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The burden of decision, in the end, was borne by Prime Minister Netanyahu. It was his responsibility, he recognized, to balance “the need to return home someone whom the State of Israel has sent to the battlefield” with “minimizing the danger to the security of Israel’s citizens.” Acknowledging “the pain of the families of the victims of terrorism,” he settled for “the best agreement we could achieve.”
In his letter to bereaved families, Netanyahu wished that they “will find solace that I and the entire nation of Israel embrace you and share your pain.” But that offered little consolation to the families of terror victims, whose organization, Almagor, responded: “Your letter is a mockery to us…. There is no victory here, but a major disaster and a humiliating surrender.”
Following a prisoner exchange five years ago, Jerusalem Post columnist Michael Freund noted that three decades after the daring Entebbe mission, when 102 hostages were rescued from a hijacked airplane and all the hijackers were killed, “Israel has gone from being a country that frees hostages to one that frees terrorists.”
Comparing the Shalit exchange with Entebbe, Ben Caspit wrote in Maariv that the failure to launch a rescue mission for Shalit, imprisoned only a few kilometers across the Gaza border, was “one of the worst intelligence and military failures in the country’s history.” Indeed, Noam Shalit revealed that his son was located “in proximity” to where the IDF was fighting during Operation Cast Lead and “heard the noises of the war clearly.”
By effectively holding itself hostage, Israel has paid a high price that is likely to endanger its citizens once the released terrorists have absorbed the lesson of their freedom. As Wafa al-Bass, imprisoned for trying to smuggle an explosive vest into Israel and now a free woman, declared defiantly: “I expect that kidnapping soldiers to swap them for security prisoners is the best way to clear the prisons.”
The final cost of the Shalit exchange is yet to be calculated, but it surely will be higher than its defenders seem prepared to acknowledge. Hamas promises to kidnap Israeli soldiers until all imprisoned terrorists are released – and more Israelis surely will be murdered along the way by those who have now been given another opportunity to kill. In Israel’s war against Palestinian terrorism the reward for surrender is not likely to be victory.
“On us, the young men of Israel,” 22-year-old Yonatan Netanyahu wrote to his parents, “rests the duty of keeping our country safe.” Commander of the elite commando unit Sayeret Matkal, he would sacrifice his life at Entebbe to rescue Israeli hostages.
Twenty years later, in a book entitled Fighting Terrorism, an Israeli author firmly reiterated: “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.”
Those were prescient words, indeed – written by Benjamin Netanyahu, Yonatan’s brother.
There was a time when an Israeli soldier would risk his life to save civilians. Now the lives of Israeli civilians are placed at risk to save a soldier. It is a discomforting inversion.
About the Author: Jerold S. Auerbach is the author of “Jewish State/Pariah Nation: Israel and the Dilemmas of Legitimacy,” to be published next month by Quid Pro Books.
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Wye would be seen to have set the groundwork for the creation of a Palestinian state
Blaming Israel for the violence in Gaza, he ends up justifying Hamas’s terrorism.
In the Thirties it was common for anti-Semites to call on Jews to “go to Palestine!”
“This arbitrary ban is an ugly stain on our democracy, and it also undermines the rule of law.”
We take US “aid” for psychological reasons-if we have an allowance, that means we have a father.
ZIM Piraeus isn’t Israeli-owned or flagged, incidentally, it is Greek operated.
Foolish me, thinking the goals were the destruction of Hamas thereby giving peace a real chance.
The free-spirted lifestyle didn’t hold your interest; the needs of your people did.
And why would the U.S. align itself on these issues with Turkey and Qatar, longtime advocates of Hamas’s interests?
Several years ago the city concluded that the metzitzah b’peh procedure created unacceptable risks for newborns in terms of the transmission of neo-natal herpes through contact with a mohel carrying the herpes virus.
The world wars caused unimaginable anguish for the Jews but God also scripted a great glory for our people.
We were quite disappointed with many of the points the secretary-general offered in response.
Judging by history, every time Hamas rebuilds their infrastructure, they are stronger than before.
Times reporter Anne Barnard reported (7/15) that Israel was to blame (so her Palestinian sources asserted) for its continued “occupation” of Gaza – which, Barnard failed to note, ended nearly a decade ago.
During much of the 20th century, elite American colleges and universities carefully policed their admission gates to restrict the entry of Jews. Like its Big Brothers – Harvard, Yale and Princeton – Wellesley College, where I taught history between 1971 and 2010, designed admission policy to perpetuate a white Anglo-Saxon Protestant elite.
Yossi Klein Halevi’s Like Dreamers (Harper) explores the lives of seven Israeli paratroopers in the Six-Day War who, his subtitle suggests, “Reunited Jerusalem and Divided a Nation.” It offers a fascinating variation on the theme of Israel at a fateful crossroads, in search of itself, following the wondrously unifying moment at the Western Wall in June 1967 when Jewish national sovereignty in Jerusalem was restored for the first time in nineteen centuries.
In death as in life, Menachem Begin remained who he had always been: a proud yet humble Jew.
Eighty years ago, in January 1933, Adolf Hitler was appointed chancellor of Germany. Barely a month later Franklin D. Roosevelt was inaugurated president of the United States. For the next twelve years, until their deaths eighteen days apart in April 1945, they personified the horrors of dictatorship and the blessings of democracy.
One of my searing early memories from Israel is a visit nearly four decades ago to the Ghetto Fighters Museum in the Beit Lohamei Hagetaot kibbutz. The world’s first Holocaust museum, it was built soon after the Independence War by survivors of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising.
Nearly sixty-five years ago Israel declared its independence and won the war that secured a Jewish state. But its narrow and permeable postwar armistice lines permitted incessant cross-border terrorist raids. For Egypt, Syria and Jordan, the mere existence of a Jewish state remained an unbearable intrusion into the Arab Middle East. As Egyptian President Nasser declared, “The danger of Israel lies in the very existence of Israel.”
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