Monday, October 17, 2011

This just in from the rock and the hardplace

There is no right choice, but freeing Gilad is the rightest choice.

Like much of the world (and many better writers) I am throwing my two cents in on the Gilad Shalit Prisoner swap.  I certainly have nothing unique to add but as Gilad is about to spend his last night as a hostage (hopefully) I can't resist weighing in on the events of the last week.

Since last week's announcement that Shalit would be released in return for the release of more than a thousand Palestinian prisoners, many of whom are terrorists who caused the death of scores of Israelis, Israel and the Jewish world have been swinging from a pendulum, which slowly but rhythmically goes from joy,  relief and elation to anger, fear and despair.

And rightly so.

This flurry of fear has culminated in a lawsuit filed by the families of terror victims opposed to and asking the High Court of Israel to stop the swap.   The media is working overtime publishing Op-Ed after Op-Ed about the swap, hailing both the release of a captive soldier, the tireless effort of this soldiers' family and supporters to keep the plight of Shalit in the minds and hearts of the Israeli government. But the inevitable questions and fear that this deal are raising from within Israel are difficult to put it mildly, releasing these terrorists will mean certain bloodshed for Israel in the form of more terror attacks.  What's more, this formula all but assures Hamas and other terrorists that the kidnapping of Israeli soldiers is a formula that will work.  Many people are saying that it is certain that another soldier will be kidnapped.

It's all tough stuff, there is no right answer.  A soldier's return at the cost of murderers going free?  The life of one man balanced at the potential cost of thousands of lives to be lost?  At the cost to many Israelis whose loved ones' murderers are about to go free?  Israel negotiating with Hamas?

Tomorrow should be a joyous day for Israel and yet like everything in it's 63 year existence, joy is never just joy.  Joy is always tinged with bitterness, this time in the form of fear. And I don't mean those ridiculous Department-of-Homeland-Security yellow warnings which blast themselves over the right or left corner of the tv, but real threats.  I mean let's face it, some very dangerous people are being let go and those being expelled are being taken in by the likes of Syria?  I doubt those people are going to go and become Pampered Chef salespeople.

If one of those people killed at Sbarro or on Haifa's Bus 37 were my son, daughter, wife, husband, friend, how joyful would tomorrow be knowing that your loved one's killer is being let go and that justice, as much as anything else is currency?

Hard choices.  That is always what Israel has to make.

After reading article after article, analysis after analysis and prediction after prediction over this past weekend, I can say that like everything else in Israel, this is hard, everyone has a justifiable argument and that there is no easy answer.  There is no good answer.   I am glad I am not among the people that had to make this awful choice.

Israel is paying a very heavy price for freeing Gilad and is probably risking the lives of its citizens by doing it.  Still, despite this I am proud of Israel for choosing the life of one over fear.  We all know that Netanyahu and everyone connected with this had all kinds of ulterior motives-- in games of power, nothing, absolutely nothing is altruistic.  As much as I absolutely sympathize with the families who are fighting for their loved ones too and for justice, there are just no absolutes here.  Each choice has shitty consequences and a potential deadly aftermath.

Perhaps it is because I am American and feel very strongly that the American Dream is dying, that the power elite have capitalized on the poor and working class' fear and that fear is what is very much flowing from sea-to-shining-sea these days.  Israel choosing that Gilad's life is worth making this shitty deal gives me hope.   I am so thankful that Israel is not a nation which will let fear drive the car, that even though this deal erodes justice, that sometimes the life and safety of one person are more important.

I am proud that Israel is still a country that values the one and that they are a country that will make a crazy and potentially dangerous deal like this to save one soldier.

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