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Shalit’s Release

As I write this, Israeli media ( Al Jazeera and the Guardian too) are offering wall to wall coverage of the release of Gilad Shalit from captivity.  Of course this is a wonderful day for his family and for all Israelis who hoped for this day to arrive for the past five years.  It is also a day that many Palestinian families awaiting their imprisoned loved one have hoped for, some for decades.  I imagine that many Israelis feel ambivalent about today’s proceedings, because while Shalit has been freed, over one thousand Palestinian prisoners who shed Israeli blood will also be released.  Who cannot be shocked to see once again, the heinous image of a Palestinian raising his blood-soaked hands which have just murdered an Israeli reserve soldier.  This man will be freed too, though if I were him I’d watch my back, as Israel’s former IDF chief rabbi has virtually encouraged the families of terror victims to take personal revenge  It also seems possible if not likely that the IDF or Shabak would take revenge as well on those guilty of the most heinous crimes.

But what’s missing from this picture?  The fact that Israel, thanks to its superior military power, can apprehend those who kill its soldiers and civilians, throw them in jail and then release them if it chooses.  Palestine has no such power to arrest Israeli settlers and soldiers who’ve killed Palestinian civilians.  And until now, no international tribunal has been willing to do this either.  There are as many or more Israelis with Palestinian blood on their hands as there are Palestinians with Israeli blood.  The former, however, are not held accountable.

I’m also struck by the coverage offered of the Shalit exchange and the proposed exchange for Israeli-American Ilan Grapel, which I reported here a week ago and Ethan Bronner has just now decided is newsworthy.  The western media spills hundreds of gallons of ink on two Israeli prisoners, while offering scant if any coverage of the Palestinian or Egyptian prisoners for whom they will be exchanged.  Not to mention that many of the 4,000 Palestinian prisoners who will not be freed are in the 22nd day of a hunger strike in Israeli prisons to protest the horrific conditions under which they are held.  The hard-line Likud right tightened already-stringent living conditions for these prisoners using the rationale that if Gilad Shalit was suffering so would they.  Now that Shalit is freed do you think Israel will relax these draconian measures?  Not likely.

UPDATE: The hunger strike ended tonight.  Arab media reports that as part of the Shalit deal Israel agreed to upgrade living conditions for the prisoners.

The obsession with two Israeli prisoners to the exclusion of all else further displays the ethnocentrism of the world media.  We care about Israelis facing such predicaments.  Arabs, not so much.  We care about Israeli victims of Palestinian terror.  Palestinian victims of Israeli terror, not so much.  If we care about terror and its victims, as we should, we must care about victims on both sides.

Why the reams of interviews with Shalit’s father, mother, grandfather, and every other Israeli Tom, Dick, and Harry, but hardly a word about the families of Palestinian victims?  A double standard perhaps?

All of the above question of course begs the real question, which is how to stop the endless cycle of kidnapping/captures and prisoner releases.  The answer of course is for both sides to work out their differences and negotiate an end to the conflict.  Until that happens, anyone who kids themselves that they can figure out how to govern this process fairly with rules, or prevent it from happening in future by arguing IDF soldiers should detonate hand grenades to kill themselves and their captors is delusional.

Sidebar: interesting that Turkey has announced it will accept some of the deported Palestinian prisoners.

{ 30 comments… add one }
  • Elisabeth October 18, 2011, 12:44 AM

    There is ethnocentrism, but there is something elso too which is very cynical: One prisoner is an individual. 5000 prisoners are a statistic. So keeping many prisoners makes it easier to get away with it.

    • Roy October 18, 2011, 11:27 PM

      5000 human beings are not a statistic (maybe they are just that for the Hamas leadership…) But large numbers are to hard to grasp…

      whats perplexing is why does Israel cares so much for 1 soldier while the Palestinians (Hamas) care so little for 5000/6000/1027 of their people (citizens?). I wonder…

  • dickerson3870 October 18, 2011, 12:54 AM

    RE: “The western media spills hundreds of gallons of ink on two Israeli prisoners, while offering scant if any coverage of the Palestinian or Egyptian prisoners for whom they will be exchanged.” ~ R.S.

    SEE: Got Class Warfare? Occupy Wall Street Now!, By Henry A. Giroux, Truthout, 10/06/11

    (excerpts)…Meanwhile, a supine and hypertrophied mass media feed the general populace a toxic mix of propagandistic hate, racism, immigrant baiting and labor bashing. The power of the rich and their disdain for vulnerability are strengthened by these emotive discourses, along with the support of a gun culture and unthinking consumption of hyper-violence saturating various screen cultures. Scorn for public servants feeds an authoritarian populism and hijacks democratic language, ideals and social relations.
    The dominant media are no longer the mouthpiece of the moral majority and the gatekeeper of the status quo – they are now firmly on the side of the ultra wealthy and the mega corporations [the elite]. How else to explain the media’s contempt for reason and critical inquiry as they turn news into entertainment and the call for balance into a form of anti-intellectual drivel? At best, the dominant media attempt to neutralize the issue of class inequality, making it largely invisible. At worst, they serve as active accomplices in promoting class warfare through their embrace of neoliberal values and refusal to engage any serious issues that might reveal the terrible human and social costs of the class warfare now being waged by the rich…

    SOURCE – http://www.truth-out.org/got-class-warfare-occupy-wall-street-now/1317760461

  • Omar October 18, 2011, 6:24 AM

    It’s incredible. Even when I was a young boy, I was always struck by the superior value of Jewish life. Each Jew seems to be the object of something like worship.

    We Arabs though, are just a mass of un-named animals to the media. Never mind though. We are restoring honour with our Spring.

    I’m glad that this man – and a man is what he is – changed into an IDF uniform. I’m sick of hearing about how he was ‘kidnapped’. Soldiers are not kidnapped. They’re captured and that’s life.

    • JON October 18, 2011, 1:08 PM

      Gilad Shalit was kidnapped on Israeli soil. maybe if he was traveling through gaza street by himself with uniform, one would call it a capture.

      • Richard Silverstein October 18, 2011, 10:45 PM

        Sorry, but you can’t have it both ways. Israel says it is “at war” with Hamas. Shalit was on active duty & a soldier of a country claiming to be at war against the group which captured him. He was “captured” as a combatant, not kidnapped.

    • JON October 18, 2011, 1:36 PM

      “We Arabs though, are just a mass of un-named animals to the media. Never mind though. We are restoring honour with our Spring.” – First, until now, your spring doesn’t look so good and blooming. Second, those Arabs whom were released today which murdered children, women and elders with bombs in buses, shoping centers, restaurants, are not less than animals…

      • Richard Silverstein October 18, 2011, 10:51 PM

        Then the IDF soldiers who murdered Palestinian civilians, including women, children & elders are “not less than animals.” Except they’re never prosecuted for their crimes.

        • JON October 19, 2011, 12:55 AM

          do you have credible sources about IDF soldiers who *murdered* Palestinian civilians, including women, children & elders?

          • Richard Silverstein October 19, 2011, 12:48 PM

            Again, there are well over a score of such rpts here in this blog of precisely such incidents. YOU can do Google searches using my sidebar search feature or do you own external Google searches. My job is not to do research for you that you can do yrself.

            The GOldstone Rpt of course is NOT biased & the fact that you won’t allow it as evidence shows that you aren’t a credible individual. It’s evidence is solid as to Israeli murders of Palestinian civilians. When 1,100 civilians are killed in such circumstances & none are prosecuted, that tells you that the IDF is not accountable for its actions. Indeed, that the killings are approved at least tacitly by the State.

        • JON October 19, 2011, 12:58 AM

          And by that I don’t mean the biased Goldstone Report… :)

          • Donald October 20, 2011, 8:12 AM

            You can find similar reporting about Israeli atrocities in the publications of Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International–they are also critical of Palestinian atrocities.

        • Ziv October 19, 2011, 1:55 PM

          I’m replying to your later reply to JON (12:48PM) which doesn’t have a reply option. With all due respect, the IDF and the Israeli government are not targeting Palestinians civilians hence, they are NOT “murdered”. You cannot and will not find any evidence for it. Simply, there is NO intention of killing them. Unfortunately, they are casualties of war, what you may call collateral damage (widely used by the US forces).

          The IDF is doing more than the rest of the world while fighting within the Palestinians cities: they alert the civilian population before they come. The IDF is accountable for its actions, and by saying that it’s not, I understand that you are simply not aware of the entire investigation processes after every ‘encounter’.

          In addition, many of the Palestinians civilian casualties were killed (even murdered) by the Hamas itself. The Hamas is using the civilian population as human shield, firing rockets from the Zoo, schools, hospitals, and every other public place. The shoot from Apartments, they use children for delivering weapons and mines, sometimes bombs. Do you remember the kid, Dura who was pinned with his father on a street corner? The Hamas shot him to death. You know this. Remember the public executions in Gaza on 2006? Never stopped.

          Saying that the IDF soldiers murdered Palestinian civilians, including women, children & elders sounds to me as if you are saying that The Matzo is baked with the blood of Christian children.

          I like your posts and POV, I don’t agree to it in most cases but I’m simply asking to be careful with allegations such as murder done by the IDF.

          • Richard Silverstein October 19, 2011, 3:30 PM

            Ziv: pls read my comment rules carefully & they will help you avoid the pitfalls into which you have fallen. The are a number of subjects which have been exhausted in previous discussion here. Pls don’t reopen them as you’ll only be rehashing arguments others have attempted to raise far before you.

            You honestly come by views of the IDF and Israel that are quaint far out of date and don’t correspond to reality. If you continue reading here for any length of time you will find numerous stories which will shake yr ideals.

          • JON October 19, 2011, 11:47 PM

            “The GOldstone Rpt of course is NOT biased & the fact that you won’t allow it as evidence shows that you aren’t a credible individual” – Ha, Ha, And I suppose that its mandate “to investgate all human rights violations occured by *Israel* only” is objective too. Of course, in your opinion Goldstone’s reconsideration of his report would be dismissed. and I’m not objective. Yep, really good joke.
            “When 1,100 civilians are killed in such circumstances” – when this kind of thing happens, it seems that terrorist (or maybe “freedom” fighters(?)) just used those as human shields.
            “YOU can do Google searches using my sidebar search feature or do you own external Google searches. My job is not to do research for you that you can do yrself” – well, no-one asked you to to my research. I did it already and can’t find any *credible* source to these allegations.

          • Richard Silverstein October 20, 2011, 12:41 AM

            its mandate “to investgate all human rights violations occured by *Israel* only” is objective too

            YOu’re hopelessly confused. It’s ORIGINAL mandate was to investigate Israeli abuses. But Goldstone refused to accept this mandate until it was broadened to include Hamas abuses, which it did. Goldstone didn’t “reconsider” his rpt. Under extreme pressure and ostracism by the S. African & Israeli Jewish community with whom he’d been close, he noted several caveats he had with the original rpt. The caveats were not substantive though of course pro Israel hasbarsists claimed it was. I wrote about his here in the blog which I’d tell you to read if I didn’t think it was a waste of time.

            it seems that terrorist (or maybe “freedom” fighters(?)) just used those as human shields.

            Beyond pathetic. Do you have footage of even a single one of the civilians killed during Cast Lead being held as a human shield? Or any evidence whatsoever? No you don’t. Pls stop wasting everyone’s time. If you want to spout propaganda nonsense go elsewhere.

            As for research, you wouldn’t know research if it jumped up & bit ya.

        • Ziv October 20, 2011, 4:11 AM

          same as before, can’t see the reply button.

          I didn’t read the rules. It seems that I was wrong. It appears that one can make accusation of mass murder by an army without any proof (I was not the one to bring this up, so I’m not trying to reopen a bizarre closed issue). It never happened, you don’t have a shred of evidence doesn’t matter how hard you try.
          True, Palestinian civilians were killed by the IDF, but not targeted by the IDF, or executed on the streets like the Hamas did for hundreds and more of PLO members. The few time were mistakes happened with hard results were investigated thoroughly more than any other country and armed forces around the globe.
          The Hamas does use human as shield, which was proven thousands of time. They place children on rooftops whenever they shot from a building so the IDF drones can see the children and not respond at the source of fire. Ask the IDF spokesman to send you a video.

          I hope to read more stories on your site, maybe I’ll find the evidence.

    • David October 18, 2011, 2:26 PM

      Omar, soldiers who are captured have rights to protect them under the Geneva Convention.

      Gilad Shalit was KIDNAPPED and afforded NO rights. He was not allowed access by the International Red Cross, he was kept in solitary confinement, he was denied any correspondence to ANYBODY outside Hamas… and according to the reports today… he was denied proper medical care for bodily injury and denied the basic human right of seein the sun…. for FIVE YEARS.

      He wasn’t captured in some battle between two forces- he was KIDNAPPED in a pre-meditated plan to take a random soldier to be used as RANSOM to force Israel to release Hamas prisoners… many of whom murdered innocent women and children.

      I’m sick of people who want to twist the truth of what happened. All the world knows he was kidnapped and that Hamas stole five years of his life… not as a soldier, but as a tool for their own needs.

      And I’m glad this man… this brave man…this brave man- guilty of no specific crime, who endured all that his Hamas kidnappers did to him…. is now free.

      Yes, Omar, Judaism puts a great emphasis on life… so much so that it appears the Israeli government choose to save the life of Gilad and agree to this absurb deal to release hundreds of prisoners… many known murderers and terrorists, out of prison.

      You find putting value in life “incredible”… perhaps you don’t put such a high value on life… I don’t know. It just isn’t incredible to me… Life… EVERY LIFE is valuable, not just Jewish life.

  • Sam Smith October 18, 2011, 6:49 AM

    Richard, I find it rather ironic that as you denounce “the horrific conditions” under which Palestinian prisoners are held in Israel, pictures of these prisoners juxtaposed with pictures of Shalit indicate otherwise.
    If such “horrific conditions” leave them looking so hale and hearty, what kind of conditions must have resulted in Shalit looking so pale and emaciated?

    • Richard Silverstein October 19, 2011, 3:04 PM

      The only problem w your analogy is that Hamas held Shalit under secret circumstances in a place under siege. Israel had no such constraints.

  • Chayma October 18, 2011, 11:13 AM

    The western media spills hundreds of gallons of ink on two Israeli prisoners, while offering scant if any coverage of the Palestinian or Egyptian prisoners for whom they will be exchanged.

    Does western media include all of the West? EU media is not like American media, nor is it as uncritical of Israel as the US media is.

    By the way, the US channels are not as popular as Al Jazeera, RT or the BBC. Even Hilary Clinton recently acknowledged this,

    Times are a changin’ and for the better!

  • David October 18, 2011, 2:08 PM

    You claim: “There are as many or more Israelis with Palestinian blood on their hands as there are Palestinians with Israeli blood. The former, however, are not held accountable.”

    Can you please present some sources for this claim? What is also interesting is to know how much “blood” (read how many individuals were killed by each person) they have on their hands. One suicide bomber takes a lot of innocent lives with him.

    And, BTW, I agree with the idea that the innocents killed on BOTH SIDES deserve justice. An IDF soldier who takes the law into his own hands and kills an innocent Palestinian is no better than the Palestinian who kills an innocent Israeli.

    The difference is that it isn’t as easy to distinguish the soldier’s actions during a mission. It isn’t always so black and white (which doesn’t mean that their isn’t foul play at hand at times)… it is less difficult to distinguish the actions or motives of a suicide bomber or shooter.

    Also, Israel DOES hold soldiers and others who are accused of killing Palestinians accountable. You may not agree with the amount of cases that come to light or the IDF’s judgement in all of them… but I’d put that up against the PAs or Hamas’s “inquiries” into cases of innocents murdered etc. I think it would be much closer to a big fat zero.

    BTW, how many investigations has Hamas done into the Goldstone Report’s claims (or ANY claims) about their Human Right’s abuses during Cast lead (or ANY conflict)… also a big fat zero I’m sure.

    I agree with your later statement about both sides getting on with things and negotiating for a resolution to this conflict… it isn’t easy for either side, but it is an inevitabilty that they best resolve sooner than later.

    • Linda J October 18, 2011, 4:23 PM


      Letter to Gilad Shalit’s Family & Supporters from a Palestinian

    • Richard Silverstein October 18, 2011, 10:57 PM

      Can you please present some sources for this claim?

      I’m not going to do yr homework for you. You do yr own research if you seek to rebut my claim. Find how many IDF soldiers have gone to prison for killing Palestinian civilians. And don’t even dare argue the reason there are none, or almost none is because the IDF doesn’t kill many civilians or doesn’t do so in cold blood. This blog is full of blog posts portraying precisely such crimes almost all of which go unpunished.

      Israel DOES hold soldiers and others who are accused of killing Palestinians accountable.

      No, it doesn’t. 1,100 Gaza civlians including 300 children were killed during Cast Lead and only two officers received reprimands neither of which were made public. No one was prosecuted, no one arrested, no one imprisoned.

      how many investigations has Hamas done into the Goldstone Report’s claims

      Hamas isn’t answerable to me nor I to them. I’ve written here criticizing Hamas on precisely this issue. But are you arguing that because Hamas is a bunch of unaccountable thugs that Israel can be too? Morality is not a tit for tat issue. YOu don’t get to say I can act immorally because my enemy acts immorally. That doesn’t work.

  • Ziv October 18, 2011, 2:29 PM

    my hebrew post for his release. enjoy.

    • Richard Silverstein October 18, 2011, 11:13 PM

      Thanks very interesting as it raises the Jewish “genetic” moral imperative to free the captives.

  • Steve Kowit October 18, 2011, 4:48 PM

    The Palestinians are fighting a racist state that stole their land and left them as impoverished refugees. Of course they have a right to fight against the comonizers and their children who stole their homes, farms, businesses, villages and left them peniless and terrorized withno option but to flee for their lives. The IDF is protecting the land that was stolen, brutally stolen, from that other people. Just a little context here that seemed missing from the comments about Palestinian violence! And of course there is vastly more Israeli Zionist violence against those Palestinians who dare cultivate land that Israel still covets and steals a bit of every week.

  • Scott Mohn October 19, 2011, 6:20 AM

    I have seen Western media reports listing a handful of Palestinia­ns released who had been convicted of murder or as accomplice­s to murder. What I would like to see is a comprehens­ive evaluation of the crimes, evidence, and punishment­s of all of the over 1000 Palestinia­ns released. That should be followed by an assessment of similar informatio­n about the 6 to 10,000 Palestinia­ns still in Israeli prisons. With brief exceptions­, Western media, especially US media, have abandoned any pretense of objectivit­y in its reporting of the Palestinia­n-Israel conflict. Such lack of objectivit­y has led to an under-info­rmed or misinforme­d public, politician­s catering to resulting one-sided public viewpoints­, anti-Ameri­can bias in the Middle East and other parts of the world, and an intractabl­e fifty year conflict that has directly and indirectly cost thousands of American lives. Americans will continue to lose in may ways as long as this lack of reportoria­l courage and objectivit­y continues.

    • Richard Silverstein October 19, 2011, 12:43 PM

      This has been done though I don’t have the link in front of me. A considerable number (I don’t remember the figures precisely) have life sentences and were convicted or murdering Israelis, not just being accomplices.

      • Donald October 20, 2011, 8:17 AM

        Richard, it would be helpful if you find that link. I know some of the released people were murderers. I don’t know what the full statistics are, or what number remaining in prison are murderers, and how many might be convicted by evidence obtained through torture or how many might simply be prisoners with the wrong political views. I don’t feel inclined to cheer the release of murderers, but the mainstream press shows absolutely no interest whatsoever in the fairness or lack thereof in the Israeli courts.

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