Parental Love, Israeli-style

Where else do they force a little child to crawl with a backpack on his back? When Hamas treats its children like this, Israeli parents tut-tut with disgust: Look at these beasts.

Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy
Child in army gear crawling soldier-style as officer encourages him during weapons display in Efrat, Independence Day 2014.
Child in army gear crawling soldier-style as officer encourages him during weapons display in Efrat, Independence Day 2014.Credit: AFP
Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy

Does a parent love his toddler when he sends him to crawl on Independence Day in the sand under a fence, a huge army backpack attached to his little body? Does a father love his son when he sends him to kindergarten to return with a memorial candle and Holocaust kit in hand? Does a mother love a daughter when she bakes a cake for a soldier who will come to kindergarten and tell the little one about his heroic acts in the territories? Do we love our children when we sign them up for the monstrous “Adopt-a-barricade” campaign?

Do we love them when we send them to high schools that compete with one another for the most graduates enlisting in combat units and even take pride in the number of fallen? Do we really love our children when we agree to their starting Holocaust studies practically from age zero? Do we really love them when we agree for the school to show them horrendous images from a terror attack? Do parents who remain quiet, or who may even get excited, when the brainwashing campaigns planting fear, jingoism and militarism begin here earlier and earlier really love their children and look out for them?

The day after the week of the nation, in which everything that is thrown at their minds throughout the year is squeezed into specially concentrated capsules, the suspicion awakens that Israeli parents don’t really love their children. If this weren’t the case, would it be reasonable that they send them to this educational inferno, that they would be quiet in the face of all the harm they are doing to their children?

It is standard to think that Israeli parents are among the most caring, involved, anxious and protective of parents. The politician who does not mix in “the future of our children” into every speech has yet to be born. The parent who does not get into every detail of a rhythmic movement course for their child has yet to be born.

Enrichment classes under every flowering tree, parents’ committees that are feared by schools, of which they are the directors in practice. They even reach the army, these dedicated parents, calling the squad commander in the dark of night when their child soldier can’t fall asleep, or when his shoes are too tight for his sensitive feet. And here they are, these same supportive parents, quiet and assenting, in an educational system that has no parallel in the world, save for perhaps North Korea.

Where else do they force a little child to crawl with a backpack on his back, as in the unbelievable AFP picture depicted on the front page of Wednesday's Haaretz Hebrew edition, which must have been published worldwide? When Hamas treats its children like this, these same parents tut-tut with disgust: Look at these beasts, look what they’re doing to their children. But the settlement of Efrat, where the grotesque sight took place, is of course a source of pride.

If it weren’t so sad, it’d make you cry from laughter, the sight of the army major instructing the little tyke in front of the melting parents. This picture should have been used as evidence for a complaint (which no one will file) to the National Council for the Child.

Moreover, why does a little child need to go back from second grade holding a memorial candle with operating instructions: Scan the barcode and get a Holocaust victim? In the case of the child I know, the victim was Dora Gershon, a Jewish singer who perished in 1943 in Auschwitz. “Connecting to the Holocaust” is the name of this pedagogic exercise, for 8-year-old children.

“On Thursday we will host Nahshon soldiers,” a Tel Aviv preschool teacher wrote parents. “Please send necessities, and we will gather them into one package. You can send snacks, nuts, coffee, hard soap and anything you deem appropriate. ... It’d be a shame for the children to miss it.” The preschool children are three years old. Nahshon is a battalion in the Kfir division, and its main work is in the occupied territories. Need I add anything?

Are parents who expose their children to all this really parents who love their children?

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