THE captive in the Reuters photograph could be any man's son, dragged along by no less than seven armed men. A short but powerfully built figure holds the boy from behind, sturdy left arm wrapped across his chest. It is a civilized arm wearing a gold watch and wedding band. His dark face is seen over the boy's head, beneath the plastic full-face visor attached to his helmet.
The look on the child's face is of unmistakable, indescribable fear. It is the face of an adolescent boy, with smooth, clear light olive skin and eyes that appear to be blue. His mouth is agape as though crying, but no tears show on his face. He is dressed in faded blue jeans with dirt scuffs on his knees, and a long-sleeved blue pullover. He could be described as beautiful.
This Reuters photo appeared on the front cover of Washington Report for Middle Eastern Affairs in May. The captive child's left arm is in the grip of a tall, young Israeli who, from his appearance, could be an American from any town, a foot taller than the boy, in green military garb, a rifle hang from a shoulder strap so as to free his arm.
On the other side, a large and powerfully built lantern-jawed Caucasian, his Israeli nametag clearly legible on his jacket, has a strangle hold on the boy. His face is also partly masked by a visor and he wears a war flak jacket and kneepads with the ever-present slung, automatic rifle. His grip on the boy indicates that there must have been a struggle before the photograph was taken, for the big Israeli has apparently wrestled the boy's blue sweatshirt from off his arm and wrapped it around his neck so that the boy's face and chin appear in the neck hole of his own shirt, which twists around his neck like a noose.
The impassive-faced Israelis, all armed to the teeth, encircle the boy in his panic. How is it your author knows it is terror and not defiance that we see in the boy's eyes? His blue jeans attest to his fear, for in his fright, he has wetted his trousers. From his crotch to his knees, he is drenched in his own urine.
How many men can remember this kind of fear? Few of us have ever been so frightened as to humiliate ourselves by drenching our clothes and live to tell of it. Perhaps at five or six, but not at twice that age! Who among us, as child, ever experience fear as this boy does.
This boy may also defecate in his clothes before the ordeal ends, as men under torture often do. For he must know from a hundred true stories that he may not survive the next hour of questioning by the Israeli Defense Forces and the Border Police. He has surely heard the accounts of boys no older than himself who have had their sex organs crushed with clubs, a reminder that more Palestinians are not welcome in Israel. He may have seen, or at least heard of, the bodies of Palestinians returned to parents with fingernails pulled from the quick before being strangled or beaten to death. The torturing of prisoners is no secret in Israel; Prime Minister Ariel Sharon publicly acknowledges it and seeks to have torture re-legalized. This boy's body fluids tell us he knows indescribable fear.
According to The Washington Report on Middle Eastern Affairs, this boy's name is Kamal Ali As'idah who lives with his parents and four sisters in Adi el Jaz in Jerusalem. He was only 10 years old on April 6th when he decided to join the older boys throwing rocks at the unwelcome Israeli Defiance Force intruders.
Little Kamal played a dangerous game of defiance, even though he had little or no chance of hurting the hooded automatic rifle bearing soldiers. According to Washington Report's editorial in the July issue, Kamal got too close, perhaps because he could not throw as far as the older lads. And he did not run as fast; he was the only boy caught and arrested this day. He became the captors' example to discourage his peers from throwing rocks.
The Washington Report Editor followed up the amazing photograph a month later, found Kamal and talked to his family. His father told the Editor that his son was released to him after eight hours in custody. He was badly beaten to the head and legs and one arm was broken.
Kamal's father was subsequently fired from his job with an Israeli tour bus company after the incident became known to his employer -- retribution for the acts of his 10-year-old son. The bus company probably thrives on American Tourists who learn about the nobleness of the Israeli State on its tours. Mr. Ali As'idah may no longer be trusted. Like many of his neighbors, he is now unemployed. Reprisals against families are standard fare in occupied Palestine.
What father of a son cannot find a tightness across his chest on thinking of this 10 years old? Imagine your child so frightened that he cannot hold his urine, dragged away, jailed for 8 hours alone, beaten by men twice his age and strength to the point where his bones break. What manner of men are these who do these acts repeatedly, with the full blessings of their national leader? A few say they hate Arabs, even children -- perhaps they feel they must. Others say the Jewish soldiers are only doing their job. But Christian leaders, what is your excuse?
Rather than accusing the Israeli recruits, we must ask, what manner of men are we? Christian fathers, what have you to say to Kamal's father? You professing Judeo-Christian Celebrity leaders say nothing because you say the men with the clubs and flack jackets are God's "chosen people." But would you tell this to the boy's mother? How can you local church leaders turn your backs on what you cannot deny? Arab Americans, living in comfort, where are your voices?
Did not Jesus say, "I was in prison and you came unto me…inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me?" What would Jesus say about you, his chosen ones, ignoring the torturing of Arab children before your very eyes? If He were to walk into your temple this Sunday, what would Jesus say of your silence to the sniper rifle reports, the ritual assassination of children?
Jesus said, "Suffer these little ones to come to me." He was talking about little Palestinian children then. What has changed? Every time a child screams out in terror in his own humble home, fearing the midnight pounding on the door, Christ sees. He suffers for the terrified children and their mothers. What is your excuse, Pharisee worshipers of the "chosen people" myth? You cling to the pale excuse that these destroyers of the youth and innocence are acting in "self defense." The blood and shattered bones of little Kamal are on you!
Demand a stop to all military support for Israel now! Stop all trade with Israel until torture and terror are excluded from its national policy. Believers, do not junket to Israel and patronize the tourist bus companies like the one that fired Kamal's father. Reconsider your support of any religious organization of any kind that does not speak out for Kamal and his four sisters and for all those like them. Give this letter to your Pastor. This movement can only start in the Christian Church. It must start now.
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