Shin Bet foils Hamas-Jewish meeting

"A dialogue between religious Jews and Muslims can be productive."

Arab Jew meeting 298 88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Arab Jew meeting 298 88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The Shin Bet prevented Hamas members from taking part in a dialogue with a group of rabbis on Monday which was aimed at securing the release of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit. Hamas's Minister of Jerusalem Affairs Chaled Abu Arafa and Hamas's representative in Jerusalem, Sheikh Muhamed Abu Tir were both detained Monday morning and warned by Shin Bet agents not to take part in the meeting, according to MK Sheikh Ibrahim Sarsour, Chairman of the Islamic Movement during a press conference in Jerusalem. Sarsour was accompanied by Rabbi Menahem Fruman of the Samarian settlement Tekoa, a veteran supporter of Muslim-Jewish faith dialogue, and Rabbi David Bigman, head of the liberal Religious Kibbutz Movement's yeshiva on Ma'ale Gilboa. Sarsour said that freeing Shalit was conditional upon the release of Palestinian prisoners. "We want to provide Israel with a metaphoric ladder to extricate itself from its intransigent position," said Sarsour in an interview with The Jerusalem Post after the press conference. "Israel must understand the plight of the Palestinian people who have lost their sons and daughters to Israeli bombings," said Sarsour. "We want an immediate cease fire and a prisoner exchange." Sarsour would not say what would happen if Israel refused to Hamas's demands for a prisoner swap. But he did say that it was a Palestinian interest that the soldier be returned alive and well to Israel. Yitzhak Frankenthal, founder of The Arik Institute and host of the torpedoed meeting at The Kings Hotel, said that his contacts in the Hamas led him to believe that Shalit was wounded moderately and was alive and well. Frankenthal, who supports a prisoner swap, also said that he was under the impression that the Hamas was capable of releasing Shalit. Frankenthal has been in contact with the Hamas since its operators killed Frankenthal's son Arik on July 7, 1994 while he was hitch-hiking. Frankenthal admitted that some of the Hamas's present leaders were probably responsible for the murder of his son. "But I believe the only solution to the conflict is dialogue," said Frankenthal in a telephone interview after the press conference. During the press conference about 20 rightwing activists, led by Itmar Ben-Gvir and Baruch Marzel, held placards and chanted their opposition outside the hotel against the meeting. "We are here to perform a civil arrest against any Hamas member who dares to show up," said Marzel. Fruman, Bigman and other modern Orthodox rabbis believe dialogue with the Hamas that is based on religious terminologies and sensibilities could succeed where more conventional diplomatic tracks have failed. "Secular leadership is perceived by the Hamas as a group of Zionist apostates that are a spiritual danger to Muslims," said Fruman. "I believe that a dialogue between religious Jews and Muslims can be productive."