The young boy stood in the center of the road, his slingshot in his hand. Above him loomed the giant, a power that had defeated the boy's fathers and grandfathers. Everyone else fell back behind the boy, fearful and scared to draw too close to the giant. Yet the boy stood his ground, calling out and jeering at his enemy.
David and Goliath, anyone?
I was struck by the role reversal. The funny thing is, it is modern day Palestinians that are referred to as Philistines in the David and Goliath story of the Old Testament. And today, while in the Aida Refugee camp outside Bethlehem, I watched from a roof as a young Palestinian boy played with a sling, aiming at telephone poles and streetlights, yelling out loud as he released stones at his targets. His actions gained the attention of the watchtower at the nearby security wall, and we watched as the gate was rolled open and an armored jeep began to roll out. The boy's friends gained courage, still yelling and jeering at the Israeli Defense Force manning the jeep.
Our group was quickly herded to the bus, as our hosts were worried about our safety.
I worry for that boy. For Palestinians in occupied territories, resistance is life, and I applaud that young boy's courage. Yet that boy will likely live his entire life in that refugee camp with no opportunity to leave, and in that situation, that frustration could turn into hatred. His heart could turn hard. How can he still have hope?
And what of those 19 and 20 year old young men and women of the Israeli Defense Force that are supposed to patrol that security wall and control the children? What about their hearts as they are charged with orders they may or may not want to carry out? How much of their fear turns into posturing with their guns and armored vehicles? What is happening to their hearts and their humanity?
The Old Testament David and Goliath had a clear winner. The modern-day story I saw today does not.