Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Israeli Teenagers Held in Attack on Palestinian Youths

Two fifteen year old girls were arrested on Monday in Jerusalem, bringing to seven the number of Jewish teenagers arrested in connection with the brutal hate attack on young Palestinians last week, which left one of them critically injured.

"Two 15-year-old girls were arrested today, in addition to the five youngsters already arrested… One of the girls incited the teenagers to attack the young Arabs by saying that she had been attacked by Arabs in the past" police spokeswoman Luba Samri told AFP.

The Israeli government has expressed condemnation of the attack, which took place in Jerusalem's crowded Zion Square. According to witnesses, there were hundreds of onlookers who failed to intervene and stop the violence.

The assault on several Palestinian youths raises concerns that
the poisoned political divide is affecting some Israeli youths.

Interaction between Israelis and Palestinians sharply declined since the second intifada and the erection of the wall along and within the West Bank. Ten years ago, many Israelis spoke Arabic while Palestinians also learned Hebrew, but today this is no longer the case as the two communities are growing increasingly isolated from one another.

According to Robi Damelin, SAVE’s Chapter Leader in Israel, many Palestinian youths have never made an Israeli friend in their lives, and a great number of Israeli youngsters have never even met a Palestinian outside of army service: “We speak to more than 25,000 students every year, these kids have never met a Palestinian in their lives. They have no idea who is on the other side and this is one of the biggest problems that we have as two nations." According to Robi, this isolation often leads to the development of stereotypes that hinder acceptance and tolerance among the young generations on each side of the conflict.

Robi, who lost her son while he was serving in the Israeli Army, joined efforts with Siham Abu Awwad, SAVE’s Chapter leader in Palestine who also lost a brother during the first intifada. Together, both mothers advocate for a human solution to the ongoing conflict.

SAVE strongly condemns the attacks in Jerusalem; it is truly troubling and saddening to see youngsters carrying so much hate when they are meant to be the future peacemakers of our world. SAVE encourages women and mothers in particular to follow in the footsteps of Robi and Siham and surround their families and communities with the crucial values of tolerance and non-violence.

For more information on the attacks read Isabel Kershner's article in the NYT.

Listen to Siham Abu Awwad and Robi Damelin’s message of peace and forgiveness:

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Flash Points: Edit Schlaffer presents SAVE on CBS