When I went to bed at 2am last night, it had become rather clear that indeed an Israeli had been kidnapped and taken away to Shechem (Nablus), terror town of the northern West Bank. Apparently the Hebrew University student had been statched from Jerusalem which was a touch worrying but not particularly surprising.
More shocking was to awake not only to the news that US citizen (non-Israeli) Benjamin Bright-Fishbein had been released and that he'd actually created this whole saga himself by visiting Nablus on his own volition, apparently with kippah (skullcap) and all. He sat happily(!) in a Nablus cafe smoking Nargila before being invited to make a video to the world, with special guest star, Mr Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade.
Should I refrain from further cynicism?
Which side of his brain convinced him that Nablus is nice at this time of year? No Palestinian town is nice for any Jew or Israeli (or really for any Westerner) even on a nice day. While it's not illegal for non-Israelis to visit there, one must say that Benjamin's latter admission that he made a horrid mistake doesn't quite cover the explitives that the security forces are saying under their breath right now.
What kind of 'orientation' and introduction to Israel do they give to foreign Jewish students at Hebrew Uni. How could it be that he had no inkling of what awaited him?
He's a lucky boy and as someone noted in a ynet comment, thank G-d no IDF soldiers were injured in having to rescue him and that no Palestinian terrorists had to be exchanged for him.
I do hope he'll be asked to pay some of the bills for his adventure - a little deterrent for others considering visiting our friendly neighbors.
I've had contact with other foreign born Israeli Jews who venture to Ramallah and other pretty towns for social activities and even to have their haircuts and the like. When they end up starring in the next Zarqawi-style video, I'll feel bad for them but I'm unsure that wilful stupidity deserves IDF risk & rescue.
One thing that did come out of all this is just how disorganized and splintered these terror gangs are and in fact how frightened they can become. Though controversial in the eyes of some, I maintain that the assaisinations of Palestinian terror leaders does in fact make terrorists think twice or three times before carrying out an action. Additionally, international pressure appears to take its toll at times. As has been noted several times in past hours, it appears the tough terror guys suddenly crawled into a hole when realizing Benjamin was an American. As one Israeli official put it, maybe Zarqawi's end might have made the cafe kidnappers imagine their own 72 virginless fate.