It was almost a moving moment. A Palestinian child, only 6 years old, goes up to a Jewish child of Israeli settlers and offers him a handshake.
The Palestinian boy isn’t even supposed to be there. The Israel Defense Forces closed off this area of the restive West Bank a few months ago to avoid having to deal with confrontations provoked by the settlers, who often try to drive Palestinian farmers away.
The two lock hands and the Palestinian child quickly turns and walks away. His family cheers for him for the gutsy little gesture. A small aberration from the norm of occupation.
But then the Jewish child picks up a rock. Effortlessly and naturally, he throws it in the direction of the Palestinian kid; and then another one.
It’s not even like he seems concerned with actually hitting him. It’s a reflex, almost as if he was programmed to do so, he just picks up and throws. It doesn’t matter what happened just a moment earlier, or what will happen afterwards.
The Jewish boy seems to only know one thing: Palestinians are his enemy. And the Israeli soldier who stands by and doesn’t try to prevent is also programmed: He is there to protect Jews, regardless of what they do.
Some may argue that this video is edited so we don’t know what really happened. Or that it requires more context: maybe the settler family was once victim to a terror attack, so that somehow changes things. Or maybe the Palestinian child said something awful to the Jewish kid.
But it doesn’t actually matter. This video is heartbreaking because it captures the impossibility of anything good-natured taking place.
Everything human is tainted and overpowered by the violence charted out between occupier and occupied. Everyone already knows their role and it all plays out like theater every day, over and over. Even the children.
Mairav Zonszein is a writer and editor based in Israel. She blogs at +972mag.com.
Handshake to Hate — Caught on Video