let’s talk about the children

A few days ago, I watched a screening of 5 Broken Cameras. It’s about a small village at the edge of the West Bank, which is the epicentre of a strong, long peaceful protest movement against expanding Israeli settlements. Strong, of course, simply in terms of dogged persistence; peaceful, of course, before rocks were taken up as weapons once more.

The rights and wrongs and inflamed sentiments on both sides are familiar to most of us. What struck me in the documentary was the evolution of Gibreel, the narrator’s five year old son. By the end of the film he walks the world as a little man who uses words like “occupation” and “protest”; learns to mask his fear; and knows death through the loss of a gentle, gigantic friend.

We didn’t talk much on the way back. All I could think about was: What kind of school did Gibreel go to?

Five year old Gibreel

Many of my friends will scoff at the term “peaceful protest” in relation to (the non-state of) Palestine. Especially today, on the eighth day of violence in Gaza. Rockets, it seems, are still flying across the border to Israel, in spite of the ceasefire brokered by those with the power to craft the definitions of “terrorism” and “peace”.

These are complicated words.

I can only talk of simpler things. In the grand 3D scheme of Defense, Diplomacy and Development, I have a fair idea of the tiny space that can be occupied by me as an individual. And I think I know who I’d like to share it with.

“A Child’s View of Gaza” (exhibit cancelled)

Over the past week, 150 Palestinians and 5 Israelis have been killed.

Almost one third of the dead are children.

I can’t help thinking about the little people left behind. And I wish they could somehow, somehow have the childhood they deserve.


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