It's not very hard to con a kid. Children will believe most anything that adults they trust tell them. Children believe in witches and tooth fairies and they sit up watching for Santa Claus to come down the chimney on Christmas Eve. Here in Western civilization, the fairy tales that we substitute for the real world in children's heads are usually meant to make an unpleasant experience a little less so, as when a parent encourages a child when he or she loses a tooth to put it under the pillow and expect a present in its place the next day. We use Santa Claus as an excuse to give children presents and create a party-like family holiday. Yassir Arafat, on the other hand, through his movement, Fatah, uses children's gullibility to murder them.
From 1993 to 2000 it was fairly easy to recognize a suicide bomber, or at least have a pretty good sense of his personality, general psychological make-up, and even what he looked like. He was a young religious male, fired up by visions of the hereafter where there would be forty black-eyed virgins at his disposal (perish the thought that he should have at least one woman who had experience in the job). Either because the bomber's profile was getting too easy to recognize or they were running out of virgins in paradise, the profile of the bombers changed. Now it was children bombers blowing themselves up. Sadly, their parents did not treat this conduct as the ultimate lunatic nightmare act for a child, but rather, they encouraged the belief in their children that after the child is killed, he or she would be blessed by their people as martyrs.
A recent poll in the Gaza Strip indicated that 78% of the population approved of suicide bombing. Iraqi's resident butcher Saddam Hussein raised the reward given to the families of the dead children from $10,000 to $20,000. In a culture that has a serious history of slavery and engaging in the slave trade -- measuring of human life in terms of price -- this monetary reward might also be a causative factor. Recent studies, however, seem to indicate that after the initial pride of the parents of suicide-bomber children wears off, and the adulation of the neighbors fades (and probably after the $20,000 is used up), the parents fall back to a more understandable position and grieve over the death of their child. Those emotions however, are remote from feeling guilt, as they should, for being an accomplice in their own child's death.
Simple logic dictates that a more sensible arrangement would be for Mr. Arafat to do the suicide bombing himself rather than delegating it to children. After all he is 72 years old, has been wearing the same bed sheet for years, and enjoyed all the pleasures that political power by day and sheep at night can bring, and obviously has fewer unborn tomorrows than dead yesterdays remaining in his life. As a matter of fact, if he would blow himself up before he got to Israel, in the long run, considering Israel's reaction, he would keep more Palestinians alive than if he were successful in a suicide bombing in Israel.
Over here in America children are not doing too well either, particularly at the hands of those who should know better. A current book, "Harmful to Minors: The Perils of Protecting Children from Sex" by Judith Levine is attracting much attention. Her basic premises are that we devote too much energy and monies in trying to protect children from molesters. She believes that the incidents of child molestation are greatly exaggerated. She, as expressed in her book, also believes there may be nothing wrong with teenagers having sex with adults. One has the uncharitable thought that if it were Ms. Levine's daughter who was molested or seduced by an adult, she might not feel the same way.
Then there are the daily reports of children who have been sexually abused by clergy.
All in all it has been a pretty tough year for children -- and the year has hardly begun.
Jackie Mason is a comedian. Raoul Felder is a lawyer.
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