What were you like as an 8-y.ear-old? I can’t imagine most of you can remember, but I can be pretty sure it involved dolls or an action man/GIJoe type figure, a train or a shop set, coupled with seemingly unlimited amounts of energy in playing with friends and generally, as the saying goes “acting the maggot.”
It was, as it should have been for most of us, a time of innocence, and while we might have played cowboys and Indians, we never thought of actually hurting anyone.
There isn’t much that shocks me. I moved to Northern Ireland when I was 16, the IRA came to our house and held my mother and aunt at gunpoint to hijack our car, we knew families ripped apart by terrorism. I was involved in the Northern Ireland Peace Process for a number of years, and then my Jewish path led me to be an advocate for Israel. So similarly to Northern Ireland, when it comes to the sadistic and barbaric way and means that incited Palestinians find to kill, maim and injure innocent Israelis, I rarely flinch.
This week though was different. Army footage captured two figures on the Israeli side of the security fence at Migdal Oz, when the IDF sent out a team to intercept the pair, they found two 8-year-old kids armed with knives.
When questioned, they admitted that they had been sent to kill Israelis.
IDF spokesperson Peter Lerner, talking to the media, said,
“When two 8-year-old children are sent on a mission to attack Israeli civilians it is clear that the hateful rhetoric that echoes within Palestinian society abuses the most vulnerable of minds,”
I couldn’t agree more. Let us remember (as if we could ever forget) that so far in the year-long wave of terror attacks that has killed at least 34 Israelis and injured dozens, some of the terrorists carrying out stabbing attacks were as young as 11 or 13.
But 8 is a new, tragic and stomach-churning low. Maybe I’m being overly sensitive, maybe it’s because my wife is due to give birth in two weeks, but this barely reported incident really struck me.
I’m director of a pro-Israel advocacy group here in Brussels, and I’ve been saying what I’m about to tell you so often to Members of the European Parliament and their advisors, that I’m beginning to sound like a broken record. But I promise you I will never stop saying it:
What hope of peace is there when your supposed partners are incited to such a degree that they will send 8-year-old children to kill indiscriminately? What hope of peace when the Palestinian population is constantly fed a narrative that Jews, Israelis, are scum, pigs, dogs, apes, rapists, cockroaches that must be killed, and constantly resisted? Whose ‘filthy feet’ are a desecration? That every drop of Palestinian blood spilt in Jerusalem is “pure”?
The worst part is that us, the population of Europe, we the taxpayers’, are paying for this murder provoking rhetoric.
That’s not an exaggeration. The EU is the largest supporter of the Palestinian authority in the world. Over the years Mahmoud Abbas and his hate preaching acolytes have received Millions and Millions in direct EU aid.
Is this aid conditional on a rejection of incitement to violence? Does the EU say we will only fund you if you stop supporting violent acts, stop praising them and embracing the perpetrators as martyrs? Has it ever, like the US congress did, turn the funding tap down significantly when Mr Abbas made his ‘filthy feet’ comment?
That would be a big, fat, and in our opinion, utterly shameful, NO.
The PA know that whatever they do and say, they get their millions in pocket money regardless.
And that can’t be right can it? That’s why I have made it my organisation’s priority, through the establishment of a European Parliamentary Working Group, to look at the whole issue of how EU funding can and should be made conditional on a commitment — to borrow from the Northern Ireland Peace process playbook — to exclusively peaceful and democratic means.
That means no incitement. That means laying the ground with your population and preparing them for peace. That means an end to language that dehumanizes.
And above all it means that sending two incited 8-year-old kids with knives to stab and not even condemning it carries a heavy political price.
Until that happens, let’s not kid ourselves that there can be a meaningful peace process.