I saw the photo of the Baby Bomber on the news last night - I wasn't really surprised that local media would pick it up, it's such an easy distillation of the vast complex conflict into a bite-sized sterotype, easily digestible by the masses. Breandan O'Neill has some commentary on the topic:

The fact is, children in Palestine, and in war zones throughout the world, are often dressed up in military gear and given toy guns to play with. In the 1980s and 90s, liberal commentators in the UK were shocked by photographs of children in Northern Ireland standing in front of pro-IRA graffitti with water pistols and make-believe machine guns - accusing parents of 'feeding hate' to their children. In South Africa, young children were involved in painting pro-violent slogans on township walls and they saw ANC militants as heroes, not criminals.

Is this really so surprising? For Irish nationalist children in West Belfast, Palestinian kids in Jenin, and black children in Soweto, the militants were (or still are) seen as heroes. They are the people who dared to take a stand against their oppressors and to challenge the authorities. Children will always look for heroes, and in societies under siege or at war their heroes will often be their fathers or uncles or brothers who actively fight on a daily basis - just as children in the West idolise GI Joe or Rambo. What's the big deal?

If we don't want these children to become violent when they grow up, then maybe we should remove the causes of the conflict rather than the kids' toy guns and fake suicide belts.

(emphasis mine)

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