Thursday, July 06, 2006

Hope for release of Israeli Soldier Galid Shalit

Haaretz, a popular Israeli newspaper, reports that Israel has tentatively agreed to meet a demand made by Hamas for release of prisoners in exchange for the return of Gilad Shalit.

Hamas has revised its demands for a prisoner exchange, the Arabic-language newspaper Al Hayat reported on Thursday.

According to the London-based publication, the Islamic militant group is now willing to free Gilad Shalit in return for the release of all Palestinian women detained in Israelis jails, estimated at some 100 prisoners, and a further 30 male inmates who have served terms of over 20 years.

Israel has tentatively agreed to the offer, the newspaper claimed, but has yet discussed when or how many prisoners it would release.

This is contrary to Israel's policy of not negotiating with terrorists. If it is true, and they will acquiesce to Hamas's demands and Hamas indeed returns Shalit, we have what might be a first step toward peace. This is another example of neither side is right, and somebody must go first.

But I come back to a question I've had for a long time: How do the militant few hijack their nations and hold everyone hostage? This applies to both Israel and the Palestinians; it applies to our own nation as well right now. How do hard-line, militant theomaniacs wind up in power, keeping all the rest of us in constant fear?


sumo said...

Because they have pushy personalities... I really don't know...kidding of course.
I'm puzzled because I know very well too that Israel doesn't negotiate with terrorists...but if they are doing what you said...I certainly would have more respect for Israel stepping up to the peace table. I know what that means to them...but there comes a time when even the hardest line they can take with others just might have to bend a bit... and that goes for Palestine too.

DivaJood said...

Sumo, you have a great point. They do have pushy personalities. :-)

IF this happens, it is a huge step because it is so against policy that it is mind boggling. However, I think it might be the only way to actually get the lasting peace that they need. Somebody has to go first. Both sides are wrong; both sides are wrong because they insist on being right.

betmo said...

i think that it boils down to fear of death and value of life. these folks are quite willing and have been brainwashed into thinking that death is preferable to life. not to say that they don't love their families but they believe in this cause and they will die for it. hard to combat that. we westernized folks value the lives that we have and in some ways we have civilized our lives more than these folks. think about who these 'terrorists' are and where they come from- whether iraqi, palestian, or homegrown american. i watched a program on one of the cable shows a few days ago on the skinheads. the head skin head guy actively recruits disenfranchised, poor, troubled boys between like 14 years old and 25years old roughly. the younger the better. these folks know that we don't want to die and we don't want our loved ones and way of life to die. we value that more than they do their lives. what do they have to live for?

let's keep our fingers crossed for israel and palestine. let's keep our fingers crossed for us in general.

DivaJood said...

Betmo, that is a key point. The heads of all these radical groups recruit young, disenfranchised, restless boys, kids for whom there is little hope. Same thing with gang life, they recruit young kids and provide them with their first sense of structure.

Have you seen "Paradise Now" - film last year from Palestine that addresses this issue head on - it is a powerful, moving film. Find it!

BZ said...

I agree that terrorism is bred in the dish with insecurity, desperation and fear, but to say, “we westernized folks value the lives that we have and in some ways we have civilized our lives more than these folks,” is dangerously bordering racism. If we value life so much, maybe we could stop our government from murdering people all over the globe. ( I suggest a book called Orientalism by Edward Said to maybe better understand the uncivilized eastern mind.)

I think it is wise, as life loving westerners, that we do not get into an us and them and us frame of mind, but simply try and understand how people become so desperate to take terrorist actions. I do not feel it is lack of love for life, but a series of degradations that lead to a nothing left to lose attitude.

Diva you said, “The heads of all these radical groups recruit young, disenfranchised, restless boys, kids for whom there is little hope. Same thing with gang life, they recruit young kids and provide them with their first sense of structure.”

Sounds like the US Marine Corps to me. Before we point fingers, it is wise to see who we are first. People act violently because they are taught that way. If we could help build communities that foster open-mindedness we could help alleviate the causes of terrorism, both by the US military and by Jihadist groups. The classroom is where the war on terror must be fought.

Finally, I think that negotiating with terrorist is not a sign of weakness. I hope it is backed with overtures to the Palestinian people of peace. If the people see that the terrorist are fighting for no reason, they will abandon them. I hope this works out for the best…

Tina said...

I just watched on The Discovery Times channel, a show about the NYT's own Tom Friedman's trip to Israel. I may not agree with Friedman often, but the show was pretty good.

Almost all of the Palestinians and Israelis he met with hated the walls being built and wanted to simply have a single state.
They all talked about how the walls only furthered the hatred and made the people seem all the more "foreign" to one another when they used to live, shop, educate, and eat near one another peacfully until the few decided to hijack them all with their insane violence.

One interesting point was this: There were a few Israeli soldiers Friedman and this Palestinian merchant encountered at a checkpoint who were dual citizens (American & Israeli citizenship) and their Hebrew was pretty shaky. The Palestinian man spoke fluent Hebrew and he kept correcting the young Israeli/ American soldiers' Hebrew. Friedman (who is Jewish, thought this was pretty amusing).

Friedman met with 3 Palestinian boys who were members of a suicide group and the thing that all 3 of them said repeatedly was that they felt that had nothing left to lose since so many of their family members had been killed or injured. Think about that... how many Iraqi boys feel the same way about us now? Violence can only breed more violence, and usually does.

BZ said...

Here is a blog I just found that I think you might learn to like Diva, give it a read. Ignore the comments, don't make this politcal, just read her words. They seem honest and important.

DivaJood said...

bz, I agree that the classroom is essential to fighting terrorism, or hatred of any sort. There's a film called "Paper Clips" which documents how a class project evolved out of students being taught about the Holocaust. These people live in a small community, not a Jew in sight -- and, in trying to understand the size of the number 6,000,000 they began to collect paper clips. This project changed the community at depth.

People are taught to hate; people are taught to react violently. And people can be taught tolerance and love. If this negotiation is in fact true, and on the table, I hold great hope for a peaceful settlement that would create one state. Thanks for the blog link, will check it out.

Tina, one time while my family and I were in Israel, we went to the Old City of Jerusalem. You can contract guides immediately; some are Christian; some Jewish; some Palestinians. We hired a young Palestinian boy, he told us he was 16. He spoke perfect Hebrew, and English (my kids spoke Hebrew, my ex-husband too, but me, not so good.) He wasn't shy about answering questions frankly, was happy to discuss politics, and he knew ALL the history - Jewish, Christian, and Muslim. He was dressed like a typical 16 year old boy, and we were so happy with the exchange that my husband over paid him, deliberately. This was about 22 years ago. The boy said all they really wanted was to be equal citizens in Israel. Most of the Jews we talked to, who we knew from Kibbutz, wanted the same thing. This is the common thread amongst the people, NOT amongst the leaders.

It's heartbreaking, really.

Richard said...

I'm completely with you regarding yr comment that the extremists among us are the ones who appear to drive policy. It's a crying shame.

But one little quibble with this:

"This is contrary to Israel's policy of not negotiating with terrorists."

There is no such "policy." On the contrary, Israel has negotiated many times for the return of living or dead soldiers by exchanging Palestinian prisoners. What Olmert is actually trying to do is to create a new policy saying Israel doesn't negotiate with terrorists. But that wasn't the old policy & I far prefer the old policy.

I too blogged about this hopeful development. But the longer Shalit's incarceration lasts the less likely these hopeful reports appear to be. But let us hope for the best and for peace and for sanity on both sides.

And thanks for including Tikun Olam in yr. blogroll.

DivaJood said...

Richard, thanks for visiting. I am so sickened by the hardliners on both sides at this point I really get ill sometimes.

Thank you for the clarification, also. I wonder, truly, how anyone can support either the terrorist extremists among the Palestinians, or the excessive force used by Israel? There was an incredible editorial in Haaretz yesterday? day before? about the madness of both sides, the complete insanity of it.

And every time I comment about it, it seems that those who support the Palestinians tell me that it's Israel who is completely wrong and needs to go first - that the Palestinians are completely justified in the use of terrorism.

I feel strongly that BOTH sides are wrong now; it doesn't matter any longer what started the conflicts and hatred. Now it is a matter of ending it before everyone is destroyed.

Let us hope for peace soon, not a truce, but real peace.

The Fat Lady Sings said...

Do you remember there used to be a program here in the US that brought together Israeli and Palestinian youths in an attempt to end the hatred? They would spend the summer together - share everything. Afterward these kids stayed friends - until this last Intifada, that is. The program organizers went back, interviewed the now adult participants. The friendships were shattered. Bitterness and hatred had replaced love and understanding. I found myself crying when footage of the teenagers - arms around each others shoulders - was countered with those same kids spouting hatred for each other.

I am praying for that Israeli soldier. He's a teenager - a geeky teenager. What does he know from centuries of hatred? All he understands are hormones. It’s just all so fucking sad.

DivaJood said...

tfls: I do remember that program. What happened to it? Hatred is easy, it reqires no real effort. Love and friendship require thought, and decision, and work. I pray as much for Shalit's release as I do for the release of those teens who strap bombs to their waists from that insanity. I'd love to see them embrace life, rather than a belt made out of bombs.