War Game: Palestinian Kids' Intifada Cards

ByHilary Brown

N A B L U S, April 25, 2004 -- — Outside a corner store in Nablus, about a dozen lively, excited, young kids are collecting cards to paste into an album, as kids do in many parts of the world. But these cards are different.

"This is a woman whose child was killed," an 8-year-old child explains gravely.

"This is a boy who was shot when he threw stones at a tank," he goes on.

"This is a 'shaheed,' a martyr," says another boy of about the same age, pointing to a picture of an open coffin, draped in the Palestinian flag, being carried through a street crowded with mourners.

"These are all pictures about the misery of the Palestinians," he adds, showing off a whole album of photos of death and destruction.

All-Too-Familiar Scenes

It's called the "Intifada Album," named after the three-year, Arab uprising in the occupied territories. Its producers say it is the only thing that Palestinian children can identify with now.

Pictures of sports heroes don't mean a thing for children in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The cards are the depressing and all-too-familiar scenes from a child's life here, such as an image of a child killed in a demonstration against Israeli soldiers that they have seen time and again in huge, martyr's funerals.

Another image, of a little boy dressed up as a suicide bomber, they have seen in regular marches by the extremist groups, Hamas, and Islamic Jihad, when whole companies of masked young men parade in public with dummy bombs strapped to their waist.

The Intifada album is produced in Nablus. It comes with a "starter pack" of 60 cards for $6.00. Kids then can buy extra packs of cards for a few cents until they fill all 260 spaces in their album.

‘Daily Life Is the Intifada’

The manufacturer, Majdi Taher, says his cards are selling very, very well.

"Every kid likes to play with toys that are about his daily life," he says, "and for the Palestinian kid, daily life is the Intifada itself."

There are prizes for the first kids to complete their Intifada album — a football, a bicycle, even a computer — normal, harmless rewards for a game that seems to perpetuate an abnormal culture of suffering, martyrdom and revenge.

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