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Standing with Israel

Gilad Schalit’s Return: Victory or Capitulation

Back in 1995 an Israeli political leader penned the following words, “The release of convicted terrorists before they have served their full sentences seems like an easy and tempting way of defusing blackmail situations in which innocent people may lose their lives, but its utility is momentary at best.

   “Prisoner releases only embolden terrorists by giving them the feeling that even if they are caught, their punishment will be brief. Worse, by leading terrorists to think such demands are likely to be met, they encourage precisely the terrorist blackmail they are supposed to defuse.”

That writer, if he were Prime Minister and faced with the kidnapping of one of his soldiers by Hamas terrorists in Gaza, would have appeared on television and announced that all food, water, electricity and other goods that had been flowing into Gaza would be stopped until the soldier was released. He would have announced that, should anything happen to the soldier, the consequences to Gaza would be devastating.

That leader was Benjamin Netanyahu. Only now, instead of standing firm for the courage of his convictions, he has capitulated to Hamas and struck a deal with them for the release of one Israeli captive, Gilad Schalit. Schalit was abducted in a cross-border raid while serving in a tank unit near the Gaza Strip and has been held, virtually without contact to the outside world, for five years. Israeli left-wing media during those five years waged an unremitting battle, blaming the Israeli government for his plight and emphasizing the suffering of his family. Only surrender to Hamas would suffice – nothing less. To the media, heroism was no longer important; in fact, it was the remnant of a more barbarous age. Now only sensitivity counts. In fact what they were doing is confusing the micro (feelings of the family) with the macro (what’s good for the country as a whole). That’s fine for ordinary people. All of us were concerned for Gilad Schalit and all of us sympathized with his long-suffering family. But it’s not alright for a government to think and act in those terms. Our leaders are entrusted with the duty of defending the nation as a whole.

So, while on a micro level, all of us are overjoyed at the prospect of Gilad Schalit coming home today (Tuesday), on a macro level many of us are horrified at the price our government has agreed to pay:

In return for Gilad Schalit’s freedom Israel has agreed to release 1027 Palestinian prisoners in two stages: 450 men plus 27 women in the first stage and 550 men in the second, approximately two months later. What makes this deal so problematic is the following:

1. The sheer number of Palestinian terrorists being released represents a victory for Hamas. The huge celebrations being held by both Hamas and the PA should tell us something.

2. Many of the terrorists being released have blood on their hands. They are directly responsible for the deaths of Israelis. Among those to be released in the first stage are 279 prisoners sentenced to life imprisonment. Families who lost loved ones feel completely betrayed by their government as they imagine seeing the killers smiling from their busses holding up the V sign for victory.  According to Dan Greenfied (Sultan Knish), “The Shalit deal will release some of the worst murderers in Israeli history, including those responsible for the Dolphinarium disco bombing which killed over a dozen teenagers, the Sbarro pizza bombing which wiped out an entire family, the lynchers of two Israeli reservists and the Passover Massacre at the Park Hotel.”

3. The prisoner swap will encourage more terrorism. Why not kill as many Jews as you can if you know that you’ve got a “get out of jail free” card waiting for you? You’ll most likely only serve a short jail sentence and then return home as a conquering hero.

4. History proves that the majority of those released will go on to attempt further acts of terrorism. For example, Ahlam Tamimi, who drove the terrorist responsible for the 2001 suicide bombing of the Jerusalem Sbarro Pizza Restaurant, when asked whether she regrets the act, responded to a reporter that she was saddened that she could not kill more than 15 Jews. Is anyone naïve enough to think that someone with her attitude won’t return to jihad? While there are those who believe that Israel is much better equipped today to defend itself against terrorist attacks, time will tell whether or not these assertions are true.

It’s Sukkot. We are commanded to rejoice. So let us rejoice that our captive son is coming home. But let us also pray that God will restore some backbone in our spineless leadership so that the rest of our sons may grow up free and strong.

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