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Think. Discuss. Act. Middle East

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Review: Hamas Children Raised To Fight, Die

Radin, C.A. (2001, December 26). Hamas children raised to fight, die. The Boston Globe, p. A17. Jeter, J. (2001, December 26). Evoking shadow of apartheid, Anti-Israel tract splits Jewish community in South Africa. The Boston Globe, p. A16.


Many objective observers of the Middle East crisis between Israel and Palestine believe there cannot be peace until Israel: 

  • Withdraws settlements from the West Bank.
  • Encourages a united West Bank and Gaza Strip with some access to the sea (north or south of Israel).
  • Helps a new Palestinian state become prosperous.
  • Allows Jerusalem to become a non-political religious center of the three religions.
  • Gives additional rights to Israeli Arabs.

At the same time, these observers allow that such concessions from Israel and peace itself are entirely impossible until Palestinians

  • Cease all suicide attacks and other violence.
  • Accept unequivocally the right of Israel to exist, and encourage their Arab neighbors to affirm the same.
  • Shut down Hamas and deter any influence from the Lebanese Hezbollah.

The “Declaration of Conscience” moves in a direction of the above. It was written by two South African Jews, heroes in the fight against apartheid and published in December 2001. Two hundred South African Jews signed the Declaration. Reaction to the document has split the Jewish community there. The Declaration declares Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories to be the cause of escalating violence in the Middle East. It also denounces Israel’s campaign of violence in retaliation for suicide bombings. There is a wide spectrum of opinion about peace in Israel itself, as there is among Israeli and Palestinian Arabs.

Najwa Amarneh, 33, lives in a Bethlehem refugee camp and speaks openly the radical doctrine of Hamas. She apparently shared her views with Charles A. Radin, giving us a picture of a growing intransigence in the Arab community. Amarneh grew up in a religious Muslim family; her brother is a Hamas activist. So is her husband, and he has been in detention for three years.

A devout Muslim, Amerneh draws inspiration from the quotes the Koran. The Prophet’s wife, A’isha, who taught men religion, fought in war, and was involved in politics is inspiration for Amerneh. ” ‘Whoever understands Islam will be a Muslim,’ ” she says.

Amarneh’s 4-year-old son is present for, but disinterested in, the interview as he plays at her feet.

‘I want my son to fight-the longer the better-and then to be a martyr. This is what I teach him. He will not change his mind. Even now, he wants to buy a pistol to kill all Jews.’

‘We don’t want to kill Jews. We want them to leave. They should all leave Palestine. There will never be peace as long as they are in Palestine.’ (She represents an long-held opinion now growing that Israel must be driven from the region.)

(When asked how she can think of her son this way…) ‘As a mother this is not a good thing. Everyone likes his life, and his children’s lives. But our life is short. The next life is better.’

‘Mohammad said that if Islamic land is occupied, the men should make jihad, and the women should fight even without the permission of their husbands. To fight, to supply the fighter, to take care of the fighter’s family, all are jihad.’

Very few Israelis and very few Palestinians would be willing to make themselves as vulnerable as the propositions at the top of this document suggest. Most Jews and Arabs in this region, however, do want peace with justice. If they could somehow be brought together and hear acceptance of those principles from the other side, there might finally be a majority in favor of what seems to many the only way to peace.

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

  • How concerned are you about peace between Israel and Palestine in the Middle East?
  • How much to you know about the long history of this region? Are you better informed about the concerns of Israel or Palestine?
  • Do you understand there is a great spectrum of opinion on both sides? How would you describe different Jewish opinion and Arab opinion?
  • Did you know there are Israeli Muslim Arabs, Israeli Christian Arabs, Palestinian Muslim Arabs and Palestinian Christian Arabs?
  • Do you agree with the general opinion of this article? Do you think it is too extreme or unrealistic?
  • What is your general opinion as to how peace can be reached in the Middle East?


  • The article above is frightening. It has religious, cultural, political, economic, and social causes and ramifications.
  • Followers of three great religions consider Jerusalem and its surroundings a holy place.
  • Religion has contributed to many conflicts and wars throughout history and today. Some believe and are working toward finding peace through the collaboration of religious leaders.
  • The conflict between Israel and the Palestinians has continued too long. Both sides have suffered too much. If they cannot resolve their differences, the world needs to step in and help.

Dean Borgman
© 2018 CYS

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