Op-Ed: Israeli Children at Play
Dr. Phlip BrodieThe author worked at the University of Pittsburgh where he received his doctorate. He made aliya recently with his wife and lives in Maaleh Adumim.
Picture courtesy Arutz Sheva
Look at this picture. What do you see? Eight children; or is it seven? Can you tell?
What are they doing? Well, the four on the right look like they’ve started to race. You can even tell by their body positions that this isn’t going to be a jog; it’s an all-out sprint. The others, meanwhile, look like late-starters. They’re already behind. The boy closest to you, wearing a green shirt, appears to have decided to drop his bike to join the race.
Will he be last to finish?
Who’s last in this picture, that boy in green—or the boy on the far left? It’s hard to tell. The angle of the photo doesn’t allow an accurate assessment.
Will it matter who is last? No, because no one is keeping score— not for this race.
Look again at the boy in green. Notice how exaggerated his right arm motion seems. His body position suggests urgency. Is he trying not to fall, is he simply accelerating as quickly as possible—or both? He certainly seems to be in a hurry. Shouldn’t someone have given him a fairer start?
You might say that because this picture comes to you from Israel, this is how Israeli boys play—unorganized, randomly and perhaps unfairly; that sounds so Israeli, doesn’t it?
Look at the boy on the far right. Do you recognize that body language? It’s the body position of someone who is serious about starting a sprint.
I do not know much about this picture. But I know more than you do—a lot more.
For example, I know that this race will last only fifteen seconds from beginning to end. I know that none of these boys, at the moment this picture was taken, was thinking about winning: I can assure you that none of these boys was concerned about being last or first.
Look at the picture again—at that boy in green. I don’t know him. But I think I’m pretty correct to tell you that he hasn’t jumped off his bike like that because he’s convinced he can beat his friends despite his late start. I believe that at this moment, he isn’t even thinking at all. Look at that arm motion. Do you think he’s running as if his life depends upon it?
You can tell from this picture that the boys have just, perhaps two seconds earlier, begun to run. They are well-trained. They are accelerating to full speed as quickly as they can; you can see that in their body positions. You see, they know that, at this moment, the race is no longer a fifteen-second race; it is now only a thirteen-second race.
They’ve got less than thirteen seconds to reach that building you see in the backround. They are probably not thinking about what will happen next. They’re running too fast to think. They’re just focused on one thing: that building.
These are boys playing in one of Israel’s southern cities. They are young. They are probably Jewish. They are not adults. They are not government workers. They are not soldiers. They are civilians—just children.
It’s how Jewish children play in southern Israel. Yes, they live in what you call the holy land. But in southern Israel, they are not considered holy. They are not even considered children. They are dehumanized military targets.
Therefore, they run. They run fast because they know what you don’t: they could all be dead in less than thirteen seconds. They are indeed children. But they run because they know they might not be children much longer.
Look again at the picture. These boys run for their lives because, in the middle of their play, a siren has begun to wail—a loud, unnerving ear-splitting (even frightening) wail. They understand the meaning of that wail: once that siren sounds, they have fifteen seconds before an incoming rocket, fired by Jew-hating Muslims in Gaza, hits the ground. No one knows where the rocket is. No one knows where it will land. No one stops to look up, to see if he can spot the rocket’s trajectory. There’s no time.
Israel has made efforts to build shelters. But one has to reach them.
Look at the boys: they know not to tarry. They know exactly why they run. They also know what Muslims say about them: all Jews, including children at play, are military targets.
It must be true. The United Nations has never objected when Hamas calls Jewish children ‘targets’.
Some of you say that if Israel gave up land for peace, these boys wouldn’t have to run like this. But you would be wrong. These boys run precisely because Israel surrendered nearby Gaza to Muslims. Before the Jewish pull-out, there were no rockets. Children could play safely.
Take a final look at the picture. This is how Jewish children play when Jews surrender land for peace.