July 22, 2010
Visited Jerusalem yesterday.
Here are pics of the city wall under the mid-day sun – with King David’s Tower just right of centre – and just before sunset, featuring the Tower, where, each evening, they give a fabulous son et lumière show.
There are supporters in other tents, but in the main one, the Schalit family is to be found. The scene is exactly like a shiva, the 7 day’s mourning after a death, when friends and family visit, stories are related, prayers are said and snacks and drinks are provided. The difference of course is that no one has died. He’s just being held, not so far away…
By just reporting on the situation re the Schalit family, I’d be missing the point.
I’m going to ask you and important and so simple question at the end of this letter: What would YOU do in this dilemma?
Gilad Schalit is the soldier who was captured by Hamas just over 4 years ago. At the time, he and his colleagues were in Israel proper. The terrorists came across the border into Israel, attacked a squad of soldiers, killed some of them and grabbed the 19 year old. For all this time, there have been little signs of his wellbeing. 2 videos, There have been no – zero – visiting rights. Not even the Red Cross or Amnesty has seen him – and neither appear to have made much attempt to demand this.
It’s been understandably a horrible time for the Schalits. They have campaigned relentlessly throughout this period. The negotiations for Gilad’s release have been in and out of the news countless times. The latest is that there IS an agreement to exchange around 1,000 Palestinian prisoners for Gilad, among whom are many convicted murderers/terrorists.
I am not sure why there are further delays. Seems there is haggling over the list; that Hamas (who are negotiating on behalf of the hostage takers = they are responsible) still wants more to be included in the release. (Now, you could, and some will argue that some of the Palestinians are being held without trial, that some don’t deserve etc. etc., but all of them have access to lawyers, NGO visits etc. – all have access to phones, TV etc – most are studying in jail – in fact, some might prefer to stay where they are…OK, OK – I delete that).
I spoke yesterday to Danny (let’s keep this slightly anonymous), whose son, a highly decorated soldier, was killed in the recent Lebanon war. The boy had just married; had not even been on his honeymoon. Just as I cannot imagine being in Noam’s place, I cannot imagine how Danny felt and feels.
Some have said that at least he has closure, which the Schalits do not have. My G-d! That’s closure? The Schalits have hope, they are 95% sure their boy is alive (the Islamists may have no respect for life, but they know the value of this one) and 90% sure he’ll be back. How can that be compared to Danny’s family’s loss?
What do you think Danny says to all this? For me, it was no surprise. Words to the effect: “If I were Noam, I’d do, say, act the same. I’d want my boy home yesterday – at any price. But I’m not Noam. I’m an Israeli citizen. And we should NOT be negotiating with terrorists. No negotiations.
If you glance at the Schalit website (www.gilad.org) you’ll see mention of the 2 soldiers captured in Lebanon, Udi Goldwasser and Eldad Regev. Their dead bodies were released along with a shady Israeli businessman, Elhanan Tannenbaum, in 2004, in exchange for 400 Palestinians and 59 dead fighters, mostly of Hezbollah, after months of painstaking negotiations. Of the many deadly attacks on Israel since then, we KNOW that a number were perpetrated by those we released.
Now the price has gone up. 1,000 for 1. (If I hear mention again from someone using the word ‘disproportionate’ against Israel, I’ll scream). Meshaal, the Hamas leader, ensconced in friendly-to-Hamas Damascus, has said that if Israel does not agree to the terms, the next time the price will go up. THE NEXT TIME.
And these are the people who want peace?
Israel’s had these neighbours for 100 years. What chance have we got, especially when so much of the world inexplicably backs….Hamas.
I repeat… What would YOU do in this dilemma?
Let me go back to lovely Jerusalem…
Finally, please read this sign – about the Beit Yaakov Synagogue. This wonderful place was destroyed several times – most recently by the Jordanians during the occupancy of East Jerusalem, during which time they destroyed ALL of the synagogues. Should I repeat that sentence, an action which has been repeated so often throughout the Moslem world. This beautiful building has been restored to its former glory, and now stands proudly next to a mosque, which is not only undamaged..it’s fully functioning… in peace.
What more does Israel have to do to prove its willingness to live with their neighbours, whoever they are.
PS – Watch Yemen imploding….