“Gisha” describes itself as follows:
Gisha is an Israeli not-for-profit organization, founded in 2005, whose goal is to protect the freedom of movement of Palestinians, especially Gaza residents. Gisha promotes rights guaranteed by international and Israeli law…
Gisha, whose name means both “access” and “approach,” uses legal assistance and public advocacy to protect the rights of Palestinian residents.
Although it is an ‘Israeli’ organization, that just means that it is staffed by Israelis. Most of its funding (2.6 million NIS or about $710,000 in 2009) came from the European Union and various European countries. It also received significant amounts from the US-based New Israel Fund.
Gisha has issued a statement on the occasion of the imminent freedom of one particular ‘Gaza resident’, Gilad Shalit. Here it is:
We at Gisha express joy at reports of the expected release of Gilad Shalit in exchange for the release of Palestinian prisoners. We join in the sigh of relief that is palpable today throughout Israel and of course the relief felt by the Shalit family and the families of the prisoners who will be released. For the last five years, the Shalit case has shaped the feelings of many Israelis toward the Gaza Strip, as well as the policies of successive Israeli governments toward Gaza. It is rare to hear cries of happiness and satisfaction simultaneously in Gaza and in Israel. We hope these events signal an end to this difficult chapter in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and lead us down a path toward positive changes for ordinary people in Gaza and in Israel.
The moral obtuseness displayed is stunning. A young soldier who was kidnapped and held incommunicado, underground and probably wired with explosives for more than five years, may — there are reports of possible hold-ups — be released tomorrow on payment of a ransom consisting of more than a thousand terrorists, many of them convicted multiple murderers, who together are responsible for the deaths of literally hundreds of Israeli civilians.
Certainly the families all feel relief, but the equivalence between terrorists and their victims suggested is obscene (if there is a stronger word, please suggest one).
I do not “join in the sigh of relief” of the family of Ahlam Tamimi, who masterminded the bombing of the Sbarro Pizza restaurant in Jerusalem which took 16 lives, and who has publicly said that she is not sorry for what she did. Nor am I sighing along with the family of Abed Alaziz Salaha, shown above displaying the blood of the two reserve soldiers whose lynching he had just participated in.
The exchange is not a happy event. Watching it is like being held at gunpoint while your family is raped. It will not “signal an end” to the conflict between Israel and the vicious Hamas, just the opening of a new and dangerous chapter.
If I felt like sighing it would be over the total lack of moral compass displayed by Gisha and similar groups. But at this point, all I’m capable of doing is hoping that the damage done by this exchange can be contained.
(h/t: Gerald Steinberg)