Thursday, June 26, 2014

It Took Three Mothers to Strengthen the Government’s Spine

Lori Lowenthal Marcus
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.


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?

If the prime minister knows who the kidnappers are, he should take any kind of action to press them to return the boys alive: stop transfer of funds, worsen the conditions for inmates, and put pressure on the Palestinian Authority, so that Hamas would understand that it doesn't pay off to kidnap children.
She continued:
The Ramadan is coming up, how is it possible that our nation is living in a state of uncertainty, while the Palestinian people erupt in celebrations? It can't be that the people of Israel live in insecurity while the Palestinian people live routine lives. Mr. Prime Minister, Public Security Minister, you got mixed up. An agreement with the hunger strikers is a big mistake.
And then it was Eyal Yifrach's mother who finally gave voice to the frustration she has been feeling, despite the outward regal bearing the public has thus far seen. She burst into tears, according to YNet, and said:
Hannah's prayer reads 'Hannah was praying in her heart, and her lips were moving but her voice was not heard', and later on it is said that 'Eli thought she was drunk.' Hannah was praying for her child. My son Eyal disappeared 13 days ago, and I, like a drunken person – like Hannah – am beside myself. My heart frets, worries, is destroyed. The daily routine gets broken up. My soul is overwhelmed with concern for the safety of Eyal, Gil-Ad and Naftali…I love my son Eyal and I want him to come back home."
Following the meeting with the mothers, the Israeli government announced it was not scaling back its operation. In just 24 hours, Israel announced it was making a painful decision which appeared largely to be driven by efforts to appease a world that denounces Israel no matter what and then renounced that decision, which also seemed to be driven by outside influences. And if the mothers had not shown up?

Just as Gilad Shalit's parents, especially his father, seemed to have an outsized influence on the decision making of Israeli professionals, so too do the mothers of the Kidnapped Boys.

But at least these mothers demand Israel be strong and act decisively to punish the wrongdoers, rather than to respond to terror by giving in to terrorists.

Gilad Shaar's mother seems to have it exactly right: "Mr. Prime Minister Mr. Public Security Minister,  you got mixed up."

Thank God she straightened them out.

About the Author: Lori Lowenthal Marcus is the US correspondent for The Jewish Press. She is a recovered lawyer who previously practiced First Amendment law and taught in Philadelphia-area graduate and law schools.

No comments: