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Sympathy for Central American Children vs. For Palestinian Children

posted on: Dec 24, 2020

By: Alena Khan/Arab America Contributing Writer

I’m sick to my stomach, which is aching badly. I just barely through looking at the photos that I gathered for possible inclusion in this article. The photos of the Central American children who have been separated from their parents at the border with Mexico, mostly in Texas, are heartbreaking. A child’s tears are always very painful to witness, such as those that are evident in some of the pictures. But it is the photos of the injured/dead Palestinian infants and children which create feelings in me that are indescribable. I was unable to look at very many of them because of the dreadful extent of human suffering that they portray. What I will do in this article is examine the difference in the levels of sympathy for the kids from Central America vs. those of Palestine.

There is broad sympathy in the United States for the Salvadoran and Guatemalan children that are being separated from their parents at the border. There are mass protests taking place around the country, organized by a broad array of organizations. University students, church congregations, community agencies, and a host of others are continuously demonstrating their fury at this latest, but not cruelest, actions of the current administration. I feel a particular sympathy for these children for a few reasons. As a Chicanx (politicized person of Mexican descent born in the U.S.), I am a fellow Latino. As a person born in Texas, I feel particularly shame of what is being done there.

My political activism, which goes back to 1980, was triggered by viewing a film on U.S. atrocities perpetrated in El Salvador at that time. Subsequently, I found out about the equally horrifying things that Special Forces (Green Berets), under the direction of the CIA, were doing in Guatemala. During the next few years, I met numerous refugees from those countries and translated their horrifying and tragic stories to classes at San Diego State University and other venues. As their stories passed through me while I translated, they became a part of me. Yet this sordid history, which led to the destruction of El Salvador’s and Guatemala’s society’s, has disappeared for all intents and purposes.

There is a mixed response from Republicans regarding the separation policy. Some support the Administration’s policy while others are strongly opposed. Melania Trump blames ‘both sides’ for child separations at the border.

Former First Lady Laura Bush, writing in the Washington Post, stated that a zero-tolerance policy was “cruel” and “immoral.” But unlike Melania Trump, Bush placed responsibility firmly on the Trump administration’s policy, not “both sides.”

A chorus of Trump’s allies have joined in criticizing the policy, including the Reverend Franklin Graham, who called it “disgraceful,” former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci, who said it was not “the Christian way” or “the American way,” and Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who said: “President Trump could stop this policy with a phone call.”

Does separating children from their parents do any real harm? A children’s doctor has stated that taking children away from their families not only doesn’t help them thrive, it directly causes long-term harm to their health and well-being.

“Palestinian children receive a special status that no other children receive. Palestinian children are the darlings of the global left…One could even call the sympathy directed toward these Palestinian children as “disproportionate.” In many cases, Hamas uses their own children as human shields. In some cases, the children are not even killed. They cry in front of the cameras.”

Armed terrorists have attempted to execute mass attacks in villages by the border…the Israeli Defence Forces’ land and air operations have prevented us from gaining the world’s sympathy in return for images of mutilated Jewish children. Given a choice between sympathetic news coverage and the lives of our children, I choose life. Hamas chooses otherwise.

Despite these inhuman reactions to the slaughter of innocents, the following quote from a Jewish woman gives me a measure of hope:

“You shall not oppress the stranger, for you know the feelings of the stranger because you were strangers in the land of Egypt” (Exodus 23:9). That familiar verse, which I call “the commandment to empathize,” is God’s decree that we put ourselves in the stranger’s place and feel the feelings of the “other”…Having virtually silenced political dissent, American enforcers of Benjamin Netanyahu’s hard-line political correctness have moved on to the next phase of social control: they’re policing our thoughts and feelings.

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