When I was in fifth grade, my class was taken to Caesarea beach to engage in what apparently would be described now as a "series of combat and guerilla warfare drills."More specifically, I recall we were playing Irgun fighters attempting to smuggle new Jewish immigrants onto Palestine's soil under the watchful eye of our British oppressors, in the course of which we had to crawl under wires, run for cover under fire and engage in several other "combat drills."
The reason for this reminiscing, pleasurable as it might be in its own right, is the all-too-familiar annual news story and ensuing public uproar over the "terror summer camps" organized in the Gaza Strip, in which Palestinian tykes play the same games Israeli kids have been playing since before the State of Israel was born.
To the dismay of righteous readers, a Ynetnews report released on Wednesday described how those young "would-be terrorists" play "kidnap the soldier" from an Israeli flag-adorned "outpost," while their comrades provide "covering fire" using plastic guns.
The story promptly garnered 4,400 shares and countless responses on Facebook, most finding it to be further proof of the uncompromising Gazan dedication to terror and to Israel's status as a "villa in the jungle."
What they neglect to remember is, of course, that similar activities, dubbed "tourist attractions," are organized inside their own patch of the jungle.According to a 2012 Ynet report, Gush Etzion has become a hot destination for tourists seeking an Israeli experience like no other: The opportunity to pretend-shoot a terror operative.
Gaza "terror" summer camp (Photo: AFP)
Photos show the same gun-toting toddlers, only this time, they're Jewish kids target practicing in Samaria's rolling hills.
"Upon entering the range, his five-year-old daughter, Tamara, bursts into tears. A half hour later, she is holding a gun and shooting clay bullets like a pro," the report reads.
The head of the Gush Etzion Regional Council is cited in the article proudly exclaiming that this kind of experience turns the district into a world-famous "tourist gem."
Dismay should thus be dispensed equally or perhaps not-at-all. Despite what we might like to believe about childhood as an innocent paradise devoid of violence, kids love action, and I dare anyone to stop children from playing "cowboys and Indians," the well-known "genocide promoting" make-believe.
Thinking back of myself as a child, I probably would have clamored for a chance to target practice anything, as long as there was a gun involved, and I don't think I was alone at this. As adults have their own penchant for indoctrinating children to their violent beliefs, these passions often meet to the general misfortune of all involved.
Obviously, it cannot be stressed enough that giving guns to kids to shoot make-believe terrorists, soldiers or what have you is repugnant. But the moral panic and generalization the like of which were seen following Wednesday's report are exaggerated and show a blind spot for similar trespasses on the Israeli side.
Either condemn all such activities or take the high-road and ignore them as what they most probably are – absolute militant foolishness.
The lesson is simple – you can't hold an AK-47 at both ends.