Larry Snider

Three Ring Circus in Midst of Tragedy

People are angry! Israelis are angry and they are speaking out, whether through the voice of a 17 year old Arab Israeli on YouTube…

…or hundreds of citizens writing online or in the words of Economy Minister Naftali Bennett. People are angry and calling for strong measures to punish the Palestinians who did this and those who support it including Israeli MK Hanin Zoabi who said: “They’re people who don’t see any way to change their reality and they are forced to use these means until Israel will wake up a little, until Israeli citizens and society will wake up and feel the suffering of the other,” Zoabi said in an interview on Radio Tel Aviv, adding that the kidnappers live under occupation.

Here across the big ocean American Jews stand in solidarity with their Israeli sisters and brothers joining the social media juggernaut; “#Bring Back Our Boys.” There are prayers, some 30,000 at the Kotel and in synagogues around the globe asking Hashem to keep Gilad Shaar, Naftali Frenkel and Eyal Yifrach safe and return them to their parents. There is also a very narrow group of peace activists on the far left who dare to venture beyond the basic message and ask the question in different terms of whether the occupation is responsible for the kidnapping? To speak such words at this time or even to couch them behind words that are spoken first in favor of the teenagers return is to risk excommunication from the Jewish Community and to place oneself at odds with a fundamental belief in the future of the State of Israel in most Jewish hearts and minds.

The IDF is busy searching high and low for the boys and has arresting hundreds of West Bank Hamas members to ferret out any information that will lead them even one step closer to the missing boys. Early on, a small Salafi group, Dawlat al-Islam, claimed responsibility for the kidnapping in retaliation for the IDF killing of three of its members in November. The organization has ties to ISIS, the terror organization that captured Mosul and is currently moving through Iraq toward Baghdad.

Gershon Baskin, who played a critical role in the return of Gilad Shalit; see “The Negotiator: Freeing Gilad Shalit from Hamas,” announced on Facebook yesterday that he played a role in getting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speak directly with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Israel has been working closely with Palestinian Security Services in the West Bank since 2007 to keep tabs on and control the activity of Hamas in places such as Hebron. Now it is essential that these Palestinian Security Forces cooperate with the IDF to gather all the information necessary to promote the identification of the kidnappers, the location of the three Israeli boys and their return.

Time is everything. There has been no ransom demand and no one ultimately knows whether the boys are still alive at this time which only adds to the enormous outpouring of dread mixed with an equal amount of anger. Every Israeli living in the West Bank and in Israel feels the pain that grew each day with the kidnapping on June 25, 2006 of a young soldier; Gilad Shalit and of the extraordinary price that was paid; 1027 Palestinian prisoners, (including many with blood on their hands), that were released in October 2011 to bring him home. The question which has been tacitly answered by PM Netanyahu is that the same Hamas that kidnapped Gilad Shalit in 2006 and recently agreed with Palestinian President Abbas to form a Unity Government is responsible for the kidnapping of Gilad Shaar, Naftali Frenkel and Eyal Yifrach. It is important to allow the IDF, the Israeli police the Civil Administration and all the security services to do their job unencumbered by the demands of politicians and even the public. If it is true that Hamas is responsible there will be a reckoning that will change the relationship between Israel and the Palestinian people forever.

About the Author
Larry Snider was President of the Interfaith Community for Middle East Peace a non-profit based in suburban Philadelphia. Today he lives in New Jersey and is a Board Member of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Southern New Jersey.
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