The Words of the Kaufmann Family

Beyond Gilad Shalit

Frank Kaufmann
July 5, 2006

Gilad Shalit

The abduction of Gilad Shalit has as much to do with Palestinian rivalries as it does to do with the Palestinian struggle against Israel. The Hamas – Fatah clash is linked in ways to the thankless marriage of Abbas with a Hamas Cabinet. Added to that is the fact that substantial disunity exists within both Fatah and Hamas in Gaza (each embracing spectra that range from militant to diplomatic).

In addition to this Hamas in Gaza has the added complication of being related to a Lebanese counterpart. It is known that the Lebanese figures in Hamas naturally lean toward greater militancy due to the fact of their distance from the day to day realities and needs of the good and simple people of Gaza who want nothing more than peace and a hopeful environment in which to raise their families

There is no doubt that Israel is guided in its actions first and foremost by concerns for the safety and welfare Israeli citizens and Israeli families. Beyond this however it is inevitable domestic and international politics arise around such incidents, and decisions and actions take on political calculation. The intensity of Israeli actions, while genuinely designed around seeking safety for Shalit, may well also reflect calculations that seek to drive a wedge between the more militant Lebanese Hamas leaders, and the Hamas cabinet elected in Gaza.

Two other important facts should be noted in this fragile situation. The first is obvious. Both sides have painted themselves into a corner, a corner constructed of pride, perhaps hatred, and ideological rigidity. The second important fact to know is that each side operates out of cultural, religious, and ideological foundations that so differ, that true communication toward resolution is gravely hampered. Ironically, where the two communities are similar culturally, religiously, and ideologically, is precisely in those ways that also hurt good communications and negotiations… that glistening line between stoically persevering and childishly stubborn.

Fortunately there is a good deal of quiet diplomacy going on surrounding this issue. We sincerely pray for God’s blessings on those involved in these private and quiet negotiations. Furthermore, the major powers are behaving quite well this time. These include Russia, China and India. These and others have much they can do to help. We pray for the leaders of these powers as well, most importantly that their calculations not be too heavily tainted by short-sighted national self interest. In addition to the public pronouncements coming from some of these important powers, one can only hope that these major powers continue to work behind the scenes in quiet conversation encouraging both sides to seek a positive resolution of this tense and fragile confrontation, and not to break down further.

Players in the region have allowed this horrible incident to escalate to the point at which only great suffering awaits both sides barring some resolution. They have postured and committed to the extent that yield or compromise necessary for resolution is no longer possible. A very good thing would be if Shalit "escaped." A dramatic, miraculous escape, the stuff storybooks and spy stories are made of. NOT a rescue, not a release. An escape. The Israelis could walk away from military overkill (fuel on the fires of rage), Gaza Hamas can protect themselves from the unforgiving, militant vultures shrieking over softening, or "impurity" of Gaza Hamas’ commitment to the resistance.

Israel could draw back away from the border, Shalit can be restored to his family and his nation, both sides can resume inching at their glacier-like pace toward peace, and simple home-makers and citizens in the region can breathe out.

Frank Kaufmann
Inter Religious Federation for World Peace

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