Compare Israel’s treatment of Arab children who commit violent offenses in the West Bank with Minnesota’s treatment of children in their criminal justice system. Minnesota is far harsher.
During the height of the Second Intifada, sixteen year old Palestinian Hussam Abdo, appeared at an Israeli checkpoint.
It was a good thing that Israeli soldiers stopped the boy because he was wearing a suicide belt loaded with explosives. What made this incident different from many other attempted suicide attacks was that Abdo was a mentally handicapped child.
Israelis later learned that the Tanzim militia—-the armed faction of the Fatah party that governs the West Bank—-sent the boy on this mission to kill Jews. His handlers offered him 100 shekels. They told him that if he succeeded in killing Jews, he would be offered sex with a bevy of virgins.
Children in the Palestinian War against the Jews
Just a week prior to the detention of Hussam Abdo, Israeli authorities captured another Palestinian boy: 12-year old Abdullah Quran. He carried a bag containing a bomb intended to kill Jews.
Unfortunately, Palestinian terror groups have often used children in their war against the Jews.
Amnesty International reported that “Palestinian armed groups have repeatedly shown total disregard for the most fundamental human rights, notably the right to life, by deliberately targeting Israeli civilians and by using Palestinian children in armed attacks.”
In 2004, the Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers reported “at least nine documented suicide attacks involving Palestinian minors between October 2000 and March 2004.”
Between 2000 and 2003, the Israeli Defense Forces reported 29 suicide attacks carried out by children under the age of 18. This was in addition to 22 attacks that used shooting or explosive devices and 40 attempted suicide bombings that were thwarted. In all cases the perpetrator was a child.
The youngest “successful” Palestinian suicide bomber was a 16-year old high school student who detonated in a park, killing himself, another teenage boy and an elderly man.
The Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group studied the use of children combatants in the Second Intifada (2000-2005). Their report highlighted that Palestinian institutions encourage children to become killers in the name of martyrdom. Fatah, Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine have all used children as combatants in attacks against Jewish civilians and soldiers.
Many Palestinian Arabs oppose this violence. But many others support it.
Schools, sports teams, civil society groups, journalists and government agencies encourage Palestinian Arabs—-including children—-to attacks Jews. Palestinian high school students have been known to encourage their peers to become suicide bombers. When successful in killing Jews, these child bombers become national heroes. Public buildings and streets are named after them. Their families receive generous lifetime pensions and other monetary rewards. They are praised on government websites and in official government publications.
In short, the killing of Jews—-by both children and adults—-is deeply embedded in Palestinian Arab culture.
Unwitting Allies in the War against the Jews
Israel faces daunting challenges in protecting its citizens from an unscrupulous enemy that does not hesitate to use children as combatants. Most Americans understand that.
But in the US a loud minority which calls itself progressive, has chosen to ally itself with groups that send children to kill and be killed. Remarkably, some of these so-called progressives are sitting members of the US Congress.
Case in point: Betty McCollum, a long-time Congresswoman representing St. Paul, Minnesota.
In 2017 and again in 2019, McCollum introduced legislation to “prevent United States tax dollars from supporting the Israeli military’s ongoing detention and mistreatment of Palestinian children.” The legislation carries a misleading name: Promoting Human Rights for Palestinian Children Living Under Israeli Military Occupation Act (HR 2407).
The bill uses the phony human rights rhetoric favored by anti-Israeli groups.
McCollum’s press release announcing the legislation cited the endorsement of several anti-Israel organizations. All are leaders of the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, which seeks to demolish the Jewish state. Organizations that endorse the bill include Amnesty International, American Friends Service Committee and Jewish Voice for Peace.
The entire bill relies on lies and misrepresentations made by anti-Israel NGOs. The primary source for the allegations of Israeli human rights abuses against children is an unsavory organization with the innocuous name of Defense for Children International-Palestine (DCI-P). Research by the pro-Israel NGO Monitor revealed that DCI-P is closely linked to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). The PFLP has been listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, Canada, Australia, the European Union and Israel. The governing board and leadership of DCI-P has a number of PFLP members. Citibank, Arab Bank and the crowdfunding organization Global Giving have closed DCI-P accounts due to their ties to the terrorist PFLP.
According to NGO Monitor, at least 11 of DCI-P’s officials and board members are tied to the PFLP and some have been convicted of terror offenses, for example, attacks against Israeli civilians.
What is Wrong with McCollum’s Bill?
McCollum’s legislation is a tool in support of anti-Israel groups.
Most disturbing is that the many false and misleading anti-Israel accusations in the legislation frequently take their wording directly from recent DCI-P publications. In other words, a terrorist organization had a major hand in writing McCollum’s bill.
Other sections of the bill selectively cite US State Department and UNICEF reports but do so in a misleading way.
NGO Monitor has published a damning indictment of McCollum’s legislation:
The legislation cites a recent increase in arrests of Palestinian children. But it fails to mention the context: There were a larger number of arrests of children because there was a dramatic increase in terrorist attacks beginning in 2015. Palestinian terror groups also increased their use of children as combatants. So what the bill presents as an Israeli assault on the human rights of Palestinian children was in reality Israel’s effort to protect children and adults from being murdered.
The text of the bill gives the impression that Israel detains a disproportionate number of Arab children. The facts say otherwise. The rate at which children are held in Israeli prisons is 16 out of 100,000 Palestinian children in the West Bank. In McCollum’s home state of Minnesota, the comparable rate is far higher: 149 per 100,000 children detained or sent to a correctional facility. (I imagine that the Palestinian Authority detains additional children for offenses committed under its jurisdiction).
McCollum’s bill repeats DCI-P’s false claim that Israel places Palestinian children in solitary confinement. The bill says that the US State Department “noted” the use of solitary confinement against children. But the 2013 and 2016 US State Department reports that are cited say merely that “NGOs reported” these claims. McCollum’s bill would have readers believe that the State Department verified the NGO claims when it did not.
McCollum’s bill does not explain that in McCollum’s home state of Minnesota, children can be placed in solitary confinement for up to 5 days per offense. Or that 21 US states allow solitary confinement for minors. In 7 of those states there is no time limit on the solitary confinement of the minor offender or the solitary confinement can be extended indefinitely with administrative approval.
The bill also fails to explain that Israel separates minors from adult prisoners because that is required by international law. This is not solitary confinement.
Compare Israel’s treatment of Arab children who commit violent offenses in the West Bank with Minnesota’s treatment of children in their criminal justice system. Minnesota is far harsher. They detain a far larger proportion of child offenders. Unlike Israel, they allow solitary confinement of children.
Perhaps Representative McCollum ought to introduce legislation to stop federal funding to Minnesota for their “ongoing detention and mistreatment of children.” This is unlikely to happen. Her ire is directed solely at Israel.
McCollum’s bill cites a 2013 UNICEF document that claims, “…in no other country are children systematically tried by juvenile military courts, that, by definition, fall short of providing the necessary guarantees to ensure respect for their rights.” But McCollum’s bill fails to mention that because Israel has not annexed the West Bank, its Arab residents must be adjudicated in military courts as required under international law.
McCollum’s legislation claims that Israeli military courts in the West Bank violate Palestinian rights. It does not explain that only violent security offenses such as bombings and murders are handled in Israeli military courts. These courts use the same evidentiary rules in criminal cases. All defendants have the right to legal counsel.
McCollum’s legislation claims that Palestinian child defendants are forced to sign confessions in Hebrew, which they do not understand. Not true. Court indictments are read in both Hebrew and Arabic and all court documents are translated into Arabic. Every military court hearing has at least one interpreter who translates the proceedings into Arabic for the benefit of the accused. All defendants have the right of appeal to a military court and then to the Supreme Court.
McCollum’s bill is an outrageous distortion of Israel’s legal system in the West Bank.
McCollum’s bill condemns Israel for not adhering to fair standards. But several of the standards cited in her bill are not applicable in the US or even in her home state of Minnesota.
For example, the bill condemns Israel for not allowing parents to be present during interrogations of children. But even the United States has no such law. And Minnesota law specifically states that for minors “It is not necessary to have the parents or guardians present when conducting a custodial interrogation.” In Minnesota, children as young as 14 years of age can be certified to stand trial as adults.
In drafting this disingenuous bill, McCollum engages in the same double standards that have become routine among anti-Israel groups. Even worse, this legislation distracts attention from the real human rights abuses of children routinely carried out by Palestinian groups, including the rulers of the West Bank and Gaza (the Palestinian Authority and Hamas). For example, Palestinian government leaders and media often encourage children to carry out acts of violence against Jews, including Jewish civilians. Those children who die in the act of harming or killing Jews become national heroes. They are rewarded with honors such as having streets and public squares named after them. They are celebrated in widely displayed posters. They or their families are rewarded with generous cash payments and life-time stipends.
In 2017 the Palestinian Authority spent $343 million—-almost half of its foreign aid—- on reward payments to terrorists convicted of killing or attacking Jews and to the terrorists’ family members.1
Truly Protecting the Rights of Children
Do McCollum and the co-sponsors of her deceptive legislation truly care about the rights of children? If so, why don’t they introduce legislation to address true human rights crimes against children?
International law prohibits the execution of minors. But not far from Israel’s borders, the Islamic Republic of Iran routinely executes child offenders. Last year Iran executed seven people accused of offenses committed as children. Recently an independent human rights investigator reported to the United Nations that at least 90 children are currently on death row in Iran.
I cannot find any statement from McCollum opposing this abuse of children’s rights.
Why Israel is the Wrong Target
McCollum’s bill seeks to punish Israel for crimes against children that it has not committed. The bill itself is partly written by a terrorist-affiliated group. It is factually wrong in many areas and it omits any and all context that would help a reader to understand Israel’s defensive actions.
Worst of all, this bill takes the side of Palestinian organizations that themselves abuse children. These organizations and the Palestinian governments in the West Bank and Gaza embody the very opposite of the human rights that McCollum’s bill pretends to espouse. Under Palestinian governance, there are few human rights for children or adults.
Remarkably, McCollum’s bill currently has 22 sponsors in the US House of Representatives. These sponsors, all Democrats, form the core of a group that opposes Israel at every turn.
It is unclear if this group is misinformed or ignorant. Do they believe that Israel is always the guilty party in the Arab-Israeli conflict? Why do they ignore the extensive efforts Israel makes to protect Arab civilians—-especially children—-when it defends itself against attack? Do they see nothing wrong with overlooking the startling and pervasive human rights abuses that the PA and Hamas commit against children—-both Jewish and Arab?
Anyone who cares about children should oppose McCollum’s legislation.
- Palestinian Authority Martyrs Fund. Wikipedia. Retrieved October 23, 2019 from: