Shockwaves are running through the Jewish world: Three Israeli boys, all teenagers, two of them only sixteen, were kidnapped this week. Where they are, and who exactly abducted them, remains unsolved. The obvious suspect is Hamas, and Israel Defence Forces have been working non-stop, making arrests, but as of yet, the boys haven’t returned home. The three families have to prepare for another Shabbat filled with fear and uncertainty.
An incredible campaign has launched: #BringBackOurBoys. Rallies held in Israel and North America. Petition letters sponsored by Jewish Federations of North America – including our own JEWISHcolorado. A Twitter campaign that has drawn in thousands – including Arab Israelis who have expressed their support and sympathy for the boys (only to then receive death threats for doing so).
Unfortunately, alongside the inspirational and positive messages, the abduction has inspired a very different, but not altogether surprising reaction. It seems that whenever Israel is involved, some parties cannot help but be negative, unobjective, critical and, frankly, conspiratorial. From Netanyahu is crudely using the abduction to gather votes from conspiracy theories that the teenagers were never abducted. Another variety is repeatedly referring to the boys as settlers, thereby proposing some kind of justification for the abduction. Or the tweets and statements from alleged human rights organizations, like Human Rights Watch, that will not unequivocally denounce the kidnappings, but instead must include a caveat that “Attending school at illegal settlement doesn’t legitimize apparent kidnapping of Israeli teens.” Suddenly there are all kinds of reasons for why kidnapping children is really not that bad, or, even worse, is in some way their own fault. It’s revolting.
But let’s get back to the positive side, the expressions of unity across the Jewish world and beyond. We’ve collected some of the tweets, postings and news items that caught our attentions. Add to our list by posting a comment.
- Israeli ingenuity: Start-up NowForce developed an SOS app in the days following the abduction
- Rallies are held in North America, including New York and Toronto, and planned for other destinations, including Sweden, a country that in recent years has witnessed a steep rise in physical anti-Semitism
- Twitter, Facebook and Instagram users from across the world – from North America all the way to New Zealand and everywhere in between – post selfies with #BringBackOurBoys posters
- World leaders, including UK Prime Minister David Cameron, tweet their support for the boys and condemnation of the abductions. Obama remains silent.
My thoughts are with the families of the three kidnapped Israeli teenagers. Praying for their early and safe return home.
— David Cameron (@David_Cameron) June 19, 2014
- And last but not least, from the IJN, Rabbi Hillel Goldberg explores the roles of prayer in times of distress after a massive prayer rally is held at the Kotel