I awoke today to sad news - a thirteen year old Palestinian girl was shot and killed outside a settlement in the West Bank this morning. According to early reports, she fought with her parents, stormed out of the house with a knife in her bag and attempted to kill a security guard.
There are many things to be said but none of them quite describe how surreal this has become. I do not know any teenage Palestian kids but I do know that all kids will do anything if they think it will get their parents attention or at least if they believe that finally they will be taken seriously.
Of course, this has quickly come to trend on the net as Israeli excessive use of force. That discussion needs to be had, but not here. What concerns me is that children have becomes avatars for Good and Bad. Some people think she is a hero, a martyr to a cause. Some people think she is a terrorist with a political agenda. Some people think she is neither, but a person who is so inculcated with dogma, she is not acting of her own volition, a symbol of despair.
I think she may be all of these things and none of these things. I believe she was a thirteen year old girl who was angry with her parents. And like all teenagers, was wont to act out immediately and irrationally. She took a knife and knew exactly where to go and what to do to increase her chances of being killed.
It seems clear to me that there is something particular to these events that is common to other waves of suicide among teenagers. Unfortunately, this is not likely to be adressed. It has already turned into a media circus. The situtation in the family, the situation in the community, the angst of being a teenager is overrun by the need to claim her as a symbol for both sides of the conflict.