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Listen to the Young
Last uploaded : Friday 26th Nov 2004 at 06:51
Contributed by : Hassan Shaikh


This is an Awards for All 'Voices' project essay.
I am reading about Israeli soldiers making a Palestinian play a violin for them before letting him pass through a checkpoint. The story may not be true but it reminds me of the terrible scene in Roman Pulaski?s ?The Piano? in which the truly sadistic German soldiers forced elderly Jews to dance and sing despite their state of exhaustion, abject cold and starvation. Before outrage pours in that I am ?comparing IDF soldiers to Nazis? please read on.

Often the victim, after unspeakable mistreatment over a long period of time, becomes the torturer. My friend in school whose grandparents survived Auschwitz is as dismayed as I am about the growing instances of Israeli soldiers ending up in the brig because of misconduct. The IDF was formed as a noble concept and nurtured by Orde Wingate. Many an Arab country would give its eye teeth to have such a well-trained and disciplined force. However, the breakdown of compassion and the ?noble people?s army? concept seems to have gone down the drain.

As a young Muslim I am torn between feelings for my fellow Muslims in Palestine and, as someone born and bred in a Western country, my feelings of considerable admiration for the achievements of the Jewish people. I happen to keep company with Jewish friends and admire their devotion to ?causes? from soup kitchens to book fairs for the underprivileged to collecting bedding and clothes for the homeless of all faiths. By the same token I become apoplectic when these same friends see no fault in the policies of Ariel Sharon. I cannot understand the person who is charitable but who can advocate oppression of an already-starving people.

In my home country we have so much in common with Jewish neighbours. We do not eat pork and we circumcise our sons. We value family and make the dinner table a place of warmth and lively discussion. I admit Judaism has made enormous strides in emancipation of women and was astonished to see a woman rabbi officiating at a friend?s Confirmation process.

I feel the schools must make a special effort to bring people of all faiths together and discuss major issues out in the open. We have too much biased reporting on television and radio and need informed leaders and teachers to meet with our youth groups to explain all sides of the issues.

The world, in my estimation, is becoming a more dangerous place since I was a small child. No-one in my local community can comprehend why the USA is still in Iraq and why they are raiding mosques. Yes, I understand that the insurgents want to scupper the elections but there has to be a more respectful way for the Americans to behave in an ancient Muslim country.

Young people urgently need to have these issues explained and I would support regular symposia in major cities targeting the youth audiences so that they can understand where the older leaders are taking the world -- a world in which some of may have to serve in arms. It is vital that we are helped to understand the reasons for the actions of world leaders and that we are also given a voice on a regular rota: we are, after all, the future of our societies and will not sit by and see our world crumbling without challenging this dark road to destruction. Peace has to be better than war, and we need to be heard.


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