Kidnapping of West Bank Teens Points To Worse To Come

After Peace Talks Collapse, Both Sides Will Use Force

Searching: Israeli soldiers from a special army unit take part in a search operation for three Israeli teenagers believed kidnapped by Palestinian militants, on June 17, 2014 in the West Bank town of Hebron.
Getty Images
Searching: Israeli soldiers from a special army unit take part in a search operation for three Israeli teenagers believed kidnapped by Palestinian militants, on June 17, 2014 in the West Bank town of Hebron.

By Nathan J. Brown

Published June 18, 2014, issue of June 27, 2014.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

As June opened, it was easy to joke that an honest headline writer could only proclaim “Hamas Gives Up Control of Gaza; Israel Outraged.” But with the abduction of three Israeli teenagers who were reportedly hitchhiking in the West Bank, it is clear that the implications of the current political situation are not funny. Yes, the Hamas ministers who governed Gaza since its 2007 split with the West Bank have left office to pave the way for a technocratic Cabinet trying to reunite the Palestinians. And yes, Israel is outraged.

But now three young lives hang cruelly in the balance. And whatever their fate, the region’s leaders seem able to produce only short-term, reactive policies that expose their own political bankruptcy. In the absence of even a pretense of a peace process, episodic violence, escalating rhetoric and unilateral actions are all they have to offer.

Without new leadership or new ideas, we are only likely to see further descent into the ugliest forms of conflict. The Israeli, American and Palestinian leaderships all seem powerless in the face of forces they themselves have unleashed by action and inaction. Those forces have not merely buried two-state diplomacy, but now also threaten to transform the Israeli-Palestinian conflict into an inconclusive generational struggle with neither winners nor resolution.

For its part, the Israeli leadership has imposed a clampdown on the West Bank generally, arrested a wide swath of Hamas leaders and deployed harsh rhetoric — extremely threatening against Hamas, and contemptuous of Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority that he leads. Whether the Israeli government can rescue the teens is unknown.

Meanwhile, the rhetorical bluster cannot obscure the underlying problems for Israel’s leaders that only a few will openly admit. First, “security cooperation,” as it is called — in which P.A. security forces help prevent attacks on Israeli targets and suppress anti-Israel activity — has worked to greater and lesser degrees over the past two decades. Life for Israel (and for Israelis) has been better with it than without it.

Second, the existence of the P.A. itself is a net plus for Israel, which is why it continues to collect taxes on its leadership’s behalf. The collapse of Palestinian autonomy would undermine Israeli security, likely burden Israel fiscally and damage Israel internationally.

Third, the existence of a Hamas government in Gaza, noxious as it was, not only led to considerable restraint on the part of Hamas, but also led the self-styled “resistance”] movement to force others to scale back their “resistance.” That generally meant less violence; because Hamas had something to lose in Gaza, it usually held its fire.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • The sign reads: “Dogs are allowed in this establishment but Zionists are not under any circumstances.”
  • Is Twitter Israel's new worst enemy?
  • More than 50 former Israeli soldiers have refused to serve in the current ground operation in #Gaza.
  • "My wife and I are both half-Jewish. Both of us very much felt and feel American first and Jewish second. We are currently debating whether we should send our daughter to a Jewish pre-K and kindergarten program or to a public one. Pros? Give her a Jewish community and identity that she could build on throughout her life. Cons? Costs a lot of money; She will enter school with the idea that being Jewish makes her different somehow instead of something that you do after or in addition to regular school. Maybe a Shabbat sing-along would be enough?"
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • "It pains and shocks me to say this, but here goes: My father was right all along. He always told me, as I spouted liberal talking points at the Shabbos table and challenged his hawkish views on Israel and the Palestinians to his unending chagrin, that I would one day change my tune." Have you had a similar experience?
  • "'What’s this, mommy?' she asked, while pulling at the purple sleeve to unwrap this mysterious little gift mom keeps hidden in the inside pocket of her bag. Oh boy, how do I answer?"
  • "I fear that we are witnessing the end of politics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I see no possibility for resolution right now. I look into the future and see only a void." What do you think?
  • Not a gazillionaire? Take the "poor door."
  • "We will do what we must to protect our people. We have that right. We are not less deserving of life and quiet than anyone else. No more apologies."
  • "Woody Allen should have quit while he was ahead." Ezra Glinter's review of "Magic in the Moonlight": http://jd.fo/f4Q1Q
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.