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. Continue reading
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.