Friday, July 2, 2010
My soon to be five year old son is the only member of our family with a summer birthday and one of those kids whose school birthday celebration will be bunched up with all other summer birthday kids. He had a hard time understanding that his party last Friday did not make him five years old, so we’ll make another party in two months when he really turns five. Hopefully he won’t feel short changed in his birthday celebrations. As we sat in his class enjoying the birthday rituals, I couldn’t help but think that in one gigantic way, it was hardly a day for celebration. Because that same day, June 25, marked the fourth anniversary of the abduction of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit by Palestinian terrorists. On June 25, Gilad Shalit began his fifth year in captivity with not so much as a letter from home, a visit from the Red Cross or representative of any international body, while existing in conditions far less humane than those under which Israel holds captured Palestinian terrorists--who enjoy cable TV, distance learning, air conditioning and visits from the Red Cross, families and friends. Hopefully Gilad Shalit will come home soon. Very soon. But until then, I will connect his captivity with my son’s growing up. I will now measure Gilad's imprisonment by my own son’s growth, vividly aware of his transition from infant to little boy, of his starting to do things for himself and experience all that life encompasses in five years. I am now more aware of the things Gilad has lost. Of the familial sanctuary stolen from him on the day of his abduction. The week of Gilad Shalit's kidnapping also marks the fifth anniversary of what was then an unrelated event, but has since become more related and relevant. Just days before his abduction, the International Red Cross (ICRC) finally undid a great historical injustice by accepting Magen David Adom as Israel’s member. (http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Health/MDAadmitted.html) These coterminous events are connected because the Red Cross is mandated to enforce that prisoners worldwide be held under universally acceptable humane conditions. But since then, the Red Cross has held Israel to selective and inconsistent standards. While stating that it cares deeply about Shalit and his well being, http://www.icrc.org/Web/Eng/siteeng0.nsf/html/israel-shalit-interview-230610, it has been unsuccessful and inept at making any progress on Gilad’s condition. It has never visited him. It has not been able to assess under what conditions he’s being held or his medical condition. It can’t even deliver a letter to him from his family. Yet, while they make claims that they care, on the Red Cross’ own web site under “The ICRC in Israel and the occupied territories” (http://www.icrc.org/web/eng/siteeng0.nsf/html/israel!Open), a sample of some 30 articles and postings display a grossly imbalanced view of their position. Shockingly, of 30 postings, 20 are pro-Palestinian and lay out the troubles of Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, positing or inferring that Israel is the sole cause of their troubles. Five postings present either a pro-Israel perspective, or one that at least makes Israel and Israelis look human. The remaining five can generously be described as neutral, except to the extent that of the Palestinians’ troubles noted, it can be inferred from the predominance of the majority of the postings, are Israel’s fault too. Magnifying this imbalance, the tab for “Israel” on the Red Cross web site opens to “Israel and the occupied territories.” Israel can’t even get its own tab, much less a balanced view. And the tab for “Palestine” opens to…you guessed it: “Israel and the occupied territories.” Yet, in neither is there mention of Israel's suffering through a decade of rocket's being fired at nearly 20% its population within 30 minutes of Gaza’s border. Or of Israel's anguish as a result of Palestinian terrorism in the past decade, and since its founding. There’s no consideration of post traumatic stress or the extent to which Israel has had to go to ensure the safety of its citizens. Oh… and did you see any Red Cross condemnation of Hamas, its bloody and illegitimate coup, and the cruel, militant terror state to which Gazans have been subjected under Islamic domination, purging fellow Arab Moslems and Christians? Of course not. Why would the Red Cross document or publicize Hamas’ inhumane treatment of fellow Arabs, let alone their terrorizing and murdering Israelis. While the Red Cross 'claims' they care about Gilad, its deputy head in “Israel and the occupied territories” absolves Hamas of all responsibility because, “Hamas is a non-state party to the conflict. As such, it is not obligated to allow family or Red Cross visits.” http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/features/pierre-dorbes-of-the-red-cross-has-hamas-agreed-to-anything-you-asked-for-regarding-gilad-shalit-1.297575 These sad facts hardly build one's confidence when the Red Cross’ head of operations for the Middle East states, “We are still working just as hard as we did when Gilad Shalit was first captured.” The Red Cross has a contemptible double standard: To uphold human rights for Gazans, even Hamas and other terrorists, and blame Israel for all their troubles, while making excuses to justify why they have not done anything tangible for Gilad Shalit. If I were the head of the Red Cross, I’d show up in Gaza and begin a public hunger strike until I were allowed to visit Gilad with a doctor, speak with him openly, and deliver a letter from his parents. That’s assuming the head of the Red Cross really cares. In thirteen years, my son will don the uniform of the IDF to defend us from Hamas and any existential challenges we may face. I am not holding my breath that we’ll have peace by then. As Gilad Shalit’s parents have begun a march (http://www.jpost.com/Israel/Article.aspx?id=179725) to secure their son’s freedom, as a parent of the little boy who will one day put his life on the line to defend the people and State of Israel, I pray that this will be Gilad’s last year in captivity and that he will be home with them soon. Until then, maybe the Red Cross will do something more than pay lip service to Gilad’s cause.
Monday, June 28, 2010
There’s no sinking the swirling issue of so called “humanitarian activists” sending a flotilla of ships toward Israel last month with the alleged, and their now disproven, goal of breaking Israelis blockade of the Hamas (terrorist) controlled territory; or of Israel’s response, which some say was poorly planned and/or executed leaving several Israeli soldiers with severe injuries and nine Turks on board the now infamous Mavi Marmara dead. And if this is not enough, such other terrorist controlled states as Lebanon and Iran are now sending their own ships to attempt to break the blockade, er, bring “humanitarian supplies” to their terrorist brethren in Gaza. No, that’s not to say that all Iranians, Lebanese or Gazans are terrorists. Of course not. Nor is it to say that there are not legitimate humanitarian needs in Gaza, many of which are met by Israel’s trucking in by scores of trucks a day, thousands of tons of real humanitarian supplies. But it is incontrovertible that Iran is controlled by an Islamic terrorist regime that stole a national election a year ago and continues to threaten Israel’s very existence. It is incontrovertible that Lebanon is controlled to a large extent (and almost unilaterally in the south) by an Iranian proxy in Hezbollah. And it is incontrovertible that Gazans live under the terrorist heel of Hamas which overthrew the elected Palestinian Authority government that once controlled the area in a violent and bloody coup, murdering far more of their brothers than there were dead “humanitarians” on the Mavi Marmara. This is the reason for the blockade of Gaza to begin with. Oh, and that for the better part of a decade Hamas backed terrorists fired thousands of rockets at Israeli towns and cities, and that Hamas backed terrorists kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, now entering his fifth year in captivity without as much as a visit from the Red Cross or ability to correspond with his family forget other breaches of international conventions as to the treating of captives. On the day of Israeli’s boarding, being violently attacked by, and eventually defeating the terrorists aboard the Mavi Marmara, I was in Atlanta at a convention of some 5000 evangelical Christians whose love and support for Israel is almost as unilateral as the hate emanating from Iran, Lebanon, Gaza, Turkey and many other ports. Even before the details of the flotilla incident became apparent, support for Israel was uncontested. I received countless prayers for the well being of Israel, blessings for its people and soldiers, and expressions of unconditional love. Most did not know yet that Israel had offered to let the ships dock in Ashdod and transfer humanitarian supplies directly to Gaza. Most did not know yet that the organizers refused to carry a letter to Gilad Shalit from his family. Most did not know yet that the “passengers” were armed mercenaries who videotaped their own plotting to attack Israeli soldiers. Most did not know yet that Israel already sends scores of truck loads of humanitarian aid into Gaza, daily. Most did not know that Israel regularly transports tens of Gazan patients to Israeli hospitals for medical care, daily. While the world rushed to blame Israel before the facts were in, tripping over one another to see who lies and misrepresentations could be more egregious and baseless, and there were countless political and civic leaders, media personalities, and fringe groups who immediately questioned the planning, intelligence, implementation and the outcome of the operation, I felt stranded in a sea of love and support. The participants of the Foursquare Ministries Convention knew instinctively which side was right and did not equivocate. Israel has set up a commission to investigate, and some facts are still being discovered. However, the simple facts are that the Turks basically committed an act of war, nine armed mercenaries were killed by soldiers who were defending themselves, and the Turks had the hubris to demand an apology. Then, if that were not enough, they threatened that if Israel doesn’t apologize it will harm Israeli Turkish relations, and that the Turks will cancel lucrative military contracts. Let’s think about this a moment. Do we really want the Turks (read Iran-west) armed with superior Israeli military equipment and technology anyway? This is like an abusive husband beating his wife so badly that she goes to the hospital, and then he “visits” her to say that if she apologizes for making him beat her, he’ll take her back. She apologizes, and then, as if to make up, buys him a new Leatherman and aluminum baseball bat as a gift. What she should do is to spit in the abusive husband’s face and say good riddance. How do you say good riddance in Turkish? Kurdistan? Armenian genocide? Cyprus? Recently, on the same day, underscoring that there’s no sinking this story, the Jerusalem Post reported three stories related to Turkey, among others, that underscored the irony and hypocrisy of the situation. Turkish Islamist Prime Minister Erdogan is noted as saying that Turkey’s problems are with the Israeli government, not the Israeli people. That’s comforting. One is left to the limits of his imagination as to how the Turks would behave if they really didn’t like us as a people. [“Our problem is with the Israeli Government” (http://www.jpost.com/MiddleEast/Article.aspx?id=178891)] Two pages later, “The sound of silence: Will Turkey become Like Iran for Tourists?” (http://new.jpost.com/Travel/TravelNews/Article.aspx?id=178922) we are told that Israeli tourism to Turkey has plummeted and is now all but dead. Of course Israelis don’t have a problem with Turkey, its people, or its lovely resorts, only with its budding terrorist government as part of the widening Islamist Iranian axis of those who want to destroy Israel. But the Iranians probably only really MEAN that they want to destroy our government, not the people, State or Land of Israel. Note my sigh of relief. Maybe we should buy them some rocket launchers and kiss and make up. But after reading about the friendly intentions of Turkey’s leaders toward me as an Israeli, and being wooed by the beautiful empty resorts being peddled by Turkish tourism professionals, I read with horror a report that “Turkish Jets Raid Northern Iraq” (http://www.jpost.com/Headlines/Article.aspx?id=178896). How could the peace loving Turks do such a thing? If it were true, the world would surely have an international uproar at least as loud as that leveled at Israel. If it were true, then the world would surely call for an international inquiry. I shudder to think that respectable world media would report on something false, and am comforted in knowing that if the Turks committed such a grave hostility that the world outcry would be loud and unrelenting. Just like the outcry of Turkey’s genocide against the Armenians, its violent and bloody war on Cyprus, or Turkish hospitality and international relations as depicted in the movie “Midnight Express.” Its time to stop giving the Turks a pass and call them on the carpet. The behavior of the Turkish government is hostile and belligerent, and its’ cozying up to Iran is scary, especially to Europe to which Turkey still longs to be associated. Maybe that’s why the Turks can’t find anyone home when knocking on the EU’s door. Turkey has elections coming up and one can only hope that an appropriate barrage of media, formal and social, ostracizing the Turkish government will sway the public to elect new leaders who are in line with the Turkish tradition of secularism and western values, and reject the rising Islamist alliance and extremism. And let us hope that the Turkish army, long known to be a bastion of that secularism, will be able to withstand challenges that one can rightly fear might end up like when their Iranian patrons stole an election in Iran a year ago.