Monday, May 31, 2010

The Terrorists Speak of Morality

This is a guest post by a friend, Channah Barkhordari.

I read an article in The Jerusalem Post tonight that has made me more sickened than perhaps any other I have read this year.

As many of you may know, there is a bill pending ratification in the Knesset that is meant to take away some of the supreme benefits being afforded to the Hamas terrorists in Israel's prisons. The logic behind the bill is that since Gilad Schalit has been held captive by Hamas for over four years, (the terrorist group refusing to reveal one iota of information regarding his whereabouts and living conditions, and continually breaking international law by restricting access to him by even the Red Cross,) it seems quite superfluous to provide amenities to Hamas terrorist prisoners that stretch over and above the legal requirements. Removing them is meant to provide some pressure on Hamas to return Gilad. (Jerusalem Post Editorial, 25/5/10)

At first I was relieved that Gilad was once again being focussed upon and that we are doing something. But if you asked me yesterday whether I thought the move would affect any serious progress, I would have said no — not because, as I discovered tonight, I should have known the sickening depth with which the leaders of Hamas deal in unconditional terror, but because the bill is simply not enough.

For one thing, I was unaware that Hamas terrorists were receiving such a range of stimulating benefits in Israel's prisons, from the option of pursuing higher education at Israel's Open University, to multi-channel cable TV. Yes, this is horribly ironic. Hamas restricts these basic rights, objective higher education and free press, from the Palestinians under their control on a consistent basis. What could make the situation clearer when the best place for a Hamas terrorist to go, or any Palestinian of Gaza for that matter, is an Israeli prison?

Do you think that maybe, just maybe, it makes sense that when your own soldiers (yes, soldiers plural—for Gilad we have the most hope, but there are more of our brothers missing—) are hidden behind circumstances so precarious we daily wonder at their life or death, that perhaps we shouldn’t make our enemies so comfortable?

But I digress. The source of my disgust was not that article, but this one. As I read, it became clear that Hamas’ reaction to the bill was an immediate threat against Gilad. And this does not mean taking away his books, TV, or visitation rights. He, of course, has none of these, and as we may guess has suffered far worse than we know. Though Israel has considered quarantine for Hamas prisoners, Gilad is already in the remotest of isolation. The exact wording of Hamas representatives is that he will “suffer,” that they will not stop those guarding him from “retaliating,” and that they would treat Schalit “according to what its religion tells it and in a way that satisfies its God.” We know what this implies; the Hamas charter spells it out clearly. This is their desire for the destruction of our people in the symbol of one IDF soldier. This may well be, G-d forbid, a threat to torture him, possibly maintaining the vitals of his physical life so they can continue to use him as a bargaining chip for freeing over a thousand Israel-kept prisoners…or possibly eventually returning him to us, G-d forbid, as they did Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser...

Yet I would expect that from Hamas. I would expect the threat, in its all-too-well-understood gravity, as they have continually called for our destruction and total annihilation, continually attempted to make it a reality. But what made me sick, though I can’t explain why, was what Jamal Nassar, Hamas legislator in Gaza, then proceeded to say. And I quote The Jerusalem Post, “The ‘Gilad Schalit Bill’ reflected the ‘moral decline’ of the Israeli government and signaled the beginning of its collapse, Nassar said” (Khaled Abu Toameh, The Jerusalem Post, 26/5/10). The “moral decline” of the Israeli government…

Many people this year have told me that things bother me too much; that I ought not let them bother me. That I’m too sensitive, that I allow things get to me, that if I learned how to let go I would be happier. "What do I care if he says it?" they say. "Let him say it." And perhaps they are right. But something so unjust, so inverted, so absolutely evil is embodied in that one statement that the word “hypocrite” is like a weak and trite pebble in the mountain of what is being invoked here. Something indescribably black and foul is hiding in the soul of its message, something that goes against humanity itself.

I will acknowledge, but not concede to those who say I have wasted my time in writing this. Perhaps I felt it simply needed to be said, or that I needed to say it. Perhaps in truth I believe that it is our sensitivity that makes us human, and that it is specifically the G-d given sensitivity of עם ישראל that defines being a “light unto the nations.” But one thing I know for sure — what happens to Gilad will be so much more than the life of a single soldier. What happens to Gilad will serve as the emotional and political barometer of a nation who has had enough of terror, a nation that seeks peace and pursues it. There can be no other outcome, because like Jerusalem, we will never forget Gilad.

Awaiting the speedy return of our brother in safety and peace.

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