Friday, June 20, 2014
KIDNAPPING, HEALTH CARE, HYPOCRISY, AND MAGIC
According to CNN, a day after the kidnapping of three Israeli teenage boys, three boys from a "settlement" were "missing" and Israel "believes" they have been kidnapped.
As late as Wednesday, five days after the kidnapping, Ben Wedeman of CNN is still reporting that the boys "disappeared." A lengthy report on tactics used to try to find the boys never uses the word "kidnapped." And, not surprisingly, the report is 90% on Israeli actions, 10% on kidnapped boys. Today, Friday, CNN did, at last, use the word "abducted."
Three Israeli boys, one who also holds American citizenship, two 16 years old, one 19, were kidnapped while hitching home from a school in the territories. It should not matter, but one of the boys lives in the territories, one in a town right on the 1949 truce line, and one within the Green Line.
I am sure that every caring parent feels for the parents of these boys.
Perhaps, I spoke, or more accurately, wrote, too fast. It appears that not every parent empathizes with the parents of the kidnapped kids. In fact, many in the West Bank and Gaza have been cheering and handing out sweets. Their social media is elated.
Hamas, Fatah's new partner in the Palestinian Authority's government, commended the kidnapping and has criticized the Palestinian Authority for allegedly cooperating with Israel in trying to locate the boys. Reports are that most people in Gaza believe that Hamas engineered the kidnapping.
While P.A. President Abbas has called for the boys' release, his own faction, Fatah, joined Hamas in urging Palestinians to destroy all surveillance tapes so as not to assist in finding the boys. And Fatah's Facebook site had a gem showing the three boys as rats hanging from a fishing pole.
Then there is the wonder of the "three fingers" campaign, in which the children of the proposed new nation of Palestine are being taught to revel in the kidnapping of children and the pain of their parents. Note the lovely picture of the little hook-nosed Jew in one of the pictures. Apparently, there really is nothing new under the sun.
This seemingly inhuman response should not be a surprise. Because Jews are demonized and dehumanized, Israel's right to exist is denied, Jews are equated to pigs and dogs, in their literature, in school, on cartoons (all of which are controlled by Abbas' government), this is the natural and expected response.
Somehow CNN missed all of this.
There is an occasional slim ray of light in this depressing and morally bankrupt reality. A sheik and a Palestinian peace activist joined with a group of Jews to pray at the site of the abduction for the return of the captured kids.
And a brave, enlightened Israeli Arab 17 year old, Mohammad Zoabi,who has previously incurred the wrath of his extended family for expressing his appreciation for Israel and for identifying with it, was threatened by some family members for expressing hope for the return of the boys. Fortunately, his mother, who may not share his feelings, has at least defended his right to express them.
One of Mohammad Zoabi's relatives, Hanin Zoabi, is the first Arab Israeli woman to be elected to the Knesset on an Arab party's list. She regularly takes actions and makes statements that, if taken by a member of the U.S. Congress, would result in tar and feathering. Her latest expression of love of country: defending the kidnappers.
Member of Knesset Zoabi's diagnosis of Mohammad: a lost, misguided child, alienated from his people. My suggestion: a well-adjusted young man who, looking around the region, appreciates what he has.
Health Care and Hypocrisy
In the meantime, Mrs. Abbas came on over to the Zionist entity to receive some top-notch health care in one of our hospitals. A few months ago the Hamas leader's granddaughter received treatment in an Israeli hospital in an effort to defeat a fatal disease. A year or so ago his brother-in-law received life-saving heart surgery in Israel.
We treat not just the well-connected leaders who orchestrate much of the hate, but also tens of thousands of ordinary Palestinians, many of whom probably participate in the celebrations of the kidnapping.
It is an unfathomable reality: on the one hand they denigrate us and deny our very right to exist, characterize us as evil, kidnap and cheer about the kidnapping of our kids. On the other hand, they send their parents, their kids, and their spouses to our hospitals. One minute we are their mortal enemies. The next minute we treat their ill.
Yes, Israeli health care providers, and Israelis generally, feel a mandate to care for the ill, to preserve life, no matter who is ill, no matter the life at stake. But that does not mean that we should ignore the ludicrousness of the situation.
Is Something Better than Nothing?
President Abbas seldom, if ever, condemns the kidnapping or other violence against Israel simply because it is immoral and wrong to inflict pain on innocent people. Rather, if he opposes violence against Israelis, he virtually always characterizes it as doing damage to the Palestinian cause.
Thus, he signals that the tool is acceptable if, at another time, he judges that it would be effective in accomplishing Palestinian objectives. He also signals that, if one disagrees with him on the disadvantage of the violence to the advancement of the Palestinian cause, whether that be a state next to Israel or the destruction of Israel, there is nothing wrong with using the tactic.
President Abbas illustrated this point with his recent statements that there will not be another intifada because it would result in the destruction of the Palestinians. No mention that it is morally repugnant to blow up buses, restaurants, and night clubs full of innocent people
A friend made an interesting point: Abbas put the kibash on another intifada. What does that say about Secretary of State Kerry's recent and not very subtle intimations that Israel's supposed intransigence in negotiations were putting it at great risk of another intifada? Answer: Not much.
In the meantime, it is pretty clear that Israel, as part of its efforts to find the three boys and to deter future kidnappings, is engaged on a campaign to destroy Hamas's increased foothold in the West Bank, a foothold strengthened by the recently formed joint government and the U.S. and Europe's acceptance of it. Among other actions, Israel is re-arresting recently released terrorists and is closing down Hamas-related institutions.
Who is the greatest beneficiary of the campaign, and who must be secretly cheering it on? President Abbas, who knows full well that without Israel there to protect him, he would probably have been history a long time ago.
It's magic. Or metaphysics, Or alchemy. Or just downright strange.
Palestinian Authority President Abbas' Fatah and Hamas form a government together. They announce it. They negotiate over who will be in it. They announce that it is an interim government until they can hold elections.
Somehow, without falling down laughing, the Obama Administration was able to say that Hamas is not part of the government and that this arrangement does not violate U.S. law prohibiting U.S. cooperation with and funds going to a government in which Hamas participates.
The rationale: Hamas only selected the ostensible technocrats that serve in the new government. No Hamas officials themselves serve in the government.
The Obama Administration says that it will watch events closely. It will judge the new government by its actions. It expresses "concerns."
Condemnation every time someone gets a permit to build a house in Ramot or Gilo. "Concerns" when the Palestinian Authority teams up with U.S. government-designated terrorists.
Now we've seen the new government and its participants in action. Hamas cheers the kidnapping of innocent kids. Israel believes Hamas' leadership gave the green light to the kidnapping. Hamas and Fatah direct Palestinian citizens with video that might assist in finding the kids to destroy the evidence. Gaza, under Hamas control, continues to fire rockets aimed at Israeli civilian sites.
Is Hamas still not part of the government? Do the actions of the government still not violate U.S. law? Is the Obama Administration still watching with "concern?"
Members of a Bring Back Our Boys rally spontaneously joined a rally of the Bring Back Our Girls campaign occurring simultaneously in New York a few days ago. It was a touching moment of unity and solidarity. It was a poignant moment. The innocence of youth and the love of parents do not know boundaries or politics.
President and Mrs. Obama said that the Nigerian girls taken could have been their girls. I am sure they can feel the pain of the parents of Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Shaar, and Naftali Fraenkel.
Question: Will Michelle Obama hold up a Bring Back Our Boys sign as she did a Bring Back Our Girls sign?
(Originally published in The Times of Israel)
For speaking engagements: firstname.lastname@example.org