Shock­ing child abuse

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE -

IN RE­SPONSE to Sameer Naik’s ar­ti­cle, “Con­stant bat­tle in life of fear” (Week­end Ar­gus, July 29), it is a dis­grace that Janna Ji­had is be­ing li­onised in­stead of helped.

A tour of Pales­tinian ac­tivists com­ing to share a film with South Africa is out­ra­geous be­cause it pro­motes brain­wash­ing and ma­nip­u­la­tion and calls it le­git­i­mate ac­tivism. It is rea­son­able to bring ac­tivists from all parts of the world to South Africa and to lis­ten and de­bate their views, but to glo­rify what is es­sen­tially child abuse is another thing en­tirely.

Janna Ji­had is an 11-year-old girl. With Ahed Tamimi, 16, and Muhammed Nawa­jah, 13, she is tour­ing South Africa as part of the “Pals 4 Peace” tour from July 19 to Au­gust 14.

They are in South Africa to pro­mote a film made about the young “ac­tivists” (child abuse vic­tims) called Ra­di­ance of Re­sis­tance.

The film glam­or­ises the ac­tiv­i­ties of the chil­dren, who are be­ing en­cour­aged by the adults in their lives to demon­strate against and con­front armed and dan­ger­ous sol­diers.

This in the mid­dle of a sit­u­a­tion in which mil­i­tant ac­tions against those sol­diers and vi­o­lent ri­ots are com­mon­place.

Janna and Ahed, like most of the peo­ple in Nabi Saleh, are mem­bers of the Tamimi clan, which has pro­duced many prom­i­nent mil­i­tant ex­trem­ists.

Bassem Tamimi, a clan el­der and the fa­ther of 16-year-old Ahed Tamimi, proudly de­scribed Janna as a proud grad­u­ate of “the Nabi Saleh school to cre­ate the gen­er­a­tion of free­dom fighter(s) to lib­erat(e) Pales­tine.”

What is that school? Why not ask his wife, who proudly de­scribed Ah­lam Tamimi, the master­mind of a bru­tal at­tack which killed 15 civil­ians at a pizze­ria in down­town Jerusalem, as be­ing “an in­te­gral part” of the Pales­tinian “strug­gle”.

Re­fus­ing to con­demn such vi­o­lence, she said “ev­ery­one fights in the man­ner in which he be­lieves. There is armed up­ris­ing, and there is pop­u­lar up­ris­ing. I sup­port ev­ery form of up­ris­ing”.

Such calls to armed strug­gle do not go un­heeded. On Wed­nes­day, a 19-yearold Pales­tinian stabbed and crit­i­cally in­jured a 43-year-old su­per­mar­ket worker in the city of Yavneh near Tel Aviv.

Such stab­bing at­tacks against civil­ians are in­creas­ingly com­mon in Is­rael, in­cited by the Pales­tinian lead­er­ship who con­tin­u­ally ex­hort young men to “re­sis­tance”.

This is the en­vi­ron­ment in which these young ac­tivists were raised in.

Janna has been a jour­nal­ist since the age of 8, when she first gained me­dia at­ten­tion as a child star of the Pales­tinian strug­gle. In a shock­ing clip she was filmed scream­ing “we will kill you” at Is­raeli sol­diers.

In a sane so­ci­ety, she would still be in school, play­ing with her friends. If her older rel­a­tives have ob­jec­tions to Is­rael’s poli­cies, let them go them­selves to film protests, reach out to Is­raeli lead­ers and ne­go­ti­ate for a just and last­ing peace­ful so­lu­tion to the con­flict.

In­stead, they have placed the most vul­ner­a­ble in harms way. As Bassem Tamimi boasted on his blog, women and girls are de­lib­er­ately placed at the front of marches to shield the men (who throw rocks at the po­lice) from re­tal­ia­tory fire.

It is to the dis­grace of Janna’s fam­ily and her so­ci­ety that they have placed her in this po­si­tion.

They en­cour­aged her to at­tend protests in which they knew tear gas and rub­ber bul­lets would be fired. They trained her to become an ac­tivist and a jour­nal­ist when she was too young to un­der­stand what was go­ing on.

Of course she loves and re­spects her fam­ily. Of course she fears the sol­diers in her vil­lage.

Of course she doesn’t un­der­stand why Nabi Saleh was cap­tured by Is­rael in 1967, or that the Pales­tinian lead­er­ship has con­sis­tently re­fused to make peace with Is­rael, de­spite re­peated of­fers of state­hood.

It is symp­to­matic of a po­lit­i­cal cul­ture which has no so­lu­tions, no plans and no endgame.

If this tour was about peace, they would be dis­cussing pro­posed so­lu­tions to the con­flict, mo­bil­is­ing to raise aware­ness to sup­port spe­cific, im­ple­mentable poli­cies that could bet­ter the fu­ture of Janna and all other Pales­tini­ans.

But the tour, like Pales­tinian civil so­ci­ety as a whole, is not in­ter­ested in or ca­pa­ble of do­ing that. All it is ca­pa­ble of do­ing is us­ing its youngest and most vul­ner­a­ble cit­i­zens to buy the sym­pa­thy of the world.

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