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Gilad Shalit and the Israel Prisoner Repatriation: WHY?

How many times have you heard it said, “our government does not negotiate with terrorists?” If you negotiate with terrorists and participate in exchanging men, money or materials, you simply encourage such behavior and reinforce its effectiveness as another tool of conflict.

So we wonder why Israel would trade 1,000+ prisoners for a single kidnapped low-ranking soldier?

And I am not the only one wondering …

The Deal For Gilad Schalit

In October of 1938, Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain triumphantly returned from Munich carrying an agreement with Adolph Hitler​ that achieved “peace with honor.” Although the English people were overjoyed, Winston Churchill​ was less sanguine. In a speech to the House of Commons, Churchill stated that England had “sustained a total and unmitigated defeat.” He then prophetically warned:

And do not suppose that this is the end. This is only the beginning of the reckoning. This is only the first sip, the first foretaste of a bitter cup which will be proffered to us year by year unless by a supreme recovery of moral health and martial vigor, we arise again and take our stand for freedom as in the olden time.

Churchill’s chilling words should haunt the decision of the Israeli government to release more than 1000 Palestinian terrorists in exchange for Gilad Schalit​. Notwithstanding the approval of the media and much of the Israeli public, the decision is a tragedy, both morally perverse and strategically shortsighted.

One must sympathize with the Schalit family and the agony it endured. It is normal for a parent to implore the government to pay any price to save the life of his child. The Prime Minister and his Cabinet, however, have a more profound responsibility. They were obligated to resist emotional appeals and instead safeguard the people of Israel as a whole. They have failed abysmally. Their capitulation to Hamas is disastrous on several levels.

First, the deal with Hamas is a betrayal of the families of the victims of the terrorists who will be released. Imagine the searing pain of knowing that the person who murdered your son or daughter will be released.

Second, the decision has validated kidnapping as a valuable “get out of jail free” card. Israel can expect more soldiers and citizens to be seized and held hostage, and to face ransom demands that will continue to escalate.

Third, it sends a message to the members of the Israeli security forces whose jobs are to hunt down and capture terrorists that their efforts are wasted. It makes no sense to confront danger and risk one’s own life to arrest terrorists who are likely to be released.

Fourth, statistics show that a substantial percentage of released prisoners return to terrorism. It is a virtual certainty that many Jews will pay for this deal with their lives; we simply do not yet know their names. What will Israel’s leaders say to the families of the future victims of terrorist attacks? One thing is for sure: they will not be able to claim they did not know what would happen.

There was another way for the government to demonstrate its determination to free Schalit. The Prime Minister could have appeared on television and announced that all food, water, electricity and other goods that had been flowing into Gaza would be stopped until Schalit was released. He could have announced that, should anything happen to Schalit, the consequences to Gaza would be even more devastating. The international community would have screamed about collective punishment, but it’s a sure bet that an urgent effort would have been made to free Schalit to avoid these consequences. It is very possible that such a strong approach would have succeeded in freeing Schalit, especially if the threat were credible. Even if this approach did not convince Hamas to release Schalit unharmed, as long as Israel kept its promise of a crushing retaliation, at least future kidnappings would have been convincingly deterred.

Instead, Hamas is jubilant about its victory over Israel, and justifiably so. Khaled Mashaal has every reason to crow about Hamas’ “great achievement.” In contrast, the Jewish people have been “weighed on the scales and found wanting.” Sukkot, which is supposed to be a joyous holiday, has been stained and scarred. It will now mark our craven surrender to evil, to the shame of Israel and the entire Jewish nation.

Nancy Bonus, Ph.D.

Chapter Leader - San Fernando Valley ACT

Founder - Protecting American Values Everywhere

The case for not releasing prisoners appears to be overwhelming, so we ask why did this occur?

Israel is neither stupid or hyper-politicized when it comes to their national leaders and issues of existential threats. So, WHY?

In my opinion, it may have to do with the so-called Arab Spring and the democratization of anti-dictator protests which threatened to topple existing leaders and nations.

Perhaps this was a method for allowing the newly-formed government in Egypt to demonstrate its newfound power with Israel and shore up its transitional government?

Perhaps, it was a method for simultaneously showing Israel’s displeasure with Turkey?

Perhaps this is a way to split Hezbollah (Shia) and Hamas (Sunni) when it comes to their common goal of destroying Israel?

Perhaps this was a method for bringing Hamas to the bargaining table as a direct party by allowing Hamas to claim what appears to be a major negotiation victory?

Perhaps this may have countered Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' move to attempt to obtain back-door recognition of the Palestinian Authority and Fatah at the United Nations; a move which appeared to weaken Hamas in the Palestinian’s eyes? Especially since partially lifting the blockade of Hamas territory in Gaza may provide a better quality of life – similar to that enjoyed by the Fatah-controlled West Bank.

But more importantly, perhaps this removed Hamas as an agent of Iran, setting the stage for some form of direct Israeli action in the near future; with the expectation that Egypt and Hamas would not engage Israel in defense of Iran?

Bottom line …

It does not appear that Israel is getting an credit from the international community for this humanitarian act because it is being seen as just another indication of realpolitik stagecraft.

Israel appears to have made a bloody deal with the devil, how it will turn out is anyone’s guess.

But whatever the reason, Israel will come out on top. It always has – and God willing, it always will.

-- steve


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