Valentine: “A sweetheart chosen or complimented on Valentine’s Day” – Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Earlier this month, those around the world chose and complimented their respective sweethearts on the annual celebration of Valentine’s Day. While the world sets a special calendar day to remind itself of compassion’s necessity, Israel quite literally repairs the broken hearts of its valentine on a continuous, quotidian basis. This is best exemplified by the miracles performed by Tel Aviv-based humanitarian organization “Save a Child’s Heart” (SACH). In contrast to traditional gifts that include flowers, chocolates, and teddy bears, Israel’s sweethearts are recipients of the gift of life. Arriving as life-saving medical care through pediatric heart surgery, Israel’s ensures the well being of its valentine, the Palestinian people.

SACH describes its mission as one that “improves the quality of pediatric cardiac care for children from countries where the heart surgery they need is unobtainable.” Every 29 hours, the success of SACH expands by another child saved. Additionally, SACH ensures the exponential livelihood of future children by training doctors from developing countries, including producing Tanzania’s first pediatric cardiac surgeon. As remarkable as these feats are and will continue to be, the true success of SACH rests in the latter half of its mission statement. Out of the 2,600 children from more than 40 countries that SACH has treated since its 1996 founding, more than fifty percent are Palestinians from areas that include the West Bank, Gaza, and Jordan. To truly grasp the magnitude of this sentiment, one must apply the converse and assess the Palestinian compassion (or lack thereof) towards Israelis and their children.

This assessment process begins in the notorious practice of youth indoctrination employed by the aforementioned regions. Hamas, which recently joined the PLO faction of Fatah in a unity government, has a frightening history of instilling a Niagara of anti-Israel hatred into the minds of Palestinian youth. Children’s programming on Palestinian TV employs characters that includes a clone of Mickey Mouse singing the lyrics of “Oh Jerusalem, it is the time of death” in tandem with an 11 year-old child, a bunny rabbit who promises to “bring back smiles and joy back to the children of Palestine, and the children of the Arab and Islamic world” by “getting rid of the Jews, Allah willing, and eating them up,” and puppet shows that stab President George W. Bush to his death. In concert with its televised propaganda, other outlets for indoctrination include Hamas-run summer camps (which drew the attendance of 100,000 children in 2010), and textbooks that refuse to accept the mere existence of the Jewish State of Israel. Regardless of medium (which further extends to games, trading cards, posters, music, and movies), Hamas’ childhood education is consistently engulfed in martyrdom, preaching a core philosophy in which “bombs are more precious than children.”

This mentality of indoctrination enables the assessment of compassion to further be applied towards the treatment of Palestinian children in their native lands. Consider the words of Fathi Ahmad Hammad, who is a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council. Hammad proudly proclaimed that “for the Palestinian people, death has become an industry, at which women excel, and so do all the people living on this land. The elderly excel at this, and so do the mujahideen (jihadists) and the children. This is why they have formed human shields of the women, the children.” As the late Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir once stated, “peace will come when the Arabs will love their children more than they hate us.” In addition to the use of Palestinian children as suicide bombers, Hamas and other terrorist organizations continue to corroborate Meir’s words, as their fixation on jihadism frequently entails their use of youth as human shields. While this practice yields protection for veteran combatants, it more importantly places the blame for such deaths on Israeli soldiers for use as motivational material. It is this cycle of self-inflicted death (which begins at the stage of indoctrination) that ultimately symbolizes the fundamental Palestinian disrespect towards the lives of both Israelis and themselves.

During the conclusion of his admission to using Palestinian women and children as human shields, Fathi Ahmad Hammad touched on this Palestinian disrespect for human life by stating “it is as if they (the Palestinian people) were saying to the Zionist enemy: “We desire death like you desire life.” Despite his passion for hatred and intolerance, Hammad deserves credit for perfectly articulating this fundamental difference between Israel and those bent on its destruction. Similarly, in his testimony before the United Nations, Colonel Richard Kemp (former Commander of British Forces in Afghanistan) stated, “The Israeli Defense Forces do more to safeguard the rights of civilians in a combat zone than any other army in the history of warfare.” Though dissimilar in virtually every other facet of world perspective, it should be noted and appreciated that Israel’s desire for life has been agreed upon by those dedicated to both Israel’s destruction and sustainment.

This desire for life is why half of Save a Child’s Heart’s beneficiaries are Palestinians. This desire for life is why Israel was the world’s first country to set up a hospital in Haiti following its devastating earthquake. This desire for life is why Israel sent homes, blankets, and mattresses to Turkish earthquake victims. This desire for life is why Israel informs Palestinian civilians with leaflets, text messages, phone calls with ample time prior to its necessary actions of self-defense. This desire for life is why Israel swapped over 1,000 convicted terrorists and prisoners for the return of its one soldier. This desire for life is why Israel has solidified its position as the world’s paradigm for moral human rights. This desire for life is why those who seek to label Israel as an apartheid state are inherently wrong. This desire for life is why Israel has chosen its Biblically sworn enemy as its valentine.

Parker Mantell :: University of Indiana at Bloomington :: Bloomington, Indiana :: @ParkerMantell