Here’s a fitting gesture on the eve of the 10th anniversary of 9/11: According to JTA, “a group of prominent American Muslims issued a letter urging Hamas to immediately release captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.”
Last month, Israelis marked Shalit’s 25th birthday, five years after he became a captive of Hamas. During that time the Israeli soldier hasn’t received a visit from the Red Cross, in clear violation of international law. His parents, meanwhile, have received only a stream of meager and contradictory updates on his well-being. Noam Shalit, his father, intends to meet with foreign ambassadors gathering in New York for the UN General Assembly session starting on Sept. 13. Noam insists the world body should consider Shalit’s fate as it debates the Palestinian Authority’s request for independent statehood.
“The continued imprisonment of Gilad, holding him hostage within the territory of the entity — the Palestinian Authority — which is seeking statehood recognition, is a flagrant breach of international law,” he told Ynet.
The Shalits now have support not just from Israelis and American Jews, but from 11 American Muslim academics, activists, and lawmakers, including the two Muslim members of Congress — Reps. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) and Andre Carson (D-Ind.).
“We believe Hamas’ harsh treatment and five-year detention of Shalit is wrong,” the Muslim leaders wrote in their letter, sent to Khaled Mashal, the Syrian-based chairman of Hamas’ political bureau.
Like Noam Shalit, the signatories noted that the soldier’s captivity stands in harsh juxtaposition to Palestinian calls for statehood.
“The struggle for Palestinian human rights and self-determination must be based on this ethical and moral code,” the letter continued. “Hamas’ inhumane detention of Shalit undermines the Palestinian people’s legitimate aspirations for human rights and a state of their own, existing in peace and security beside Israel.”
Calls by Jews to the conscience of the captors haven’t freed Shalit. Perhaps an appeal to their self-interest by the captors’ co-religionists will.