One morning, near Bethlehem, after the Six Day I War, I watched tiny Arab children going to school. Like so many little black mice they scurried along the roadside. Israeli soldiers, without speaking a word, stopped them and pointed to their schoolbags. A week earlier a bomb had exploded in the Supersol (shopping center) in Jerusalem, and schoolchildren were suspected. So the soldiers were taking no chances. Silently the children opened their satchels. Inside each was a reading book in Arabic and a huge piece or two of bread for the midday meal. The soldiers looked, then waved the children on.

Little did I imagine that soon afterwards soldiers would be searching children’s schoolbags for bombs and bullets in my own city of Belfast. A death toll of more than 1,600 people in Northern Ireland may seem insignificant compared to those killed in Indonesia or Viet Nam. But the equivalent number in the population of the United States would be 220,000 people in six years of civil strife.

The world’s press speaks of “the children of hate.” This is no exaggeration. I have seen teen-age boys in militant Protestant areas of our city with tattoo marks on their arms and on their schoolbags the initials “K.A.I.”—“Kill All Irishmen” (meaning the republicans who wish for a united Ireland). I have seen children of different religions spit at each other on the street. They are let out of their schools at different times of day to prevent encounters, and they are taken home by buses. They are born apart, they live apart, they pray apart, they work apart.

Many children in our city are conditioned during their formative years to hate the other side. For the children of Ulster are gone into captivity—a terrible captivity that involves their hearts ...

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