Opinion |

The Alleged Abductors of Little Eitan Biran Don't Deserve Our Compassion

Shany Littman
Shany Littman
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Eitan Biran's aunt and grandmother.
Eitan Biran's aunt and grandmother. Credit: Screenshot, Channel 13
Shany Littman
Shany Littman

The woeful story of 6-year-old Eitan Biran, who lost his parents, brother and great-grandparents in a cable car accident in Italy in May, is clearly riveting, moving and heartbreakingly sad. But in the name of milking this tragedy, over the weekend the two main Israeli commercial news channels conducted empathetic interviews with people who do not deserve even a grain of understanding – the Peleg family, who allegedly abducted Eitan from his aunt’s house in Italy.

On Friday, Channel 12 News interviewed the alleged abductor, Eitan’s grandfather, under the headline “Savoir or abductor.” This ridiculous question was not seriously addressed even in the interview itself. On Saturday Channel 13 News featured another interview, this time with the grandmother, Eti Peleg, the grandfather’s ex-wife, and her daughter Gali, who wants custody of Eitan. The interview was billed as an “exclusive,” somewhat ridiculous considering that all the story has been all over the news for a week now; clearly the family of Eitan’s mother very much wants for people to recognize their justification and therefore conducted interviews on every possible platform.

The Channel 13 interviewer didn’t ask Eti Peleg why Eitan had to be taken without coordinating it with his aunt; what was so urgent. Peleg, in an impressive and particularly infuriating pretense of innocence, claimed that she didn’t know the grandfather was going to abduct Eitan, but she didn’t express her opposition to it. On the contrary, she defended her ex-husband. “This is his [Eitan’s] home, Israel. Judaism. This is what he knew… Eitan was raised in an Israeli-Jewish home. They spoke Hebrew. They did Shabbat, there were Shabbat dinners. They spent between two and three months every year in Israel.”

Rescuers work by the wreckage of the cable car after it collapsed near the summit of the Stresa-Mottarone line in the Piedmont region, northern Italy.Credit: Soccorso Alpino e Speleologico P

The number of irrelevant questions asked in these interviews is irritating. For example: “Don’t you worry that someday he’ll do a Google search and see this whole fight over him?” This question was asked by both channels. Instead, the question should have been: Where do you get the nerve to disrupt the fragile life this child, who has gone through such trauma, that his aunt and her family have managed to create for him?

Is this really the contemporary version of the story of Yossele Schumacher, the boy whose grandfather abducted him from his parents so he would not be raised secular? Are the Pelegs, who appears completely secular, worried about distancing Eitan from Judaism and Israel, or are they using this twisted excuse because they think this is what will turn public opinion, and more importantly, the opinion of the Israeli judges, in their favor? This is a “modern-day Solomon’s judgement” said attorney Zion Amir, resorting to another misleading cliché. This isn’t the judgement of Solomon. It terrible abuse of an unfortunate child.

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