Eric Schorr
Intelligence & Security Analyst; former IDF officer

What about Lior?

Lior Ben Yosef, currently being held in a jail in Taiwan without access to his family

An Israeli couple that was held by Turkey on suspicion of espionage returned home this past week after a weeklong detention, and largely due to the scrutiny received in mainstream media outlets and on social media platforms. Back in July, an Israeli-Jewish social media influencer was released after a 20-day imprisonment in Nigeria, with considerable social media coverage calling for his release prior to Nigerian authorities agreeing to do so. These two cases are a cause for celebration, yet another case has received no attention on the English and Jewish media circuit. When social media is silent, Israelis languishing in foreign jails can find themselves truly abandoned. Such has been the case for Avera Mengistu in the Gaza Strip (compared to Gilad Shalit, for example). And such is the case of Lior Ben Yosef, who is entering his second month in jail in Taiwan and has still been unable to communicate directly with his family.

Social media influencers, where are you? What makes some Israelis more worthy of campaigning for than others?

The circumstances of Lior’s incarceration are straightforward, if not without legal basis. Ben Yosef, 31, a businessman in the cosmetic industry, was riding a motorcycle to work when another driver, a local, stabbed him after an altercation. According to Hebrew language media, Lior had passed a white line and the other driver took umbrage, attempting to mow down Lior, exiting his vehicle while drawing a weapon, and forcing Ben Yosef to defend himself. Until now, the only communication the family has had with the detainee is through his Taiwanese girlfriend, largely through letters.

It appears any diplomatic efforts on behalf of Lior have yet to be successful. Most egregiously, Ben Yosef was put into custody by Taiwanese authorities after having been pressured to sign documents in a language he does not know or understand. He is being held for “nothing,” according his family, until an indictment is filed, which they say may take months. They say that because he is a foreigner and Israeli, he has been grossly discriminated against. Furthermore, his medical and mental condition has also deteriorated, according to his family.

The family has also been told that they need to rely on local lawyers and have set up donations to help free Ben Yosef. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, they are limited on what they can do, and hope to reach an English-reading audience that may be more inclined to apply public pressure. They have sadly come to realize that much of the English-speaking pro-Israel realm has been largely unaware and therefore silent.

As a former officer in the IDF I cannot help but echo here the values we are imbued with upon our enlistment: that Israeli soldiers do not leave their comrades behind under any circumstances. Lior is a son, a brother, an uncle, an Israeli and a Jew. It is time to bring Lior home.

About the Author
Captain Eric J. Schorr (res.) served in the Israel Defense Forces from 2014 to 2019, specializing in intelligence and operations. Eric holds a Master's in Counter Terrorism & Homeland Security from Reichman University, a Bachelor's in Middle Eastern Studies from Columbia University, and a Bachelor's in Modern Jewish Studies & Hebrew from The Jewish Theological Seminary. His contributions have been featured in The Times of Israel, Yediot Ahronot, and Encyclopedia Geopolitica.
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