From Gush Shalom
FOR GOD'S SAKE, are they crazy?
They congregate in the marketplace, boys of 15, 16 years, take stones and throw them at our soldiers, who are armed to the teeth. The soldiers shoot, sometimes over their heads, sometimes straight at them. Every day there are wounded, every few days there are dead.
What for? They do not have the slightest chance of changing the policy of the Israeli occupation. Only very rarely do the boys hit a soldier and cause him a slight injury.
Yet they go on. Why?
A FRIEND of mine sent me an article by a respected Palestinian. He described his first demonstration, many years ago.
The way he tells it, he was 15 years old, living in a village under occupation, hating Israeli soldiers. With a group of friends of the same age, he went to the center of his village, where a line of soldiers was waiting for them.
Each of the demonstrators picked up a stone -- no lack of stones in an Arab village -- and threw it at the soldiers. The stones fell far short, causing no harm.
But -- and here the adult man grew ecstatic -- what a wonderful feeling! For the first time in his life the boy felt that he was hitting back! He was no longer a despised, helpless Palestinian! He was upholding the dignity of his people! The old leaders may be subservient! Not he, not his friends!
For the first time in his life he was proud, proud to be a Palestinian, proud to be a courageous human being.
What a wonderful feeling! For this feeling he was ready to risk his life, again and again, ready to become a Shaheed, a witness, a martyr.
There are many thousands like him.
READING THIS description was exciting, because it reminded me of something in my own remote youth. When I was exactly the same age, 15.
It was in May, 1939. The British rulers of Palestine had just published a White Paper, putting the dampers on our Zionist vision. The world war was drawing close, and the British Empire needed the support of the Arab world.
A few months earlier, I had joined the National Military Organization (commonly called the Irgun), the most militant underground organization devoted to the fight against the British colonial regime. The last push for me was a disturbing event: for the first time the British had hanged a Jewish "terrorist." I was determined to fill his place.