The list of Palestinians who were released today in trade for one Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, is nauseating. There is the planner of the bombing on Passover Eve in Netanya in 2002 that killed 37 Jews sitting down to a traditional seder, the woman who lured a 16 year old Israeli boy and then handed him over to be murdered by her colleagues, the planner of the Sbarro bombing where among others an entire family – father, mother and three children – were blown up because they chose to have a pizza for a meal, and others serving multiple life sentences for terror activities that cost so many Israeli lives.
There are statistics that suggest that as many as 60% of released Palestinian terrorists have returned to terror activities in the past, so this trade may cost more Israeli lives.
The deal has strengthened Hamas, a staunch enemy of Israel, and has raised the specter of further kidnappings and lopsided trade deals in the future. In fact, it appears that Israel is about to release 80 Egyptian prisoners for a foolish American-Israeli who thought it was a good idea to witness the “Arab Spring” and was taken into custody on a foolish accusation of espionage.
There is the question of timing and wonder at whether Netanyahu acted out of political expediency in order to use the deal to undermine the strength of Fatah and the PA during these days of trying to secure Palestinian statehood at the UN.
The deal ultimately pitted the families of some who lost family or who had been severely injured in terror attacks against the state and even the Shalit family.
In other words, there is a great deal of bitterness and concern blended with the joy of seeing Gilad Shalit hugging his father today.
But make no mistake, while there are extenuating circumstances and challenging implications, that hug was a great moment for Israel.
In thinking about today, I went back to another lopsided trade about two years ago when in an attempt to free Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser, Israel released a large number of prisoners including the sadistic Samir Kuntar who murdered a father in front of his four year old daughter and then murdered the daughter as well. The Israelis received two corpses in return, not even living soldiers.
The Israelis didn’t know they were going to receive two bodies; when the coffins were pulled out it was a shocking moment. But even seeing those boxes, it was clear that the deal had been inevitable.
Here’s the Jewlicious essay from then. It discusses the wife, Karnit, and mother, Miki, of Ehud Goldwasser as they spoke at his funeral:
Karnit spoke of Ehudâ€™s love for the â€œmoledetâ€ which translates into â€œhomelandâ€ or â€œnation of birth.â€ This love for the moledet was a part of him, she said, and part of his motivation to serve his country, Israel…
The mother, Miki, spoke to the people of Israel and said to them, â€œzikpu komatchemâ€ which translates into â€œstraighten upâ€ or â€œraise yourselves up.â€ You won the [Lebanon] war, she told the nation, so raise yourselves up and be proud. As her son lay there, killed defending the country, she stood resolute, stone-faced and commanding and told the people of Israel to stand tall and be proud of who they are. It is an incredible thing to see and hear precisely because sheâ€™s doing it at the moment of her greatest loss. At her own sonâ€™s funeral she did this.
And it became so clear, watching these women speak, that the trade â€“ difficult and imbalanced as it was â€“ had to be made. These families sacrificed their loved ones for an idea that a place for the Jewish people was necessary, important, just and good, AND the reality that such a place cannot exist without the commitment of the nation to send its husbands, fathers, sons and brothers off to war. The least the nation could do is sacrifice to bring them back to their families, even dead.
And far more so to bring back one of their sons alive.