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The Release of Gilad Shilat

The historic release of Gilad Shalit is celebrated by Israel and the Jewish community worldwide. The extreme cost for his freedom taints this celebration.

I am writing this article on the fourth day of Chol Hamoed Sukkot.  On the secular calendar the date is Oct. 18, 2011. This day will be remembered in history as the day Gilad Shalit came home. Five years ago, in a cross-border raid Gilad Shalit was kidnapped by Hamas. Gilad Shalit was not part of an invading force or a tactical military operation. 

This teenager was kidnapped from his sovereign country by criminals in a criminal act.  The fact that Gilad Shalit served his country as a member of the Israeli Defense Force confuses the issue. Gilad Shalit like every other Israeli teen is required by law to serve in the IDF. Every 19-year-old in Israel who is able to serve (with rare exemptions) is a member of the IDF. We cannot confuse this crime as an act of war simply because Gilad Shalit was wearing a uniform. This crime is a kidnapping perpetrated by terrorists.

After five years of prayer, hope and faith the community of Israel has seen their collective dream come to fruition. Gilad Shalit is finally free.

As a result of delicate negotiations with Hamas, Israel has agreed to release over 1,000 Palestinian prisoners to secure his freedom.  Among these prisoners are terrorists responsible for some of the most horrific acts of terrorism in Israel’s young history. Contained within their resume is the 1989 attack on the Tel Aviv-Jerusalem bus. Sixteen civilians were killed including 13 Israelis, two Canadians and one American; 27 more were wounded.  Their resume continues with the bombing of Sbarro restaurant in Jerusalem in which 15 civilians were killed and 130 injured. The victims of these attacks range in age from 2 to 63. 

The value placed upon human life is one of our defining values.  The Mishnah teaches us whoever saves a life is considered as having saved the entire world. Israel’s actions resulting in the release of Gilad Shalit conform to this defining value. Israel has shown the world the value that Judaism places upon the sanctity of human life.

We enter Simchat Torah one of our most joyous holidays celebrating the freedom of Gilad Shalit. Our celebration is tainted by the extreme sacrifice that Israel has made by releasing some of the most violent sworn enemies of our people. As we join the family of Gilad Shalit in celebrating his release from captivity we mourn together with the families of those killed by the terrorists released in this so-called prisoner exchange.

We can only pray that history does not repeat itself. Past releases of terrorists have resulted in additional civilian casualties through repeated acts of terror. 

It is my hope and prayer that we will see a day when the decendents of Abraham can live together in peace. May the children of Isaac and the children of Ishmael come together as cousins paying true tribute to our common ancestor Abraham, the father of ethical monotheism.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Jim R. October 20, 2011 at 03:16 PM
Yes, it's great he's free, but I don't come to the patch to read about people's opinions on polarizing topics such as the Israeli / Palestinian conflict. I want local news and this is way off topic.
Dolores Kazanjian O'Brien October 20, 2011 at 05:52 PM
"Think globbally, act locally." If we want world peace, the place to start is here at home. Thank you to the Rabbi for his thoughts and prayers.
Andrea October 20, 2011 at 06:35 PM
No one forced you to read this and it didn't prevent any local stories from also being posted.
Jim R. October 20, 2011 at 11:51 PM
Editorials on hot button and controversial foreign affairs are hardly in the scope of The Patch. This is not the forum nor the purpose of this site. The charter of the patch is found on this site http://huntington.patch.com/about What is Patch? Simply put, Patch is a new way to find out about, and participate in, what’s going on near you. We’re a community-specific news and information platform dedicated to providing comprehensive and trusted local coverage for individual towns and communities. We want to make your life better by giving you quick access to the information that’s most relevant to you. Patch makes it easy to: Keep up with news and events Look at photos and videos from around town Learn about local businesses Participate in discussions Submit your own announcements, photos, and reviews
TheGreek October 21, 2011 at 01:20 AM
Apparently even the Palestinians agree that a terrorist is worth 1000 times less than a good man.
Andrea October 21, 2011 at 01:45 PM
Oh please. There are lots of non "community-specific" posts on here. Like 10 tips for Internet Explorer? Some article about butterflies and beyond? What on earth do those have to do with my community? Your issue seems to be with this topic (a hot button and controversial affair) rather than whether it is within the scope of the Patch - or have you posted similar messages under other articles and posts outside the scope of Patch?
Jim R. October 21, 2011 at 01:52 PM
If there are non "community-specific" posts here, then the editors of Patch are doing a poor job of keeping true to the site's charter. Plain and simple.
Andrea October 21, 2011 at 01:54 PM
Ok. We can agree to disagree. As long as your view applies to ALL non community-specific posts.
Joe Dowd (Editor) October 21, 2011 at 03:32 PM
Jim and our other readers: This is an interesting thread. I disagree, Jim, and for this reason: Many local synagogues, and not just in Plainview, were praying for the release of the Israeli soldier. That alone would make the story "local." The Rabbi's sentiments represent his opinion on an issue important to his congregation and lots of our readers. And Patch welcomes opinions of all sorts. Many of our bloggers write about issues that are regional or national in scope, and we think that's appropriate and, in fact, vital to our core mission of serving the local community. I believe all news is local, and news is where you find it. Thanks for your thoughtful insights to all of you.
Dahlia Omega October 21, 2011 at 07:24 PM
This is not news that affects Port Washington in any way. This is a highly inflammatory personal opinion. To say that this individual was a teenager is deceptive. He was a member of the army facilitating the Israeli hegenomy over the Palistinians
True Colors October 21, 2011 at 07:52 PM
Wow. What do you really think about the issue?
Joe Dowd (Editor) October 21, 2011 at 07:57 PM
Mr. Omega: One of the synagogues praying for the soldier's release was, in fact, in Port Washington. So again, my point is that Patch feels it's important to cover stories that are important to our readers. Perhaps you should consider blogging for us. We want all sorts of voices to be heard on our websites.
Jim R. October 21, 2011 at 08:06 PM
Joe Dowd, thanks for commenting. Correlating this story with the patch's charter is a stretch. Your readers also pray for the end of Israeli occupation of Palestine, free Tibet, jobs for the young in Greece, the end of famine in Africa, unification of South and North Korea, etc. Some also pray to win the lottery. Are we going to start seeing stories about those topics as well? If so, then the product the patch is trying to sell will be diluted. There will be too much noise, obscuring the real message of the patch. The patch is an amazing site. I can not get local news coverage you provide, anywhere else. The patch reporters and tweeters were so vital in getting news to people during Hurricane Irene and it's aftermath. You are providing an important and focused news service. If we want international politics and opinions,we'll go to CNN or Newsday, not the patch.
Andrea October 21, 2011 at 08:09 PM
Jim, I think I'm beginning to see your point. While I don't have an issue with one article per se, the reason people frequent the Patch is for local news and information. A handful of off topic articles may not change that - but if a changing tide led to a lot more regional/ national news, it would likely change the overall nature of Patch.
Dahlia Omega October 21, 2011 at 08:31 PM
True Colors, The good rabbi is entitled to his opinion
Jim R. October 21, 2011 at 08:36 PM
Thanks Andrea. Although we don't see eye to eye on many topics, you have well thought out arguments and view points.
Dolores Kazanjian O'Brien October 21, 2011 at 08:38 PM
Enough, already. The Patch editors have a right to their editorial policy and to decide what to publish and what not to publish. You have a right not to read the (free) publication. Jim, If your real issue is with the content, then write your own blog in rebuttal and discuss the Israeli-Palestine issue somewhere more appropriate. I am partly Arab background, and very much concerned with the rights of the Palestinians, but I stand by my previous post that thanked the Rabbi for his prayers for world peace. To have peace in this world, we need to start with ourselves, putting aside our anger as best we can.
Jim R. October 21, 2011 at 08:44 PM
Dolores, of course they can publish what they want but they have a charter to uphold. They have a commitment to the readers who come here for local news. If that changes, people will not visit, which will diminish advertising revenue and destroy the patch. Plain and simple, no more explanation is needed.
Pam Robinson (Editor) October 21, 2011 at 09:44 PM
Jim, let me point out that blogs are different. We invite members of the community to write blogs about their areas of expertise; we don't tell people what to write once they're signed up. They own their content. In this case, Rabbi Senter wrote about an issue that many local synagogues are involved in. In fact, if memory serves, this particular synagogue was planning to assist with the production of a quilt that would have gone around the country in Shalit's honor, as a way of reminding people that he was still a prisoner. So for members of this congregation as well as many other people of the faith, Shalit's status was very much a local concern.
Andrea October 21, 2011 at 09:55 PM
I think Jim's point is well taken - though one article doesn't really change anything - if balance of Patch articles were to shift and the majority of blogs, articles, etc. on Patch were to be of this nature, then the Patch itself would no longer be as it was originally intended. Furthermore, just because local people are concerned about something doesn't make it a local concern. Example: Natural disaster in another part of the world - sure I care and so will lots of Long Islanders, and the Patch could be used to help recovery efforts (generate donations, volunteers, etc) - but just because we care doesn't mean it is a local concern.
Pam Robinson (Editor) October 21, 2011 at 10:08 PM
Yes, but as you say, it's one blog; we do not control the content. The point of the feature is to encourage local people to write on issues important to them or on which they have some expertise. Obviously this topic is important and is of concern to this rabbi's congregation. Ditto the people writing about Facebook or legal issues or ghost hunting. Local voices.
Martin Jones October 21, 2011 at 11:55 PM
I agree on both sides of the argument, but I do believe that Patch has turned into too many blogs and not enough articles of content that feature our community. What happened to the open house column (House Hunt) and the column that featured local sold houses weekly? The SOLD column had the most up to date listing of sold houses in our area which is important to every local homeowner in this housing market. Patch had the most up to date information as all other websites narrow down sold properties to the last 6 months, the Patch had the last 6 days. Articles like these that are information based are being replaced by random blogs, blogs that take up half the home page. Sure, the blogs are interesting, but they shouldn't take over the Patch and replace the weekly columns or updates that some of us only come to the Patch to read.
Pam Robinson (Editor) October 22, 2011 at 12:35 AM
Mr. Jones, thanks for your thoughtful comments. We do like to hear specifics about what people want from Patch. Thanks again.
Martin Jones October 22, 2011 at 12:46 AM
Thanks for listening. I hope that Patch brings these columns back soon.
Jim R. October 24, 2011 at 03:30 PM
Pam - I think it's irresponsible of the patch not to control the content of the blogs. Patch is ultimately responsible for what is published this site. What if someone were to write a blog piece how they feel abortion is murder and how abortion doctors are murderers (I'm just using an example that could cause a stir to emphasize a point... )? Is this the aim of the patch blogs? Patch shouldn't be a blog hosting site. If that's what it turns into, I will not visit the site. We want local news, about local activities, happening here. That's the essence of the Patch.

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