It is a clever and well-executed campaign which has not only highlighted the plight of the three kidnapped Israeli teens, but has hopefully contributed to pressuring the Palestinian Authority to cooperate and provided comfort to the victims’ families.
But for all its merits, “#BringBackOurBoys” cannot bring back our boys.
Only the Israel Defense Forces has the capacity to accomplish such a feat by physically entering Palestinian cities, like Hebron, searching for the kidnapped teens and capturing and interrogating terrorists to gain information that will lead to their rescue.
This is the only hope that these teenagers have.
What if, however, the IDF could not enter the areas where the boys might be held or where the kidnappers and their affiliates were hiding, plotting or perhaps just going about their daily business as if they had committed no wrong? What if the “Brother’s Keeper” operation violated international law, would unleash a “diplomatic tsunami” or result in another Goldstone Report? What if the IDF met well-organized and armed Palestinian resistance – in the form of terrorist organizations or the Palestinian Authority’s growing police force-army? This is the situation that the majority of Israeli politicians, academics, writers and Diaspora Jewish leaders – many of them reveling in the hashtag campaign – would have Israel create in Judea and Samaria, when they endorse and promote Palestinian statehood.
If a Palestinian state actually existed, these kidnappings, along with rocket attacks, bombings, shootings, stabbings and whatever else terrorist organizations can conceive, would be much more frequent than they are today. A society which names its streets and stadiums after suicide bombers and chants “how sweet and fine the abduction was” will see to that.
At the same time, the attempts by Israel to enter Palestinian territory to frustrate such attacks, to strike back or rescue victims would be much more complicated, since they would be readily perceived as violations of Article 2 of the UN Charter, which prohibits “the use of force against the territorial integrity... of any state.”
The proper action would be to apply to the Palestinian government for assistance, affably wait for the results and then protest the lack thereof or apply to the UN to take action. Diplomatic protests and social media campaigns would be far less effective in pressuring the PA, which would insist it was doing everything possible and which might also be the newest member of UN Human Rights Council or even the Security Council.
Already, PA President Mahmoud Abbas is beginning to push back against Israel’s rescue operation.
On Sunday, Abbas declared that “Israel’s continued destructive actions, including shooting innocent Palestinians in cold blood... can only serve to ignite the West Bank and take things out of control.”
Abbas has been joined by human rights organizations who claim that the operation amounts to collective punishment, while the press eagerly reports the effects of the IDF operation on “the Palestinian street,” on the Palestinian casualties and, of course, on the dipping prospects for resuming peace negotiations.
It is not hard to imagine the protest that would erupt were Israel to be violating the UN Charter, having to fight its way through Palestinian police officers or terrorists, or how future Israeli governments might be deterred from taking the action necessary to rescue terror victims.
Israel has already received a taste of what Palestinian statehood in Judea and Samaria might look like – in today’s Gaza. All of Israel’s operations there following the Schalit kidnapping met with condemnation, one of them led to the Goldstone Report, and Hamas’s post-disengagement strength there has made ground operations difficult.
The situation in Gaza, brought on by Israeli withdrawals within the framework of the Oslo Accords and then the disengagement, prevented Israel from doing for Gilad Schalit what Israel is currently doing for these three boys in Judea and Samaria.
That meant that Israel could only obtain Shalit’s release by releasing 1,027 terrorists, creating a further threat to the security of Israeli citizens.
One of the casualties of that decision was Baruch Mizrahi, who was murdered last April by one of those 1,027 terrorists. Three more casualties are Naftali Frankel, Gilad Shaer and Eyal Yifrach, since the kidnapping of these “three Schalits,” as Palestinians have taken to calling them, was no doubt aimed at duplicating the Schalit deal.
The #BringBackOurBoys campaign is a fine way to support the safe return of victims of terror, show solidarity with the victims and their families and make a point about the evil of the kidnapping.
But in addition to taking part in popular social media campaigns after an act of terror, consider also speaking out against the disastrous policies which allow and even encourage terrorism like this kidnapping and Mizrahi’s murder in April to occur in the first place, no matter how popular those policies may be at the time. #NoMoreTerroristReleases #NoTerrorState.
The author is an attorney and a Likud Central Committee member