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I Oppose Netanyahu; But No One Should Protest His Handling of the Hostages

Signs are stuck onto empty chairs as people await news of hostages expected to be released by Hamas, amid a hostages-prisoners swap deal between Hamas and Israel, in Tel Aviv, Israel, November 25, 2023. Photo: REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko

I do not know any of the remaining hostages. If I did, I would do all I could to get them out — which would mean protesting.

When you engage in political activity, though, you want to be sure to advance your desired outcome — not harm it.

I have voted in about 10 national and local Israeli elections, but have never voted for Netanyahu, or his Likud Party. The hostages, however, are a matter of national consensus, regarding which I give Netanyahu the benefit of the doubt. I am sure he wants them home as much as anyone (who does not personally know them).

So what is the current government doing about the hostages? From day one, they mobilized hundreds of thousands of soldiers, and went to war. Soldiers have subsequently died, while hostage protesters have demonstrated at the Knesset, at Netanyahu’s office and house, at the Defense Ministry’s Tel Aviv headquarters, and around the country.

Netanyahu, and the Israeli government, are not the ones who took the hostages. Israelis cannot protest in front of Hamas’ headquarters, but they should be protesting be at UN facilities around the country, or at the embassies of countries calling for “restraint.”

When Hamas sees Israelis protesting their own government, they think that the Israeli government is under pressure to make concessions. That only emboldens them to harden their stance. It strengthens Hamas’ negotiating position, weakens Israel’s, and makes it harder to secure the release of the people the protests are intended to save.

The more that Hamas receives for the hostages, the more it encourages anti-Israel terrorists (including groups other than Hamas) to initiate future hostage taking operations.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres responded to October 7th by saying that it, “did not happen in a vacuum.” In an address to the National Press Club of Australia that included a slew of inflammatory remarks, given on November 14th, while Hamas held 240 hostages, UN Special Rapporteur Francesca Albanese said that, “Israel cannot claim the right of self-defence against a threat that emanates from a territory it occupies.”

Hostage protesters have called for the families of those held in Gaza to have more face time with senior Israeli government officials, but isn’t it more important for government officials to deal with the actual military and diplomatic dimensions of administering the war, and the actual negotiations with Hamas, than for them to be briefing the families? We do not need meetings and handshakes for the cameras. We need freed hostages.

Prior to October 7th, protesting Netanyahu was a civic duty. Regardless of judicial outcomes, it is inappropriate for a man with a history of manipulating news outlets, and receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars in jewelry and other items, on demand, to be prime minister. There are others capable of leading the country without such an aura of corruption.

With all respect to the issues that divide Israeli society, however, this moment calls for unity.  Those who protest the people trying to secure the hostages’ release undermine their own cause, and may be endangering lives, when they could be in front of UN facilities supporting the Israeli effort.

Born and raised in Pennsylvania, Baruch Stein has been living in Jerusalem for about 15 years, and has contributed to newspapers in both the US and Israel. Articles of his have been translated into Spanish, German, and Italian. A different version of this article first appeared in Yedioth Ahronoth/Ynetnews.com

The post I Oppose Netanyahu; But No One Should Protest His Handling of the Hostages first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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‘The mobs will not silence my voice’ says Conservative MP Melissa Lantsman after her Thornhill office is plastered with anti-Israel posters

Posters slamming Israel and decrying Canada’s suspension of funding to UNRWA were found at the Thornhill, Ont., offices of Melissa Lantsman, a pro-Israel and Jewish Conservative MP who serves as deputy leader of the Official Opposition.   “Blood on Your Hands,” “Stop Arming Israel” and “Fund UNRWA Now” were among the messages found taped to […]

The post ‘The mobs will not silence my voice’ says Conservative MP Melissa Lantsman after her Thornhill office is plastered with anti-Israel posters appeared first on The Canadian Jewish News.

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IDF Chief Weighs in on Ultra-Orthodox Military Service, Week After New Draft Bill Proposed

FILE PHOTO: Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi speaks during his transition ceremony with the Prime Minister, Defense Minister, and the outgoing chief, in Jerusalem, January 16, 2023. Maya Alleruzzo/Pool via REUTERS

IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi called on the ultra-Orthodox public to mobilize for the current and future wars, a position at odds with their historic role in the state, in which they enjoy near blanket exemptions from military service.

“In these challenging days, there is one thing that is very clear: Everyone should mobilize for the defense of the homeland,” Halevi said.

He added: “This is a different era, and what was before it will certainly be re-examined. The IDF has always sought to bring into its ranks from all sections of Israeli society. This war illustrates the need to change. Join the service, protect the homeland. We have a historic opportunity to expand the sources of recruitment for the IDF at a time when the necessity is very high. We will know how to create the right solutions and conditions for any population that will join this noble mission.”

The issue of ultra-Orthodox enlistment in the IDF has been a hot button issue since the state’s establishment in 1948 and, in more recent years, the cause of wide scale backlash against the community. As part of an agreement when the state was founded, the ultra-Orthodox public was exempted completely from service. However, as the years progressed and the population grew exponentially, critics of the policy decried the unfairness of it.

A bill last week was introduced by the ruling Likud Party that called for an increase in military service time, particularly for reserve forces, yet failed to discuss the ultra-Orthodox issue. Backlash from both opposition and coalition members was swift.

Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich at the time said, “The ultra-Orthodox public is dear and loved and contributes a lot to the State of Israel, and it is now essential that it also take a more significant part in the tasks of defense and security. This move should happen out of dialogue and discussion and not by coercion or, God forbid, by defamation. Religious Zionism proves that it is possible to combine Torah study and observance of minor and severe mitzvot together with military service at the front. My ultra-Orthodox brothers, we need you!”

Halevi’s comments were his first on the highly contentious issue.

The post IDF Chief Weighs in on Ultra-Orthodox Military Service, Week After New Draft Bill Proposed first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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Israeli victims of the Oct. 7 attacks present their case to the International Criminal Court, hoping for arrest warrants against Hamas

A legal brief documenting the kidnapping, rape, torture and executions of Israelis who are being held hostage by Hamas terrorists in Gaza has been filed at the International Criminal Court by the Canadian-based Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights. The 1,000-page dossier documents the brutality of the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks on Israel, which killed […]

The post Israeli victims of the Oct. 7 attacks present their case to the International Criminal Court, hoping for arrest warrants against Hamas appeared first on The Canadian Jewish News.

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