If you were to over wash a T-shirt or a brain you would get the same results of fading, shrinkage and distortion. To go beyond a certain point of cleanliness is mere compulsive behavior. To go beyond a certain point of indoctrination is brainwashing.
The dehumanization of Palestinians by Israel and its supporting media is not mere name-calling of two-legged beasts”, “serpents” and “crocodiles”. It is an Israeli policy. It is the most important aspect of the Palestinian Israeli conflict.
If Palestinians are not considered to be exactly human, then in effect there is no other party to the conflict. Israel can do anything to that party to the conflict it conceives of as being an “it”.
The supporting mass media of such a policy has gone beyond indoctrination. Instead of being the eyes and ears and mouth of the masses, it has become a major contributor to their apparent blindness, deafness and muteness.
Of all the stories that dehumanize Palestinians in the media, an often-drilled story is both exemplary and is most crucial. It is the story that claims Palestinian mothers do not grieve the loss of their children.
A “Mother” is the ultimate symbol of humanity, love, compassion and ‘unconditional love’. If you kill the symbol you kill all related images. If you shake a basic fundamental universal human conception of what a mother symbolizes, all related concepts fall. If Palestinian mothers are far removed from this symbol and all its related associations, then there exists a whole society with abnormal mothers who do not grieve the loss of their children. In other words, the mass media has announced the discovery of a “new species” called Palestinians.
The often-drilled story in the media goes like this:
Palestinians in general and Palestinian mothers in particular are not exactly human. While cats protect their kittens and dogs grieve the loss of their owners, “Palestinian mothers send out their children on the streets” to be killed by unarmed Israeli soldiers. Every morning, these mothers, each gives her children a map of the hotspots and a list of the funerals for that day. They give them two bags of stones; one to throw at the Israeli soldiers and the other to throw at the peace loving settlers.
The story goes on to say that how these Palestinian mothers think is unique in the history of mankind. The mothers “entice their kids to become martyrs”. All these children’s fathers are “activists”. Many of these fathers got killed by Israeli soldiers. Some were killed by “rubber” water guns, others by “pinpoint” plastic arrows. Many of these children’s elder brothers are in Israeli prisons and many more of their younger brothers were exempted from doing prison service because they were rendered handicapped.
The story goes that while experimenting with Jesus Christ “nail bullets” trying to modify them to modern use, they self inflicted life long injuries. Many daughters had miscarriages because it is common amongst Palestinian to sniff “depleted” cooking gas.
These mothers do not have the means to support their many children. One less mouth to feed is not such a bad idea.
According to the story in the media, Palestinian mothers want their children to become martyrs. Since by becoming martyrs, there is this added bonus of either the Israeli soldiers or the settlers demolishing the old house the family inherited from forefathers. The mothers have always hoped to live in barren fields. If the child becomes a martyr, the soldiers would only make the mothers’ dreams come true. The story concludes that when Palestinian mothers hear they have lost a child to a sniper bullet by an Israeli soldier, the mothers ululate. Palestinian mothers do not grieve the loss of their children.
If you believe this often-drilled story in the mass media about Palestinian mothers, you believe anything and everything about Palestinians. If you believe this story, you believe that if Palestinian mothers do not care about the loss of their children why should you care if you hear of Palestinians killed by an Israeli while praying in a Hebron mosque? Why should you care if you hear that Palestinian policemen were killed by Israeli soldiers while having a meal or while asleep? Why should you care if an Israeli soldier kills any Palestinian child if his own mother does not care?
If you believe this story of the media that dehumanizes Palestinians, you will also believe when the media tells you that an orange with an orange color is a red apple after all. If you do not believe that all mothers grieve the loss of their children, then you are at the receiving end of a not so delicate brain washing cycle.
Yes, many mothers ululate when told that an Israeli soldier killed their child. But “only a shipwrecked person who has just escaped drowning could understand the psychology of someone who breaks out in laughter just because he is able to breath”. (Kobo Abe, “the woman in the dunes”) All human beings try to find a meaning for death and a way to come to terms with death of loved ones.
I have no doubt in my mind, none whatsoever that all mothers Palestinians and Jewish grieve endlessly for the loss of their children. Given the situation that Palestinian mothers live under Israeli occupation, the mothers try to give some meaning and dignity to the meaningless and undignified killing of a child. By calling her child a martyr the mother almost redeems the act of the Israeli soldier that is beyond redemption.
The mother wants to believe that her child was killed for a good cause. So why do Palestinian mothers allow their children to be on the streets? The answer is very simple. Schools are almost always shut. There are no Parks. They neither own computers or Nintendos. There are no soccer or tennis camps. There are no winter skiing or summer cruising trips. There aren’t even children’s school trips to Israel.
For an underprivileged Palestinian child there is the ball and there is the street. Normal children between the ages of eight to twelve play ball in the streets or on the moon if there is no place on earth to play. Normal mothers allow children to play ball outdoors. If the situation is an occupation that seems to be never ending, are we to assume that Palestinian children should stay indoors for that duration or go outdoors and get killed?
Children are “enticed” to attend funerals by Israel and not by their mothers, as many media stories claim. Palestinian children by the age of twelve have already eye witnessed many killings, house demolitions, land confiscation and olive trees bulldozing. When Israel cuts off a village by digging a trench around that village it is not something that can be hidden or ignored? It means restriction of movement and supplies in or out of that village.
Almost all Palestinian children have experienced the death of a father a brother or a relative. If a Palestinian child is killed while attending a funeral or likewise, other children either will be in that funeral or learn about it through media coverage. It is no secret therefore that Israeli soldiers are targeting children. By the age of twelve, Palestinian children already know the meaning of occupation and humiliation.
All Palestinians want to end Israeli occupation, children included. If they get killed for their belief of what must end and for the liberation of Palestine, they can only be called martyrs. If a Palestinian mother ululates, it isn’t because she is not grieving the death of her child it is because she feels that her child was sacrificed for the liberation of Palestine.
You do not have to be a psychologist or a sociologist to question the validity and truth in the claim that Palestinian mothers do not grieve the loss of their children. Assuming you have a small dose of humanity, curiosity and interest and you read a recipe that tells you to mix vodka, garlic and ink. You would rightly ask a simple question how come? If you read something that tells you to digest a formula of a mother, a child’s death, and no grieving you would be wrong not to ask how come?
The supporting media of Israeli policy of dehumanizing Palestinians while stunting and immobilizing their readers and audience are mobilizing both the Israeli and the Palestinian people into the most dangerous cycle of all other cycles, that of hatred. Israel can sedate and put down any member of the open Zoo it thinks it has created. It can remove the caretaker of that open Zoo it thinks it has installed. But “you just can’t mishandle creatures and expect success.”(Toni Morrison, “Beloved”) Neither the Israelis nor the Palestinians are going to disappear. What makes Israel and its supporting media think that if the Jews survived the holocaust the Palestinians will not?
In promoting the dehumanization policy of Israel, mass media has gone beyond indoctrination. There are ethics in wars that dictate, although killing is unethical there are certain ethics to being unethical. Must you kill you shall not mutilate. Must you mutilate you shall not bulldoze bodies. Must you roll on tanks you shall not wish you had those victims for “breakfast”. Must you do all that make sure the victims are not ultimately your cousins or brothers. In exactly this same manner, there is a code of ethics for the mass media that for reasons of profit, pressure or pleasure has to be unethical. Must it omit, distort, or twist the truth; it shall not go beyond indoctrination. For beyond indoctrination is going a step further beyond dehumanization.