Members of TIPH in Hebron 29.th of January. Photo: Mussa Qawasma/Reuters/Scanpix
My memory takes me back to a situation that I witnessed in the West Bank a few years ago. It is pertaining to the roles of the international community in dealing with children living in conflict areas like Gaza, The West Bank, Iraq and Afghanistan.
In 2004, taking part in a multinational observer mission in Hebron, I experienced how observers misused their position by blatantly encouraging belligerent thinking and actions amongst 5-year old Palestinian children.
On one occasion, this was done simply by instructing an otherwise pleasant and friendly puppet show manager to introduce small stones on the stage – for «distribution» by «Palestinian» puppets that – in line with the orders – threw the stones on to the floor in front of the audience of young Palestinian children.
Under wild applause and cheering, the next moment stones were seen flying from small Palestinians’ hands up to the stage, aimed at «Israeli» puppets who were also on the scene. – Shalom!
– I did not want this, said a shameful manager afterwards.
But behind his back stood the female Norwegian activist observer from TIPH (the Temporary International Presence in Hebron), smugly smiling.
This is a kind of «diplomacy» which is highly unwanted from international peace people. The Norwegian authorities (The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs), seconding the TIPH observers to their otherwise sensible mission, should be aware of such misbehavior. The one occasion described her is far from being an isolated case of biased mission and unauthorized behaviour in the Hebron international environment. There are many stories still untold.