I have just learned of the kidnapping of twenty-three year old Israeli soldier Hadar Goldin from Kfar Saba, during a humanitarian truce agreed by both Hamas and Israel. To be honest with you all, I feel physically sick. Whatever your political opinion, if you hate Israel and have taken to the streets chanting for Gaza to be freed, please take a moment to understand the implications of kidnapping Hadar.
Israel is a tiny country, often there aren’t any more than two degrees of separation between one citizen and another. When an Israeli dies, or is kidnapped, the population waits for the release of a name in the realistic expectation that they may know this person. It could be a school friend, a cousin, an ex-boyfriend. Please remember that soldiers in Israel are conscripted to the army, it is not their choice but something they must do as Israel continues to exist in, to use an understatement, the most ‘unfriendly of neighbourhoods’. They are young men, school leavers who are yet to go to university. Reserve soldiers live totally civilian lives for 11 months of the year, they are fathers, sons, teachers, musicians, accountants, shelf-stackers, cleaners, peace activists, lawyers and charity workers.
As a father, and a young-ish Jewish person, I cannot even begin to imagine what a young Israeli kidnapped by Hamas is feeling at this very moment. Nor what his family feel. He is destined to be beaten, drugged, held underground and either killed or used as a pawn in a sick political game Hamas like to play. Friends, excuse me if this post is a little less ordered than usual, it’s difficult to type with tears streaming down my face.
I am not Israeli, but I do have friends in London with the surname ‘Goldin’, and something instantly made me want to type this young man’s name into facebook to see if we have any mutual friends. Channel 4 have also just reported today that Hadar is a British citizen. The first thing to come up was a page called ‘Hadar Goldin We Stand With You’, with some 200 or so members. The first comment on this group was by someone called Mohammed Falastin Nabhani, and reads: “Fuck u!!!!!! Fuck Hadar hahahahahaha. HAMAS!” Words fail me.
Friends, we can only do what we believe to be right, and we can only fight what we believe to be wrong. That does not mean mindlessly siding with Israel or mindlessly siding with the Palestinians, it is our duty as decent humans to strive for understanding and not follow a pack mentality. I am as desperate as anyone to see Palestinians live prosperous lives, without the pain they are currently suffering, sandwiched between Hamas tunnels and rocket stores below ground and the Israeli Defence Forces in the sky.
Jon Snow this week asked Israeli Ambassador to the UK Daniel Taub the following question, “How many more soldiers are you prepared to lose, you’ve lost more now than in any Gaza operation before?” Ambassador Taub answered as follows, “Jon I think you’ve put your finger on it yourself, the fact is, we know there is the question of legitimacy in the international community. We know that we are paying a price and we know that we are paying a price amongst our soldiers, and a PR price. Why do you think it is, although we know this price and we know it hurts us, why are we prepared to do that? Because we know that we are dealing with a brutal terrorist organization. We don’t want this to be yet another round, we want this to be sustainable quiet for the people of Israel.”
Friends, Israel is hurting, Israel is grieving, Israel is paying the price. Not only for Hadar, not only for the other fallen young people of Israel, but for innocent Palestinians caught up in this horror story too. I ask all of you: will kidnapping an Israeli make the prospect of peace and a Palestinian State more likely? What will this kidnapping achieve? What will this kidnapping achieve for Israelis, apart from cause them immense pain and prompt the IDF to start an epic and frantic ground operation to find Hadar before it is too late? What will this kidnapping achieve for Palestinians, apart from to inflict much more suffering on the people of Gaza as the IDF wades through homes, through tunnels, through civilian areas, and through any possible location that Hamas could have taken Hadar to? Yes, the list of possibilities does include hospitals, UN Schools and mosques – this is Hamas we are talking about.
As entrenched critics of Israel repeatedly identify, the IDF is a strong army with massive capabilities. Israel could easily have stayed up in the sky above Gaza, and dismantled Hamas with their sophisticated and powerful weaponry. Instead they sent in ground troops in order to reduce Palestinian civilian casualties. Israel are sacrificing the lives of their own people in order to preserve Palestinian lives, whilst being accused by ignorant people of “committing genocide”.
We are facing a grim circle of despair unless the entire world, so keen to condemn Israel, actually condemns Hamas. Not to say “Yes, they kidnapped him, but…” not to say “Yes I don’t agree with their tactics, but…”, instead to say: Hamas, you do not represent the Palestinian people, you represent pure hatred, you represent the glorification of death to innocent Palestinians and you represent a will to commit genocide upon Israel and Jews worldwide. YOU. ARE . EVIL.
For the good of the Palestinian people, for the good of young Hadar wherever he may be as his family sit around the Sabbath dinner table this evening in more pain than you or I could ever imagine, we must all stand together against this cancerous ideology of fanaticism attempting to reshape the civilized world, a fanaticism that will affect many Western countries. Friends, Israel is on the front line fighting extremist fanatical Islam on behalf of the rest of the world, who are too busy reveling in their own supposed moral superiority that they’re yet to realize they could be next. Friends, whatever your political leanings and whatever you think of Israel, I trust that you will ALL not only join me in condemning Hamas for breaking an agreed truce, but in saying urgently, loudly and vehemently: BRING HADAR HOME.