Sunday was the first day of Sgt. Gilad Schalit’s sixth year in captivity.
Schalit was kidnapped on June 26, 2006 and has been held hostage by Palestinian
terrorists affiliated with Hamas in Gaza ever since.
For five years,
Schalit has been held incognito. His terrorist captors have permitted him to
send but one letter to his family and released but one video of Schalit over
this entire period. He has been denied visits by the International Committee of
the Red Cross. He was clearly emaciated in the video.
Over the past five
years, Hamas has engaged in periodic indirect negotiations with Israel through a
German mediator and others. While their demands have varied from time to time,
essentially they want Israel to release around 1,500 terrorists from its prisons
in exchange for Schalit. And they want the terrorists to be released to their
homes in Judea and Samaria and Gaza where they can pick up killing Jews where
they left off.
And it isn’t only Hamas demanding these things. In an
interview with IMRA news agency on May 25, Fatah negotiator Nabil Shaath said
that the Fatah supports Hamas’s demands. Shaath explained that once the
Fatah-Hamas unity government is formed Schalit will become the responsibility of
the unified Palestinian Authority.
The Palestinian Authority will
continue to hold Schalit hostage and demand that Israel release thousands of
terrorists as ransom for his release. As he put it, “We have 7,000 political
prisoners in Israel by design – taken by the Israeli authority. They have to be
So the Palestinian leadership from Fatah and Hamas alike are
unified in their view that it is perfectly acceptable to hold Schalit captive.
As far as they are concerned, it is acceptable to stand in breach of
international law and basic standards of humanity in order to extort Israel to
free mass murderers from prison. And it is acceptable to the Palestinians for
these murderers to return to their work killing as many Jews as they can get
their hands on.
It is hard to think of a more despicable comment on the
state of Palestinian society than their wall to wall support for the taking and
holding of hostages or their desire to see mass murderers released from jail. A
person could be forgiven for thinking that on the fifth anniversary of Schalit’s
abduction that the media would be full of articles describing in detail the evil
that is Hamas and Fatah which celebrate Schalit’s victimization and the
suffering of his family.
But that person would be wrong. The media
coverage of the fifth anniversary of Schalit’s kidnap devoted no attention to
his Palestinian captors. In fact, if a person were simply going by what he
learned from the Israeli media over the past several days, he would likely
believe that either Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is hiding Schalit in his
cellar, or that Netanyahu is colluding with Hamas to keep Schalit captive in
Aping the increasingly grotesque genre of reality television shows,
local celebrities and washed-out headline-starved failed former security brass
got together with Yediot Aharonot and put on a reality TV stunt for the public
to mark the anniversary.
One after another these supposedly concerned
citizens walked into a knock-off solitary confinement cell furnished with a
dirty toilet and television cameras. The beautiful ones sighed, cried, kicked,
and whined for an hour apiece. Their performances were broadcast live on
Yediot’s Ynet news portal.
Channel 2 rebroadcast the highlights on the
The purported goal of the campaign was to “raise public
awareness,” about Schalit’s plight. As if the Israeli public isn’t aware of his
plight. For the overwhelming majority of Israelis, the mention of Schalit’s name
evokes profound concern and sorrow.
BUT THEN, Yediot knows that. And
raising public awareness was not the goal of their televised pimping of
Schalit’s suffering with the help of shameless celebrities and far-left retired
generals. Their goal was to turn the public against Binyamin Netanyahu –
Schalit’s imaginary jailer.
This message was delivered not only by the
likes of radical failed Shin Beit chiefs Ami Ayalon and Carmi Gillon. It was
delivered by Gilad Schalit’s father Noam Schalit at his press conference on
Noam Schalit declared, “Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, you do
not have the right to sentence Gilad to death. The weakness and the stubbornness
you are showing in this crisis is an immediate danger for Gilad’s life and
health. More than that, it is a danger for the values of the State of Israel, on
which generations of Israelis were raised.” There is no doubt that Noam Schalit
is acting as he is because he wants to get his son home alive. But there is also
no doubt that by pressuring Netanyahu and the government and accusing them of
being responsible for his son’s captivity, Noam Schalit is only making things
Hamas wants to destroy Israel. Its terrorists in prison want to
Hamas’s leaders view Schalit’s illegal incarceration and
the anguish it causes in Israel as a source of pride for the movement and
Palestinian society as a whole. It views the release of terrorists as a means of
strengthening the jihadist movement politically and militarily.
time Noam Schalit blames the government for his son’s plight and demands that
our leaders free terrorists to bring him home, he strengthens Hamas’s
On Sunday, Netanyahu admitted that the pressure
worked. Netanyahu did in fact agree to what had been Hamas’s demands for the
release of more than a thousand terrorists for Schalit and Hamas didn’t even
bother responding to the offer.
On Monday, Hamas said that Netanyahu’s
offer was too low.
With Noam Schalit and the media in its court, Hamas
knows there is no reason to rush into anything. So its leaders raised the price
SINCE SCHALIT was first kidnapped, his family has
repeatedly invoked the plight of IAF navigator Col. Ron Arad who was taken
hostage by Shi’ite terrorists when his plane crashed in Lebanon in 1986. Arad
has been held hostage for the past quarter century.
The Schalits say
their pressure campaign against the government is fuelled by their desire to
prevent their son from sharing Arad’s fate.
These statements show that
the Schalits fundamentally misunderstand what happened to Arad and what is
happening to Gilad. It wasn’t for lack of will that Israel has failed to bring
Arad home. Arad disappeared because Israel never had good intelligence
information about his whereabouts.
If it had, Arad would have been
rescued, dead or alive. According to recently retired IDF chief of General Staff
Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, the same has been the case with Schalit.
their refusal to recognize that they are hurting their son by directing their
anger at the government rather than the Palestinians and their international
supporters, the Schalits are unconscionably egged on by the media. As Yediot
marked the fifth anniversary of Gilad’s internment with their celebrity solitary
confinement stunt, Maariv marked the fifth anniversary by interviewing 25
celebrities about their activism on behalf of Schalit.
celebrity attacks on Netanyahu are consistent with the past five years of media
coverage of Schalit’s confinement. It is also consistent with their past
coverage of the captivity of every other IDF hostage taken by Arab terrorists in
THE SCHALIT family’s counterproductive behavior is the
result of a combination of desperation, ignorance and manipulation by PR
agencies. But what explains the media’s behavior? Why are they helping Hamas?
Some media critics attribute their behavior to journalistic laziness and a
desire to create sensational stories that will sell newspapers. No doubt there
is some of that at work.
But lazy reporters and editors in search of
screaming headlines have other options.
They could pit Noam Schalit
against the father of one of the victims of the murderers whose release the
Schalits and their supporters are demanding. That would make colorful page 1
The media could have a reporter spend an hour researching the
Israeli and international self-described human rights community’s silence on
Schalit’s plight and the shameless absence of any concerted demand by the
self-proclaimed human rights community for his immediate release. Over the
weekend, Israeli and international “human rights” groups B’Tselem, Amnesty
International, Israel; Bimkom; Gisha; Human Rights Watch; International
Federation for Human Rights; Palestinian Center for Human Rights, Gaza;
Physicians for Human Rights, Israel; Public Committee Against Torture in Israel;
and Yesh Din all got together to release a statement about Schalit. They failed
to call for his immediate release.
Certainly a banner headline reporting
this outrage would have sold papers.
All of these stories and
journalistic stunts are low-cost and would sell newspapers.
And at a
minimum, none of them would harm Schalit’s chances of getting
Yet the media have opted to sell the tale of the government’s
culpability for his suffering due to its failure to bow to Hamas’s
The media’s behavior is puzzling not merely
because they have options besides supporting Hamas. It is puzzling because their
obsessive coverage of Schalit arguably hurts their tireless efforts to sell the
public on the notion that it is a terrific idea to give Judea and Samaria and
parts of Jerusalem to Schalit’s captors. By reminding the public of Schalit, the
media are also reminding the public that the Palestinians are not interested in
peace and that they use the land Israel gives them to attack us. That is, their
Schalit campaign undermines their appeasement campaign.
demand that Netanyahu “release” Schalit is alienating their readers.
the face of their intense campaign, “for Gilad” according to a poll published
last month by Maariv, only 41 percent of the public agrees with their surrender
at all cost strategy and 51 percent opposes it.
So by any rational
measure, the media are acting against their own interests by pushing the
pro-Hamas line. The only explanation that remains is irrational. But it is also
consistent with the media’s serial irrationality on everything concerning
Israel’s relationship with the Arab world generally and the Palestinians in
The explanation is that like the rest of the Left – in Israel
and worldwide – the media hold Israel responsible for Hamas’s imprisonment of
Schalit because they perceive the Arabs generally and the Palestinians
specifically as objects rather than actors. The only actors they see are Israel
and the US.
Just as the international Left sends ships to aid and comfort
Palestinian terrorists in Gaza to fight the so-called “occupation” which ended
six years ago, so the Israeli media says the government is holding Gilad Schalit
hostage. In both cases, the Palestinians are invisible, and inert.
credit, after five years of inaction, last Thursday, the Red Cross finally asked
Hamas to prove Schalit is still alive. Gazans reacted to the move by attacking
the Red Cross office in Gaza.
This major story received little mention in
the media. And that makes sense. How can they cover a story about a group of
people they can’t be bothered to notice?