Having a child snatched off the street is a common parental fear, although one with little basis in reality. In the case of three Israeli teens who disappeared late last week after hitchhiking home in the West Bank, such a nightmare has come true. The apparent kidnapping galvanized Israelis, tens of thousands of whom gathered at the Western Wall to pray for the teens’ return. And it has touched Jews here as well, leading to prayer meetings and vigils.
The one party that appears to be unmoved by the teens’ disappearance is the Palestinian Authority. It is troubling that the only word of condemnation (let alone concern) from the new Fatah-Hamas Palestinian government came in a statement from its president, Mahmoud Abbas, who equated the kidnappings with “the ongoing series of violations, by Israeli soldiers and settlers, against innocent Palestinian civilians and against prisoners, held in Israeli jails.”
And while Hamas hasn’t claimed credit for the disappearances, it has applauded them. While not explaining how Israeli authorities have reached the conclusion, Prime Minister Netanyahu has fingered Hamas as the culprit for the kidnappings and has held up the crisis as proof positive of the dangers of legitimizing — as the United States has done – any government in which the terrorist group takes part.
All this has been accompanied by bickering over who has security responsibility — Israel or the Palestinians — over the area where the teens disappeared.
What is supremely troubling, beyond the failure of the Palestinian Authority to unequivocally condemn the kidnappings, is the apparent lack of concern by some on the left who have argued in editorials in Haaretz and the Forward that the kidnappings are to be expected. By the same token, we anticipate some on the right will respond by advocating the expansion of Israel’s settlement activities. All of this back and forth cheapens the terrorism experienced by these innocent teenagers and their families.
At the end of the day, kidnapping children is beyond the pale of any movement or government. That fact needs to be acknowledged by all.
In the meantime, we continue to pray for the missing young men, and wish them and their families the strength to persevere.