Fears for the well-being of the abducted teenagers dominate our minds and prayers and we share the pain of their parents and families. And the nation as a whole is displaying the unity that has always been the hallmark of the Jewish people when confronted with such situations.
However there are a few demented Israelis, exemplified by Yedioth Ahronoth journalist Raanan Shaked who blames the tragedy on “these nut jobs [who] take the kids with them to live in the territories.” The Alice in Wonderland nature of our democracy also enables Balad MK Hanin Zoabi to deny that the abductors were terrorists and shamelessly justify the kidnapping as an act of resistance to “Palestinian suffering”. She was supported by Avram Burg who, in Haaretz, attributed the abduction to “the suffering of a society, its cry, and the future of an entire nation that has been kidnapped by us”.
But the overwhelming majority of our politicians, whose despicable behavior reached an all-time low during the course of the presidential elections, are united and compassionate in their handling of this ongoing crisis.
Since the creation of the state, we have endured endless terrorist acts targeting innocent Israelis of all ages.
The global media has portrayed the kidnapping as an attack on “settlers.” This is especially ironic given the history of Gush Etzion – from where the teenagers were abducted – a settlement bloc founded by the children and survivors of a community destroyed and razed to the ground during the 1948 War of Independence.
In this context, we must come to terms with the reality that the world is indifferent to what happens to Israel, as exemplified yet again by the EU failing to make a formal statement for five days. When it did, the statement was not signed by foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who never misses an opportunity to release immediate statements in her own name condemning Israel for construction in east Jerusalem Jewish suburbs.
Ironically, as this kidnapping saga is unfolding in Israel, in New York there has been furious debate surrounding the Metropolitan Opera production of “Death of Klinghoffer,” a vile drama based on the callous murder of a crippled Jew on a cruise ship by Palestinian terrorists which seeks to rationalize and humanize the terrorists and rationalize their motivations.
The major problem today is that the international community denies the barbaric nature of Islamic fundamentalism. Surely the carnage taking place in Syria and now Iraq, which matches the worst examples of medieval butchery, should have served as a wakeup call. The behavior of the Sunni jihadists in the capture of Mosul, in which hundreds, if not thousands, of soldiers and policemen were decapitated and their heads placed on display, explains why over half a million of the city’s inhabitants fled. Likewise the 185,000 butchered by both sides in the Syrian civil war and the 300 Nigerian schoolgirls kidnapped and apparently sold as slaves. The jihadists — Sunnis and Shiites alike — are barbaric monsters.
But in relation to Israel and its neighbors, the international community finds it far more convenient to portray the conflict in terms of Palestinians seeking national independence from their Israeli “occupiers.” The fact that the Palestinians were offered 95% of the territories over the Green Line and spurned statehood on numerous occasions, underlines their true aspiration — which is not real estate but the elimination of Jewish sovereignty.
The whole region is a scorpions’ den of barbaric activity. Hamas and the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade — the military wing of Fatah, a component of the PA — are birds of a feather, akin to their cruel and murderous Syrian and Iraqi counterparts. The Shiites, whom they seek to exterminate, are equally brutal toward the Sunnis when they are in control. Thus it is impossible to differentiate between the cruel brutality of the Hezbollah Shiites and the Hamas Sunnis. If these barbarians have the capacity to behave so cruelly toward their own kinsmen, one can only shudder at what they would do to Jews if they had the opportunity.
Israel represents an oasis of relative tranquility in this tumultuous region. It is ironic that in recent months Israel has even been treating casualties from the civil war in Syria. We unhesitatingly provide medical services to Palestinians, including two years ago, the granddaughter of Ismael Haniyeh, the Gaza-based head of Hamas who continues calling for the slaughter of Jews. Incredibly, during the same week as the abduction, Mahmoud Abbas had no inhibitions about having his wife treated at Assuta Medical Center in Tel Aviv.
Yet when Israeli civilians are targeted by missiles from Gaza, all that the U.S. and the international community requires of Abbas is his statement that it is not in the interests of the Palestinians at that time to launch rockets against Israel. Only after four days did Abbas respond and condemn the abduction — but it was subsumed with a protest against the Israelis for disrupting of Palestinian life as they searched for the perpetrators.
In the meantime, the Palestinians publicly rejoiced, both in PA areas and in Gaza. Revolting cartoons were published in the official Palestinian Authority daily and Fatah publications celebrating the abduction. This is consistent with the statement made on PA TV earlier this year by leading PA official Jibril Rajoub, stating that “if Hamas wants to kidnap soldiers … we encourage them. When they kidnapped [Gilad] Schalit, we congratulated them.” It is worth noting that there is no distinction between the incitement to hatred by the PA and that promoted by the openly genocidal Hamas.
Yet last month, the Obama administration effectively sanctioned the union of the PA with Hamas, which subsequently publicly reaffirmed its genocidal objectives and calls on its followers to contribute to the destruction of Israel. And our “peace partner” merely shrugs his shoulders when members of his coalition call for our annihilation.
U.S. President Barack Obama may boast that he oversaw the targeted killing of bin Laden, but the reality is that today, Islamic fundamentalism is stronger than ever. In fact, unless firmly repulsed in the coming weeks, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Afghanistan and a number of other potential regional hotspots could well establish caliphates which will emerge as launching pads for exporting terror to all parts of the world. They will of course also be able to utilize as terrorists those returning citizens from Europe and North America who fought with them against Shiites. These will be in addition to Iranian Shiite terrorists like Hezbollah who are already engaged in global terror and who will be enormously empowered if Iran becomes a nuclear power.
If global leaders continue burying heads in the sand and refuse to urgently confront the nightmarish reality of Islamic fundamentalism with its messianic global overtones, it will be far more costly to oppose these forces when they have become further entrenched.
Israel is at the frontlines of this battle against global jihad. It must react harshly if those abducted are not released. Failure to do so will further embolden the barbarians and incentivize them to kidnap more Israelis and perpetrate further acts of terror.
Past mistakes must not be repeated. The mass release of 1,027 prisoners in return for the release of Schalit in 2011 was compounded with the government’s abysmal decision last year – under US pressure – to release over 100 murderers in order to induce the PA to come to the negotiating table. The army has already been forced to arrest a number of those released. It is imperative that we review all procedures relating to the incarceration of terrorists and ensure that imprisonment will no longer be regarded by them as a paid vacation with an optional university education — to be employed after release in a hostage exchange.
Finally, despite our fears, we can only continue praying for the safe rescue of the teenagers with whom the entire nation identifies. But we should brace ourselves for tough times ahead and seek to retain the current sense of unity in which the nation and its leaders display compassion and tolerance and avoid reverting to the hostility and extremism that polarizes us.
The writer’s may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This column was originally published in the Jerusalem Post and Israel Hayom