Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Egypt Puts Propaganda Ahead of Gilad Shalit's Welfare

I first noticed what was going on when Al Jazeera interviewed released Palestinian prisoners as they arrived in Egypt. One after another, they thanked the Egyptian government for their release. Not one even mentioned Hamas. Very strange. It occurred to me that the Egyptian Information Ministry was putting on a propaganda show.

That was less of a concern with the Arab releasees, because they had been well-treated and well-fed during their terms in Israeli prisons. They could worship in mosques in the prisons, fraternize with fellow prisoners and receive visitors.

Gilad Shalit had no such advantages. He has been in solitary confinement for over 4 years, with no one to talk to but his guards. He has not been allowed visitors, even from the Red Cross. The Israeli doctors who examined him upon his arrival in Israel said he was suffering from malnutrition and lack of sunlight. He also is obviously suffering from the mental effects of lack of human contact.

But, as reported in this AP story, that didn't stop the Egyptian Information Ministry from staging a propaganda interview with Shalit even before he was allowed to call his parents. Blinking, obviously dazed and near fainting, he was subjected to ridiculous questions from an Egyptian television "journalist," Shahira Amin, such as the following:

"You have known what it is like to be in captivity. There are more than 5,000 Palestinians in Israeli jails. Will you help campaign for their release?" [Shalit was kidnapped. The prisonres in Israei jails are convicted terrorists and criminals.]

Amin also asked Shalit why he only gave one interview while in captivity, ignoring the fact that Hamas had kept him in solitary confinement.

Throughout the interview, armed Hamas militants surrounded Shalit, including one wearing a black knit mask over his face. Shalit must have been terrified that the entire interview was a prelude to returning him to his Hamas captors.

One would think that Arabs would be ashamed of the contrast between the levels of humanity in Israel and in the Arab world.


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