Editor's Notes: The time has come...
Steve Linde - The Jerusalem Post - August 12, 2011
The editor of a respected newspaper should spell out his positions at the start of his tenure, and make his voice heard. So here is my "wish list."
"The time has come," the Walrus said, "to talk of many things...." - from Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll (1871)
Inspired by Tisha Be'av, when the Jewish people reflects on its past tragedies, I sat down this week to draw up a list of eminently doable things that I think must be done as soon as possible - before it's too late.
While it's not the journalist's job to pray or preach, the editor of a respected newspaper such as The Jerusalem Post should spell out his positions at the start of his tenure, and make his voice heard. So here is my "wish list":
1. Hamas must free Schalit
The time has come for the release of Gilad Schalit, the IDF soldier abducted on June 25, 2006, at Kerem Shalom on the border with Gaza. After over five years of captivity and failed attempts to strike a deal, the government must now advance a prisoner exchange with Hamas. Israel sent Schalit to do his military service; it should now do everything it can to secure his freedom.
2. The US must free Pollard
The time has come for the US to commute the sentence of Jonathan Pollard, the former intelligence analyst who was given a life term on one count of espionage for Israel on March 4, 1987. The Israeli government must insist that the Obama administration release Pollard, who is not in good health and has served over 25 years in a US jail. In 1998, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu acknowledged publicly that Pollard had served as an Israeli agent; Netanyahu must now make his release a top national priority.
3. Cuba must free Gross
The time has come for Cuba to release Alan P. Gross, the American aid worker who was arrested in December 2009 for the "crime" of bringing satellite communications equipment into the country for its Jewish community. Cuba's highest court this month rejected Gross's appeal against a 15-year-jail sentence.
The US should now be applying extreme pressure on the Cuban government to order the release of the ailing Gross, who has been the victim of extreme injustice.
4. Egypt must free Grapel
The time has come for Egypt to release Ilan Grapel, the Israeli American being held on trumped-up charges of spying for Israel. Grapel, an Emory University law student, was arrested in Cairo in June following the Tahrir Square revolution while working as an intern in a program to advance democracy. Efforts must be expedited to get him out of Egypt before he is indicted and embroiled in lengthy legal proceedings.
5. Assad must go
The time has come for Syrian President Bashar Assad to halt his violent crackdown on peaceful protesters and call democratic elections. So far, Assad's Alawite regime has resisted demands by the international community and the Arab world to stop the killing of opposition activists, especially in the city of Hama. But there are signs that external pressure is having an effect, with Foreign Minister Walid Muallem announcing last week that Syria would hold free parliamentary elections by the end of this year. Still, the pressure must not let up until Assad, a ruthless dictator who loathes democracy and Israel, is removed from power.
6. Iran's nukes must be stopped
The time has come for the world to make certain that Iran either halts its nuclear program or faces complete diplomatic isolation. A nuclear Iran under Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's radical Islamist regime poses an existential danger to Israel and threatens the stability and sanity of the whole world. It was the US that helped Tehran launch its nuclear program in the 1950s, and it is the US that must now lead an international campaign to end it.
7. The PA must negotiate
The time has come for the Palestinian Authority to realize that the only way to make peace is to sit down and negotiate with Israel. Asking the UN General Assembly to recognize Palestinian statehood only harms the chances of the diplomatic process succeeding, while encouraging mass protests at Israeli checkpoints in September runs the risk of sparking a new cycle of violence.
What is required now is for Israel and the Palestinians to resume direct peace talks with the aim of resolving core issues under dispute.
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