ANALYSIS: Israeli kids grieved, Arab kids enthused by war

Monday, December 29, 2008 |  Ryan Jones

The war-like conditions in and around the Gaza Strip have again highlighted the stark contrast between how Israeli and Palestinian children - and indeed their wider respective communities - deal with the trauma of conflict.

Israel's Ministry of Education announced at the weekend that the weeklong school vacation for Hanukkah would be extended for at least another week in the vicinity of Gaza to keep children away from schoolhouses that are vulnerable to Palestinian rockets.

Instead, local Israeli kids continue to spend their days cooped up in bomb shelters and basements, a reality that severely marred the recent holiday and further ingrained the feeling that life has taken a permanent detour into the surreal.

Recent surveys show that a majority of children in the worst-hit Israeli towns suffer from post-traumatic stress.

Images from towns like Sderot and Ashkelon speak of dejection and a desire to simply live a normal life:

Israeli kids cooped up in a bomb shelter
Israeli kids spend yet another day cooped up in a poorly-lit bomb shelter.

Unlike their counterparts in Israel's "Gaza belt" communities and across the Jewish state, Palestinian children in the Gaza Strip hit the streets, joining their parents in chanting violent slogans against Israel and rushing to the scene of every Hamas facility bombed by Israeli jets.

[Tellingly, Palestinians have no fear of congregating in large numbers at the scenes of such strikes because they know full well that Israel will not indiscriminately attack them - despite their accusations to the contrary.]

Decked out in the colors of Hamas and other Palestinian terror groups and armed with fake and sometimes real weapons, Palestinian children appear to be energized by the violent conditions.

And they have been joined in their enthusiastic calls for additional violence by Palestinians and Arabs across the Middle East:

Arab children call for more war
A Palestinian child in Beirut brandishes an automatic rifle and calls for more violence against Israel.

One can only imagine the passionate condemnations if Israeli children put on similar displays, though the international community seems to have no problem with Arabs and their children behaving in this manner.

Fortunately for Israel, the vast majority of children here have no desire to engage in or cheer on violence, even against there declared enemies, so the point is moot.

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