The world doesn't care for Gilad Shalit....
It's been four years that he has been held prisoner....
Thursday night, members of Chicago's Jewish community will stand in vigil, focused on the fate of Gilad Shalit, a young Israeli held hostage by Hamas. Our concern for him is just the tip of the iceberg.
Shalit is now entering his fifth year of captivity at the hands of Gaza's terrorist rulers. A then-19-year-old soldier in the Israel Defense Forces, Shalit was abducted from inside Israel by a Hamas terror squad on June 25, 2006. Contrary to international law and all standards of decency, the kidnapped soldier has been held virtually incommunicado, with no right of visitation by any humanitarian body.
To those genuinely concerned about the fate of Gaza's 1.5 million residents, the emphasis on the fate of one Israeli might seem distorted. But the circumstances under which Shalit was abducted, and two of his fellow soldiers were killed, cut to the root cause of suffering of all Israelis and Palestinians.
Shalit was attacked while guarding a place called Kerem Shalom (Vineyard of Peace), one of half a dozen border crossings that enable commerce between Israel and Gaza. For years, facilities like Kerem Shalom have been attacked repeatedly by Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and other Palestinian terror groups precisely because they foster exchanges between Israelis and Palestinians.
Hamas and other radicals have perpetrated such attacks not because they desire peace or a better life for the people they rule. They do so because they violently oppose any activity that might lead to a peaceful end of conflict—something they consistently reject in word and deed on religious grounds. Earlier this month, a Hamas preacher said on the group's Al-Aqsa TV that "[The Jews'] annihilation and the destruction of their state will only be achieved through Islam, by those who bow before Allah."
Why have none of those involved in the recent, so-called humanitarian efforts to aid the residents of Gaza raised their voices — on behalf of Shalit or about the deep and vexing issues he symbolizes? Why did the organizers of the recent flotilla refuse to deliver a letter to Shalit from his family? Why, I wonder, were their voices of condemnation and outrage not heard when Hamas forced the closure of the border crossings by launching countless terror attacks and thousands of rockets at Israeli border towns like Sderot, where I experienced such a barrage in 2007?
Why were they not raised when Hamas began firing Iranian Grad missiles on major Israeli cities like Ashkelon and Beersheva? It was that development that triggered the intensification of Israel's naval blockade of Gaza and its 2008 offensive, which finally restored some semblance of normal life to southern Israel.