Last night, I booked a four-day holiday in
directly on the Lebanese border
It felt like climbing Mount Everest. Why? the B and B owner appeared to be talking in non-sequiturs most of the time, till I eventually cottoned on. There were three of us in the conversation: somewhere in the background was the wife.
This is how it went (in Hebrew):
It will be 500 shekels a night and could you bring the chicken the day before'
Now, don't forget, the taxi from Kiryat Shemona is only 35 NIS. Don't let them pull a fast one, and could you turn off the radio, as I can't really hear her!
You get the picture!
The place we shall be staying looks out onto their Lebanese neighbour's field. And knowing we shall be directly on the border led me to think of Israel's missing soldiers
Gilad Shalit, Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev.
I have met and spoken to members of Ehud's family and what comes over is a fierce and very dignified stoicism.
But what really hurts is this from the
European Coalition for Israel:
"As we file this report we are preparing ourselves to meet the leadership of the International Red Cross in Geneva on Tuesday 14 August concerning the fate of the three kidnapped Israeli soldiers. Some 30 .000 people have already responded to our appeal to sign a petition in support of the abducted soldiers and more names are still coming in. This issue was also raised with national Red Cross representatives across Europe on the anniversary of the abduction of Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev. The same day a co-ed article was published in the Finnish daily Hufvudstadsbladet in Helsinki by Tomas pointing to the fact that Hamas had just managed to get the BBC journalist Alan Johnston released but that they also have an obligation to free Gilad Shalit.
When we met the families of the abducted soldiers in Tel Aviv in early May they were highly disappointed by the fact that the fate of their loved ones had not been raised by any non-Jewish NGO’s. On the contrary, letters which they had written to prominent human rights NGO’s such as Amnesty International and Doctors without Borders had never even been answered.
“This only shows that the world does not care about our children”, said one of the parents. In response to this information the Coalition decided to write these organizations to raise this same issue. To our surprise the Chairman of the Doctors without Frontiers replied within weeks expressing his concern about the situation and pledging to work together for their release.
As the news of Hamas atrocities against members of Fatah emerged with all the gory details, NGOs for Human Rights nevertheless felt the moment was opportune for highlighting Israel’s human rights’ abuses.
A special meeting was called to discuss this issue; clearly an example of the terribly anti-Israel atmosphere and mind set of possibly most of existing human rights NGOs. This is dangerous mainly because under the guise of objective reporting anti-Israel propaganda is openly brought into the parliament, which based on this information will try and call the EU Commission for action against Israel.
ECI-Hearing of the kidnapped soldiers makes the CNN news
The most important items for the European Coalition was certainly a hearing on the three kidnapped Israeli soldiers. It was held at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, on July 10, 2007. The event was hosted by Polish Socialist MEP Józef Pinior (PSE), who is also Vice-Chairman of the Subcommittee on Human Rights. This was very important since the issue needs to be seen as a humanitarian issue rather than a political Israeli issue. Time-wise the hearing coincided with the anniversary of the kidnappings of the Israeli soldiers Ehud Goldwasser, Eldad Regev and Gilad Shalit.
MEP Józef Pinior started the proceedings by presenting the human face of the case including the soldiers' families and hobbies. He emphasized that this was an opportunity to see what the Parliament could do to help, as so many MEPs of many different political groups were in attendance. Afterwards family members Mr. Shlomo Goldwasser, Mr. Benni Regev, Mr. Omri Avni and Mr. Roi Barak presented their perspectives and feelings on being unable to know the fate of their sons, sons-in-law and brothers for so long asking for European help in the case because of its humanitarian nature.
Following the hearing, many MEPs signed a Europe-wide petition on behalf of the soldiers insisting that the Red Cross visit them. CNN documented parts of the hearing and interviews with family members to its World Report program. "
End of quote from ECI document.
A few thoughts:
Why is Amnesty International so seemingly indifferent to injustices experienced by Israeli citizens, who constitute half of the world's Jewish population?
In the 90s, I was Chair of the Liverpool Burma Support Group. I was invited to the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo and treated like a VIP.
On return to Britain I must have given fifty talks about the situation in Burma to Amnesty groups around the country and received a most positive reception. In the 60s and 70s I actually worked for Amnest for a while.
So this is a question for Amnesty and also for the BBC: please could you let us know when you intend to do something on Israel's missing soldiers?