama’. I wanted to go get her, adopt her and give her clothing. What should we do? They are just children.”

Soccer practice, ballet, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, swimming, riding bicycles and playing outdoors. These are all things that remind me of my childhood. In my mind, the children of Gaza and the surrounding Israeli cities are being robbed of their childhood. Each day, they live in fear that a rocket or bomb will hit them.

So often you hear quotes like, “Today’s Children, Tomorrow’s Future”. What kind of future is being created in Israel and Palestine by using violence as a way to solve conflicts? This area already has a population of adults who have suffered terrible trauma during their childhood from the Holocaust and the war in 1948, referred to by Israel as ‘Independence Day’ and by Palestinians as ‘the Nakba’ or ‘the Catastrophe’. Gaza is creating the same situation.

I found an interesting article that was written by a woman named Avigail Abarbanel. Although it was written back in 2003, I believe that it still applies:

“Although the traumatized individual might think that they have succeeded in moving on, in reality their whole existence is shaped and dominated by their trauma. There is a real risk that they will then transmit the trauma to the next generation without being aware of it. I believe that it is this dynamic that lies behind the brutal treatment of the Palestinian people in Israel. The story of Israel and the Palestinian people is the story of trauma being transmitted from one generation to the next. Trauma sufferers believe that the way they see the world is accurate but what they see is often interpreted through the eyes of their trauma.” To read the full article, click here.

This situation is creating another generation of Palestinian and Israeli children that will be traumatized by their memories of this horrible situation. Attached are some articles about the children of Palestine and Israel that are suffering trauma due to these horrific events.

Article 1:

Article 2:

Article 3:

In the spring, we had an MCC learning tour here. We took the group to a controversial area in the West Bank where Israeli settlers live near a Palestinian village. The children from this village need to be accompanied to school by internationals because adult settlers throw stones at them periodically. One evening, in a debriefing session, one member of our learning tour asked the group a question, not expecting an answer in return. "How can a grown adult throw stones at any child, no matter what the situation might be?"

Perhaps only by not thinking of the actual people that we inflict pain on as “people” but as our enemies. If we would think of these children as our own, or our neighbors, or our family, we might not be so quick to perform such troubling actions. We need to start thinking about the population living here as humans and treat them as so.

I pray that the people dropping bombs from aircraft into Gaza or shooting rockets into Israel would think about the long term ramifications of these events and the trauma they are creating on the children of Israel and Palestine.

Jessica Hulsey is a Peace Development Worker for MCC in Palestine. She has been married to her husband Trey for over 4 years and are in the middle of a 3-year MCC term. She is originally from the Philadelphia area. She graduated from Gordon College in Massachusetts. Before moving to Palestine, she worked as an event/conference planner.

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