Just months ago Fatah and Hamas formed a unity government. Abbas kept his position as president of the Palestinian Authority. He ostensibly gained control not only of the West Bank, but also of Palestinian Gaza, even though Hamas was still allowed local control there. When Binyamin Netanyahu demanded that Abbas condemn the recent kidnappings of Eyal Yifrah, Gilad Sha’aer and Naftali Fraenkel, he was ostracized. The press asked the Israeli premier to hold off, and questioned why Abbas should be held accountable.
When Harry Truman was president a slogan appeared on his desk. He is long gone, but that slogan, “the buck stops here,” has long been emblazoned not only on the American conscience, but on world conscience. Country leaders are accountable for the actions of their governments. That is why Obama has recently been on the hot seat for events at the IRS and at the VA, two matters in which he may not have held any direct involvement. Why Abbas should not be held to account is terribly puzzling.
Today the bodies of the three teens were located by members of the Israeli Defense Force. The kids, two were only 16 and one was 19 when murdered, were innocents, kidnapped on their way home from school.
President Obama’s reaction was nearly frigid. He stated, “As a father, I cannot imagine the indescribable pain that the parents of these teenage boys are experiencing. The United States condemns in the strongest possible terms this senseless act of terror against innocent youth." When those boys were taken and killed, the victims were not only the boys. All people of good conscience were threatened by this event. Hamas was broadcasting a clear message. It would do whatever it wanted when it wanted to whomever it wanted, and common conceptions of right and wrong be damned.
Last week this column focused on the overt anti-Semitism of a major American church. There is no worse, more blatant act of Jew hatred than the cold blooded murder of innocent teens.
Had the boys only been kidnapped, the crime would have been heinous. Torah commentators identify the seventh commandment, “do not steal,” as the capital crime of kidnapping. It is a sad reality; in most cases kidnapping ends with victims killed. Even when it does not end with death, which was rare, the experience of being stolen so changes a person’s life as to be comparable to murder.
Sadly, today, it is not comparison to murder that counts. The adolescents were shot dead. Binyamin Netanyahu has pledged to hold the perpetrators accountable. Israeli intelligence sources identified them as Hamas.
World opinion repeatedly ignores Hamas’ evil as it rains bombs on civilian targets and as it steals innocents going about their normal lives. Months ago they had taken an off duty soldier captive, now they have again murdered children.
More worrisome to the world, more than Hamas reign of terror, is the rise now of ISIS. It has already shown its stripes. Because of where it is located, Jews have not been killed by it. But woe to a Shiite or a Christian that ISIS troops encounter. Woe to any who seek justice and the God given freedoms we so cherish here in America. Woe to the woman who must live in the new proclaimed caliphate. Compared to what ISIS is doing during its infancy, Hamas is a peaceful sewing circle. Woe to all of us if ISIS ever manages to reach its aim, establishing a worldwide, Islamic, totalitarian government.
When will the world stop making excuses for evil excesses? When will it hold criminals responsible for crimes, real crimes against humanity, and not the contrivances of those innovating ways to put Israel in its “place”? When again will legitimate democracies, including Israel, have the right to imprison thieves, murderers and rapists who are caught, arrested and found guilty in courts of law? When will Israel no longer be expected to trade for peace with negotiators who fail to live up to their side of agreed upon treaties and arrangements?
Eyal Yifrah, Gil-Ad Sha’aer and Naftali Fraenkel died senselessly. David Cameron, prime minister of the UK got it exactly right when he declared: "This was an appalling and inexcusable act of terror perpetrated against young teenagers. Britain will stand with Israel as it seeks to bring to justice those responsible.” If only the United States and the United Nations could do the same. Hamas is small potatoes, if terrorism is to be stopped, the world must display ongoing temerity to stop it.
As for the three boys, Y’hei zichram baruch, may their memories be a blessing!`