The last few months, I have blogged a lot about kindergartens in Oslo. According to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, “the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration in all actions affecting children” (Article 3). When I saw that the best interests of the child were not the main concern of right wing Oslo politicians, I did everything I could to stop them in the attempt to privatize public kindergartens and hence push away valuable caregivers from small and vulnerable children in Oslo.
The best interests of the child are important Norway, in Syria and in Gaza. Today is the 22nd of July, and I think of the children and young people who lost their lives on the island of Utøya three years ago, killed by a single terrorist who despised their ideals. They were trapped, it was the darkest of all nightmares. A man born the same year as I was, in 1979, wanted them all dead. They ran, they swam, they held each other, they tried to protect one another. The one thing they had done wrong was belong to the youth wing of the Labour party. They embraced people from all over the world whereas the killer hated them for not hating muslims, as he did. His own race was superior in his eyes. Anyone who would support “multiculturalism”, as he called it, was the enemy.
Shortly after the 22nd of July 2011 I went with my own little family of four and my whole Spanish family in law to my parents’ summer house in Sweden. We were altogether 14 people, so my little family chose to sleep in a shed by the lake. The first night I heard something happening on the roof or outside the shed. I froze, could not move, I was certain there was another killer outside who would exterminate us. There was of course no one there, but the water, the little shed in the middle of no where must have brought to mind all the horrific scenes and stories of Utøya, and my head was not working rationally. I have never been as afraid in my whole life.
It did not happen to me again. Things went more or less back to normal. There were no more massacres in Norway, no more terrorist acts, I could sleep at night.
Most of the young people who were there on Utøya that day probably still have problems sleeping. The children of Gaza, small children have gone through the most horrific experiences one can imagine three times already. How can they sleep at night ever again? They have learned that they are never safe. A state called Israel can determine to bomb them, without their best interest ever being a primary consideration. I imagine how they hear the sound of the bombs falling, the sirens, the sound of war. Pictures of children crying and clinging to a caregiver, terrified, are burnt into my mind.
Israel’s actions affect children in an extremely harmful way. The young people of AUF, the youth wing of the Labour party, have condemned Israel’s actions for many years now, as can be seen at their webpage. The people of Gaza are also trapped. Solidarity is reaching from the young people at Utøya to those affected on the Gaza Strip.
As the Norwegian terrorist, Israel made sure the people of Gaza could not run before attacking them.
Whereas Anders Behring Breivik saw the young AUF-ers as if they were bricks in a video game, dehumanizing them, and has shown no remorse, Israel is doing the same thing. The IDF on twitter posts cheap graphics ticking off an “Hamas to do list”, while taking no responsibility for Israel’s war crimes. It looks like something taken from a table game.
I condemn Hamas, but I do not find it is fair to use Hamas as an excuse to oppress and kill civilians as if they were the bricks to be won in a game. If Israel is a moral country as its PM claims, then why has Israel not taken the child’s best interests into account? Had Israel cared the least about the children of Gaza, this immorality would have stopped long before ten children were dead. Israel would have had to acknowledge that its precision was not good enough and that the chances of killing many children were higher than not killing them. Instead, Israel is dehumanizing Palestinian parents claiming they bring the children to places where they will be killed so that they can harm Israel.
I want to honor the young AUFers by following their own ideals of peace, of us all being able to show that all people have the same value, that we can all, intead of clapping our hands while watching bombs falling down, embrace values of equality and non violence. We must learn from what happened during world war II, we must know that all people are worth the same, and that killing children can never be defended, ever.