‘Palestinian or Israeli, if you prick us, do we not bleed’
The similarities in the stories from Israel and Gaza are striking. Both had young fathers trying to keep their two-year-olds safe from the brutal realities of violence
Reading New York Times editorial board member Alex Kingsbury (paywall) on how he talked to his seven-year-old daughter about war, I was reminded of two touching stories I heard after violent atrocities kicked off in the Middle East with Hamas’s October 6 attack on innocent Israelis.
In northern Gaza, before the family (hopefully) left their home as per Israel’s order, I heard a young father describe life as a bombed and besieged people. He said that he and his wife had been finding it hard to distract their two-year-old son without any external resources such as television.
The family had nothing to look at other than the lights and sounds in the skies on account of the bombs. With no electricity, no television, no internet, the family resorted to staying close, the parents hugging the child to them, soothing him as agents of death fell out of the smoky sky.
We have no other way to reassure my son and prevent a deep trauma, said the father, but through the force of our love. Even then, he added, we don’t know how he will process it all.
In Israel, another young father told the harrowing story of how he tried to hide his family as brutal Hamas killers roamed outside, looking to butcher innocent Jews.
His daughter, he said, was only two and wouldn’t have understood the need to be quiet. So he played a game with her, telling the toddler that whoever was the most quiet would win a favourite prize. The child fell silent, while the father listened anxiously to the sounds of the armed men outside looking for Israeli victims. The family survived, testament perhaps to the father’s shrewd ability to understand child psychology.
The similarities in the stories from Israel and Gaza are striking. The similarities in the stories from Israel and Gaza are striking. Both had young fathers trying to keep their two-year-olds safe from the brutal realities of violence. Both men were consumed by love, pain and concern for their children. As the NYT’s Mr Kingsbury noted in New York, far away from Gaza and Israel: “…conflicts are mostly arbitrary suffering and that all trauma is transmissible. We owe it to our children to spare them from those truths for as long as possible.”
So to the peacemaker lamenting the hatred on the killing fields, social media and news commentary, Palestinian or Israeli: we are but human and the same. To quote the bard: If you prick us, do we not bleed?
Or, if we have children, do we not put our arms around them?