A.J. Caschetta is founder of the campaign behind a petition entitled "In Solidarity with Palestinian Children," which calls upon others to "decry and denounce the cynical and systemic abuse of Palestinian children by the adults who have turned them into soldiers in their war against the state of Israel."
In an interview with American Family News, Caschetta – a fellow at Campus Watch, a project of the Middle East Forum – explains his petition effort was solidified following Israel's Operation Guardian of the Walls in May, when the Middle Eastern country was forced to defend itself from the approximate 4,400 rockets fired by Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) into the Jewish state.
In the wake of Israel's defensive response to that attack, Caschetta shares, "a whole bunch of places in academia – including Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Stanford, University of California-Berkeley, on and on – issued statements of solidarity with the Palestinians, accusing Israel of being a settler-colonial state, an apartheid state, and more."
Not your normal 'summer camp'
Year after year, every summer since the Oslo Accords, Caschetta says, summer camps run by Hamas and PIJ have trained children to become terrorists. That flies in the face of anyone who truly supports human rights, according to the Ginsburg-Milstein fellow.
He has challenged individuals and institutions that condemn Israel to, instead, condemn Hamas and Hezbollah for what the terrorist organizations are doing to children in those military summer camps.
"Nothing has happened," he laments. "Palestinian children have been turned into child soldiers for many decades now, and no one seems to care about that."
That's why standing in solidarity with the Palestinian children has become an important cause for the principal lecturer at the Rochester Institute of Technology.
"Who's in favor of child warriors?" he inquires, facetiously. "Probably no one except for Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad."
Motivated by silence
Caschetta points out that the online petition – which he checks regularly – allows participants not only an opportunity to sign, but also to provide a reason for choosing to sign it. "It does not appear any of the academics who signed the anti-Israel statement have taken me up on my cause," he shares. "They all seem pretty silent."
Clearly, that silence has continued to "inspire and anger" him. While he admits this is a project he should have taken on a long time ago, Caschetta credits Daniel Pipes, the president of Middle East Forum, for challenging him to do something about it today. But, he adds, the constant hypocrisy he sees has sent him over the edge: "Israel can't defend itself, but the Palestinians can turn their children into warriors."
Caschetta is hopeful others will sign the petition and "stand in solidarity with all Palestinian children as they struggle to live normal lives guided by some of the most atrocious role models on Earth."