Monday, October 24, 2011

The Arab world - from Gadhafi to Gaza

Reuven Berko

These days the skulls of many Arab leaders have made their way into the annals of history. Among the heads dangling from a belt buckle are those of Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden and Moammar Gadhafi, and Syrian President Bashar Assad could soon join them. The fates of Hosni Mubarak and Yemeni's Ali Abdullah Saleh are also not guaranteed. The brutal manner in which Gadhafi was killed and the way his body was desecrated and dragged by a mob through the streets of Libya shines a light on the neighborhood in which we live: Every day dozens of civilians are killed in Yemen, Turkey bombs Kurdish civilians in northern Iraq and Syrian soldiers massacre their own people. No one in the world has lifted a finger, except for NATO's cynical involvement in the elimination of Libya's dictator, which was deemed worthy so that Europe would have enough oil and gas for a rainy day.

And then, believe it or not, something absurd happened. The U.N. published a report recently that complains about Israel's violation of Palestinian human rights - just when Israel released more than 1,000 terrorists in exchange for our soldier Gilad Shalit, who did not even get one visit from the Red Cross in more than five years in captivity. Our neighbors the Palestinians are a part of this regional culture, and are not that different from the mob that killed Gadhafi. To support this, we only need to recall Roi Rutenberg from Nahal Oz, who in 1956 was dragged to Gaza and had his eyes gouged out, the cruel lynch of soldiers in Ramallah and the soldier who burned to death when his car was torched in Jabalya. Let us not even mention the terrible murders of innocent Israeli civilians, babies, women and the elderly committed by the same terrorists freed last week, who insisted on being called prisoners of war.

Palestinian media continue to cover the joyous celebrations that are mixed with frustration and complaints. The Voice of Palestine radio interviews freed "heroes" who boast of having broken the Zionist enemy's back and promise the additional kidnapping of Israelis. Inspired by the Arab Spring, a freed Druze prisoner from the Golan Heights recently acted like an impassioned hero and rallied for Bashar Assad, once considered to have "betrayed the Golan." Meanwhile, some Israeli Arabs have said they identify as Palestinians and demanded the release of more "heroes."

Palestinian Authority leaders continue to find fault in the Hamas deal, while calling for unity with the group and demanding that Israel release more prisoners. In the aftermath of the Shalit deal, many Palestinians have raised harsh questions about whether its true price made the swap worthwhile. They say that Shalit's abduction cost them more than 3,000 lives and millions of dollars' worth of damage to infrastructure. Palestinians also don't like to suffer or die. Israel must remember that as it plans how it will deal with the next abduction.

The terrorist strategy of Hamas and the PLO, which was founded on the notion of "scaring the Jews out of the country," collapsed when Israeli children, women and elderly citizens sent a clear message. It was precisely these vulnerable citizens, who serve as the terrorists' targets, that pressed the Israeli government to release Gilad in exchange for murderers. "We are not afraid," they said. Did Hamas and the PLO get the message?

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