One of the things that continues to astound me is the attention the world media pay to the intifada. Let a few Palestinian teenagers start hurling stones, and you can count on CNN to record the event as if it were history in the making, instead of what it really is: a prepackaged segment of the evening news, the proof of which is that the stonings cease the second the cameras stop rolling. For me, the real story has never been told: namely, where do all those stones come from? Is there a Libyan arms factory devoted to turning out rubble?
For the life of me, I can not fathom how the Arabs manage to get propaganda mileage out of sticking youngsters in harm's way. It's no secret, after all, that the Palestinians thrive on martyrs, and the younger the better. One minute, a kid is throwing rocks and the next moment he's died in the crossfire, and instead of taking the Arabs to task for placing children, Hitler-fashion, in the front lines, the civilized world is encouraged once again to condemn Israel.
This whole notion, though, that world opinion should be determined by testosterone-driven displays of adolescent bravado is a disturbing trend. It was brought home for me when, in the wake of the first Rodney King verdict, thousands of young hooligans ran amuck, looting and burning. That sorry episode was declared a political rebellion by lots of people who should have known better; it was, in fact, nothing more than an excuse to misbehave on a grand scale, with virtually no fear of being held accountable. As I said at the time, it's a rebellion when you toss the tea overboard; it's plain old fashioned rioting when you take the tea, or, rather, the TV, home with you.
I always wondered if those people who attempted to elevate the pillaging to something it clearly wasn't also believe the miniriots that greet sports championships in our major cities are political in nature. I suppose if a dozen vehicles get overturned and set ablaze, and one of them happens to be a patrol car, some folks will invariably drag in "oppressed people" and "civil disobedience." As a rule, they are the same bunch of knotheads who defend graffiti (so long as it's not sprayed on their walls) as folk art.
When you have generations of kids being indoctrinated with the nobility of dying for a cause, you will never lack for suicidal volunteers. It is, after all, from the ranks of the young and highly impressionable males that those who aspire to running with the bulls in Pamplona, joining kamikaze squads and spilling their blood for Yasser Arafat are inevitably drawn. But when you get past all the ballyhoo and baloney, it all comes down to boys showing off for girls.
The instinct itself isn't either good or bad. It's just what it is. What is important is that the rest of the world should not be blinded to the truth and shouldn't be sucked in by the basest form of propaganda.
In short, tossing stones should not be confused with a holy mission when, in fact, it is nothing more or less than the way young Palestinians get their rocks off.