Testing the Zionist State: Gilad Sbalit, Hanukkah, and the “Peace Process”

The direct connection between the ordeals of Gilad Shalit and of an Israel enmeshed in the toils of the so-called "peace process" is well worth pondering, especially as we celebrate the national-religious holiday ofHanukkah and its Maccabean victory over anti-Jewish tyranny.

 

The 20-year-old Shalit, then an IDF soldier, was captured near Gaza in June 2006; he has since then, in complete contravention of the rules of war and the Geneva Conventions, been held inconnnunicado by the Hamas terrorists, probably (but not incontrovertibly) somewhere in Gaza.

 

In the intervening four years he has not been seen by the International Red Cross or any other international body; his captors have treated him as a hostage, demanding that over 1,000 Palestinian terrorists, including many outright murderers with "blood on their hands", be exchanged for him. And while Israel has conducted negotiations and indicated a willingness to exchange many prisoners for Gilad, Hamas has stuck, literally as well as figuratively, to its guns.

 

Meanwhile the United Nations remains passive in regard to Shalit, a dual citizen of Israel and of France; aside from some fitful French statements, his fate is of concern only to Israel and to the Jewish people. The ordeal of his parents and family elicits no echo in the "community of nations"; there is no condenmation of Hamas at the UN or on Western  campuses where leftist and "liberal" Jewish groups, so wracked by concern for "the occupation" and the "suffering Gazans", have pushed B[oycottjD[ivestj S[anctionj campaigns and "Israeli Apartheid Week".

 

And here is the homology, the structural parallelism, between Gilad's plight and Israel's: Just as he is alone and daily threatened, so too is Israel-facing a nuclear and genocidal Islamist Iranian regime-increasingly isolated, and left increasingly in the lurch by an Obama-headed American Administration which wields the "peace process" like a weapon against the Jewish state. Just as "negotiations" for Gilad's release are an outrageous sham, so too is the current pious hypocrisy of the peace process which, functionally, seeks to pressure Israel into dangerous concessions to the Palestinians' obviously unwilling and reciprocityrejecting Mahmoud Abbas.

 

Gilad Shalit is, for his cruel captors, "the Jew", indeed, their propaganda uses him to express their trumpeted triumph over the Jews, just as Israel has, increasingly, become "the Jew among the nations". The subject today of what is termed the "New Antisemitism", Israel's enemies seek to strike at the Jews by delegitimizing
that very State which, historically, has for Zionism been the vehicle of their "normalization", their transformation from passive objects of antisemitism to active subjects in the unending fight against it.

 

My ever-courageous colleague Prof. Sally Zerker, responding in Toronto to the general silence on Shalit, has created the "Grandmothers for Gilad" movement, which seeks to appeal to non-Jews as well as Jews, and our equally courageous and ooflagging Irwin Cotler has acted in Parliament to support this initiative.

 

They, and other individuals, within and without Israel, are doing everything they can. We must of course support them, and Israel's efforts, even as we demand that Israel continue to do everything in its power to secure Gilad's safe release and return to his loved ones. We must demand that international law be respected, that the Red Cross carry out its mandated functions, that individual Western states and the United Nations condeom Hamas, and that Gilad's release be made a key condition of any further "peace process" progress.

 

But above all, we must learn-especially in this Hanukkah season-the great lesson which world and Jewish history, today as well as yesterday, teaches us: that we must be resourceful and self-reliant, and that our fate ultimately lies in our own hands. Gilad, though a prisoner, will finally be freed only by that reborn State which is the key guarantor of the Jewish people's safety and independence.

 

Zionism is indeed the liberation movement of the Jewish people, and the State founded upon it must-as part of its shattering of the delegitimation campaign against it-do all it can to restore Gilad Shalit to his loved ones and his people. And it must do so while neutralizing the Iranian threat and resisting a "peace process" which, in its current form, in fact imperils it.

 

(Prof Krantz is Editor of ISRAFAX, and Director of the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research)