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Americans Agonize Over Kidnapped Soldiers As Do Israelis Print E-mail

By Jay Bushinsky
July 21, 2009

The kidnapping of PFC Bowe Bergdahl of Ketchum, ID, by Taliban guerrillas in Afghanistan three weeks ago has forced Americans to drink from the same cup of bitterness and frustration that Israelis have tasting for the past three years.

One difference in the two cases, however, is that Bergdahl's Taliban captors have released video showing that he still is alive and apparently in good health while the Hamas regime responsible for the detention of Cpl. Gilad Shalit has kept his condition as secret as are his whereabouts.

The kidnapping of soldiers to be held for ransom violates the rules of war and the refusal to allow delegates of the International Committee of the Red Cross access to them is a crime against humanity.  But Hamas evidently considers its moral code superior to that of the international community and the Geneva conventions which spell out the rights to which prisoners of war are entitled.

This practice, and the psychological torment of being held incommunicado for as long as it may take until terms for a prisoner exchange are worked out, is one of the Palestinian terrorists' morbid innovations.  (In the recent exchange of two Israeli soldiers seized by the Iranian-backed Hizbollah guerrillas for six Lebanese held for killing a father and his two children culminated in the receipt of two coffins containing the abducted men's bodies.)

This ruse was in line with the hijacking of civilian airliners, the holding of civilian as well as military hostages and the dispatch of suicide bombers methods invented or perfected by Palestinian terrorists and copied by extremists throughout the Muslim world.

It is not yet clear what demands Taliban may make of the U.S. in return for PFC Bergdahl's release, but Hamas' terms for Cpl. Shalit to be set free are well known.  Hamas' leaders say Israel must liberate between 450 and 1,500 Palestinian prisoners, at least a third of whom were convicted of premeditated murder.

In both cases, the kidnapped soldiers' countries of origin are compelled to negotiate with the respective captors even if their political policies reject this option.  Besides getting a payoff in human beings, Taliban and Hamas thereby win recognition that otherwise has been denied them.

Indeed, Hamas, which has been involved in this kind of blackmail since June, 2006, when Cpl. Shalit was seized by Palestinian gunmen who tunneled their way to his outpost at Kerem Shalom on Israeli territory adjacent to the Gaza Strip, has been reaping political and diplomatic profit in the interim. 

Despite Hamas' ideologically-based refusal to recognize or negotiate with Israel -- its founder, the late Sheikh Ahmed Yassin said Israel does not have the right to exist because all of pre-1948 Palestine within whose borders it is situated is "a Muslim legacy" and hence must be under Muslim rule in its entirety -- American and European statesmen have been advocating diplomatic contact with its leaders and official talks with them.

From a political standpoint, the most ironic and baffling aspect of the self-styled enlightened and pragmatic diplomatists, among them former Presidential Adviser Zbigniew Brzinski and Brent Scowcroft, is that by accepting Hamas as an eligible interlocutor, they are undermining the Palestinian (National) Authority which is willing, in principle, if not in actual fact, to come to terms with Israel.

It is hard to believe that such experienced and savvy gentlemen do not realize that Hamas' victory in the last Palestinian election and its subsequent takeover of the Gaza Strip in a cold-blooded coup d'etat are the main impediments to the two-state solution originally embraced by President Bush and adopted by his successor, President Barack Obama. 

As long as Hamas controls an integral part of the territory earmarked for Palestinian statehood, i.e. the Gaza Strip, and continues to campaign for political support in the West Bank, chances of the Palestinians achieving their goal, i.e. statehood, are virtually nil.

Meanwhile, unpublicized efforts to end Cpl. Shalit's ordeal and that of PFC Bergdahl will continue and hopefully will succeed in spite of the lack of normal political discourse between Israel and Hamas and between the U.S. and the Taliban.

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MGI News is the sole U.S. incorporated news and programming organization specializing in the Middle East directed by Jay Bushinsky, founding Bureau Chief of CNN Jerusalem. Topics from President Barak Obama, Binyamin Netanyahu, Mahmoud Abbas, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Hamas, Hizbollah and more...

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