Guest Post by Aharan Eviatar
The recent ghastly events in Arizona, especially the killing of Christina Greene, gunned down by a political lunatic at age nine, lead one to think of the phenomenon of political killing of children and what it implies for society. In particular, I would like to bring up along with Christina, two other cases of killing of little girls, one in Arizona and the other in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The story of Christina is well known and documented in all its horror by the media. The other two cases are less well known.
• Brisenia Flores, like Christina Greene was 9 years old, and she also lived in Pima County, Arizona, not far from Tucson. Like Christina, she was gunned down in cold blood by killers with strange ideas about society and politics. A quote of some detail from Will Bunch in his blog County Fair on the site Media Matters:
‘As her mother tells it, 9-year-old Brisenia Flores had begged the border vigilantes who had just broken into her house, “Please don’t shoot me.” But they did — in the face at point-blank range, prosecutors allege, as Brisenia’s father sat dead on the couch and her mother lay on the floor, pretending that she too had been killed in the gunfire.”
• Abir Aramin was 10 years old and lived in the town of Anata in the Occupied West Bank. In January 2007 she was killed by a rubber bullet to the head fired by an Israeli Border Policeman (the Border Police are really ordinary soldiers who serve in this capacity) as she was going home from school. The Army has consistently denied that she was killed by a soldier despite pathology reports and concocted a cock and bull story that she was hit by a rock during a riot. In fact there was no riot at the time.
It might appear to the cursory glance that these cases are similar. In fact, there are important differences between them, While the seriously warped mind of Christina’s Tucson murderer, Jared Lee Loughner, is beyond a layman’s understanding, the motives of one of Brisenia’s alleged killers– a woman named Shawna Forde — are pretty clear: She saw herself as the leader of an armed movement against undocumented immigrants, an idea that was energized by her exposure to the then-brand-new Tea Party Movement. The anonymous killer of Abir was motivated purely by blood lust and while Loughner and Forde are in custody awaiting or facing trial, the murderous soldier is being shielded by his commanders and by the legal and military establishment in Israel.
Arizona is not the loveliest state in the Union. For decades it refused to recognize the birthday of Martin Luther King as a legal holiday and last year enacted racist legislation against immigrants. Nonetheless, it has put Forde on trial for murder despite the fact that the victims are of Mexican origin. Even Arizona, fascist and racist as it may be, has red lines with respect to the rule of law that it refuses to cross.
In Israel, on the other hand, it took Bassem and Salwa Aramin, Abir’s parents, three years to fight the Israeli court system with the aid of the Israeli human rights organization Yesh Din and a devoted human rights lawyer, Michael Sfard. Eventually they won some semblance of justice for Abir. Initially police investigators closed the file on their daughter’s death without attributing blame for it.The child’s mother, Salwa, who had always contended that her child had been killedby a police rubber bullet, broke down in tears when she heard that there was to be no prosecution, feeling “that they had killed her again”. Then, when they contested the police decision in the High Court, it refused to re-open the case on the grounds that she could have been killed by a stone thrown by Palestinian rioters.
The family’s subsequent civil suit succeeded last August when Jerusalem District Judge Orit Efal-Gabai declared unequivocally in open court:
“Abir and her friends were walking down a street where there were no rock-throwers; therefore there was no reason to shoot in their direction. It is clear that Abir’s death, caused by a rubber bullet shot by border guards, was due to negligence…”
Judge Efrat-Gabai gives the Border Police the benefit of the doubt with respect towhy Abir was shot and the Army will certainly continue to drag its feet forever in investigating the case. Let us all pray for the day when Israel progresses to the level of Arizona in terms of respect for the rule of law and the accountability of the holders of power for the lives of those of the “wrong” ethnicity.