At-Tuwani: To a Palestinian Child

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by Laura Ciaghi

Instructions for living in the South Hebron Hills:

1.    Do not go into nearby orchards to steal cherries.  Twenty-five heavily armed adults from the neighboring Israeli settlement may attack your village, screaming, pushing and threatening your parents while soldiers and police stand and watch.

2.    Make sure to have unarmed internationals with you on your way to school.  When adult settlers attack you, the internationals might end up as battered as you, but their injuries will give you your only chance to have the media tell your story.

3.    Do not get sick (or try to be born) at inappropriate times such as nights, Jewish holidays, U.S. presidential visits, or when the local military commander has planned a checkpoint between your house and the hospital for no particular reason.  You will make the soldiers feel uncomfortable when, following mandatory security policies, they refuse to let you pass by foot or in your parent’s arms, because they suspect you may have swallowed a bomb.  If you cough, vomit or look sad, you might confirm their suspicions.

4.    Learn by heart some good invocations to chase away bad dreams.  When soldiers come to your house in the middle of the night, aim their rifles at your elder brothers whom they have pushed against the wall, and then detonate sounds grenades as a way of saying “goodbye,” you will fall asleep again afterwards and wake to be a cute, joyful, polite child the following morning.

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