“I picture a dead Arab”: In disturbing video, Israeli children’s words echo indoctrination

How did it feel to imagine killing Arabs? “I felt happy” one girl answers.

She was one of several children who spoke about committing acts of violence in this video shot at the Israeli army museum by Israeli satirical filmmaker Itamar Rose.

But the children’s answers – in Hebrew and subtitled in English – are serious. As they climb all over tanks, sit at machine-guns positions, or explain how to use a hand-grenade, Rose asks them their views.

Without hesitation, the children express their readiness to kill. Asked what he imagined when he was sitting in a tank, one boy answers, “I picture a dead Arab.”

Of course, these children are no more ready to kill than any other children, nor can they be any more capable of understanding the import of their words, at least not yet.

The children in Rose’s film bring to mind the notorious image of Israeli schoogirls writing messages on artillery shells about to be fired into Lebanon during Israel’s 2006 assault that killed more than 1,200 Lebanese civilians and devastated much of the country.

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Israeli girls write messages on shells ready to be fired by a mobile artillery unit toward Lebanon on 17 July 2006.

(Pedro Ugarte / AFP)

Indoctrination

All these children are victims of Israel’s militaristic, settler-colonial culture. As Nurit Peled-Elhanan documents in her important new book Palestine in Israeli School Books, recently reviewed by The Electronic Intifada, Israeli schoolchildren are indoctrinated with negative stereotypes and outright hatred of Palestinians and Arabs from an early age.

Moreover, according to Peled-Elhanan, Israeli textbooks, “present Israeli-Jewish culture as superior to the Arab-Palestinian one, Israeli-Jewish concepts of progress as superior to Palestinian-Arab way of life and Israeli-Jewish behavior as aligning with universal values.”

Education is only one aspect; Israeli children grow up in a highly militarized settler-colonial culture where most know they are destined for the army where they will be ordered to occupy and kill. Indoctrination at an early age must be an important part of ensuring that only very few will refuse to undertake such tasks.

Palestinian children in Israeli propaganda

Ironically, a staple of Israeli hasbara has long been that Palestinian children are ‘taught to hate’ in their schools – a claim long-ago completely debunked.

Pro-Israel propaganda sites often revel in images of Palestinian children posing with weapons, as if such images prove that Palestinian children are indeed uniquely vicious, or deserve no sympathy or justice when killed.

This type of propaganda reflects what Joseph Massad has called Arabopaedophobia – the Israeli and Western fear, hatred and dehumanization of Arab children.

Children live with the consequences of Israel’s violent occupation and oppression of the Palestinian people, whether it is Israeli children indoctrinated to continue this oppression as adults, or Palestinian children brutalized and traumatized by the organized violence of occupation, colonialism and apartheid that pervades their lives.

This is never a reflection on the children, but on the adults who subject them to such ugliness.

Comments

When Israel was founded by terrorists in 1948, those of us who grew up in Jewish neighborhoods as teenagers predicted an armed, bloody, interminable turmoil. We never imagined that Israelis would impose a fascist mind-set on their own children. G_d help all of the children everywhere on Earth from any malicious motive imposed on them by adults with evil intent.

I have just seen adults changing innocent children into future mass murderers. These adults should be tried for crimes, under international law. My dream is to influence U.S. lawmakers into stopping all financial and military aid to Israel, aid that has repeatedly empowered Israel to threaten and carry out repeated massive slaughter of men, women, and children. Israel's rationale is that they are engaged in self defense. In reality, it is the Palestinians whom we have repeatedly denied the same right of self defense that has been for centuries honored the world over. We must not forget that the Zionist project in Palestine began with massive ethnic cleansing, which we have condemned when it was done by Serbs - belatedly to be sure, but in reality. A crime against humanity doesn't become a righteous act when done by our friends. Our government should do a clear headed cost-benefit analysis of our "alliance" with Israel, a relationship in which Israel constantly takes and never gives and in which we have abandoned our commitment to impartial justice. Our excuse seems to be that we benefit from their intelligence, but this need arose from the hatred of our nation by millions in the Middle East as the result of our sponsorship of the crimes of Israel.

Best part is...Most of these children are ethnically Arabs, i.e. their parents or grandparents came from North Africa or the Middle East. Especially the little boy in the freeze of the video. Self-hate? I think all this rhetoric is just to compensate and "prove" their "Jewishness" to their European-descent compatriots. Ironically, its the European-Jews in Israel who are pro-peace for the most part (sans Netanyahu) and the Arab-descent Jews who are the warhawks. *Sigh* Rant over...

Eyal Sivan has documented some of this indoctrination in his 1990 film IZKOR, SLAVES OF MEMORY http://www.eyalsivan.info/inde...
The line is drawn from kindergarten to the moment in which every Israeli (except for the Orthodox and Arab-Israelis) fulfills their 'destiny', to do their military service.
The "Breaking the Silence" group (now approximately 800 ex-soldiers) speak about this eloquently, and heartbreakingly - because they were once children and believed what they were told. Equally heartbreaking is the Christian, or any other religion, indoctrination of children. Some of them have grown up to serve in the US military and play out their contempt for Muslims in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Why kids have to pay a price? Why hatred is being embedded in kids at their very first initial stages of life? Why is that we have to place the kids in a situation, where a kid would say to another "My dad told me that you arabs are devilish people," and other kid's reply would be: "My dad have not told me anything because, you murdered him." Why? Why? Why? There is different questions without answers, but as soon there is, then everything would be solved.

This stuff is most definitely true, and most of the time in any type of war environment the children are hurt the most. Why? Because of propaganda, and brainwashing. Although this type of brainwashing is happening in Israel right now, it has always happened all around the world. Children are brainwashed to think that killing is okay if it's the enemy. An article came out a few weeks ago talking about the exact same thing happening in Syria right now with the Shias, Sunnis, and Alavis. Sunni kids talk about how happy they are when the Shias and Alavis die, and vice versa. Basically what I'm trying to say is that just because this article is towards the Israelis, they're not the only ones who have children speaking like this.