My wife shops near her school Fridays to get bread and stuff for Shabbat from the Jewish baker.
She then goes next door to the newsagent to get her Jewish papers.
The owners are devout Muslims.
They are always friendly, polite, respectful.
However, you never really know what they think of their Jewish clientele, after all, business is business, no?
Today I drove my wife to collect the bread and get the papers.
I stood beside her as she took the local Jewish paper to the counter where the young (20 something) son of the owner was serving.
On the front page was a huge picture of Gilad Shalit.
This is what the young man said, verbatim, unprompted:
“Thank God he is home safe”.
I don’t know why but I fill up just thinking about that.
We were both speechless. We expected a polite ignoring of this story, after all, why should he care? We always presume that the sympathy would be only with the Palestinians.
I was reluctant to tell this story that had moved me. Was it patronising or discourteous to Muslims to somehow believe they would not be relieved at the release of a young man? A Jew. An Israeli. Did it say more about my prejudices than those I am subscribing to them?
A Muslim friend advised me that it was a good story to tell. It shows us that if we really spoke to each other more, we might surprise each other.
Well, I am, actually; but not from a political point of view, or a practical one, or a religious one.
I am going to give you an answer from an ethical point of view, but not the obvious one about releasing murderers who may kill again.
I have had various conversations over the last few days with friends and members of the community to which I belong; some believe it is right to exchange Shalit and some do not.
The reason for the disagreement always centred around the rights of Shalit and his family against the rights of the families whose relatives had been the victims of hundreds of murderers and terrorists.
At the same time, the rights of those who may be killed in the future by those released also posed a dilemma throughout these discussions.
The truth is there is no right answer when you argue in these terms.
The point isn’t that Israel believes that one Jewish Israeli is ‘worth’ 1027 Palestinians. That is ridiculous.
The point is that Hamas knows that Israel values life, that Israel, Israelis and Jews across the world care that a young man is languishing in captivity without access to his family and friends, without education, without a sex life, without doing all those things that 20-something young men should be doing; and why? Because he was a soldier, not because he committed a crime, except that of being an Israeli.
Hamas has no such concerns or scruples when it comes to Palestinian prisoners. It is not their lives that Hamas cared about but their political value and their ability to hurt Israel even as convicted criminals.
Hamas knows that Israel values life. The perverted, inverted ‘morality’ of Hamas’s Islamist cult is in love with death.
Hamas has abandoned all semblance of what passes for human behaviour.
When you have bled yourself of all compassion, when you feed off your own hatred and have dehumanised an entire people; when you have nothing but contempt for your enemy because it has all those human qualities which you consider to be weaknesses, then it is a matter of little consequence and no conscience to win the obscene auction of a young man.
And that is why I support this exchange. I support it because it confirms in me the belief that I am on the right side. It’s not about good and evil; it’s about flawed humanity, which is, nevertheless, humanity and pure unabstracted malice and distilled evil.
And I could not care less about all the crowing and victory whooping and all the threats to kidnap more Israelis; and I don’t give a damn about the hero welcomes and the streets and squares which will be named after murderers who have deliberately targeted children, teenagers and the elderly.
What I care about is that my humanity remains intact, that Israel has demonstrated clearly that its humanity is intact and Gilad Shalit will be free.
Gilad Shalit: 5 Years in Terrorist Captivity
25 June 2011 marks the fifth anniversary of the abduction of Gilad Shalit by Hamas terrorists from within Israeli territory, near the Kerem Shalom crossing.
On 25 June 2006, then-Corporal Gilad Shalit was kidnapped by Hamas terrorists from within Israeli territory and taken to the Gaza Strip. The kidnapping was part of an unprovoked attack which involved seven armed terrorists using a tunnel dug under the Israel-Gaza border.
Gilad was 19 at the time of his abduction. During the course of the attack, an IDF soldier, Staff Sergeant Pavel Slutzker, and an officer, Lieutenant Hanan Barak, were killed, while five others were wounded.
25 June 2011 marks 5 years of Staff Sergeant Shalit’s captivity. For 5 years, Hamas has continued to deny Gilad his most basic humanitarian rights, including Red Cross access. For 5 years, his family has suffered greatly, waiting for his return. The international community should act to end this intolerable situation.
As Prime Minister Netanyahu stated (23 May 2011): “I think that the entire civilized community should join Israel and the United States and all of us in a simple demand from Hamas: Release Gilad Shalit.”
THINK: IF THIS WERE YOUR SON
Sgt Gilad Shalit is a hostage, held in Gaza by Hamas who kidnapped him almost 5 years ago.
His crime was to be in the wrong place at the wrong time; a soldier protecting Israel’s borders.
Despite several attempts to broker a deal, Shalit still languishes somewhere in Gaza – as far as we know.
Gal Sitty has decided to buy billboard space near the UN headquarters in New York City in a bold move to get the message to a wider audience and the UN in particular.
The goal is to raise $10,000 via this web site:
You can read more about Gal and his campaign in the Jerusalem Post.
A few days ago I happened to be watching, once again, the documentary about Live Aid first shown 5 years ago on the 20th anniversary of the event.
Like millions of people on the actual day, I was enjoying the performances until we got to the part where they showed the film of the starving Ethiopian children and experienced again the horror of millions of people dying from famine, whilst we in the first world get increasingly obese.
And then it struck me; here was a genuine disaster where the whole world was mobilised by the efforts of one inspired man. So if Gaza is such a humanitarian disaster, and if people are really starving as so many in the anti-Israel organisations and commentators and journalists would have us believe, where are the images? Why are there no Live Aid type concerts? Where is the international outrage? Not the outrage of those with a political agenda, but the outrage which comes of genuine humanitarian concern?
As ever, I do not deny that many in Gaza do not have the greatest standard of living or quality of life, but is it not telling that the world actually understands real disasters, such as Haiti and the Pakistan floods. The world realises that the difficulties in Gaza, though real, are not in the same league as Haiti or Pakistan, let alone Ethiopia.
The only people fixated on trying to tell us that there is a humanitarian issue worthy of international attention are the flotillaniks and aid organisations whose agenda is to break the blockade, embarrass Israel and keep Gaza on the UN agenda. They are doing a fine job, often aided by UNWRA, but it does seem to me that the message that there is a humanitarian disaster worthy of the name is growing a little weak. And the idea that it is only Israel that is responsible for the conditions in Gaza is also beginning to pale.
Let’s not forget that Egypt also has a land embargo and one third of Gaza’s border is with Egypt.
Israel delivers thousands of tonnes of food and other aid and equipment every week through crossing points. Israel delivers electricity through its grid. Israel provides medical aid to thousands of Gazans a year. Shops in Gaza are well-stocked with food and white goods.
Yet Hamas, the rulers of Gaza, declare that their goal is to destroy Israel but complain that Israel is a little wary of the free passage of marine traffic into the Gaza strip. What nation in history whose enemy declared that its goal was to destroy it has provided the means for that enemy’s people to survive, although not thrive? And these are the same people who voted Hamas into power in the first place.
We hear how Gaza is a prison camp, that there is a humanitarian disaster, that Israel must end the ‘siege’. Bear in mind, also, that Hamas holds Gilad Shalit captive without access to the Red Cross. Bear in mind that rockets are fired daily into Southern Israel. Still Israel sends in the trucks.
How many countries have organised food aid for Gaza? How many worldwide broadcast concerts have the pro-Palestinian groups in Europe arranged to raise money?
So, as I said, I was thinking, maybe the world is not fooled. Maybe they actually understand it’s more about politics and less about suffering. Aid convoys and flotillas may have a small effect on the conditions in Gaza but their real purpose is political, not humanitarian.
No, the Gazan people are pretty well provided for by UNWRA, the EU, the United States and Israel. If they could get rid of Hamas, they might actually begin to thrive.
Interesting article on Arutz Sheva website a few days ago.
Israeli medicine is second to none. We saw their magnificent response to the Haiti earthquake.
In her article Maayana Miskin tells us that in the Ichilov hospital in Tel Aviv in the heart of the Zionist entity, 100 patients a month from Gaza are treated.
Yes, you read that correctly, 100 per month. One hospital.
But that’s not all. It also treats foreign Arabs from countries that don’t even recognise Israel.
But that’s not all. The relatives of these Arabs are provided with free food (presumably Halal) and a place to stay.
But that’s not all. It’s just one of several hospitals that do this.
And as a Druze Knesset minister, Ayoub Kara, points out, Hamas gives nothing in return for this. Well he’s wrong about that. They send hundreds of missile towards amongst other things, hospitals in Sderot and Ashkelon.
And Gilad Shalit still remains a prisoner for four years with no Red cross/Crescent visits.
This is Israel’s version of Humanitarian Aid. It doesn’t arrive with metal bars and knives, just the odd scalpel.
What sort of mentality is this that so demonises the Jews yet accepts their medical care?
Yes, Israel is not perfect, but who else treats its enemies like this in the Middle East?
Gilad Shalit, kidnapped four years ago and held since by Hamas without access to the Red Cross, Red Crescent, his family. Held incommunicado in contravention of international law and human rights.
Remember Gilad Shalit and the unbearable suffering of his family.
Remember Gilad Shalit and the unnecessary wasting of his young life.
Remember the taunting of his captors.
Free Gilad Shalit.
Ken Loach, the British film director, has claimed that it is “‘understandable” that there should be a rise in anti-Semitism since the Gaza conflict, the Jerusalem posts reports.
If there has been a rise I am not surprised. In fact, it is perfectly understandable because Israel feeds feelings of anti-Semitism.
He goes on:
When history comes to be written, I think this will be seen as one of the great crimes of the past decades because of the cold blooded massacre that we witnessed. Unless we take a stand against it, we are complicit.
And all this at the Russell Tribunal on Palestine – a “a symbolic citizens’ initiative that claims to reaffirm the importance of international law in conflict resolution”.
What Loach and other are “complicit” in is the usual one-sided demonisation and singling out of one state whilst ignoring the crimes of those seeking to annihilate it. By ‘understanding’ that Israel’s perceived crimes are responsible for anti-Semitism he is saying that it is “understandable” that all Jews are responsible for Israel’s actions. He makes no condemnation of this linkage. By expressing this belief he himself is complicit in the rise of anti-Semitism because he makes no stand against such a belief. Even Muslim leaders in the UK told their co-religionists NOT to blame Jews for the actions of Israel.
Did Mr Loach “understand” the huge rise in attacks on Muslims as a result of 9/11 or 7/7? No. Because there were very few attacks on Muslims in the UK whose citizens did not perpetrate a blood-libel against them. But in the wake of Operation Cast Lead anti-Semitic incidents in the UK and Europe went through the roof. Only Jews are responsible for the actions of other Jews in Mr Loach’s perverted logic.
I would also ask Mr Loach if he has taken a stand against President Bashir of Sudan, Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, the Taleban, the Russians for Chechnya (seeing as he is a supporter of Chechen independence) and South Ossetia.
But most importantly I would ask him if his kangaroo court of concerned citizens (which not only makes the accusation but then becomes judge and jury in a mockery of justice) is even going to look at Hamas’s actions and condemn them or does he “understand” Hamas’s motives as well.
And I would ask him why the Russell Tribunal does not even follow – vis-a-vis Hamas – some of its own aims as expressed when “trying” the United States for war crimes in Vietnam:
1. Has the United States Government (and the Governments of Australia, New Zealand and South Korea) committed acts of aggression according to international law?
3. Has there been bombardment of targets of a purely civilian character, for example hospitals, schools, sanatoria, dams, etc., and on what scale has this occurred?
4. Have Vietnamese prisoners been subjected to inhuman treatment forbidden by the laws of war and, in particular, to torture or mutilation? Have there been unjustified reprisals against the civilian population, in particular, execution of hostages?
Replace “United States” with “Hamas”.
On item 1: Hamas were and still carry out daily rocket attacks aimed specifically at the civilian population of Israel which is an “aggression according to international law”.
On item 3: as per item 1 the targets are “purely civilian (in) character” and are indiscriminate. As for scale: over 6000 such attacks since 2001.
On item 4: Gilad Shalit has been held since 2006 without access to the Red Cross contrary to international law. We do not know if he has been tortured. After Operation Cast Lead Hamas was widely reported as taking reprisals against anyone it deemed as being complicit of collaboration especially its political enemy Fatah. It carried out summary executions and woundings against civilians.
This is not Loach’s first attack on Israel. In 2007 at the San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival he called for “international boycott of Israeli political and cultural institutions”. In 2008 he condemned the celebrating of Israel’s 69th anniversary as “tantamount to dancing on Palestinian graves to the haunting tune of lingering dispossession and multi-faceted injustice”.
I believe even in the world of the self-appointed, self-righteous and self-lefteous Ken Loach and the Russell Tribunal there are clear grounds for an “indictment” and “prosecution” of Hamas.
I am sure the entire world is watching with baited breath.