Israeli policeman © Baz Ratner / Reuters
Israeli police had to apologize for a role play where they pretended to shoot a “terrorist” in front of school children during a “community relations day” held in a town close to Tel Aviv. Released video of the demonstration has been condemned, with police saying they put on the public presentation it to “strengthen children’s sense of security.”
Critics highlighted that officers continued to shoot the actor terrorist even when he was on the ground, appearing to be fully immobilized.
RT: Do you think the performance is appropriate for young children? What are your thoughts on the scene that the police acted out for children?
Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad: It is not something that I would want to show to young children myself. We are living in a time when children are exposed to all kinds of violence in video games, on TV, movies. We usually are concerned about that. This is even more concerning because of the moral context in which it is presented. It is not just exposing children to violence, but it seems to be calculated to desensitize them to excessive violence.
RT: What was the purpose of the police visit? What message will the children take away from that violent act that was played out in front of them?
IDA: The demonstration was meant to convince children that it is acceptable to kill someone who is immobilized. One has to assume that this could be carried over in the context of the Israeli hatred for the Palestinians that already exist to say that, “Well, if someone may or may not be immobilized, you should kill him. If someone may or may not be a terrorist, you should kill him as well.” I think that that is the message that the children are going to get from this.
RT: The police apologized, but said: “The demonstration strengthens the children’s sense of security [in light of] the reality in which we live in Israel.” Do you agree?
IDA: …I think what you see is a deliberate effort by the IDF to desensitize Israeli society to that kind of excessive violence… In Israeli society, more and more people are upset by this kind of behavior. What the IDF seems to want to do is to take children at a young age, to desensitize them to that kind of excessive violence and to get them to identify with it and to cheer it on like some kind of game of cowboys and Indians to say that this is what the good guys do…As if to say, ‘you can never be sure with a Palestinian, you can never be sure with a terrorist, you can never be sure that they are not a threat unless you absolutely destroy them.’
If you take it out of context, definitely it looks violent. But don’t forget that the police are actually the army which fights against the terror in Israel. And terror is terror, whether it is in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem, or Moscow, or Beslan, or New York, or Washington, or San Bernardino. We are fighting the same fight, the same war against terror, and this is how the war looks like. Because it is ugly…Don’t forget that this neighborhood, Ramat Ha-Sharon, where the demonstration took place is a neighborhood of highly educated people. I would say leaning very much to the left, peaceful people who I suspect usually do not serve in the army, at least part of them. And they don’t like to see scenes of war and bloodshed; they live like in a cultural bubble. And this is not the real life. And this is why you could hear some parents complaining about this. Nowhere violence gives a good picture. But what can we do, this is the life in the Middle East… Terror is a terror wherever it is. – Dr. Mordechai Kedar from Bar Ilan University in Tel Aviv
RT: How might this impact the way those school children think about Palestinians?
IDA: I am very concerned. I think that not only because of the impact it is going to have on the Palestinians, who are the victims of this – about half of the male Palestinian population has been in an Israeli jail at one time or another, and therefore is seen as suspect – but it impacts on Israeli society as well. That kind of encouragement of an immoral attitude toward the issue of violence is something that is going to be degrading and demeaning to the Israeli society. And also for its negative prospects toward any possibility of any kind of peaceful solution, I realize that a peaceful solution is very difficult, but this is only going to make it less and less likely.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.