It is the end of innocence for my 3 year old students. Their parents told them about Israel’s attacks on the Palestinian people prior to attending an action in the port of Oakland yesterday which has successfully blocked the Israeli ship ZIM from unloading.
If you think its difficult explaining to your uncle during holiday get togethers about the realities of Israel’s land grab and constant ethnic cleansing campaign, only imagine a preschool audience. This is the age when children ask “Why?” in response to any facts on the ground. (“It’s bedtime.” “Why?” “Because we need our rest.” “Why?” etc.)
As we gathered at Middle Harbor Shoreline Park with about 300 others yesterday afternoon, the questions were still coming thick and fast. They’re only starting to read so most of the signs were unintelligible, but the chant of “Free, free Palestine” matched up with the sign they had helped make earlier in the day.
Some of the many questions we answered:”Why is there a helicopter in the sky?” “It’s a news team covering the protest.” “What does cover mean?” and also “Why is the truck driver honking his horn and why are people clapping?”
With the big picture orientation she’s prone to, my granddaughter mostly didn’t query us about the difference between Gaza and the West Bank or why Israel would want to steal their land and water. Her oft repeated question was this:
Why do they drop bombs on people’s heads?
After asking this approximately one hundred times and receiving answers ranging from “to steal the land” to “because they are scared and angry, and making bad choices” she transitioned into her own personal chant:
Stop dropping bombs on people’s heads.
This was tapped out with drumsticks, played on the recorder, recited to her baby brother, and murmured as she drifted off to sleep.
As her father and her friend and she and I walked back toward our car from the picket at one of the main gates, I carried the sign we’d made together. A sign that both 3 year olds had taken a turn proudly carrying that day.
“Grandma, don’t throw away our sign, we might need to use it again.”
She’s probably right about that, too.