Palestinians take part in a protest against a social security law in Ramallah, October 29, 2018.
(photo credit: MOHAMAD TOROKMAN/REUTERS)
A permanent resident of Israel, a Jew with American citizenship, has been held captive in Ramallah by the Palestinian Authority for two months.
Does that sound credible? Could it really happen? It doesn’t seem plausible. But that’s precisely the situation, except for one small detail that shouldn’t make any difference whatsoever: The man in question is an Arab. He is accused of a very serious crime – selling property to Jews. For our neighbors, this is a felony so heinous that it incurs the death penalty.
Imagine an Israeli law prohibiting the sale of property to Arabs. The whole world would be up in arms and we would be ostracized, and rightly so. Shouldn’t the same standards be applied? Now imagine a law forbidding Jews to purchase property in the US, or Britain, or France. How would we react? We’d do whatever it took to get the antisemitic legislation rescinded.
So why aren’t we doing anything about the current situation? The PA lives by the bayonets of the Israeli Army. Otherwise, they’d be reliving what happened to them in Gaza when their loyalists were thrown from rooftops and anyone who managed to get out ran straight for the arms of Israeli soldiers.
When they had to make the choice between their brothers and our troops they chose us, and they knew very well why. So how come we’re tolerating their anti-Jewish law? Mahmoud Abbas made the Palestinian vision very clear: a territory free of Jews.
The man behind bars is Issam Akel. Contrary to law and mutual agreements, this resident of Israel is incarcerated in a Palestinian prison, most likely undergoing torture, and no one is kicking up a fuss. Israel isn’t in an uproar. Instead of doing everything in our power to put an end to this outrage, we’re dragging our feet.
Let’s say he did sell property in Jerusalem to Jews. That only heightens our obligation to secure his freedom. What message are we sending here? Is it that people who treat us well are thrown to the dogs and we couldn’t care less about what happens to them? Why should anyone around us want to share a normal life with us if that’s how we treat them?
The Bible tells us that in ancient times the Gibeonites chose to live in peace with the Israelites and made a covenant with Joshua. For this act, they were attacked by five kings. Joshua and the Israelites went up from Gilgal to come to the defense of their allies and prayed for help: “Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon; and thou, Moon, in the valley of Ajalon.”
The miracle they were granted was not aimed at saving the Israelites. There was no need; they had already won the battle. Instead, it was meant to enable them to ensure the safety of the Gibeonites by completing the defeat of the fleeing enemy soldiers before they could get away under cover of darkness. That’s how important it was for the Israelites to protect their friends.
And what are we doing today? What are we doing for a Gibeonite who wants to live in peace with us? The distance between biblical Gibeon and modern-day Ramallah is no more than four kilometers. We don’t have to march there from Gilgal in the Jordan Valley, and we don’t need a miracle. All we have to do is behave like human beings.
The writer is the son of former prime minister Ariel Sharon. He holds a master’s degree in economics, is a major in the IDF reserves, and currently manages his family’s farm. Translated from the Hebrew by Sara Kitai, firstname.lastname@example.org
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