'Human shields' a calumny
By Ali Abunimah, Editorial in The Gazette, Montreal on 21 March 2001. Ali Abunimah is a Chicago-based commentator on Palestinian affairs and proprietor of www.abunimah.org.
Peter Reich excuses Israeli forces of killing nearly 100 Palestinian children with the calumny that Palestinians put their "children in the front line to create propaganda martyrdom, which is then supported by financial rewards to the parents" (Letters, March 15, "Israel is demonstrating surprising restraint").

This ought to sound absurd to anyone except those espousing the racist belief that Palestinians are a sub-human species prone to sacrificing their own children simply to embarrass Israel. Jessica Montell of the Israeli human-rights group B 'Tselem, which looked into this oft-repeated allegation, reported that her organization "has found no evidence of organized exploitation of children" during the intifada.

Charges like those Mr. Reich repeats have been used by oppressors throughout history, more recently in apartheid South Africa. In 1985, after hundreds of black youths had been shot dead by South African forces, it was in the Los Angeles Times reported that "senior (South African) police officers have complained recently that their efforts to deal with unrest are hampered by the rioters' tactics, including the use of women and children as human shields."

Peace might come a step closer in the Middle East when people who love Israel are prepared to look it in the face and demand that it end its mistreatment of Palestinians instead of making ugly excuses for it.

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