On June 25th 2006, 19 year old Cpl. Gilad Shalit was captured on the Kerem Shalom Crossing by Hamas militants. Nearly three years later, the 22 year old staff sergeant remains in the dangerous hands of this Palestinian terrorist organization. His kidnapping, followed by the abduction of two other Israeli soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, arguably instigated fighting in the 2006 Second Lebanon War. Whereas Regev and Goldwasser’s remains were returned to Israel this past July in exchange for Palestinian prisoners, Shalit, who, as evidence proves, is still living, remains in captivity.
The situation is understandably agonizing for Gilad’s family– Shalit’s abduction is a clear violation of international law and Hamas is technically accountable for a war crime. Yet despite the sorrow and aggravation, the Shalit family has shown a tremendous amount of strength throughout the ordeal. Parents Aviva and Noam, brother Yoel and sister Hadas have risen to the occasion and taken incredible actions to increase awareness and support for their beloved’s release. Since his abduction, Israeli and Palestinian representatives have ridden a rollercoaster of talks, chiefly mediated by Egypt, none of which have ended successfully.
Saturday March 21st marked Gilad’s 1000th day in captivity. To show their solidarity, his family set up a tent in Jerusalem outside the Prime Minister’s home from March 9th until the 21st. While negotiations were being discussed in the final days of Olmert’s administration, Noam explained that the goal of having the Hatzilu tent was “to remind everyone that the window of opportunity is closing, and to bring the issue to the public.” The family saw many visitors – individuals, school groups, tourists – and was extremely grateful to see the widespread concern and support for their cause. “Aviva and I would like to extend a thankful embrace to all of you,” Noam said.
As Olmert leaves the government and Netanyahu takes over, the family seems to have mixed reactions. Noam Shalit feels strongly that it was entirely Olmert’s responsibility to return Gilad and is quite dismayed that he ended his term without doing so. While they might worry that the incoming coalition will not devote enough attention to the aging issue, they remain hopeful: “we have nothing short of a miracle to look forward to.”
For more on Gilad Shalit, including an aural recording of a message Gilad sent a few months ago, visit: www.habanim.org
Filed under: opinion
The past few weeks have seen a number of troubling pieces in both the international and Israeli media starting with reports of soldier’s testimonies detailing abuses during Operation Cast Lead in Gaza. This was followed by a Haaretz expose on the culture of offensive “unit t-shirts” in the IDF. On top of this, the Jerusalem Post’s Khaled Abu Toamer reported his concern about the level of discourse around Israel on college campuses. If that wasn’t enough, Gilad Schalit has now spent over 1,000 days in captivity.
I would love to hear what your thoughts are on these issues.
Filed under: politics | Tags: coalition, Election, February 10, Kadima, likud, Livni, netanyahu, Peres, posted by a, posted by aklionsky, president, Prime minister, Yisrael Beiteinu
There I sat on February 10, the night of the Israeli election, repeatedly clicking the “refresh” button every few minutes on the Yediot Achronot website. Each time, percentage of seats won by Kadima and those won by Likud seemed insignificantly different. This raised an important question: What happens if the margin of victory by one party over another is tiny.
The way Israel dealt with that question was, in a sense, to disregard the results of the election. When the results are as close as they were this year, Israel brings the final decision to the President. So it was, that on February 20, President Shimon Peres announced that he has the most confidence in Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu’s ability—not the ability of Kadima’s Tzipi Livni, the candidate who won the most votes—to form a stable coalition, and thus a stable government.
To us, this seems ludicrous. For a country to go through all motions of an election—making campaign promises, ordering ballots, setting up voting booths, tallying the preferences—and then throw away the votes because it can’t be sure that the selected person will make a good leader: what was the point of voting?
February’s election showed something important about Israeli society today. The election showed the division amongst Israelis over what to do about the current situation, and displayed the appeal to large camps of Israelis of both major candidates and their platforms. But what the election failed to do was precisely what it was supposed to: decisively deliver a new Prime Minister to the Israeli people. (more…)
Filed under: opinion, politics | Tags: Ha'aretz, Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh, Mahmoud Abbas, Operation Cast Lead, posted by ron
The most common question when dealing with Hamas :: “How does this make any sense?”
This time, it refers to the rising approval ratings after the Operation Cast Lead. A post on Ha’aretz said that a Hamas support is rising, according to the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research. It says that the poll was conducted face-to-face, so hopefully this mean that those surveyed felt pressured to say “yes” for Hamas.
But how would this make sense. Here are a couple statistics:
- 5,000 homes destroyed
- 1,300 Palestinian fatalities
The more realistic statistics are listed later in the article.
- 71% of Palestinians believe they are worse off now than they were before the Operation Cast Lead
- Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh is only ahead 2% (47%-45%) of current PA President Mahmoud Abbas – there is a great chance that this could be changed in actual elections, especially when votes are submitted privately.
One could only hope that the statistics that the poll focussed on are incorrect, and would change in real-life elections.
Filed under: opinion, politics | Tags: Green Technology, oil, OPEC, posted by joel, USIECA
This past Tuesday I was part of a delegation from Chicago (through the Jewish Community Relations Council of the Jewish United Fund) with five other high school seniors and a handful of college and grad school students to lobby congress in Washington DC. I spoke with elected officials and their staff regarding the United States Israel Energy Cooperation Act (USIECA). As of now, we import 58% of our oil requirements, of which 45% comes from member states of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC)–many of which are hostile to both the United States and Israel. The USIECA would help further the advancement of green technology in an emerging green economy, which is important to levy our dependence off foreign oil thus making the U.S. and Israel safer, and helping save the planet. About a year ago, this act was passed through the House and the Senate with broad bipartisan support, including the support of President Obama when he was a senator. In order for the USIECA to be properly implemented, it needs sufficient funding. I urge you to send your congressman and/or senator a letter or E-Mail and ask them to appropriate funds to support this issue that is so crucial to both the U.S. and Israel, and the world as a whole.
Filed under: opinion | Tags: Bulldozer, Ed Morrissey, palestinians, posted by ron
When will the Palestinians realize what does and doesn’t work? Earlier today in Jerusalem, a Palestinian man drove his tractor into a police car, and pushed it into a tour bus. The police men were injured in the attack.
The only fatality this time was the terrorist-tractor-drive, as a taxi . This is the third attempt at an attack of this caliber by the Palestinians. When will the Palestinians realize what does and doesn’t work? As Ed Morrissey posted here:
Think of this as a metaphor for the overall Palestinian movement. They settle on a strategy that doesn’t work, but they keep trying it even as it becomes obvious that it won’t work.
Palestinians continue to ask for more freedoms, but follow up these requests with idiotic attacks like this one. When will they learn?
Footage of the attack can be seen in the JerusaelmOnline news update.
Filed under: opinion, politics | Tags: bibi, gaza, Hamas, Hezbollah, iran, Israel, Kadima, labor, likud, Livni, netanyahu, Olmert, posted by josh, settlements, West Bank
On February 10, 2009, the Israeli public made it abundantly clear that they are fed up with the status quo. Although most would like to see peace, they have grown tired of this past administration’s efforts to appease their enemies. Before I continue, I would like to make it clear that I am for peace. Having said that, I have come to the realization that territorial concessions and terror are mutually exclusive. Since the famous handshake between Yassir Arafat and Yitzak Rabin, instead of “Land for Peace” we have seen “Land for Terror.”
Perhaps the greatest example of why “Land for Peace” is a failed philosophy is Gaza. After the results of Sharon’s “Unilateral Disengagement,” I challenge anyone on this blog to argue why doing the same in Judea and Samaria would be effective. Before I discuss the security disasters that have resulted from the disengagement, I would like to make note of how inhumane our fellow Jews have been treated by the Israeli government. Many of the Gush Katif (region in Gaza) refugees are unemployed, homeless, and have experienced psychological damage. The government subsidized them to go on a “mission” and then evicted them from their homes.
Settlers aside, the disengagement has brought about a new age of terror. Since 2005, when Israel withdrew all settlers and security forces from every last inch of Gaza, thousands of rockets have been launched into southern Israel. While the media likes to make note of the fact that the rockets have caused few deaths, they ignore the fact that the Israelis cannot go to the mall. Residents of Beer Sheva have to worry about sending their kids to Kindergarden; the psychological damage that has resulted is disturbing.
Filed under: arts/culture, movies/television, opinion | Tags: animation, gaza, Israel, posted by mel, video
Gisha, The Legal Center for Freedom of Movement has just put out this video about the Israeli blockade of Gaza. I’m not sure what to think about a piece like this, and would love to hear your opinions.
Filed under: opinion | Tags: Apartheid, Apartheid Week, Azmi Bishara, Balad, knesset, posted by ron shapiro, Security Barrier, Stand With Us, StandWithUs, The David Project
March 1st-8th marks the 5th annual Israel Apartheid Week. This has “become one of the most important global events in the Palestine solidarity calendar” (www.apartheidweek.org). Wait, WHAT?
For one week, creatures around the world are gathering to bash Israel’s security fence as an “Apartheid Wall.” Last year, more than 25 cities participated, along with several universities around the US and Europe. Millions of people that are uneducated at these centers of high-level education are being swayed to believe that Israel is an inhumane and backwards country that is stuck in a state similar to South Africa and America pre-civil-rights movement which enjoys watching civilians suffer on international television. The organizers of these events string long arguments depicting the IDF to be a cruel army, targeting civilians, and restricting humanitarian aid by showing movies (which are usually fake), holding large events of flag burning, and lectures filled with propaganda directed at those who have no idea what is going on in Israel.
It is critical that these attempts are thwarted and that the common public is told the truth. It is inevitable: people will hate the Jewish people and the idea of a Jewish state; but not everyone has to. StandWithUs and The David Project have plenty of resources, including posters that show members of Hamas teaching their children to shoot guns and other terrible crimes.