It has been nearly two weeks since the abduction of Gilad Shaar, 16, Naftali Frenkel, 16, and Eyal Yifrach, 19, three students who were kidnapped by terrorists on their way home from school.
Throughout this heartwrenching episode, it has been heartening to see the spirit of their incredible parents, whose inspiring public statements are filled with thanks and hope, as well as the strength of the Israeli people, who are leaving no stone unturned in their search for the missing kids.
Contrast this with the stunning outpouring of hatred and lies among Palestinian Arab leaders and populace. Reminiscent of their reaction to other acts of terrorism, including the 9/11 attacks, Palestinians have been celebrating in the streets, handing out sweets and singing songs. They created a special gesture, a three-fingered version of the victory sign, to salute the kidnappers and promote child abductions as a strategy for blackmailing Israel. (They often call the victims “the three Shalits” in reference to the Israeli soldier who was held captive for five years and then redeemed in a trade for 1,027 Palestinian criminals and terrorists.) The Palestinian Authority’s Facebook page proudly shows even young children making the sign; apparently no one is too young to be taught to hate. A cartoon on Fatah’s site depicting the boys as three Jewish rats on a fish hook went viral, with alarming comments including “Rats are an important part of our ecosystem. Why use them to depict stupid Zionist bigots?”
Besides stirring up hatred, PA officials are sabotaging the search or threatening more terror. The party of Israel’s “partner-in-peace” Mahmoud Abbas directed shopkeepers in the region to erase their security camera tapes to prevent their being used in rescue efforts. Last weekend, in the style of Holocaust deniers who blame Jewish victims for fabricating or perpetrating the crimes committed against them, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki questioned whether the teens were in fact kidnapped and suggested that “[t]he kidnapping could be a childish game on the part of Israel” or that “Jewish criminals” may have done it “for their own personal goals.” On Saturday, the PLO’s executive committee threatened retaliation for Israel’s search for the boys, issuing a statement calling Israel’s efforts a “terrorist aggression” and vowing that it “will not allow Israel to escape punishment for its premeditated aggression.”
Hatred and threats are not limited to the Palestinian Authority, which after all is composed of Fatah, Abbas’s party, which continues to affirm Israel’s elimination as its aim, and Hamas, which seeks genocide of Jews worldwide. Israeli Arabs, too, exercise their rights as citizens of the Middle East’s only democracy and free society to threaten the nation that protects their freedom. For example, Knesset Member Hanin Zoabi said that the teens’ abduction is not terrorism – she, too, doubts it even happened – but the Israeli operation to rescue them is. What a betrayal from someone sworn to serve the Israeli people as their representative in government, who is well aware that her freedom as an Arab woman to vote or speak would receive no such protection in any other country in the region.
Those with sufficient humanity to support the teens and speak out for their release are ostracized and threatened. MK Zoabi’s cousin, 16-year-old Mohammad Zoabi, unknowingly risked his life by posting a YouTube video in support of the kidnapped Jewish teens. He received multiple death threats, and to protect him Israeli authorities were compelled to arrest his father, aunt, and grandmother, who reportedly were plotting to take him to Jenin to harm him.
Meanwhile, in our government and media, support for evil masquerades as tolerance. Obama and Kerry stand silently by their endorsement and funding of the Hamas-Fatah alliance, despite Netanyahu’s announcements that conclusive proof shows Hamas is behind the abductions (and for that matter despite U.S. designation of Hamas as a terrorist organization and law prohibiting funding of terrorist groups). Following suit, the U.S. media places the blame for the kidnapping on the boys, their parents, Jews living in Jerusalem suburbs, Israel’s continuing existence – anywhere but with the terrorists themselves, the groups that support them, or the society that hides them and gives them tactical and moral support.
No, Jewish victims of terror cannot even object to prisoner releases without media condemnation. Last weekend the New York Times profiled Sherri Mandell, whose 13-year-old son, Koby, was brutally murdered in the second intifada in 2001. His body was bound, stabbed, and so badly smashed with large stones that dental records were needed to identify him. With incredible resilience, Ms. Mandell has devoted her life to helping families cope with the loss of a child from all causes, and says that she has not involved herself in groups of terror victims because “that’s more political.” Yet the reporter saw fit to write: “But [Mandell], too, is political, exploiting her trauma to make the case against Israel’s prisoner releases as part of peace negotiations.” To those wedded to the distorted PA narrative of the Arab-Israeli conflict, a bereaved mother who wants to see perpetrators of heinous crimes remain in prison is exploitative, while terrorists must be humanized.
So much for balanced reporting. For clarity of analysis, we can hardly do better than the teenage Zoabi’s video. In English, Hebrew, and Arabic, he makes a simple statement that goes to the heart of the issue. He says, in full:
“To those terrorists who have kidnapped our kids: Bring them back – and you better bring them back! To Bibi, our prime minister, and his government: Wake up, and stop cooperating with terrorists. The Palestinian Authority is the biggest terrorist! Yesterday these Israeli kids were kidnapped. Tomorrow it could be me, you, or any other Israeli. Our enemies don’t separate between Arabs and Jews living in Israel. For them we are all Israeli. And you know what, I’m proud of that. I’m an Israeli and I will remain an Israeli. And again, you better bring them back. Israel is here to exist as a Jewish and a democratic country. [Holds up Israeli flag.] Am Yisrael chai!”
Placing the blame where it belongs, recognizing that cooperating with terrorists will not work, and showing pride in the nation that deserves his loyalty, Zoabi’s words should be kept in mind as we continue searching not only for the boys but for Palestinian Arabs who truly want to live in peace.