Need Proof Israel Should Punish Parents When Kids Throw Stones?
I found that proof while researching an article on a different topic. Let me first provide some background to the question and then tell you what I found.
Over the past decade, Israel has been wrestling with the question regarding how to best respond when children under the age of criminal responsibility (age 12) throw stones at Israeli targets. In 2010, for example, the Knesset Committee for Rights of the Child held a session examining just that. For some reason, police participants seemed to think parents were trying to restrain their children and blamed older children or other adults for inciting kids and expressed the desire to work with parents to curtail stone throwing on the part of minors. (Pardon me as I give myself a moment to recover from my shock at this magnanimity.)
In September this year, the High Court of Justice heard arguments concerning a law proposed in 2015 that would rescind National Insurance child allowances to parents whose children are found guilty of stone throwing. The question facing the court concerns the legality or illegality of such a move. The question I ask concerns whether or not that is punishment enough.
In reporting on the petition before the court, the Jerusalem Post summarized the arguments put before the court by Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel:
Adalah first attacked the idea, both legally and philosophically, that parents could be punished for their children’s conduct.
It also questioned whether it was realistic that parents were able return their children from rebellious actions like stone throwing in certain unstable family situations or with problematic children.
Lawyers defending the law:
. . . said that the law’s penalties against parents were not applied automatically and would only apply where the parents did not do all they could to prevent their children’s crimes. “We do not claim that every parent can influence their child,” said the state.
There is that magnanimity again!
In 2015, when the bill was passed in Knesset, the Jerusalem Post reported on discussion concerning whether or not such a law is reasonable.
. . . Gross said what is permitted is “holding parents responsible for not doing their responsibility of keeping” their child out of trouble.
In fact, many countries declare parents negligent when their minor children cause damage to property belonging to others and make sure that parents pay for these damages. In spite of this, ACRI (Association for Civil Rights in Israel) argued that the law is a form of
. . . improper collective punishment used to illegally abuse the rights of minors and their parents, and that it is against the spirit of the Juvenile Law, which seeks to rehabilitate and integrate minors back into society and not place harsh punishments on them.
In this case, we are not talking about breaking a window. Sure, windows can be broken. But we are talking about kids taking aim at people with intent to injure or kill them. Furthermore, I would like to see what ACRI is doing to prevent minors from throwing stones and how they are working with parents to help them rehabilitate their kids. But mostly, I would like to ask them if they do not see that stone throwing is such an accepted part of the “resistance” to the Israeli “occupation” that integrating minors “back into society” does not preclude continuing to throw stones.
Proof That Parents Are Responsible When Minors Throw Stones
While looking for material on a totally different topic, I came across a blog post on the National Geographic website. The author’s byline announces that he “grew up throwing stones at Israelis“. Here is the relevant section of what he wrote:
I grew up in Bethany, a town 3 miles east of Jerusalem. There was little for children to do other than play soccer in the streets. I was seven years old when I first saw on television young men throwing stones at Israeli soldiers. I didn’t know the motivation or purpose for such acts, but they were exciting.
My first similar adventure was unsuccessful, as I stoned my Arab neighbors’ cars instead of Israeli cars. I quickly learned that stoning your neighbor’s car wasn’t a good idea–the spanking I received from my father made that clear.
The Israelis didn’t know who I was or where I lived, so I thought throwing stones at them was safe. A few weeks later some friends and I broke the window of an Israeli bus driving on a nearby road. An angry man came out of that bus shooting at us.
So here we have it! This 7-year-old child’s father very clearly taught him not to throw stones at Arab owned cars. And by the absence of parental punishment when he threw stones at an Israeli bus — only the Jew (probably a Jew) was angry at him — he learned that it is quite okay (perhaps even desirable?) to stone Israelis.
Who should be punished, then, when kids throw stones at Israelis?
Perhaps the only rehabilitation available to minors in such a situation is to punish their parents. And to punish them in a meaningful way. In a way that will overcome any desire they may have for the rewards accruing from raising a Palestinian Arab child who grows up to be a shaheed.