Professor Aumann
Professor AumannHaim Tuito

Nobel Prize winner Robert Aumann commented on the issue of the hostages at the Arutz Sheva - Israel National News Jerusalem Conference.

“Consider the ultimatum game,” Professor Aumann began, referencing a known economics problem. “Two players will get ten thousand shekels if they can agree on how to divide it. One suggests splitting it evenly. The other insists on taking at least nine thousand shekels. The first player will realize that even though such a demand is irrational, he will still profit by agreeing, and so the rational first player will agree to the terms set by the irrational second player. This is the current situation between Hamas and Israel.”

“Hamas, even though they are the irrational party, will try to make out with more. I hope that they do not actually do so, but they are acting in an irrational manner to get more, and we are acting in a rational manner.”

“Moshe Dayan said something similar after the Six Day War, that we need to act irrationally to achieve maximum results.”

Regarding the question of ‘at any price’, Aumann stated: “Maimonides writes that there is no greater commandment than recovering captives. Unfortunately, two paragraphs later, he states that we do not redeem captives for more than they are worth.”

“Here, we are not talking about money, because recovering the captives is not the same as it was in the Middle Ages. We are talking about lives, and we cannot pay any price, which is to say that A - we cannot stop the war and let Hamas go, and B - we cannot free several thousand terrorists. Releasing them would cause far more deaths than the current number of hostages. My heart is with the hostages but sometimes, we also need to act rationally.”