Jihad and the Culture of Hostagetaking
The disappearance and presumed kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers took place on Thursday evening, Israel time. By Friday evening, Israel time, the IDF had released their names and photos.
They are: Gil-ad Shaar, Naftali Frenkel, and Eyal Yifrach. It has been confirmed that one of these students is also an American citizen; we have not been told who that might be. Two are students at Makor Chaim yeshiva. The third is a student at Shavey Hevron yeshiva in Hebron. Perhaps the IDF hopes that releasing this information will help witnesses come forward or that humanizing the boys may lead to sympathy for them.
Last night, hundreds prayed for them at the Western Wall. Their fate was discussed at every Sabbath table including my own and in many synagogues around the world.
Since 9/11, truly, we are all Israelis. What used to happen only to Jews or mainly to Israeli Jews (hijackings, suicide/homicide bombings) remained unchecked by the world and now that same style of hatred and violence has increasingly been unleashed against civilians everywhere. We are all at the mercy of merciless, maniacal Jihadists.
When an Israeli civilian—essentially a teenager--is kidnapped, it is always an act of evil, a statement of vulgar anti-Semitism, and a rejection of the entire Western enterprise. Please bear in mind that Israel lives in a neighborhood that has exiled Jews from Arab lands, has denied that this is the case, and wishes to exterminate Jewish Israel. Read the Hamas charter, it is quite chilling. Israel is also the most stable country in the Middle East, where a Sunni-Shiia Holy War is raging out of control. It also remains a strong military power in a neighborhood in which Islamists are about to gain state power in Iraq and elsewhere.
As of this moment, elite forces are searching for the three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank. Some experts believe that the boys may have been taken to Jordan or Syria. The discovery of a torched car is believed to have been the vehicle which may have lured the boys.
Thus far, sixteen members of Hamas have been arrested—although, despite several groups claiming responsibility, there is absolutely no credible information as to which cell or group actually executed the kidnapping.
As usual, Palestinians in Gaza are celebrating in the streets and giving out candies and cakes. They have done this regularly when suicide/homicide bombers are successful. They did this after the two Israeli reservists were lynched in Ramallah in 2000. As the Palestinians (and for that matter, the Taliban) see it, hostage taking and negotiation will open the jail doors for their terrorists. Hamas and others have a history of trading dead Jewish bodies for living Arab terrorists.
While redeeming a captive is a Jewish commandment, or mitzvah, there is also a caveat. If you pay the ransom for one, it may increase the likelihood that others will be kidnapped for money and that a particular community may soon become impoverished targets. In the thirteenth century, the Maharam of Rottenberg, Germany, refused to allow his followers to redeem him for an exorbitant price for this very reason.
Taking and trading hostages is the way of the wild, wild Islamic East. I learned this when I lived in Kabul and even moreso when I studied Afghan and central Asian history. However, this poses an enormous dilemma for us as Americans and Westerners. Trading encourages the taking of more and more hostages—innocents who may be taken by barbarians anyway. But trading also returns the hostage. Often cash is demanded. When the actors are ideologues, they want their non-state soldiers back, so that they may enjoy parades in their honor and live to kill another day.
The question always is: If the hostage were your son or daughter, your wife or husband, what would you want the government to do? Would you want to sacrifice your one and only precious child for the potentially larger “good?” What if that sacrifice does not diminish hostage taking anyway?
Prime Minister Netanyahu, who is about to deliver his first on-camera statement about the kidnapping, blames Abbas for having united with the Hamas, a known terrorist organization, funded by Iran, and dedicated to the destruction of Israel.
I do not believe that America should continue funding the Palestinian National Unity Government given that they are in cahoots with such devils. But that is only my humble opinion.