Welcome home Gilad Shalit

Five years ago the Hamas terrorist group snuck across the border into Israel. They captured then 19-year-old Gilad Shalit, a member of the Israeli military. Hamas held Shalit captive for five years, denying him access to International Red Cross visits to assess his condition, something that was condemned by Human Rights Watch director Sarah Leah Whitson. She said: “Hamas’s cruel treatment of Shalit causes him and his family needless suffering.”

For those who have not heard of Hamas, it is a group widely recognized as a terrorist organization. Hamas stands in direct opposition to the values of students and the vast majority of Canadians. Hamas is against women’s rights, against religious freedom and has committed violent terrorist attacks even against their own people. Hamas doesn’t like to negotiate either, preferring instead to blow up crowded shopping malls and buses, as well as executing women and children. And by buses I’m not referring only to attacks on public buses, as horrible as that is, but Hamas has also attacked school buses as well.

For five years Israel worked to bring Shalit home, without success. Finally, a deal was made, assisted by Egypt, in which over 1,000 captured terrorists would be released from Israeli jails in return for Shalit — one person for 1,000.
Calling this a “prisoner swap” is disingenuous. Shalit was an innocent man when he was captured. His only “crime” was being in the wrong place at the wrong time when Hamas decided to capture him. Those released by Israel were imprisoned for actual crimes and terrorist acts.

Hamas is a violent movement that worships at the altar of hatred and violence. Hamas uses propaganda to incite innocent children to become suicide bombers. Hamas has declared that anyone who is a member of the LGBT community is a criminal and has imprisoned people because of their sexual orientation. Their murderous and backwards ideology is a disgrace to all those in Israel and the Palestinian territories who strive in good faith for peace.
One of the released terrorists was a Palestinian woman named Amina Muna, who lured a 16-year-old Israeli boy in an Internet chat room with promises of a romantic encounter. When they met in person she murdered him in cold blood. It takes a sick and evil mind to commit an act that devious against a child.

Another individual who was released was responsible for the death of a Winnipeg teen. Fern Shawna Rykiss was only 17-years-old when a terrorist hijacked the bus she was on and deliberately drove it into a ravine.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and the images of Shalit, in contrast to the terrorists released by Israel, is obvious.

Upon his release, Shalit was thin, pale and had great difficulty breathing. Hamas placed Shalit in solitary confinement during his five long years in captivity, whereas the prisons in Israel allowed exercise, group activities, visits every two weeks from family and the free expression of religion. Only the most biased and ill-informed person could fail to see the contrast in how Israel and Hamas treated their prisoners.

There is some debate over whether Israel made the right decision in releasing 1,000 terrorists for Shalit. The arguments on both sides are understandable. The families of those killed by the released terrorists are no closer to justice or closure for the tragic loss they suffered. At the same time, for Shalit to remain in prison for the rest of his life would have been a horrific fate. In Israel, military service is mandatory, as they are surrounded by nations that either are or have been hostile in the past. Israel promises no soldier will be left behind. In doing what it took to bring Shalit home, Israel has kept their covenant with those who undertake her defence. This prisoner-terrorist swap makes one thing clear: Israel seeks to protect human life and Hamas seeks to destroy it.

There are a few fringe critics of Israel, and unfortunately some of them are on this campus. These misguided individuals are unable to see reality and fail to condemn the horrific acts of Hamas. Instead, they spend all their time attacking Israel, even though Israel is the only true democracy in the Middle East. While it is disappointing that some people are so out of touch with reality, I am confident most students can see past the foolish and hateful rhetoric of those few who attack Israel. Israel’s regard for human life and human dignity in contrast with Hamas’ lack of even a shred of decency is clear as the light of day.

Shalit’s return home is a good day for his family and for Israel. It does not mean that peace is just around the corner. Sadly, the prospects for peace may remain dim until Hamas values human life as much as Israel does.

Spencer Fernando is the Comment Editor of the Manitoban.

10 Comments on "Welcome home Gilad Shalit"

  1. Why don’t you research some of the atrocities that Israel commits against Palestine, then will see who is really the “terrorist” organization.

  2. Jack Williams | October 26, 2011 at 11:53 pm |

    Finally someone tells it exactly like it is; except the exchange was 1 hostage illegally abducted for 1027 murders and terrorists – convicted by a democratic judiciary. Nearly 80% of Israelis support the decision. You can be sure all is not as it appears and that while some, perhaps even many, will return to try and kill innocent civilians again, others will no doubt be a valuable asset to Israel. The question is which ones?

  3. WOW… just wow…

  4. The sensationalism of this editorial is of no value to anyone. There is nothing wrong with condemning Hamas, but the condemnation is useless and counterproductive if we do not also attempt to understand what they’re up to and why.

    It’s helpful to remember that no one is the villain of their own story; it is unlikely that anyone in the history of humanity could be accurately described as “[worshipping] at the altar of hatred and violence.”

    Frankly, this overblown rhetoric is insulting to the gravity of the situation.

  5. What? “…the condemnation is useless and counterproductive if we do not also attempt to understand what they’re up to and why.”

    Um, Hamas made sure to reiterate that their goal is still the annihilation of Israel. Ismail Haniyeh, the Hamas Leader, said a Palestinian state will only succeed under two conditions: Never recognize Israel and never concede a single inch of “Palestine.”

    I fail to see the “overblown rhetoric” for condemning many of the Hamas prisoners for what they are: cold blooded murderers.

  6. Freddy8, to call Israel’s actions during a time of war (which it is) atrocities, would indicate that countries like the United States which is nowhere near as civil to terrorist groups, are downright sick and twisted. Israel’s methods of warfare have been called the “most humane” by government officials who have observed them. Most countries do not take the time to warn their enemies of upcoming strikes, nor do they have to deal with situations where women and children are actively encouraged to occupy the areas where they are most likely to be killed in an effort to increase the casualties. After all, it is considered an honor to die to make Israel look bad. What Israel is running is possibly the most insanely lopsided war ever. Every time they give the PA something in an effort of good will, it is greeted with nothing less than disdain. Evacuate Gaza leaving fully stocked greenhouses that can be used to provide fresh food? See the greenhouses destroyed out of spite. Try to negotiate the release of one of your own innocent citizens? End up releasing a thousand convicted terrorists. Mourn every life lost in a sad war, and spend billions of dollars developing high-tech weapons designed to reduce causalities? Watch as your enemy becomes ever more skilled at finding ways to die at your hand.

    I want this to end. I want peace. I also sure as heck want the only democratic country in the Middle East to still be there when peace is reached. If Israel is lost to a world unable to see past terrorist propaganda, well, in the words of a television character I never thought I’d quote: “I don’t want to live on this planet anymore.”

  7. “Killing is wrong” is not a new or particularly useful conclusion, and sitting around thinking of new superlative ways to call your enemy a bad bad man is not a good use of time.

    As for overblown rhetoric, here are some examples:

    “Hamas is a violent movement that worships at the altar of hatred and violence.”

    “Israel seeks to protect human life and Hamas seeks to destroy it.”

    Hamas is a violent movement. That much is unarguable. But hatred and violence are not ends in themselves; nobody “worships at the altar of hatred and violence”–they use hatred and violence as means to achieve actual goals.

    The second quotation is just laughable–Mr. Fernando seems to have forgotten that the members of Hamas are themselves human. Their goal is not to destroy human life, their goal is something else, something that unfortunately matters more to them.

    I am not defending Hamas. I am saying that while it may feel good to condemn them in the strongest language available, it’s not useful. If you think of your enemy as a villain who does villainous things out of a love for evil, this has real consequences in the real world: you do not understand why he makes his decisions, which means you cannot predict them.

    You see this in WWII/Holocaust-related literature and film a lot. It’s common to show Nazis who are not merely disposable nuisances or stalking monsters. There was no widespread moral defect among the German population between the years of 1930 and 1945. The Nazis were people, like you or me, and **they still did what they did**.

    It is naive and childish to think that there are monsters in the world. There aren’t. There are just people, and it’s silly to pretend otherwise, no matter how good it makes you feel.

  8. “I am saying that while it may feel good to condemn them in the strongest language available, it’s not useful.”

    Well, I think part of it, is that last weeks article “Restoring Palestine” (or something like that) failed to mention Hamas at all, so it is useful to bring this up to people who sympathise with the Palestinian movement (which in and of itself is completely legitimate; it just shows a hardcore confirmation bias that they only pointed out Israeli violence, while not mentioning AT ALL anything that Hamas has done and is still doing). So in that sense I think it is very useful.
    You keep bringing up this usefulness aspect in your comment, and I feel like you are trying to equate the article to something that is has no intention of being. It’s just an article pointing out a different side.

    As for the second “laughable” comment, Hamas is admittedly trying to annihilate Israel. To say their goal is not to destroy human life… I suppose, they aren’t trying to destroy all humans, but they are trying to destroy a very specific population. So I don’t see how Mr. Fernando is wrong in his assessment. If you are trying to say that Hamas shoudln’t be characterized as a group bent on wanton destruction (since you say violence and hatred are not ends themselves) then fine; for now that seems true. But I don’t think that is the point of the article. I think everyone is very aware that Hamas has a goal in mind: annihilation of Israel. And they will use violence and hatred to that end.

    It is not naive or childish to fear Hamas.

  9. “There are a few fringe critics of Israel”

    Yes, Spencer, including Human Rights Watch which you used as a source in this very article, and which has published very revealing reports on Israel’s unequal treatment of Palestinians.

    Brilliant referencing…

  10. Human Rights Watch is far more critical of Lebanon’s treatment of Palestinians than of Israel’s. Doesn’t disqualify Israel, just saying a broader view always helps gain clarity…

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