Sixty-eight days after Hamas kidnapped her son Hersh, Rachel Polin-Goldberg was asked how she was doing. “It’s not describable how any of us are doing to people who haven’t been through it,” she responded.

It was up to 144 days when I read the recent profile of her in the Wall Street Journal, and one imagines it is now more than twice as indescribable. Polin-Goldberg has become the unflagging emissary of the hostage families, giving speeches, meeting with world leaders, giving interviews.

When I pulled up this latest profile of her, I had just read a different story on the hostages: Hamas has yet again rejected a ceasefire deal that would see some hostages returned. And reading the two stories back to back really highlights the degradation of the debate over the hostage negotiations in the West.

This is not two states arguing over where to place a maritime border. We’re not watching neighboring countries negotiate over the sharing of a water source. No one’s finalizing a free-trade agreement, or a mutual-defense pact. The entire discussion should center on one thing: the world pressuring Hamas and its patrons to release the hostages.

Hostage talks fall into a familiar pattern. The conversation in the media quickly turns to the reasonableness of Israel’s government and where its priorities are. A perfect example of this inane framing came in the Washington Post’s most recent update on the talks. “In recent days,” the Post tells us, “Israel has signaled a willingness to engage more seriously on efforts led by the United States, Egypt and Qatar to reach a weeks-long cease-fire in the Gaza Strip in exchange for the release of many of the more than 100 remaining hostages being held in the enclave.”

Come again? Are reporters now assessing whether Israel is taking this “seriously” enough? As if Qatar is working hard on bringing the hostages home and just needs Israel to do its part.

Qatar has one responsibility here: to get the hostages out. There is no reciprocal Israeli obligation to Qatar.

Israel has obligations to its citizens, of course. And its carrying out of those obligations is what the world is complaining about. I guarantee you that “Israel taking this more seriously” can be arranged; I also guarantee the people calling for it won’t like it one bit. Nobody in the British government, MP Andrew Percy said to the House of Commons last week, “has any business [or] agency at all in telling the state of Israel where it is able to operate to seek to rescue hostages who are being raped by Islamic terrorists who hold them.”

The clip of Percy’s speech—which included other noteworthy lines—quickly made the rounds on social media precisely because it stood out. But it shouldn’t have. Every politician in the free West should talk this way. This should be the baseline approach to bringing home the hostages. Hamas invaded Israel and kidnapped over two-hundred people. They refused to free them, so Israel sent its military into Gaza to try to bring them back. That’s where we are.

Hamas could end this in an instant by surrendering and returning the hostages themselves. Forcing Israel to go in and get them—at the cost of more of its citizens’ lives along the way—is bad enough. But for free citizens of the West, not to mention their governments, to harangue Israel for going in to get its captive citizens requires a personal level of comfort with hypocrisy that is shockingly common among supposed defenders of the liberal world order.

Occasionally someone shows some spine. Two weeks ago, a lunatic Hamas propagandist yelled at New York City Mayor Eric Adams on the street, “you’re complicit in the genocide of Palestinians. I just want to know: How many Palestinian children, how many killed Palestinian children will it take for you to call for a ceasefire?” Adams calmly walked over the man and answered him in four words: “Bring the hostages home.”

Correct answer. Every second that Hamas forces this war to continue is a tragedy.

I wonder whether such exchanges are any consolation to Rachel Goldberg-Polin and her fellow suffering hostage families, or whether the rarity of someone showing an ounce of moral grit robs the moment of its power to encourage. If you’ll forgive me, I think it’s time for world leaders to “engage more seriously” in bringing the hostages home and holding the perpetrators accountable until that happens.

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