Saying that the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit-along with 1,027 Palestinian terrorists-is a touchy subject would be the ultimate understatement.
It's a difficult topic to approach, because how can one oppose the release of an Israeli youth, kidnapped and held by terrorists for half a decade, without seeming heartless?
On the other hand, how can one support the means by which Israel secured his release (namely, by exchanging him for hundreds of self-assured, unrepentant terrorists, many of them mass murderers) without coming across as completely brainless?
On the one hand, freeing the terrorists (most of whom take pride in their deeds, and who will be triumphantly returning to a hero's welcome in their respective home towns) will enable them to pick up where they left off, endangering the Israeli public (not to mention those Arabs who wind up in the crossfire, those who happen to be at the wrong place at the wrong time, the wrong place being, for instance, an Israeli café, night club, or public bus).
On the other hand, how could we condemn an innocent Israeli to death, or indefinite captivity among terrorists (which may, in fact, be worse), because of what might happen? Because it is a virtual certainty, critics of the deal say.
When the architect of the Sbarro's bombing, Ahlam al-Tamimi (the first woman recruited by Hamas-who says the Islamists eschew equality between the sexes?), was informed for the first time that among those murdered in her attack were eight children, she couldn't help but smile. There is no reasoning with people like this.
People (and I use the term loosely) who are that far gone, shouldn't be released. They shouldn't enjoy the luxuries afforded to terrorist prisoners either, but when it comes to Israel's compassion for its enemies, I suppose those of us retaining our sanity need to pick our battles.
Many oppose Israel's decision to surrender to Hamas and pay their exorbitant ransom. Indeed, rather than encouraging the terroristsand giving them incentive by showing them that kidnapping works, some political commentators argue that the Israelis, who have the economic and military edge, should turn the whole situation upside down, cutting off power, water, and supplies to Gaza until Hamas is forced to either relinquish Shalit, or face being overthrown by their own people.
Perhaps it's naïve to think that your average Palestinian, deprived of food, water, and electricity will conclude that maybe his government's decision to kidnap and detain an Israeli citizen is the cause of his plight, rather than the insidious Zionist entity against which he has been brainwashed his entire life.
Worse, Israel will become even more of a pariah for inflicting "collective punishment" against the Palestinians. International consensus seems to be that it is better for the Jewish state to collectively punish its own citizenry by unleashing hundreds of murderous psychopaths in and around Israel.
The PR battle is lost. When the world reports that "militants" have "captured" an Israeli soldier (as if it happened on the battlefield; it has a much more legitimate ring to it than the more accurate terms "abduction" or "kidnapping"),
it's clear that sides have been chosen.
Israel might as well go for a tactical victory.
This writer has just one more question: How can it be that Hamas' terrorist "military wing" can kidnap an Israeli youth, but the "political wing" with whom the Israelis negotiate still constitutes some sort of legitimate governmental entity?
The next time the U.S. bombs a country, I say we blame it on our government's military wing! "What can I do?" our president should ask, "It's our military wing."
In fact, if our country's "military wing" were to show up in Gaza and say, blow up a few bomb factories, I hardly see how our political leadership can be held responsible. They're completely different departments, after all.
And if that's not true for us, how can we accept the same line from the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority without at least laughing in their faces or, ideally, bombing them into the Stone Age?
But I am dismayed that Israel has sacrificed its own security, and permitted an unspeakably grave injustice in order to make it so. May G-d have mercy on us all.