Are Words Important? A Thousand to One Say Yes.

To make a point I would like to go back to the time, months ago, when we all listened to media reports about IDF soldier, Gilad Shalit’s, release from captivity.  We heard of his “capture” by armed Palestinian gunmen who, in more accurate terms, were Palestinian terrorists.  Furthermore, the term “captured” was a complete and intentional misnomer used by the anti-Israel media. Gilad Shalit was kidnapped in 2006, not “captured,” and his two IDF comrades were murdered, not “killed in the conflict.”

The word “captured” creates in the mind of the public images of a soldier who is actively engaging the opposition. Gilad Shalit was simply a soldier out on border patrol. He was on Israeli soil when he was kidnapped and taken hostage.

Gilad’s release came at a very, very high price to Israel, but this is a testimony to the value Israelis place on the life of one person.

Gilad Shalit spent five long years as a prisoner of brutal Hamas terrorists, and his family spent five long years wondering about, and agonizing over, his condition. During his captivity the world heard almost nothing from Amnesty International and other influential human rights organizations that would have exploded and created a media frenzy had the situation been reversed and it was the IDF that kidnapped a Palestinian.

For five long years no one outside of his captors laid eyes on Gilad Shalit.  Against international policy, Hamas even denied the international arm of the Red Cross access to Shalit; yet the world, including the United Nations, largely remained silent. Yes, demonstrations were held regularly in Israel and the Shalit family set up camp outside the Prime Minister’s residence, but the media paid little attention.

Even worse, the international community as a whole gave few, if any, words of sympathy or support to the Shalit family and no words of condemnation at all to those Palestinian terrorists who kidnapped an Israeli ? not from a battle field but from Israeli soil.

While Amnesty International and other human rights organizations were relatively silent during Gilad’s confinement as a hostage, it seems they now have a great deal to say ? and it all has an anti-Israel slant. Israel agreed to release a total of 1,027 Palestinians, many with blood on their hands, to rejoin Palestinian society in exchange for one young IDF soldier taken hostage in a cross-border raid by Palestinian terrorists.

To secure Gilad Shalit’s release, Israel had to agree to an exchange which the media termed a “prisoner” exchange.  This was not a “prisoner exchange” as termed by the media and Hamas.  This was nothing more than extortion and ransom ? Palestinian criminals (not detainees) were exchanged for a young soldier who was kidnapped and Hamas has openly promised more of the same. The Palestinians being held in Israeli prisons are convicted criminals who were tried in a court of law, found guilty of crimes including terrorist activities and the murder of innocent civilians, and properly sentenced to various prison terms.

This is in stark contrast to Gilad Shalit’s abduction and imprisonment, yet Amnesty International drew some fabricated parallels and contrasts ? all with an anti-Israel flavor. For instance, they talked about Gilad Shalit’s “ordeal” ? never mentioning the conditions he was forced to endure for close to 2,000 days with absolutely no contact with the outside world. Did anyone notice how well-fed, healthy and energetic the released Palestinians looked compared to Gilad ? who returned home gaunt, pale and frail-looking? Yet, ironically, Amnesty and others were quick to talk about the so-called “harsh conditions” of Israeli prisons holding “detained” Palestinians. Amnesty’s remarks make it sound as though Israel had imprisoned Palestinian civilians for no good reason, rather than because they were (and are) convicted criminals and murderers only now they are free and many have vowed to perpetrate more crimes against innocent Israelis. 

I was (and still am) overjoyed at the release of Gilad Shalit, but I am also concerned that the world has not seen this for what it really is. Exchanging one hostage for more than 1,000 criminals represents an imbalance in trade that will not serve Israel well in the future. As stated above, Hamas has already declared that there will be additional kidnappings until every Palestinian being held in an Israeli prison is released ? regardless of his or her crime. However lopsided this exchange, it is in keeping with the value Israelis place on life … all life. In Judaism, there is a saying, “When you save one life, it is as though you saved the entire world.” 

Mahmoud Abbas and others in the Palestinian hierarchy declared victory. In essence, Israel handed its hostile neighbors a “get out of jail free” card. Well, not actually “free.” It will be at the expense of another Israeli soldier or an innocent civilian. Next time around, will the international community remain silent as Hamas abducts more Israelis and holds them hostage? Isn’t it time the world stopped holding Israel hostage to a different set of standards than we hold other nations of the world? 

Israel’s prisons hold criminals, not hostages. The truth must be told accurately, and words are indeed important. We must not remain silent while loud voices condemn Israel and continually paint it as the aggressor while never uttering a word of correction or condemnation to Hamas or the Palestinians. Are they holding the world hostage as well?

Israel is on the front lines of the world’s war on terror. It’s time we gave Israel our blessing to do whatever it feels necessary to protect its citizens and borders. This is the right of every sovereign nation.  

Israel has proven itself to be a state that values life, freedom and democracy, just like America. Never once have we seen a media report showing Israeli adults and children holding guns and waving banners calling for the destruction and murder of the Palestinian people, yet we see the reverse almost every day. “No Peace Until Israel Is Destroyed” was the message recently splashed across the banners of Palestinian protestors.

Let us pause here to remember the words of Israel’s former Prime Minister Golda Meir as she spoke to a delegation of Arab leadership: “We can forgive you for killing our children, but we can never forgive you for forcing us to kill your children.” That’s quite a contrast to words shouted by Palestinian leaders and other radical Muslims who want Israel and her people wiped off the face of the earth. 

It’s high time that we who embrace the same values that Israel holds near and dear take a stand for what is fair and right. It is fair for Israel to have defensible borders, and it is right that the world give it free reign to do what it deems necessary to protect its soldiers and citizens from abduction and other terrorist actions.

Any people or country that calls for the destruction or annihilation of another must be held accountable for hate-filled speech designed to incite acts of terror. Israel has a right to exist and to live in peace. It is time we stopped excusing those who infringe upon Israel’s rights by inciting acts of violence and engaging in acts of terror, kidnapping and hostage-taking. How refreshing it would be for just one major media outlet or human rights organization to condemn Hamas and other radical Muslims for their barbaric behavior, hate speech and terrorist activities against Israel.

Stand strong, Israel. Truth and the Evangelical Christian community are on your side.