How my “Closing Arguments” got Amnesty International to take a stand

Amnesty International finally sees the light.  For the past two weeks, I have been demanding that Amnesty and other human rights groups condemn the Palestinians’ use of children as suicide bombers either knowingly or unwittingly.  We called them about this issue after an 11-year-old was stopped at a checkpoint with a bag full of explosives on March 15, a bag that could have been detonated remotely.  The boy apparently didn’t even know what was in his bag.  At the time, Amnesty told us that they condemn all suicide bombings regardless of the age of the person involved, but that since that there have been “no previous incidents,” they said that there was no need to specifically condemn the practice.

In my “Closing Argument” that night, I recited a list of previous incidents where children have been used.  They were not happy with my report and told us so.  Then last night, another boy, this one 14, was stopped with an explosive belt under his clothing.  I again called for Amnesty and others to condemn the practice.  I said that since Amnesty is often so outspoken on children’s issues, I wondered why they wouldn’t specifically condemn Palestinians’ brainwashing or duping Palestinian children into serving as human bombs. 

Well, this morning, finally, they got it, sort of.  In a press release they denounced using children as suicide bombers and finally did some research and found that “in the past three years, there have been other cases in which Palestinian children have been used by Palestinian armed groups to carry out or attempt to carry out suicide bombings.”

The problem?  The one example they cite is the oldest of the children used, a 17-year-old. And rather than just say how horrible it is and leave it at that, they provide a history that seems to almost justify the boy’s behavior, talking about why he did it, how he felt his “unarmed relatives had been killed by the Israelis, et cetera.”  Children as suicide bombers cannot and should not ever be justified.  But at least it seems Amnesty has learned a little more about the history of the conflict by doing a little research, even if it was only as a result of our prodding.  For that and for today’s announcement, they should be commended.

'Closing Argument' is a regular segment of airs weeknights, 6 p.m. ET on MSNBC.