I have never been so at odds, so completely opposed to the actions and policies of the Israeli government and inevitably the people of Israel, as they sanction their leadership. This is, in fact, indescribablee. The Israeli government released Samir Quntar. This is a defeat of enormous import. It is a terrible day of mourning ... for Goldwasser, Barak and the spirit and will of the Jewish people. I hang my head in shame.
Despite defense officials' warning that prisoner exchange with Hizbullah
will prompt further abductions, 22 ministers vote in favor of deal. (more here). Even Pavlov's dogs get it.
According to the Palestinian Authority leadership, Samir Quntar epitomizes the ideal Palestinian prisoner. Quntar, who crushed the head of four-year-old Eynat Haran with his rifle, was a serving four life sentences for murder in an Israeli prison,.
Besides bludgeoning Eynat Haran to death with rocks and his rifle, Quntar killed her father and was responsible for the death of her infant sister. He also killed two policemen in the 1979 attack in Naharia. The Israeli cabinet today approved a prisoner exchange that would free Quntar and several other prisoners in exchange for dead Israeli soldiers Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser, who were kidnapped by Hizbullah in 2006. (More here at PMW).
And now in pursuant of yet another Faustian deal, Hamas is demanding 1,000 prisoners in return for Mr. Shalit, 450 of them serving life sentences in Israeli prisons. 1000 Arabs for one little Jew. Unreal.
JERUSALEM — Israel’s government voted on Sunday to trade one of the most notorious convicts in its prisons, a Lebanese murderer, for the bodies of two Israeli soldiers whose cross-border capture led to and partly motivated its month-long war with the Lebanese militia Hezbollah in the summer of 2006.
After a wrenching national debate which served to drive hesitant officials, including Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, into accepting the deal, the cabinet voted 22 to 3 to trade the prisoner, Samir Kuntar, along with four other Lebanese, for Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, the two Israeli soldiers.
“Despite all hesitations, after weighing the pros and the cons, I support the agreement,” Mr. Olmert was quoted by his spokesman as telling his cabinet at the start of the meeting. “Our initial theory was that the soldiers were alive ... Now we know with certainty there is no chance that that is the case.” He added, “There will be much sadness in Israel, much humiliation considering the celebrations that will be held on the other side.”
You, it is you Olmert, that has brought great humiliation to the people of Israel,
Indeed, within minutes of the decision, Al Manar, the Hezbollah television station, hailed it as evidence of the group’s power, “What happened in the prisoner issue is proof that the word of the resistance is the most faithful, strongest and supreme,” Hezbollah’s executive council chief, Hashem Safieddine, was quoted as saying.
The July 12, 2006 raid by Hezbollah into Israel that took the two soldiers captive was aimed at seizing bargaining chips in the group’s effort to free Mr. Kuntar and the several other Lebanese held by Israel.
Mr. Kuntar was part of a cell that in 1979 raided the northern Israeli town of Nahariya, shooting dead Danny Haran while his daughter Einat, 4, watched, then smashing the girl’s head, killing her as well. Mr. Haran’s wife, Smadar, hid with their 2-year-old daughter and accidentally suffocated her to death in an effort to stop her from crying out.
Mr. Kuntar has said he regrets nothing and will receive a hero’s welcome when he returns, which is part of what caused the hesitation among Israel’s security establishment, many of whom recommended rejecting the deal. But the Goldwasser and Regev families mounted a highly effective campaign supported by vast numbers of Israelis who want to know that if their children fall in battle, the state will spare nothing to secure their return.
It should never have been left to the victim's families. They cannot think clearly. They cannot throw future lives to the wolves. If you missed Glick's column on this last week. Go here
It is impossible to know precisely how many Israelis will be killed in the future if the deals now on the table are approved. But past experience shows that at a minimum, dozens of Israelis now innocently going about their business will be murdered by the terrorists Israel releases. And at a minimum, one or two Israelis will be abducted by Hamas or Hizbullah or one of their sister terror organizations. They will be abducted in Israel or while they are travelling abroad and they will be brought to Lebanon or Gaza and the cycle of blood extortion and psychological warfare will begin anew.
That Israel will pay a price in blood if the deals go through is a certainty. That more Israelis will meet the fates of Schalit, Regev and Goldwasser is a certainty. The only thing we do not know today is the names of the victims. They could be any one of us. Indeed, they are all of us. For all of us are equally targeted simply by virtue of the fact that we are Israelis.
TO DATE, the only clear public call to reject these deals was made by former IDF chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. (res.) Moshe Ya'alon. At a conference on military leadership Tuesday, Ya'alon argued against the deals explaining, "In some situations, the price to pay as part of the deal is much heavier than the price of losing the captive soldier."
Ya'alon's statement should have been a springboard for a reasoned debate. But the local media would have none of it. Rather than enable a responsible debate, the media called on Schalit's father, Noam Schalit, to rebut Ya'alon.
Noam Schalit brutally and unfairly denounced Ya'alon as a political operative. In his words, "No politician or political operative has the right to determine the fate of an IDF POW, except a commander during battle. Ya'alon was an army commander, but today he is mainly a politician and a political operative. He and anyone else can determine a POW's fate only if it concerns their own son."
Piling on, Goldwasser's father, Shlomo Goldwasser, said, "Such words can only be spoken by a man whose son is not held captive by the enemy. He would have spoken differently had the matter been a personal concern of his."
The brutal truth is that the hostages' fathers have things precisely backwards. With all due respect, it is they that should not be listened to.
Through no fault of their own, the Regev, Goldwasser and Schalit families have become the mouthpieces of Hizbullah and Hamas. This is as natural as it is tragic.
The moment their sons were abducted, the Schalit, Regev and Goldwasser families also became prisoners. In constant agony over the fate of their sons, these families are incapable of acknowledging the cruel and devastating fact that the safety of three soldiers cannot be placed above Israel's national security. In their unmitigated suffering, they cannot come to terms with this horrible fact because for them the country, and indeed the world, is made up of their loved ones. This is the natural human condition. Each person's world is defined by the presence and absence of his loved ones. For the Goldwassers, Regevs and Schalits, Israel is a meaningless, cold, dark place when it doesn't include their sons Ehud, Eldad and Gilad.
And it is precisely for this reason that they cannot be allowed to dictate policy. It is precisely for this reason that the only ones who can responsibly weigh Israel's options for releasing them are those who are not personally affected by their plight.