A cap­tive in Ra­mal­lah

The Jerusalem Post - - OBSERVATIONS - • By GI­LAD SHARON

Aper­ma­nent res­i­dent of Is­rael, a Jew with Amer­i­can cit­i­zen­ship, has been held cap­tive in Ra­mal­lah by the Pales­tinian Author­ity for two months.

Does that sound cred­i­ble? Could it re­ally hap­pen? It doesn’t seem plau­si­ble. But that’s pre­cisely the sit­u­a­tion, ex­cept for one small de­tail that shouldn’t make any dif­fer­ence what­so­ever: The man in ques­tion is an Arab. He is ac­cused of a very se­ri­ous crime – sell­ing prop­erty to Jews. For our neigh­bors, this is a felony so heinous that it in­curs the death penalty.

Imag­ine an Is­raeli law pro­hibit­ing the sale of prop­erty to Arabs. The whole world would be up in arms and we would be os­tra­cized, and rightly so. Shouldn’t the same stan­dards be ap­plied? Now imag­ine a law for­bid­ding Jews to pur­chase prop­erty in the US, or Bri­tain, or France. How would we re­act? We’d do what­ever it took to get the an­tisemitic leg­is­la­tion re­scinded.

So why aren’t we do­ing any­thing about the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion? The PA lives by the bay­o­nets of the Is­raeli Army. Oth­er­wise, they’d be re­liv­ing what hap­pened to them in Gaza when their loy­al­ists were thrown from rooftops and any­one who man­aged to get out ran straight for the arms of Is­raeli sol­diers.

When they had to make the choice be­tween their brothers and our troops they chose us, and they knew very well why. So how come we’re tol­er­at­ing their anti-Jewish law? Mah­moud Ab­bas made the Pales­tinian vi­sion very clear: a ter­ri­tory free of Jews.

The man be­hind bars is Is­sam Akel. Con­trary to law and mu­tual agree­ments, this res­i­dent of Is­rael is in­car­cer­ated in a Pales­tinian prison, most likely un­der­go­ing tor­ture, and no one is kick­ing up a fuss. Is­rael isn’t in an up­roar. In­stead of do­ing ev­ery­thing in our power to put an end to this out­rage, we’re drag­ging our feet.

Let’s say he did sell prop­erty in Jerusalem to Jews. That only height­ens our obli­ga­tion to se­cure his free­dom. What mes­sage are we send­ing here? Is it that peo­ple who treat us well are thrown to the dogs and we couldn’t care less about what hap­pens to them? Why should any­one around us want to share a nor­mal life with us if that’s how we treat them?

The Bi­ble tells us that in an­cient times the Gibeonites chose to live in peace with the Is­raelites and made a covenant with Joshua. For this act, they were at­tacked by five kings. Joshua and the Is­raelites went up from Gil­gal to come to the de­fense of their al­lies and prayed for help: “Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon; and thou, Moon, in the val­ley of Ajalon.”

The mir­a­cle they were granted was not aimed at sav­ing the Is­raelites. There was no need; they had al­ready won the bat­tle. In­stead, it was meant to en­able them to en­sure the safety of the Gibeonites by com­plet­ing the de­feat of the flee­ing en­emy sol­diers be­fore they could get away un­der cover of dark­ness. That’s how im­por­tant it was for the Is­raelites to pro­tect their friends.

And what are we do­ing to­day? What are we do­ing for a Gibeonite who wants to live in peace with us? The dis­tance be­tween bi­b­li­cal Gibeon and modern-day Ra­mal­lah is no more than four kilo­me­ters. We don’t have to march there from Gil­gal in the Jor­dan Val­ley, and we don’t need a mir­a­cle. All we have to do is be­have like hu­man be­ings.

The writer is the son of for­mer prime min­is­ter Ariel Sharon. He holds a master’s de­gree in eco­nom­ics, is a ma­jor in the IDF re­serves, and cur­rently man­ages his fam­ily’s farm. Trans­lated from the He­brew by Sara Ki­tai, ski­[email protected]

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