[The following was sent on by the CPT (Christian Peace Teams) which tries to moderate conflicts in various parts of the world. Israel and Palestine have both now been condemned for their violations of human rights — the excess of killings by Israel in Gaza and the rockets fired blindly by the Palestinians into Israel. One cannot help but despair over the traumatization of children on both sides caused by such violence. I was a child of WW2, but the threat of violence did not strike us directly — only the loss of loved ones involved in that war.

Do these people have not concern for what they are doing to the next generations so affected who can only be frightened of or enraged against their (next) generation of enemies? One can understand no greater imperative than that for serious peace-making. We ended WW2 quickly, if we suffered great losses of lives on both sides. The trauma was not a never ending one.

One also wonders what we are doing in Afghanistan to kids there? It cannot be much better. At one point we exploded a massive air dropped bomb that destroyed everything within about a quarter of a mile radius. We did not use that again, but are doing the same more or less with our anonymous rockets from on high. We, in other words, are no more innocent than the Israelis and Palestinians — only in a position to silence critics. Read the following for a first hand account. Ed Kent]

At Tuwani: Childhood in Palestine
By Jan Benvie
September 2009

A few days ago, while I was sitting on the hillside watching the shepherds and their sheep, some young girls from the village brought me flowers. Their kind act brought back memories of when my daughter was young. She too used to love gathering wild flowers (more often than not flowering weeds) and giving them as gifts.

I found myself musing about my own children – now young adults. I thought about how safe and comfortable their childhoods had been compared to that of my young friends.

My children walked to and from school without threat of attack. My
greatest worry was their safety as they crossed the road, hoping they
would cross with the friendly person at the school crossing point.

Palestinian children walking to and from school in At-Tuwani are often attacked and threatened by armed Israeli settlers. Israeli soldiers – the same soldiers who invade their villages or chase their fathers and brothers off their grazing land – escort them to and from school in At-Tuwani. The escort soldiers often shout at the children or make them run. On numerous occasions I have heard Israeli escort soldiers refer to the children as ‘terrorists’.

My children grew up strong and healthy. They turned on a tap and fresh, clean water ran out of it. I was able to provide them with a healthy diet.

A few weeks ago I spoke with a doctor at the village clinic (only staffed for a few hours, one day a week). She told me that most of the children in the area suffer from iron deficiency due to their poor diet. Forty-two years of Israeli occupation has severely damaged the Palestinian economy and the unemployment rate is over 20%. Israelis have stolen valuable Palestinian agricultural land to build their illegal settlements and outposts. Palestinian access to land for raising crops and grazing livestock is severely restricted by the presence of armed Israeli settlers who, in collusion with the Israeli military, regularly chase the villagers from their land.

The various illegal Israeli settlements and outposts in the area are
supplied with electricity and water, yet none of the Palestinian villages have such basic infrastructure. Tuwani and the neighbouring villages are not without water and electricity because they are situated in remote, inaccessible locations, but because of the political will of the occupying Israeli regime.*

The fate of my children was not in the hands of politicians with their
incessant and meaningless prattle, and their peace was not simply a
‘process’. For now, the lives of Palestinian children continue to be
blighted by the merciless Israeli occupation.

*At-Tuwani and surrounding villages are in Area C according to the Oslo Accords, placing them under Israeli military and civilian control. However, Israel does not fulfill its obligation to the Palestinian civilian population in the region.

“A war is just if there is no alternative, and the resort to arms is legitimate if they represent your last hope.” (Livy cited by Machiavelli)

Ed Kent 212-665-8535 (voice mail only) [blind copies]

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