Monday, July 17, 2006
They are not 'militants' ...they're terrorists
It is now a fortnight since Palestinian terrorists tunnelled under the Gaza border and crossed into sovereign Israeli territory, bringing fear and bloodshed to an ordinary Sunday tea time. They killed two soldiers who were guarding an army post and, infamously, kidnapped a 19-year-old boy, Corporal Gilad Shalit. He has not been seen since. The only news of him for his grieving parents and an anxious Israeli nation comes in the form of repeated ransom demands from the Hamas terrorists believed to be holding him hostage on the direct orders of their Syrian-based leader, Khaled Meshaal. I have a personal connection to these terrible events: Cpl Shalit is a relative of mine. I do not want to claim that Gilad is more than a distant cousin. He is not. He is less than half my age and, although I am told we have met, I cannot recall it. But he represents the sort of direct connection to the land of Israel shared by many, if not most, British Jews. To me, and to them, this abduction is not just another episode in this long-running conflict, happening in a place far away. This is not just another anonymous Israeli. It is personal. By way of background, my grandfather Leon Shalit served with distinction in the British Army during the Second World War. He then moved to Palestine to serve as a lieutenant-colonel in the Israeli Army. This was in 1947, in preparation for what became the 1948 Israeli War of Independence, when five Arab armies (Egypt, Syria, Transjordan, Lebanon and Iraq) invaded Israel in the hope of wiping out the fledgling country. Against all odds, 650,000 Jews won - with minimal help from the West - and the state of Israel became a reality. The country has survived five major wars since then, and that is without even mentioning the on-going conflict with the Palestinians. Last summer, in an attempt to reach lasting peace, Israel voluntarily withdrew more than 8,500 citizens and its troops from Gaza, turning the area over to the Palestinian Authority. By doing so, it made painful sacrifices. Israelis gave up their homes, places of work and worship as well as their schools and farms. Since then, Palestinian terror groups have used Gaza as a launch pad for countless attacks against Israel, including the raid which led to the kidnap of Gilad Shalit. Meanwhile, the Palestinian Authority, the government of Gaza and the West Bank, has fallen into the hands of Hamas, a movement which supports and sponsors this terrorism. Yet coverage by Western TV news - and the BBC is as much to blame as anyone - is consistently distorted. [...] There is a double standard at work. Why do 'terrorists' bomb innocent civilians in London but 'militants' bomb innocent civilians in Tel Aviv? In 2003 the Associated Press, one of the most influential news services in the world, published a list of 15 terrorist incidents during a five-year period between August 1998 and August 2003. In that same time, more than 800 Israelis were murdered in terrorist attacks, but not one of the incidents in Israel made the list. Why? The double standards even affect the politics of football. FIFA condemned an Israeli strike on an empty Palestinian football pitch (a pitch that had been used for terror training exercises, by the way). But it refused to condemn a Palestinian missile attack on an Israeli soccer pitch just moments before the daily training session was set to begin. Everyone has an opinion of Israel - often ill-informed due to the constant criticism in the British Press. Of course Israel would prefer a negotiated peace rather than having to prepare for another military action to aid the safe return of one of her soldiers. But the new Palestinian government refuses even to recognise the right of Israel to exist. [...] By JONATHAN SHALIT, The music impresario who discovered Charlotte Church 22:00pm 8th July 2006. Mail on Sunday.