spending time with our 2-year old daughter Rosie this morning, I turned
on my computer and learned that scores of children in Gaza had been
killed by an Israeli airstrike near a U.N. school. An AP
photographer described the scene at a nearby hospital: "I saw women and
men - parents - slapping their faces in grief, screaming, some of them
collapsed to the floor. They knew their children were dead. In the
morgue, most of the killed appeared to be children. In the hospital,
there wasn't enough space for the wounded."
the invasion of Gaza began, more than 160 children have been killed
according to Gaza medics, and hundreds more are seriously injured.
Still more wounded children are suffering in homes lacking adequate
food, heat and running water, with parents fearful that a trip to the
hospital could be deadly. The organization Save the Children reports
that 50,000 Gazan children were malnourished before the Israeli
invasion, and that the crisis "endangers the lives of nearly every
child in Gaza."
for parents and children in Gaza are dangerous and frightening," said
Maxwell Gaylard, the United Nations humanitarian coordinator for the
Palestinian territories. One Palestinian family lost five daughters. "We
are scared that we can die at any moment" said 11 year old Mohammed
Ayyad. Children who survive physically will suffer long lasting
so far away from the Middle East, it's easy to tune out the raging
violence. Here in the U.S., there are thousands of distractions
competing for our attention. But imagine, just for a moment, that you were in the shoes of a Gaza parent. How would you feel? What would you feel toward those who just fired the gun or dropped the bomb that killed your child?
Could you imagine a rationale that would somehow justify the killing of your child to achieve a political objective? Of course not. Yet
at the end of the day, when the blaming, posturing, and justification
stop, this is what war and terrorism produce: the wholesale death of
innocent people, most tragically the most innocent of all - children.
doesn't take a PHD in military science to conclude that killing and
maiming children and other innocents in the quest to stop the actions
of the militant few is not only immoral, it is counter-productive. A Hamas leader, Mahmoud Zahar, was quoted on Jan. 4 as saying that "The Zionists
have legitimized the killing of their children by killing our
children." Such is the twisted, pathological psychology of war and
terrorism. In this case the twisted rationale of revenge is used to
justify the continued terrorizing of innocent Israelis with
indiscriminately fired rockets, fueling the cycle of violence at the
expense of the most vulnerable on both sides.
war crimes don't make a right; and killing children is never
legitimate, no matter what. Yet we the people of the United States have
also been lured by the rationale of revenge into accepting with painful
silence the bombing in our names of Afgan wedding parties and Iraqi
neighborhoods that have enraged the local population and the Arab world. It
is the rationale of the Mumbai terrorists, who left 2 year old Moshe
Holtzberg wailing over the bodies of his slain Israeli parents,
wounding hearts across the globe.
words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who would have turned 80 this
January 15, continue to speak to this madness: "The ultimate weakness
of violence is that it is a descending spiral....instead of diminishing
evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you murder the hater, but you
can't murder the hate. In fact, violence merely increases
hate...returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper
darkness to a night already devoid of stars....hate cannot drive out
hate, only love can do that."
much more productive an approach might it be for the U.S. and Israel to
offer food and medicine rather than bombs and bullets to the
Palestinian, Iraqi and Afghan children who are hanging on to life on a
thin thread? Would not such a pro-child approach win the enduring
appreciation, rather than enmity, of the parents of those children, and
the sympathies of the larger Arab world?
Waking from the dark night of war, terrorism and violence that destroys the lives of children won't be easy. But if we start by demanding that all children be treated as if they were our own, things would have to change dramatically.
his campaign, President-elect Barack Obama told the Des Moines
Register, "When I read about children who are suffering in any part of
the world, I can put myself in the shoes of their parents and think
about those children in the way I think about my own children. Which is
why, for example, expanding our foreign aid and making sure that all
children have food, shelter, clothing and safety is so important to me."
having a foreign policy driven by the well-being of all children. Then
take action to make it so, starting with an immediate cease-fire in