17 October 2013
Reflection: Remember your childhood
Remember if you can
Remember being a
child during the holidays.
Remember the feeling
of being free of school for a week.
Remember the feeling
of anticipation; the presents, the food, your favourite aunt or
decorations, the days of preparations.
Remember the meal,
the family together around a single table.
presents, the sweets, your favourite dish.
weather, the songs sung, the music played, the family games.
Feel the memory, the
fondness, the emotion it stirs in you.
As you’re sitting
around that nostalgic table of food, presents, and fun, imagine a
loud banging outside the house. Imagine a man in a green uniform with
a backpack, a large gun, and a helmet on his head. His face is young
but stern. There’s one, then another, then another, and you hear more
outside. These young soldiers shout in a language you don’t
understand. They push your family into a small room and lock the
As you sit cramped
together in this room, you hear sounds from outside, you hear
unrecognizable shouting, loud bangs, crashes and the familiar sound
of smashing glass. Your father is holding you, comforting you,
telling you everything will be ok.
Time passes, the noise from
outside rises then falls. Eventually, after three hours or so, the
locked door opens. Two of the soldiers step into the room. They take
your father by the arm and lead him outside, then they come back,
look around and take you by the arm as well. You start to struggle,
to kick, trying to free yourself of the soldiers’ grasp. One of them
hits you in the face. Your hear your father, he’s calling to you,
trying to calm you. You give in, you allow yourself to be taken.
As you are
escorted through the home, you see the damage the soldiers have
caused. Wardrobe doors are hanging off their hinges, your clothes are
all over the floor, your bed is on its side, mattress ripped, the
stuffing protruding. Tables are upside down, the feast trodden into
the floor, mixed with smashed glass and your favourite childhood toy,
broken. As you and your father are dragged into the street, into the
night, surrounded by armed men, what would go through your
These are not the memories of your youth. These are a
far stretch away from the childhood memories, but these are the
memories of many Palestinian boys.
These will be the
memories of fourteen year old Majd Al Haddad from Aziria, visiting
family in Hebron on the first day of Eid Al Adha, an important
Islamic holiday, where family’s gather, feast, and exchange gifts
and sweets. Majd had been seen in the street with a toy gun, a common
present for boys on the Eid. Majd’s family was told by the soldiers
that they were looking for this “weapon.” After his arrest, he
was taken to a police station within the settlements and released
hours later; the authorities brought no charges against him.
This is the reality
of Palestinian boys, seen through the military lens of suspicion and
fear. A teenager could be a terrorist, a child could be a killer. All
are suspected and treated accordingly. High days and holidays are the
same as any other to the military, but for the family, another happy
holy day has been ruined.