State-sponsored child abuse
The use of children in Palestinian Authority propaganda is at the very least, concerning - at worst - it is Western-sponsored child abuse
In 2004, the Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers (CSUCS) released a "global report" on the use of children in militaries around the world. Some of the findings, as you can imagine, were devastating - not least in the Palestinian territories.
There were, at the very least, nine documented suicide attacks involving Palestinian minors between October 2000 and March 2004. The report stated that while, "there was no evidence of systematic recruitment of children by Palestinian armed groups... children are used as messengers and couriers, and in some cases as fighters and suicide bombers in attacks on Israeli soldiers and civilians."
CSUCS of course, is an organisation founded by groups that are hardly Zionist in their outlook, so the condemnation of such abuse of children would no doubt have been a blow to the Palestinians. The effect of the report was perhaps felt by the groups involved, which included the 'partner for peace' Fatah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
By the 2008 update, the CSUCS was able to report that, "No under-18s were known to have participated in suicide bombings from late 2004 to November 2007," though this was more likely precipitated by the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza in 2005.
But while the use of children on the front line has rescinded in recent years, young people, very young people in the Palestinian territories are still being used in the propaganda war against Israel - a fight that is being subsidised by the Western taxpayer.
Today, it was shown how a young girl, probably no more than 10 years old, was forced to recite a hateful and heartbreaking poem on Palestinian Authority television. The TV station of course, is funded by the general budget of the Palestinian Authority which benefits from a pool of money into which mainly Western governments pledged over $7.7bn towards in 2007. This also included funds for Gaza. Recently, the European Union also announced that it would released hundreds of millions more in euros to the PA.
The girl in the video, seen here, going by the name of "Hadeel" has evidently been made to memorise, or is reading from an autocue, with hateful and demonising rhetoric at the core of her message. The television programme known as "The Best Home" is a children's television show broadcast into the homes of all Palestinians in the West Bank, delivered at the optimum time for child viewing.
She says, with encouraged gusto:
[...] from between the whistles of the bullets I sing:
'Long live the nation of Fatah and Yasser Arafat'
[...] Allah's enemies, the sons of pigs (i.e., Jews, in Islamic tradition)
[...] They raped the women in the city squares
[...] Where is the nation of Islam?
Where are the nation of Islam and the Jihad fighters?
Where is the fear of Allah in Jerusalem, which has been defiled by the Zionists?"
Watching the video is truly a heartbreaking experience. Here is a girl who likely grew up watching programmes just like "The Best Home", and "learning" about the "Jews" and the conflict through hate-filled propaganda. Now she is of age, she herself has been drafted in as a recruiting sergeant.
And that's precisely what these children are. They are recruiters for a next generation of jihadists. She says so herself. "Where are they?" she asks. With the implied hope of hearing back, "We are here," from her audience.
Critics may call for the juxtaposition between this kind of indoctrination and the conscription in the Israeli army. While we're no fans of required military service, in a country as small and embattled as the State of Israel - it only makes sense to have a serious army reserve, the likes of which you can call up when rockets start landing in Sderot or Ashkelon.
But the real differences between the two procedures are that the IDF, for all its faults, trains and fosters young adults, helps them learn skills and sends them off into the world having had a regimented and patriotic upbringing. The former, Palestinian indoctrination, serves only to foster hatred from a young age, not a constructive experience but rather, a solely destructive endeavour.
Incidents such as the one Hadeel has taken part in, as common as they now are, are a persistent reminder that the peace process is effectively nullified by Palestinian rejectionism.
The conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians is of course, as many are aware, as much about propaganda and messaging as it is about territory, troops and terrorism. That is easily observed from the recent war between Hamas and Israel, where both sides ploughed nearly as much in terms of resources into their media operations as they did their respective air and ground wars.
But setting up children so young to make impassioned calls to terror-based warfare is not a public relations exercise for the Palestinian Authority, rather it is one of the last attempts left, after persistent failures from the international community to condemn such things, for the Palestinians to cling onto and pass on their true objective: the complete and irrevocable destruction of the State of Israel.
It can't be long before the international community wakes up to this reality, at least we hope not. Not just for the sake of peace in the region, not just for the sake of the continued existence of the only truly functioning and free democracy in the region, but really, for the sake of children like Hadeel. These children, make no mistake of it, are victims of state-sponsored child abuse. And we're paying for it.
We are wholly dependent on the kindness of our readers for our continued work. We thank you in advance for any support you can offer.