On June 25, 2006, militants from Gaza snuck into Israel via an underground tunnel near the Kerem Shalom crossing and abducted a 19-year-old Israeli soldier: Gilad Shalit. In the first days after the abduction, Shalit’s captors demanded that all female prisoners and all minors who are being held in Israeli prisons be released in exchange. They then requested the release of a thousand additional prisoners. But Ehud Olmert, who was prime minister, was fundamentally against negotiating with Hamas, and the conversation between the Israelis and the Gazans ended there.
But while the politicians stalled, Shalit’s image seared itself into Israel’s consciousness. There was the serious teenage Gilad making a point with his hand raised in gesticulation, posted by supporters as their Facebook profile photo. There was the image of the emaciated boy in military garb reading a script to his government from captivity. There was the Gilad Shalit in a checked shirt being grilled by an Egyptian television personality, her questions like lashes at the newly released Gilad, thinner still and white as a sheet.
Over the five years of his captivity, Gilad Shalit became everyone’s child. And, in the end, the task of securing Shalit’s freedom fell not to military officers or politicians or special envoys, but to an outsider to Israel’s close-knit military-political establishment: Gershon Baskin, a peace activist from Long Island who spent 35 years developing relationships with Palestinian leaders. In his new book,The Negotiator: Freeing Gilad Schalit from Hamas, Baskin writes that, before Shalit, he had tried to rescue his wife’s cousin, Sasson Nuriel, after he disappeared in the West Bank, in 2005, to no avail. Nuriel was killed, and Baskin describes his guilt. “I had worked with Palestinians for decades, but all of my contacts had done nothing to save Sasson. I swore on his grave that if ever again asked to help save a life, I would do everything humanly possible to accomplish that mission. I would not rest until I’d succeeded.”
Today marks the second anniversary of Shalit’s return home. His face has now filled out, restoring something of his lost youthfulness. He is studying economics and sustainability, and he has a girlfriend. “I pinch myself every day, that I played this role in saving a human life,” Baskin said by phone from Jerusalem earlier this week. “It’s so amazing that it happened.”
The story of Baskin’s pivotal role in securing the young man’s life is a reminder that, for all the high-level negotiations and delicate offers of prisoner swaps or land compromises that characterize politics between the Israelis and the Palestinians, real progress rests on the strength of the personal experiences and commitments of the individuals involved. While Shalit’s release was ultimately secured by Israel’s release of 1,027 Palestinian prisoners, it was only Baskin’s commitment that kept negotiations—and Shalit—alive long enough to reach a resolution.
“Many households left an empty chair at their table for Gilad,” Baskin writes in his book. “This became customary over the next five years, not only in Israel but in Jewish homes around the world.” But for Baskin, “Gilad Shalit had become part of my family. I was always conscious of him, wondering how he was doing, where he was being held.”
The Negotiator: Freeing Gilad Schalit from Hamas killed
The US Treasury added three top Hezbollah figures to its list of sanctioned individuals on Tuesday, including two members of the Lebanese Parliament and a security official responsible for coordinating between Hezbollah and Lebanon’s security agencies.
It was the first time the US Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control had designated a member of Lebanon’s Parliament under a sanctions list that targets those accused by Washington of providing support to terrorist organizations. Washington has designated Hezbollah as a terrorist group.
South African fans in Cairo celebrating their team’s win over Egypt at the African Cup of Nations. Photo: Reuters / Sumaya Hisham.
Three days after South Africa stunned the world of international soccer by knocking hosts Egypt out of the 2019 African Cup of Nations, the sound of elation remains clearly detectable in the voice of the team’s Jewish midfielder, Dean Furman.
“It was a fantastic victory, just fantastic,” Furman told The Algemeiner during a break in training on Tuesday, as South Africa prepared for its crucial quarterfinal game against Nigeria, another of the continent’s toughest sides, tomorrow.
Pieter van Oordt, left, with his brother, Roger, at the Israel
For the second time in recent history, a Dutch Christian organization dedicated to supporting Israel has gone head-to-head with the government. With their family tradition of belief in Israel that preceded the state of Israel by almost one hundred years, it seems unlikely that the van Oordts are about to back down, no matter what the odds.
Last month, the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy made a request from the management of the Israel Products Center (IPC) to ensure they were in compliance with regulations adopted in 2015 by the European Commission requiring products made by Jewish owned companies in Judea, Samaria, the Golan Heights, and sections of Jerusalem to be labeled in a manner indicating their origins.
Studies have shown that dairy cows contribute large amounts of greenhouse gas emissions, caused by the organisms living in their microbiomes.
Genetically modifying cows may help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and feed world populations, a new study led by Prof. Itzhak Mizrahi of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev suggests.
“Our findings are both a major breakthrough for basic science and will have a positive impact on two major challenges facing the international community for the foreseeable future: climate change and food security,” Mizrahi said.
The decision by IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi to promote Brig. Gen. Ofer Winter reflects his future political aspirations.
Incoming Israeli Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi walks out at the end of a handover ceremony where he replaces Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot, at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv, Israel, Jan. 15, 2019.
Israel has its own version of Napoleon’s famous saying, “Every soldier carries a marshal’s baton in his pack.” In these parts, every general carries a prime minister’s baton — or at least that of a defense minister — in his pack
As Islamist Watch has pointed out many times before, Islam is enormously diverse – containing many competing schools of theology, schools of jurisprudence, sects, ethnicities, cultures and mysticisms. Islamism is also not a single force; it comprises dozens of (both) competing and collaborating radical ideologies.
One of the most intriguing divisions, then, within both American Islam and Islamism of late has been growing dissent over the question of liberalism.
Right after Trump’s inauguration, I ran an article about how incredibly fake the news coverage was about his inauguration. (Those reading my site know I’m not a big Trump fan, but credit where credit is due and calling fake where calling fake is due.) The media was nothing short of spectacularly fake in the news it contrived that week on CNN, the New York Times and the other major fake media, and they mostly got away with it.
It wasn’t condescension or contempt. Recent remarks by former Mossad head Shabtai Shavit reek of racism. That is the proper way to frame them, calling them anything else is letting him off easy. In its classic, formal sense, racism is when a certain social sector perceives itself as superior because of clear racial criteria. Shavit represents an updated version of racism that doesn’t require ethnicity or religion as proof of a defect – you can call it “essential racism.”
Little Napoleon Barak is going to save Israeli Democracy? What a bunch of claptrap Orwellian doublespeak.
Well let’s check out history. How well did the original Napoleon save France’s democratic revolution against the monarchy?
Hmm, if I recall he crowned himself emperor!
For years, the pundits have been telling us that Israeli democracy is in danger because of the Arab birthrate, or because of the Jewish nation-state law, or because of the debates over the powers of Israel’s High Court.
I wonder if they will recognize the danger posed by the 10 left-wing American Jewish organizations that have formed a new umbrella organization, the essential purpose of which is to undermine Israeli democracy.