Last Friday morning, Nadal Amar, 42, a resident of the Arab city of Kalkilya who worked in a fast food restaurant in the Jewish city of Bat Yam, talked his fellow employee, IDF Sergeant Tomer Hazan, 20, to come visit him at his home, over in the area under Palestinian Authority rule. They took a taxi together, stopped outside the Jewish town of Sha’arey Tikva in Judea and Samaria, and proceeded on foot to an open area outside the Arab village of Sanniriya. Shortly thereafter, Hazan was thrown into a water hole and died. Investigators suspect that he was not killed before being thrown in, but rather it was the fall that caused his death.
The distinction is important, because, according to Hazan’s abductor, Amar, his purpose in luring Hazan to his side of the “green line” was to use him as a bargaining chip in getting his terrorist brother released from Israeli jail.
Amar had a very good reason to do what he did: it is a well established Israeli government policy that Israel will always negotiate with terrorists, and will always—without exception—be willing to let go of hordes of Arab murderers, sometime in exchange for an abducted citizen, sometime in exchange for the dead bodies of fallen Israeli soldiers, and on occasion simply as a good will gesture. When an Arab murders a Jew anywhere in Israel and is lucky enough not to get killed during the act, he knows he would never serve out the full sentence imposed on him. And to get out he doesn’t even need to show good behavior, much less remorse – he just needs to wait for a good abduction.
This policy of letting go of busloads of murderers was always part of Israel’s insane policy of respecting the rights of Arabs to a fault while treating Israeli citizens like human trash. But it was carved in stone, for eternity, with the support of the vast majority of Israeli media, on October 18, 2011. Back then, 1,027 Palestinian prisoners were released to obtain the release of the Hamas abducted IDF soldier Gilad Shalit.
Some of the released in that infamous deal had been convicted of multiple murders of Israeli civilians. According to Israeli government sources, they were collectively responsible for 569 Israeli deaths.
When my government releases the murderers of 569 citizens as part of a negotiation with terrorists, what does that say about the value it accords those 569 victims? Simple: they don’t exist, they’re merely the price of getting the next political reward – and my prime minister decided to sweep away the memory of those victims in exchange for the life of a very popular young man at the time, IDF Corporal Gilad Shalit.
I have more sympathy for No’am Shalit, Gilad’s father, who led a relentless crusade for the release of his boy. I actually admire his resourcefulness, his sheer energy. It was a father’s love in action. But I did not appreciate the demonizing of those who objected to the astonishingly uneven proposed prisoner exchange (analyst Dan Schueftan called the swap “the greatest significant victory for terrorism that Israel has made possible.”). There were sound reasons for exceptionally sane people to oppose the exchange, and the media, taking its cues from Shalit Sr. presented them as heartless and, worse, right wing extremists.
But if the PM did it because he gave in to media pressure, and No’am Shalit did it for love of his son, the third culprit in this story, Jerusalem Post writer Gershon Baskin did it with unhidden joy, to advance his political agenda.
Baskin, an adviser on the peace process to prime ministers Yitzhak Rabin and Ehud Barak, and founding Co-Chairman of the Israel Palestine Center for Research and Information, negotiated through secret back channels for the Gilad Shalit swap.
Baskin’s book, “Free Gilad,” relates those secret negotiations. For more than five years, the NY born Baskin “dedicated and risked his life towards achieving a goal that had both national and human significance, to redeem the life of a human being who was confined in captivity.”
As a society — and a vast majority of Israelis, duped by their media, supported the Shalit exchange rate of one innocent Jew for more than 1,000 Jew killers — we have shown a deep disdain for the value of Jewish life. Our enemies are tenacious in their labor to free their own, blood on hands and all, while we are showing, day in and day out, that we do not honor our living or our dead.
I am deeply ashamed of my country today.