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Yes, Miki, No More Gestures

By Yisrael Medad
8/8/2008, 12:00 AM

This, on the one hand, is not an easy piece for any Jew to write.  It deals with grief, in Hebrew, "shkhol"  שכול, which is a very touchy topic in Israel.  But, on the other hand, the thoughts need to be aired, for the decision taken last month to enter into an exchange with Hezbollah was one that was parlayed by the media in open forums and therefore it has to be dealt with similarly now.

Miki Goldwasser, who comes from a right-of-center Zionist background in South Africa, published an opinion piece over at Ynet, entitled "No more gestures" and I read this there:-

"I hope that our own people will make it clear to our prime minister that we cannot make any more gestures. No more. We too want gestures. For example, we want negotiations on Gilad Shalit’s release to be accelerated. For example, we want Gilad to be handed over to the Egyptians. For example, we want Gilad to be granted the basic humanitarian right of Red Cross visits. Don’t we deserve it? We have made plenty of gestures already. Sick Gazans receive medical treatment in Israel, and Israeli doctors have been saving lives in Gaza without asking whose children they are saving. The children of Hamas men have also been treated. Yet somehow we do not get any gestures."

Her son, as we all know, was returned from Lebanon in a coffin.  A massive PR campaign was launched to convince the political echelon and the public that Israel's government had to give in to the Hezbollah demands, and to do so unequivocally.  This, despite that no gestures were forthcoming - or even demanded (?) from the other side.  There were strong rumors and even some newspaper reports long ago that the two kidnapped soldiers were no longer alive.  As late as June we were informed by the press that the outlines of the prisoner swap being brokered with Hezbollah seem to indicate the correctness of Israel's assessment that Regev and Goldwasser are dead.

Ronen Bergman of Yedioth even informed Karnit already last year that her husband was probably dead.  An investigative journalist and author of several books, Bergman had disclosed that based on his investigations and interviews held with relevant key figures in the affair he had come to the conclusion that one of the soldiers was dead. During a meeting with Karnit he told her about his conclusion, but she did not want to know  (Hebrew write up from last May here)

And yet, no one thought to demand that Israel be provided proof of their existence before giving in to the demands conveyed by the German negotiator.  Karnit raised this issue and the demand for the Red Cross to visit her husband and his comrade last September at the UN. But, despite no concrete evidence, they pressed for the deal to go forward.  Miki Goldwasser demanded a prisoner swap with Hezbollah even if that meant releasing Lebanese terrorist Samir Kuntar. Goldwasser told Haaretz that she cannot imagine the government or cabinet not approving a deal. In other words, for them, "gestures" were okay and fine.

And now they are not?

Many on the nationalist wing of Zionism, religious and less-than-observant, as well as personalities on the Left, were quite clear in their opposition to the deal and the heavy price that we were to pay and did eventually pay.  But at the time, that was of lesser importance to the Regev and Goldwasser families.  And quite understandably so.

Nevertheless, the opponents of the deal asked the families to help all Israelis and Jews draw the line.  No more deals until all was clear.  No more deals until everything was negotiated.  No more deals of live Arabs for dead Jews.  Their support, as families on the line, would be of paramount moral importance.

But they didn't want to listen then.  And now they want us to draw the line on the back of the Schalit family?

I agree that a line needs to be drawn and I think, if I had to be the one, I could tell the Schalit family so.  However, for the life of me, I can't understand how Miki Goldwasser could publish what she did.  Perhaps I don't understand.

On the eve of Tisha B'Av when we demand of ourselves "ahavat chinam" - causeless love, to compensate for the "sin'at chinam" - the causeless hatred, that was at the root of the Temples' destructions, we need to understand that it is of that very "ahavat chinam" that we must draw the line in connection with deals, if at all, with terrorists.  Releasing live terrorists endangers all our lives when these murderers return to kill or psychologically spur others to kill.  What have they to lose?  It endangers all IDF soldiers who are now fair game for continued kidnappings.

No more gestures?  For sure.  And now, I suggest Miki retire from the scene.  This last gesture of hers was, indeed, causeless.