A shadowy campaign group with a hidden agenda appears to be exploiting Palestinian children from the West Bank to the Gaza Strip. Just when we thought that elements of the pro-Israel lobby surely couldn't sink any lower, they are now scraping the bottom of the barrel at the expense of the thousands of dead Palestinian children killed over the years by the Israeli military.
A new campaign calling itself Coalition to Save Palestinian Child Soldiers has founders who are shy about identifying themselves. It is a network of shady think tanks and hate organisations working alongside an Israeli government department.
Over the coming days the social networks can expect to be blitzed by the hashtag #KidsNotSoldiers by think tanks from the far right and hate groups, including one organisation which helped fund convicted far-right menace and former EDL founder Tommy Robinson. Without a hint of irony, this coalition claims that it is a group of non-governmental organisations concerned about the use of Palestinian children as soldiers. There are thought to be around 300,000 child soldiers in 20 countries worldwide, and while the practice is illegal, quite rightly so, the CSPCS is focussing its campaign on the besieged Gaza Strip.
None of the groups involved in this coalition appears to have ever spoken out about the deliberate targeting of Palestinian children by the Israeli military. That's right: nothing at all about the children playing a game of football on the beach in Gaza before being blown up by Israeli shells, or a young boy sheltering behind his father before being shot and killed by an Israeli soldier, let alone the indiscriminate dropping of bunker-busting bombs in civilian areas of the Gaza Strip.
I doubt very much whether child soldiers are used anywhere in occupied Palestine, but in any case are these groups, many funded and fuelled by spite, malice and hate, the right people to lecture the rest of the world about human rights when it comes to Palestinian children? Turning a blind eye to the issue of child soldiers is wrong, but so is the targeting of children, their schools, nurseries and playgrounds by an army equipped with the latest hi-tech weapons and munitions. Such a scenario defies the laws of humanity, yet that is exactly what the wonderfully misnamed "Israel Defence Forces" (IDF) has done for decades, from Jenin in the West Bank to the Gaza Strip and all places in between.
In three military offensives in the past decade alone, thousands upon thousands of Palestinian children have been shot at, blown up, bombed and crippled. Those who have survived have done so with life-changing injuries making them among the most disabled group of children on the planet.
Despite their obvious suffering at the hands of an army whose behaviour has attracted calls for war crimes investigations, I wonder why a group of NGOs would so blatantly feign "concern" over the safeguarding of Palestinian children. These organisations are treating the general public like useful idiots by urging them to sign an open letter supposedly in the interests of the very same Palestinian children who are brutalised daily by Israel's military occupation of their land. The backgrounds of some of these groups suggest that they are shedding nothing but crocodile tears when it comes to the daily misery inflicted on Palestinian children, so beware their motives as they urge members of the public to send letters to politicians during so-called "Solidarity Week".
One such NGO is the Israel Advocacy Movement, which says in its mission statement: "British support for Israel is in decline, only 17 per cent of the public have a positive image of Israel, our mission is to change that and turn British public opinion in favour of Israel."
Other organisations who appear to be coordinating with the CSPCS are rallying behind the Act.il app which has declared war on the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. Act.il has been exposed by the Israeli media no less as an advocacy group working with the Israeli government to bring down the BDS movement.
The Facebook page set up on 10 February is owned by The Clarion Project. Based in Washington DC, it has been accused by human rights groups of pushing an anti-Muslim agenda. One film called "Obsession", still promoted on its website, may have been a trigger for Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik's 2011 killing spree. When he posted his hate-filled manifesto online, he paid tribute to the film.
One former Clarion board member is Daniel Pipes, who is Founder and President of the Middle East Forum, which spent around $60,000 on Tommy Robinson's legal fees and public rallies staged in London in 2018. The MEF emerged as part of a global network supporting the far-right thug.
According to a posting on the Zionist Facebook account Jerusalem Dateline, a pro-Israel activist organisation called Hetz is just one of the groups to have launched "Palestinian Child Soldier Week to condemn the exploitation of Palestinian children by terror groups".
However, there's no official reference or register for Hetz — a Hebrew word meaning arrow — other than a former secular Zionist political party in Israel. There is, though, a reference to an anti-BDS "umbrella group" called Hetz in an article from December 2018 in the Jewish Link community newspaper co-owned by the Jewish Link Media Group.
Despite its claims to the contrary, there appears to be nothing innocent or grassroots about this shadowy campaign group. It looks like a very deliberately complex network of wealthy right-wing think tanks and Israeli government-linked groups. All of which proves one thing: if the Israeli government is so concerned that it is throwing millions, if not billions, of dollars at groups like this coalition to counter BDS, then the entirely peaceful boycott movement must be having a significant effect on the Zionist state. Don't be conned by the so-called Coalition to Save Palestinian Child Soldiers; give your time and support to BDS instead.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.