The French Love Unsavoury Arab Powers, So Why Can't They Get Gilad Shalit Released?

By:  Rachel Marsden

This week, young Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, celebrated his 23rd birthday in Hamas captivity.  He was snagged by the terrorist group during the Lebanon war of Summer 2006.  He is also a French citizen.  You’d think this would be an advantage, given that the French have a long history of cozy, backslapping relationships with unsavory Arab powers. 

In reality, Shalit’s French citizenship will save him if he happens to be in a desert cave somewhere crafting a hot air balloon.  The French will give him all the power he needs for such an escape – and they’ll still have enough left over to melt some icecaps, drown some polar bears and justify Al Gore’s existence.  The French idea of “getting things done” is feeling their young countryman’s pain for a few minutes, congratulating themselves on their compassion before tucking into some foie gras.  As for actually doing something effective to rescue him?  That would involve testosterone – and there are no shady Arab entities looking to make backroom deals for that, so they’re out of luck.

In January, French President Nicolas Sarkozy talked about the situation with the President of Syria, who did precisely nothing.  Since Sarkozy was obviously looking to wheel and deal in exchange for his countryman, various Islamic groups have been lining up to present Sarkozy Claus with their wish lists – everything from the release of various terrorist prisoners to getting rid of a French frigate intercepting arms smuggling off the coast of Gaza.  And Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak – the most trustworthy mediator since Jacques Chirac enjoyed legovers with both the UN and Saddam Hussein - has positioned himself at the centre of it all.

Sarkozy – the only Frenchman since Napoleon to exhaust himself in a non-horizontal position – is now hoping to sway the Arab leaders with touching thoughtfulness:  It was recently reported that Sarkozy asked the Israelis free a Franco-Palestinian terrorist who tried to kill a prominent rabbi – perhaps as a sign of goodwill that would lead to the freeing of Shalit.  This is where the French repeatedly go wrong:  There is no moral equivalence between a soldier acting in uniform under the protection of the Geneva convention, and a freelance terrorist picking off citizens under the perceived “protection” of the Islamic terrorist club du jour.  The only similarity between the two is that they’re both French citizens.  Which means the only message Sarkozy should be getting from this is that the French should be more careful to whom they grant French nationality.

No Arab leader is going to be deeply moved by Sarkozy’s goodwill.  Rather, he needs to send them a “Thinking of You” card, delivered by French Special Forces.   This is a terrorist group whose official mandate since 1988 has been nothing other than death to Jews of the world – French or otherwise.  The hostage is being held in a land (Gaza) that even the amoral United Nations doesn’t see fit to recognize as a country.  Consult with the DGSE (French equivalent of MI6), and find out where your hostage is being held.  France has enough secret agents of Arabic origin to know.  Then send in the French Special Forces (BFST) to extract Shalit and maybe, as a bonus, kill a bunch of terrorists.   Trust me, they aren’t expecting it.