Problematizing Law, Rights, and Childhood in Israel/Palestine

Palestine Update 543
Problematizing Law, Rights, and Childhood in Israel/Palestine


Hedi Viterbo’s Problematizing Law, Rights, and Childhood in Israel/Palestine is both a fascinating book and an outstanding scholarly accomplishment. In it, Viterbo deconstructs childhood, the law, court rulings, and the work of human rights organizations in order to expose how childhood has become a form of governmentality.

Using Israel/Palestine as his case study, the analysis is based on hundreds of files detailing military court cases involving children to which Viterbo gained access (due to an archival fluke), the laws and decrees used both in the Palestinian territories and in Israel, scores of human rights reports, media coverage of certain court cases, and his intimate acquaintance with the political history of Palestine and Israel. Viterbo  notes that childhood is neither something that simply exists out there in the world nor a natural category that is merely regulated by law and human rights conventions. Rather, the law and human rights are profoundly implicated in the social production of childhood.

Viterbo is interested in the particular processes of social production and reproduction of childhood, how this concept becomes naturalized and normalized, and how it is mobilized to advance certain political objectives. He interrogates what the social production of childhood aims to achieve, analyzes the strategies used to accomplish these goals and how these strategies affect the lives of Palestinians.

Age is perhaps the most salient way through which childhood is produced and regulated. Human rights, for example, tend to conceive the number eighteen as a watershed between childhood and adulthood. A series of characteristics are then attributed to over and under-18 groups. Under eighteens are constituted as dependent, vulnerable, and lacking capacity; over eighteens are independent, responsible, and able people. These attributes are then naturalized through their very repetition in laws, rulings, human rights reports, etc.

 The law often adds a developmental dimension to the social production process, where, for instance, young people under a certain age cannot be held to be criminally liable, while young people over a certain age, say the age of twelve, can be tried for criminal offenses. Yet, the law also stipulates that twelve-year-olds should be treated with a certain leniency compared to people over the age of sixteen or eighteen.
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 Hamas: Israeli threats will not break Palestinian will
Hamas Movement has called on the Palestinian people in the West Bank to stand firmly behind Jenin city, in light of the Israeli threats.Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum called on Palestinians to foil any Israeli plot against the residents of Jenin. “The Israeli threats against Jenin city and its residents will not break the will of the city’s free youths,” he said. Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett earlier granted “all security forces full freedom” of military operations in the West Bank. Israeli Chief of the General Staff Aviv Kochavi also ordered an increase in military operations in the West Bank following the Tel Aviv shooting attack on Thursday.
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Christians continue to leave Jerusalem amid ongoing instability
The number of Christians in Jerusalem continues to dwindle amid ongoing political instability and deteriorating economic conditions, prompting local churches and clergy to sound the alarm.

The number of Christians in Jerusalem is steadily declining due to the political instability and the deterioration of the economy, and they now make up less than 1% of the city’s population.

Christians Four years after leaving Jerusalem for Chicago in the United States, Clara Nasrallah, 27, finds it very difficult to return to her homeland today, especially after she became a mother. Clara was born and raised in the Muslim Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem, and she studied business administration at Bethlehem University. In 2018, she married a man who lived in the US and moved there with him. She told Al-Monitor, “Before marriage, I was against the idea of ​​migration, and I was always wondering why people emigrate. I had a deep attachment to Jerusalem, but marriage was a turning point for me…Before having a child, I could think of returning to Jerusalem one day. But after becoming a mother, it became difficult to return for many reasons, including job opportunities, stability and freedom that are available here. Jerusalem is my city, and I hope the situation improves one day so I can return,” she added.

Nasrallah’s husband immigrated with his family to the US more than 10 years ago, after his father got a job opportunity, and then her husband studied and established a career in the US. She noted that jobs and stability are hard to find in Jerusalem due to the Israeli occupation. “I have uncles and aunts who left the country for the US and Australia years ago, and everyone who had an opportunity abroad left. The situation in Jerusalem did not allow for work, securing a stable life and building a future for children, especially Christians who feel like a minority,” she said.

The number of Christians in Jerusalem is rapidly declining, due to political and security instability and the poor economic conditions that have worsened with the COVID-19 pandemic. Wadih Abu Nassar, the spokesman for the Council of Heads of Catholic Churches in Jerusalem, told Al-Monitor that the number of Christians in Jerusalem has fluctuated throughout history. While they made up about 25% of the population in Jerusalem in 1922, they now constitute less than 1% (less than 10,000 people).
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Muslims, Christians serve Iftar to those fasting in Bethlehem
Along with Muslims, Christians in Palestine have been taking part in Ramadan initiatives to mark the Muslim holy month of fasting. Aid projects, help with street and market decorations, and the distribution of water and dates before iftar, are among the activities they have been involved with in Bethlehem, Ramallah, and Nablus in the West Bank.

Khalil Kawa, a 41-year-old Christian, has been handing out dates and drinking water to passersby at a road junction in Nablus, a city where Muslims, Christians, and Samaritans live side-by-side. He said: “I do not feel that I am doing something strange being a Christian and distributing dates and water to those who are fasting. I do not like to distinguish between a Muslim, a Christian, or a Samaritan. We are all Palestinians. “In 2013, a group of my friends and I founded a youth group that we called the Nablus Tour. We are a group of photographers. We wander around the city of Nablus and take pictures, distribute sweets on the Prophet Muhammad’s [PBUH] birthday, and decorate the city in the runup to the blessed month of Ramadan and during Eid as well. In addition, we distribute dates and water to the late fasting people. “It is a very beautiful feeling that cannot be described, especially since people are waiting for us and ask before Ramadan if we are ready or need anything,” he added.

Kawa pointed out that initially the project was funded by him and his colleagues but as the group became known it often found itself with plentiful funds and supplies thanks to contributions. In Ramallah, a group of young people launched a Ramadan awareness campaign titled, “Forgive and shake hands in the month of love,” aimed at spreading positive messages among communities. In the predominantly Christian city of Bethlehem, in the south of the West Bank, members of the Salesian scouts and guides group have been distributing yogurt, water, and dates. One of the scouts, Fouad Salman, said: “The residents of Bethlehem, Muslims and Christians, inherit love and coexistence from generation to generation, and the march of love must continue.” The 37-year-old added that he felt proud of belonging to Palestine and Bethlehem and had taken part in voluntary work since being a child, including renewing carpets in mosques.
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IOF shoot dead at a Palestinian woman near Bethlehem

Israeli occupation forces today shot dead a Palestinian woman after they opened fire at her while she was crossing an Israeli military checkpoint near the village of Husan, to the west of Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank, according to The Ministry of Health. The woman, who was identified as Ghada Sabateen 45 years old, from the town of Husan, was walking past the checkpoint when soldiers opened gunfire at her and were later rushed by a private car to a nearby hospital for medical treatment, witnesses said. The Ministry of Health confirmed that the woman lost large amounts of blood and later sustained her injuries. Bethlehem Governor Kamel Hamid condemns the Israeli crime committed by the occupation army on Sunday afternoon, west of Bethlehem, which led to the death of Ghada Sabateen from Husan. Ghada Sabateen is a widow and mother of 6 children, aged 48.
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