The Washington Post has published a story examining the trauma suffered by Gazan children as a result of conflict. The scene is set with a vivid and emotive opening:
Fatima still dreams about Ahmed. Sometimes they’re playing with toys as they used to do. But in other dreams, she’s looking over the edge of the balcony at her brother’s smashed and bloodied body, his pink brain spilling from his skull, her father screaming through his tears.
Ahmed was 7 when he was killed by an Israeli airstrike during the 2008 Israeli invasion of Gaza. Fatima was 8 at the time — but that was “old enough to remember,” said her father, Osama Mohamed Qurtan.
And herein lies the fundamental problem with the story – the description of an Israeli “invasion” paints a picture of Gazan children suffering as a result of Israeli malevolence. Indeed, later in the article is the following:
Gaza was attacked, they say, for the same reason Israel struck in 2008 — to kill Palestinians and seize more Palestinian land. (Israel says its warplanes carry out precision strikes on carefully identified terrorist targets.)
A short sentence in parentheses is all that Israel’s narrative warrants according to the Washington Post. This article could not be any more one-sided. Nowhere is there any reference to the thousands of rockets fired at Israeli targets from Gaza. While the writer refers to Gaza experiencing two wars in four years, what about Sderot and the surrounding areas of southern Israel that have experienced barely a day of quiet during the past decade? Israeli children have been brought up experiencing almost daily alerts that give them some 15 seconds to take cover or run for a bomb shelter.
While the trauma of Syrian children has featured in the Washington Post, it seems that Israeli children just don’t suffer. Is this because fewer Israeli children have died than Palestinian children? This reduces the story to one based purely on unequal body counts and ignores the bigger picture.
Nobody disputes that Gaza’s children have suffered as a result of conflict. But resorting to the knee-jerk “blame Israel” routine completely ignores reality. A reality where Palestinian children are exposed to danger as a direct result of terrorists operating from within civilian areas turning children into human shields. A reality where Israel makes supreme efforts to avoid causing harm to Palestinian civilians while Palestinian terrorists do their utmost to indiscriminately kill and maim innocent Israelis.
Indeed, following much of the mainstream media, the Washington Post exhibits the familiar tendency to absolve Palestinians of any responsibility for their situation. In this framing of the story, Palestinians can only be victims and are never capable of affecting their own circumstances.
But you wouldn’t know this from the Washington Post where Israel is responsible for the trauma of Palestinian children while the trauma of Israeli children doesn’t even register.
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