Parting shot: An uncomfortable feeling

We should be shocked and mortified, and cry for Badran and his family, with the same pure intentions we reserve for our own fallen countrymen.

By
June 23, 2016 22:13
2 minute read.
Mahmoud Badran, the Palestinian killed by the IDF

Mahmoud Badran, the Palestinian killed by the IDF. (photo credit: PALESTINIAN SOCIAL MEDIA)

 
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I don’t know about you, but I was uncomfortable when I read “A really good, happy kid,” in Wednesday morning’s Post.

It was Max Schindler’s report from the home of Mahmoud Badran, the 15-year-old Palestinian youth evidently mistakenly shot and killed by IDF troops, as he and a carload of cousins were returning home from an evening swim to their West Bank village of Beit Ur al-Tahta, near Modi’in.

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The story gushed about Badran’s love of FC Barcelona and PlayStation FIFA games, how he would mimic rap lyrics, and it quoted family members and friends recalling what a great kid he was.

Part of the way through reading it I thought to myself, “Is this the kind of story the Post should be publishing?” Where was the context? There was but a passing mention of the rock-throwing incident that took place on Route 443 earlier that evening that injured three Israeli motorists. The eightmonth “stabbing intifada” of attacks by Palestinians on Israelis was given short shrift, as was the Palestinian Authority’s refusal to sit down for negotiations with Israel over the future of the West Bank.

No, it was all about Badran, a touching eulogy, no different than the kind we’ve gotten too used to reading: about the long line of Israeli victims of terrorist attacks, including as recently as the Sarona attack earlier this month and going back to the beginning of the Israeli- Palestinian conflict. The kind of personal, detailed stories that can make your eyes swell up and ignite a spectrum of feelings ranging from rage to helplessness.

The reporter played it straight, giving the information without any slant or editorial comment. So what accounted for that unsettling feeling as I continued to read? Maybe it was the voice inside saying, ‘well, if Palestinians weren’t out there throwing rocks at Israelis, then the IDF wouldn’t have to be going out to search for the perpetrators.’ Maybe it was thinking that Badran’s cousins or friends could be the ones out there tomorrow aiming at me on 443. Or maybe it was because Badran’s father didn’t blame his own Palestinian leadership, but instead pointed his finger at the policies of Benjamin Netanyahu and Avigdor Liberman for his son’s horrible death.

But as I finished the story and went about my day, I slowly figured out the reason for my discomfort. And it wasn’t any of those things – none of that matters.

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What bothered me was that those issues intuitively surfaced as I read the story, tainting the account of Badran’s life and death. It wasn’t the publication of the story that was the problem, it was the realization that due to decades of terror, mutual acrimony and lack of hope, it’s really difficult to empathize over the loss of the innocent life of a teenager who was out for a refreshing swim on a sweltering night – a teenager who by all accounts was not that different from the Israeli 15-yearolds living a few kilometers away in Modi’in.

We should be shocked and mortified, and cry for Badran and his family, with the same pure intentions we reserve for our own fallen countrymen. That’s why, in retrospect, I’m glad that story appeared.

As a colleague wisely explained to me, we should feel uncomfortable when something like that happens in our country.

The writer, managing editor of The Jerusalem Post, is the co-author of the new book Goodbye Parkinson’s, Hello Life

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