Hopefully the prayers of Klal Yisrael and the resources of the IDF will result in the safe release of the three Israeli students kidnapped by Palestinian terrorists. We have to have faith that this drama will not end in tragedy. But even as we wait and hope, there are important lessons for Israel and all of us be learned from this episode.
Both Prime Minister Netanyahu and Secretary of State Kerry have pointed the finger at Hamas. Significantly, though, Mr. Kerry felt the need to engage in some politically correct pablum, noting that the U.S. has “encouraged full cooperation between the Israeli and Palestinian security services…. We understand that cooperation is ongoing.”
There was not a glint of recognition on Mr. Kerry’s part of the irony inherent in the recent unity pact between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority. Nor did Secretary Kerry remark on PA president Mahmoud Abbas’s silence in the face of both Hamas and Mr. Abbas’s own Fatah faction urging Palestinian storekeepers to destroy surveillance tapes in order to thwart possible identification of the kidnappers.
As for Mr. Abbas himself, his condemnation of the kidnapping was not only belated, it was paired with a denunciation of Israeli efforts to rescue the students. He railed against the killing of a Palestinian in a clash with Israeli soldiers looking for suspects at a refugee camp outside of Ramallah and the arrest of more than 150 Palestinians. Undiluted criticism of those who kidnap Israeli civilians is not possible for Mr. Abbas, who seems to equate unintended consequences of a legitimate undertaking with outright, premeditated terror.
Similarly disturbing was the comment of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. True, the UN issued a statement saying “The secretary-general condemns the abduction on June 12 of three Israeli students…. He expresses his solidarity with the families of the abducted and calls for their immediate release.”
But in the same statement he is described as also denouncing the death of a Palestinian child injured in an Israeli air strike last week. Significantly, the target of the raid was Mohammad Awwar, a Hamas policeman said to be responsible for several attacks on Israel. Yet the UN secretary-general seemed unable to recognize the very different circumstances.
Some of the media coverage was no better. The New York Times headlined one story “Abduction of Young Israeli Hitchhikers Spurs Debate on Conduct” and went on to report that “…the abductions also have stirred more hushed debate over the conduct of Jewish settlers in the West Bank – particularly what many consider the cavalier practice of hitchhiking – and the price that Israel has paid to redeem its captives.”
Times correspondent Isabel Kershner attempted a bit of blame-shifting, quoting one Israeli who said she was “a little angry about the lack of responsibility” of the hitch-hikers and another who spoke of the West Bank as being “prone to trouble.”
The (London) Guardian, meanwhile, punctiliously noted that the kidnapped students were “three teenage settlers” and that “the three lived in settlements.”
CNN felt the need to report (opine?):
The deployment of military assets to search for the teens, and the swift presumption of kidnapping, are a reflection of the tensions that exist between Jewish settlers and Palestinians in the West Bank.
The expansion of Jewish settlements in the West Bank has been a lasting point of contention in the region. It has altered that map of the Palestinian territories, making it more difficult to draw a contiguous Palestinian state as part of any peace agreement, according to critics. The highly contentious issue of Israeli construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, which the Palestinians seek for a future state, has hurt peace efforts.