Many of us American Jews were/are taken aback by this phenomenon of hitch hiking by children of the settlers in the west bank. The danger is clearly recognized and presumably neutralized by these kids’ studying of the look (NO PALESTINIANS!), the accent of the Hebrew, the license plate, the kipa, etc. That a soldier was kidnapped and murdered some years ago and IDF soldiers are forbidden to hitch hike on pains of serious penalty is simply put aside. Children who have been interviewed say that, amongst other reasons, they want to show the Palestinians that they “own” these territories. That parents are perfectly OK with 16 year olds out at 10:25 PM blew this parent/grandparent’s mind! This being someone who is aba to a son, and saba to 3 boys, in Jerusalem.

It is an implied insult to any Palestinian father or mother who might like to give a lift to kids out at night but know that they needn’t bother, they’ll be “racially profiled” and rejected out of hand. If these teenagers have been kidnapped by terrorists – Hamas or otherwise – my heart goes out to them as only a father/grandfather could feel. If they are harmed, words will fail me to express the pain I will feel. However, in my heart of hearts, I will hold the parents, who knowingly allow and support such behavior, responsible in large part. I grew up in a rough section of the Bronx, NYC, and my mother forbade me to hitch hike.

Believe this or not, call me nuts if you like, but I have not completely rejected the notion that these boys are in safe hands, that this episode was cooked up by the current government and the settler movement. I sincerely hope that this hare-brained notion turns out to be correct and the boys will reappear unharmed. In any event, I hope that we will see them, healthy and hearty, very soon. I also hope that children are not out “trempim” in the west bank ever again until there is peace.

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