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Beasts of No Nation

This is a guest post by Paul M

I listened yesterday to an American NPR piece about the making of a new movie about a young African boy pressed into a rebel army and transformed into a child soldier. The movie is called “Beasts Of No Nation” and, judging by the NPR show and the one brief clip from the film, I doubt I could sit through the whole thing—it sounds too harrowing.

Anyone with a passing interest in the world over the past decade or two is aware of the tragedy of the child soldiers, the crime of taking a young child and so deforming his or her self by some combination of fear, indoctrination, physical abuse and, often, drugs that all that’s left is a machine for killing and the human being he or she would have been is never afterwards retrievable. These children are a kind of living dead. It has become a familiar problem, no more tolerable for its familiarity, that we associate mostly with Africa and to some extent southeast Asia. Yesterday, with this week’s news from Israel still fresh in my mind, I saw for the first time the parallel with what has been happening in Palestinian society.

In Africa and Asia a warlord or a rebel commander will snatch a few children here and there from villages and pad his militia with them. It seems to me now that Fatah in Judea & Samaria, no less than Hamas in Gaza, has all but industrialised this process to pervert entire generations of Palestinian children. Of indoctrination there is no shortage. What Palestinian child can escape drowning in the flood pouring from state-controlled television, radio and newspapers, from schools and mosques? Even summer camps and sports programmes have been contorted into a medium for hate of and violence against Israelis. From all of them, the same message: Israel hates them, Israel wants to kill them, Israel wants to take their land and destroy their holy places, the only thing to do with Israelis is kill them or throw them out.

There is a drug too, addictive and potent and it is called antisemitism. Not all Israelis and not only Israelis must be hated—the target is Jews, Israeli and non-Israeli without distinction. Jews have no connection to the Temple Mount, no connection to the Middle East, they want everything, they already control everything, they’re all-powerful monsters, they’re gutless cowards. Hitler was a lie. Hitler should have finished the job. We will finish the job. Should we be surprised that the latest spate of killings, the new intifada if that’s what it is, is being led by children? Just as important: Who has an antidote to turn these empty-eyed zombies back into human beings again? For if the neighbours raising generations of child soldiers is bad news for Israel, it’s worse still for the Palestinians themselves. Israel will hunker down in its fortress if that’s it’s only option and carry on with the rest of life, but sooner or later Palestinians will have to try and build a functioning society with only this for raw material. How will people for whom playing and killing are the same thing do that? And one last question: There is no one in the developed world who is not horrified by the depravity of the phenomenon of African and Asian child soldiers, but the indoctrination of Palestinian kids to hate is not new and has not been hidden. Where have the good people of Europe and America been?

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