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Toddler with a stone

“You, who are on the road

Must have a code that you can live by”

Graham Nash

We see them everywhere. Children in parks, in strollers, being carried, and being loved. In my shul in Jerusalem, filled with young families, kids are a vital part of the community. Learning, laughing, singing, helping set up kiddush, and watching the younger kids. Children are loved and protected in our culture.

So how can we understand what is happening when we see Arab teens commit acts of terrorism? How can we understand when families of terrorists celebrate not only their violent acts, but celebrate their deaths if they are killed while committing violence?

We can’t. Because the life of a child is paramount in most cultures.

How can we understand what is happening when, in Arab towns, candy and fireworks are part of a celebration when Jews are murdered, even when those Jews are children?  In February, when Yaakov Paley and Asher Paley were murdered, celebrations occurred in several Arab towns. Yaakov was 6 and his brother was 8.

How can we understand?  We can’t.

What we do know is that hatred is taught at a young age. We see the videos of summer camp in Gaza, with children being trained as fighters. We see the photos of kids wearing fake suicide belts and being paraded around. Recently a video surfaced of Arab children involved in a mock terrorist attack, murdering a Jew, and then holding a mock funeral for the pretend martyr in which his death was celebrated. The children seemed to be about eight or nine years old. We know that textbooks in the Palestinian Authority and Gaza schools are filled with hatred of Jews in cartoon form.

How can we understand? We can’t. It makes no sense to us.

Seeing the hatred up close and personal didn’t give me insight, just profound sadness. After a dinner out in the Yemin Moshe neighborhood in Jerusalem, we decided to walk home through the First Station on the path over the old train tracks heading south. As we entered the path, we see an Arab woman holding the hand of a cute child about three or four years old walking towards us. We smile because the kid is so cute.

At that point, the kid picks up a stone from the side of the path and lifts his arm to throw it at us. His mother grabbed his arm in time, but he fought her and continued to try to throw it at us, glaring at us all the while. She is yelling at him, but he persisted never taking his eyes off of us and yelling back at her. In his chubby little hand, he kept trying to throw the stone while trying to shake free of his mother’s hand. She finally got him to drop it and pulled him away, now both glaring at us. My dining partner, an American visiting, was so shaken by this that now, a year later, she is still haunted by it.

My life has been one of optimism and trying to see the best in people. Other than this incident, I have never had a negative interaction with Israeli Arabs. We ride buses together, use the same park, and the best pharmacy experiences are always with Arab women. We share this city and all that it is daily. Maybe it is surface, maybe not. I would not expect the same experience, however, in Jenin.

The hatred emanating from within the Palestinian Authority and Gaza and the various terrorist groups is overwhelming those who live there who just want to live normally. Teaching children to hate and to revel in violence and bloodshed of other humans is child abuse, pure and simple.

How can we understand? We can’t.

But the international pandering to what they believe is a righteous cause along with centuries of inbred Jew hate limits the criticism of this perverse form of child abuse. It is heart wrenching to think of these lives being drawn, with parents’ consent and encouragement, into a life of hatred and bloodshed. And to see mothers joyfully celebrating if they are killed is beyond comprehension.

So, when I read a few weeks ago about a 13-year-old child shooting two Jews at random, I thought back to the toddler with a stone. In another few years, he will be acting with hatred with no mother’s hand to control him. He will, most likely, join one of the many terrorist cells. But there will be other toddlers with stones with hateful eyes to take his place.

About the Author
Irene Rabinowitz made aliyah in 2014 and lives in Jerusalem. Prior to making aliyah, she lived in a small odd town at the tip of Cape Cod for 28 years. She lived in New York City for 16 years as a young adult (or old child), but is a Rhode Islander by birth. Irene has served as a local elected official and retired from a long career in non-profit management at the end of 2013, after serving as the Executive Director of Helping Our Women for 18 years. She has worked at the Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance and retired in 2020 from her position as the Resource Development Manager at the Jerusalem Rape Crisis Center. She recently retired from her position as a Consultant at Landman Strategic Fundraising. Pro cycling fan. T1D.
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