where is unicef?

  1. 5,748 Posts.
    Sep. 29, 2003
    Editorial: Where is UNICEF?

    Amid the news of the latest murders in Negohot, in which 27-year-old Eyal Yerberbaum and seven-month-old Shaked Avraham lost their lives, another atrocity should not be simply glossed over: the use of children to assist in terrorist attacks against Israel.

    On Friday night, two Palestinian teenagers, aged 15 and 16, were caught by the IDF at the fence around the Gaza Strip. The two, it turns out, were paid NIS 100 each to risk their lives retrieving bags of weapons that were left at the fence by terrorists the previous night in a botched infiltration attempt.

    These reports received scant attention here, where it is well known that no age is too tender to begin indoctrination toward hatred of Israel. We have seen babies in strollers with slogans of hatred wrapped around their foreheads, summer camps named after suicide bombers, and music videos that proclaim the wonders of "martyrdom" and murder. How many times have we heard the parents of suicide bombers declaring their pride that their child had committed mass murder in an Israeli bus or a crowded cafe?

    Such behavior may no longer warrant mention on the Israeli news. But the question remains, where is the world when it comes to the wholesale enlistment of Palestinian children in the cause of terrorism?

    The Web site of UNICEF, the UN agency devoted to the rights and lives of children, decries the fact that "millions of children are exploited, millions are abused, millions are victims of violence.
    Every day, they are bought and sold, imported and exported like consumable things. Children are forced to be soldiers, prostitutes, sweatshop workers, servants."

    UNICEF is right, of course. The exploitation of children is an issue of epidemic proportions, and one that, elsewhere in the world, the agency does good work in combating.

    Yet in its description of the plight of Palestinian children, not a single word is devoted by UNICEF to their systematic exploitation by both the Palestinian Authority and Hamas.

    UNICEF has 7,000 employees all over the world and is backed by over 100 member nations. Do they all believe that it is acceptable to prepare children to blow themselves up, pay them to run guns, or to throw stones at soldiers at the risk of their lives? Or, to put it more charitably, do they really believe this is an issue they can reasonably ignore?

    Perhaps UNICEF can be dismissed as a politicized organization, though one would like to believe that at least the defense of children would remain above international politics. But what about such organizations as Defense for Children International, which is not directly affiliated with any government?

    A search on DCI's Web site will produce plenty on the effects of occupation on Palestinian children, and some information of the problems of Israeli children.

    But it will yield nothing that we could find on what Palestinians are doing to their own children.

    There is a reason why there are international organizations, both governmental and non-governmental, devoted to the protection of children. Such organizations should be shouting from the rooftops about such blatant exploitation of children regardless of the cause. At least as puzzling is the lack of interest in the effect such indoctrination and exploitation inevitably has on the cause of peace. If children's groups do not care about the children themselves, why can they not see that another generation is being instilled with hatred and trained for war?

    None of this even touches on the rights of Israeli children to go to schools that do not have to be protected by armed guards; to travel on buses without taking their lives into their hands; to go to discos or theaters or restaurants without fear. In today's world, it would perhaps be too much to ask that the effects of the Palestinian onslaught on Israeli children be studied, noted, or commented upon.

    Yet by ignoring the plight of Palestinian children, such groups in effect become parties to their exploitation and partners in a conspiracy of silence.

    Palestinian children and our own deserve better.

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