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September 26, 2016 / 23 Elul, 5776
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It Took Three Mothers to Strengthen the Government’s Spine

Gilad Shaar's mother was incredulous that the Israeli government had made a deal with Arab prisoner hunger strikers.
The mothers of the three kidnapped boys, Iris Yifrach (R), Bat Galim Shaar (C), Rachel Frenkel (L), seen at the Knesset during a meeting with Knesset members, on the 13th day of ongoing searches for them in the Disputed Territories on June 25, 2014.

The mothers of the three kidnapped boys, Iris Yifrach (R), Bat Galim Shaar (C), Rachel Frenkel (L), seen at the Knesset during a meeting with Knesset members, on the 13th day of ongoing searches for them in the Disputed Territories on June 25, 2014.
Photo Credit: Hadas Parush/Flash90

In a stunning slap of the face reversal of what had been the all-out rooting through the rats nests for the kidnapped Israeli teenagers, the Israeli government sent out smoke signals yesterday that it was scaling back its efforts to recover the kidnapped boys. Thank goodness the firm, courageous and principled statements of the mothers of those boys apparently moved the hearts and minds of the decision makers back to where they should have been.

But the initial decision had been made and was already being acted upon.

Why?

Not because all the terrorists have been caught and punished. And certainly not because the boys are home, safe and sound, or at least found. No. Two reasons were given, the second one more likely the real one.

The first reason was that most of what the IDF thought it could find had already been found as far as leads to who the kidnappers are and where the boys are being held. But that means the main objects of the search, in other words, the boys and the actual kidnappers, have not been found. Is that the time to wind down?

The second reason – put on your seat belt because this should jolt you out of your seat if you hadn’t yet heard – the second reason is because, you ready? The second reason is because “Ramadan is coming.” No, not moshiach, who knows if the Israeli government at this point would stop anything for that arrival. But Ramadan is coming.

Ramadan, the Muslim festival so important to Muslims that they don’t take a break from terrorism for it. Not only don’t they take a break from terrorism for their holiday, they don’t take a break from terrorism for the most sacred holiday of the Jews. Remeber why the 1973 war is called the Yom Kippur War? Our Arab neighbors did not put off that war out of deference to our religious sensibilities. Was Israel really going to scale back on the search for the boys because it is putting a crimp – big, enormous or otherwise – on the ability to observe Ramadan?

But Israel thought it would win some brownie points for going easy on the Palestinian Arab public during a religious holiday. And of course the intended audience extends beyond  the Muslims in the territories celebrating Ramadan. It is world opinion, which actually usually translates into Disdain for Israel No Matter What Israel Does, that Israel is trying to influence.

Never mind the points the Israeli government desperately needs from its own population exhausted by the trauma of the three teenage civilian boys being snatched from a “safe area” and now missing for going on two weeks.

Even the mothers were beginning to exhibit irritation. The mothers, those saintly women who have become the face of the tragedy, who have not expressed anger even when the police hotline personnel screwed up and ignored the call from one of the boys reporting their own kidnapping.

The mothers were at a meeting at the Knesset on Wednesday, June 25, and they finally let loose.

Gilad Shaar’s mother, Bat Galil, expressed disbelief that the Israeli government had entered into a “deal” with Arab prisoners who engaged in a hunger strike. Ynet reported on her statements to the knesset members who were present.

I woke up this morning, turned on the news and I pinched myself. The prime minister is prepared to sign a deal with the security prisoners. Is it true? Could it be?

Gil-Ad, Naftali and Eyal are living in a hiding-place, held by ‘sons of Belial’ – and the prime minister seeks to appease them?

Lori Lowenthal Marcus

About the Author: Lori Lowenthal Marcus is the U.S. correspondent for The Jewish Press. A graduate of Harvard Law School, she previously practiced First Amendment law and taught in Philadelphia-area graduate and law schools. You can reach her by email: Lori@JewishPressOnline.com


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