16 October 2015

keep the children out of it

Nura is three years old. She’s from Beer El Sabea in the Naqab. At her age, I imagine she cannot grasp the fact that she has become one of the icons for fighting racism and hate. Her photo was published in print newspapers and been posted and reposted many times in the last few days on Facebook and other social media outlets.
Nura was the subject of a racist discussion on a Whatsapp group for parents at her kindergarten, where one parent demanded she should be expelled. “If there is an Arab kid in the kindergarten it’s time to expel him!” “She has no place in the Jewish State. She should study in her village. Go to Syria; they love you there, Assad is waiting.” 
This piece is not about the racism and hatred towards Palestinians inside Israel, in the West Bank, and Gaza. Plenty of posts and articles have been written about that.
I want to write about the effect this will have on Nura and other children who find themselves caught in this cycle, sometimes against their will, other times unknowingly. Nura’s photograph was released by her parents, and there may not be any legal issue here. However, there is an ethical issue. A three-year-old child cannot make an informed decision, and we should keep her psychological and emotional wellbeing in mind. I don’t want to get into speculations of what effects this may have on her, but the possibilities are there, and they are many. Nura may become the target of negative attention such as hatred and racism. We all know how children can be cruel to each other, and we all know about bullying.
I think it is time that we recognize the dangers in posting photographs on Facebook and other social media. We have seen all too many suicides, bullying, verbal violence, and other types of violence resulting from inappropriate use of social media. All I can hope for Nura that this will pass quickly and she will not be exposed to any kind of violence in her life, nor suffer any trauma or post-trauma resulting from her becoming an icon in the fight against racism and hate. Keep the children out if it!

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