Today I talked to Col. Desmond Travers, a member of the U.N. Human Rights Council’s mission on the Gaza conflict, who lives in the Republic of Ireland, about the Israeli treatment of children in the occupied territories.
Col. Travers: If the British had behaved toward children who threw stones at them in the manner that is the norm on the West Bank for the Israeli security forces– whereby children are rounded up in the evening and taken to places of detention, hooded, beaten, and in some cases tortured– the northern Ireland problem would not be resolved today. It would still be a place of conflagration.
Why is that?
We talked to a psychiatrist in Gaza, and he said, “We already see in our schools in Gaza the next generation of Hamas revolutionaries, children exposed to so much violence, they have no option but to terminate their childhood and move into a different frame, and the likelihood is that they will never stabilize.”
But what would have happened had this taken place in Northern Ireland?
We could not have stood idly by– the Republic of Ireland would not have stood idly by. Our prime minister said that [in 1969]. He was specifically referring to severe discriminatory and violent behavior toward Catholic enclaves in Belfast and Derry [in northern Ireland]. They were in danger of being annihilated. And in that scenario there [would have been] no option for the Irish…. Even without an army.. if they had crossed the border in some fashion, militarily, they would have internationalized the event, and the U.S. couldn’t ignore it, and certainly the int’l community and European community couldn’t have ignored it.
Make the connection to children.
If this were done to Irish children, we would have had a conflagration that would have forced a Republic of Ireland intervention, which would have imposed an American intervention– if the Irish Diaspora had any influence.
Just as important, if they had targeted children, they would have created a multigenerational conflict that could still be with us today. You know, we still have conflict today but it’s the old loyalists and old Republicans that are at this. Whereas in the West Bank and Gaza, the predictions are that it’s the young children who have been brutalized and traumatized who will be tomorrow’s activists.
So you are telling me that the situation in Palestine is an extreme one.
Well it wasn’t extreme when I lived in Israel 25 years ago. It is now.
What are you saying? Now is all that matters.
I am saying that it is deliberate. Someone made a conscious decision, peace is not in our interest. Control and instability are best for business. Managed instability is in their long term best interest.