Newspapers around Israel have reported that Hamas is now threatening to murder Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier who was wounded and kidnapped by Hamas terrorists back in June 2006 which ignited the second Lebanese-Israeli War. Hamas stated that if the Israeli government does not meet their demands of the release of 350 prisoners, many of whom are imprisoned for outright murder of innocent civilians, they will begin negotiating over releasing Shalit’s remains as opposed to the soldier himself.
Over the past several weeks reports from officials stated that Shalit was alive and in good health. Doubts about his well-being have surfaced since his capture nearly two years ago, yet over time, intellegence sources have confirmed that the young soldier was indeed alive. There has been no contact between Shalit and his family since. Yet, nearly a year after his kidnapping, Hamas released a recorded message of Shalit was was broadcast to all of Israel and eventually worldwide. It pulled at the heartstrings of many, as of the three soldiers who were kidnapped during this conflict, Shalit is the youngest and most vulnerable. Unlike Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, the two IDF Reservists who were kidnapped by Hezbollah terrorists in Lebanon less than a month later, there has been at least some signs of life from Shalit.
Shalit’s father, Noam Shalit has become a familiar face in the media. Reports of his meetings with Prime Minister Olmhert, President Shimon Peres and Members of Knesset have lead him either to dead ends and virtually nowhere while pleading with officials to do anything they can in their power to have his son released. Support for the soldiers have come from across the globe, from private citizens to human rights organizations to world leaders. Yet, cries have fell upon deaf ears as Shalit, Goldwasser and Regev have become nothing more than barganing chips to both Hamas and Hezbollah. Leaving the Israeli government pleading with her hands tied behind her back is part of how this game has been played.
Many people have voiced very strong opinions, many of whom advocate not giving into terrorists and not allowing blood thirsty terrorists loose just so they can continue causing more harm to Israelis in Israel and worldwide. Jonathan Pollard, the American-Israeli who was imprisoned over twenty years ago for leaking confidential information to Israel which lead to the destruction of nuclear facilities in Hussein’s Iraq, has stated that he would refuse to be released from prison if it meant a barter agreement between his release and the release of wanton murderers.
Now put yourself in the shoes of Noam and Aviva Shalit, whose bespectacled now 21 year old son is in the clutches of those who sacrifice their lives for the love of Allah and 72 virgins. Imagine yourself trying to function daily, going to work, doing your job, eating, sleeping, shopping, holidays, etc and knowing that your child’s well-being, safety and whole life is in the hands of those who have no problem sending youngsters into crowded areas with bombs strapped to their belt buckles to murder who ever is within their radius. Imagine sitting at your own dinner table having a meal and looking at an empty seat across from you. It would be one thing if the child were dead. As horrible as this would be, at least there would be an everlasting mourning period and some sort of closure.
Can you at least imagine what is going on in their minds? I’d doubt you can.
Now, what would you do? Advocate for the release of 350 imprisoned terrorists who could indeed inflict more harm upon innocent civilians for the release of your child or demand that terrorists release him because he has already served a sentence without a prisoner exchange?
Take your time to decide.
April 7, 2008 at 3:25 pm
Nicely said. So what to do? The problem is you have one ‘possible’ life in exchange for something that will almost certainly cause more loss of life. On the other hand, if you have a ‘sure thing’ (meaning we get him back) then take it, and deal with the other terrorist later!
April 7, 2008 at 4:47 pm
My answer is contained in my url http://isranglo.wordpress.com/2007/04/10/for-gilad-shalits-sake-dont-trade-for-him/
trading for Gilad is a death and kidnapping sentence for Gilad and many others. For Gilad’s sake and that of those he loves don’t make the trade. The worst they can do is kill him and when in the hands of the Hamas it’s not clear that that isn’t what he would prefer – prefer – assuming he’s even still alive.
April 7, 2008 at 4:49 pm
I long ago opined
for Gilad’s sake and the sake of all he loves don’t trade for him even if he’s alive – and that’s a huge if
April 7, 2008 at 6:29 pm
Easier said when its someone else’s kid and not yours.
April 7, 2008 at 7:37 pm
Rashi (my old friend from High School in New York) writes very well. He makes his points very clearly and interestingly, while bringing the seriousness of the issue to the heart of an outsider as well as someone intimately connected with the event and its implications.
As an outsider, I question the background facts embedded in the story in the spirit of a quote from the architect Mies van der Rohe: “God is in the details,”–and I seek clarity.
The average Muslim man knows he (or any other man) would have enough trouble keeping FOUR virgins happy for more than a week, let alone 72 for all eternity! This poetic analogy of heavenly reward probably has its basis in the Qur’an but, given my association with moderate Muslims most of my life in New York and elsewhere (and what I’ve heard, seen and read from a multiple of media and academic sources), it is reflected upon by only militant Muslim extremists like the Taliban and the house of Saud. Perhaps many of those who call themselves Hamas fit this description as well. However, a distinction should be kept in the minds of all of us between the Muslim extremists in the world and the other 98% who peacefully follow the dictates of Allah, as that is an important part of the peace process in the Middle East, if there is to be one. Terrorism is a religion onto itself that throughout history has had more Christian converts to its cause than Hindu or followers of Islam. The only way to ferret out their number is to make the distinction between who they are and what they pretend to be at all times.
Regarding the 350 people currently in Israeli prisons: are they ALL terrorists? History has also shown us that there isn’t a country in the world that has ever said otherwise when it served them to say so: whether the prisoners were suspected Al Qaeda via The United States today (as in Abu Graib or Guantanamo); the communist Viet-Cong via the US in the 60s; Japanese empire sympathizers via the US (in the internment camps of California and elsewhere during WWII); Jews via the Nazis (as in Dachau, etc.); Philipino “bandits” in Guam via the US at the turn of the 20th century when the Phillipines was colonized; Nat Turner & Harriet Tubman’s “wild niggers” in the slaveholding American 19th century; Sacagawea’s “pagan Indian people” in the American 18th, and so on. Saying they all are, unquestionably, terrorists not only doesn’t make it true, it all but proves they aren’t.
Such black/white thinking on the topic, given the political/military purpose it usually serves, fuels the fire of Hamas’ militarism as an end in itself, instead of something that must be outgrown en route to peace.
Regarding Hamas, given the fact that both Israel and the U.S. has little stomach for them, many of us in the United States are still bereft of an explanation for their landslide victory in the Palestinian election process a couple years ago. Without an explanation for that that people can stand behind, support, or openly acknowledge and quote, there is no logical basis for the continuance of anything to many of us. New world orders (or those threatening to build one, as Hamas may be), whether it be in religion, science, culture or politics, can only be seen as a viable option to consider building by those who have an entirely different view of the preexisting one. A view that it behooves the proponents of the preexisting order to begin examining in detail, if only on a theoretical basis. Using a grade school interpretation of Hegel, if there is no considering of the antithesis to the Israeli thesis re its view of the Middle East, could there ever be a synthesis that leads to the path to peace?
Again, from an outsider’s point of view looking in: if Hamas and the Palestinians are, in essence, weak minded militaristic little roaches completely programmed by a dirty, corrupt religion–and that is the only logical explanation for the corrupt and brutal Hamas winning their elections by such margins and the terrible events like the one detailed in this article–well, okay. But that definitively means there can be only one “Final Solution” regarding them for the safety and security of the Jewish state: the same one Goebbels and Eichmann had in mind for the safety and security of the German state, and so on, and so on, throughout history. The decaffinated version of that quasi-logical conclusion means that, for the safety and security of the Jewish state, a Palestinian Kristallnacht is overdue, and the Israeli government has earned its right to carry it out. But history teaches us that Kristallnachts in their many forms are the prologue, not the epilogue, of uncontrollable evil, no matter what culture or race suffers under them. And that all of humanity and world civilization is made more fragile if not illusory by them.
In other words, we in America, with Israel’s help, need to openly and frankly discuss the roads Israel has in front of it and which one it is choosing. Moral crisis stories like the above serve the primary purpose, in the end, of making that clear. If Hamas and their followers, etc.–not to mention those that are just caught up in the fight bet. them and the Israeli military–are purely evil, purely weak, and are practised and/or potential terrorists serving a primtive & brutal (thereby false) God, there really is only one road open to the State of Israel in order for it to survive–frightfully ironic or otherwise. If the Palestinian people and/or their leaders aren’t purely such, regardless of to what degree or percentage they are, then there is another more logical, viable and inclusive explanation for what is going on in the Middle East–and another road to follow for peace in its context. A road leading to that “Undiscovered Country” for the both of Israeli and Palestinian that is not only possible but necessary for their mutual survival.
Which road does the story of this fallen soldier–and the painful choices his family and people must make regarding his life–rationalize Israel following? To me, that is the real question. The question that, when answered, all others regarding what Israel must do(like the one posed by this article) can be easily answered in context.
April 7, 2008 at 8:20 pm
I hate to add something even more profound, but trading this young soldier’s life (assuming he’s still alive) for several Hamas and other terrorists who will only go back to killing Jews, is not gong by the old Rabbinical context of “he who saves one life has saved the entire world”. This time it’s entirely different.
I wouldn’t want to be in the shoes of either Mr. and Mrs. Schalit or the Prime Minister in regards to what to do in this sitution. Israeli prisoners have only been repatriated in wartime – and that mainly from the Egyptians who were only slightly more humane than their Syrian allies.
Regarding soldiers being captured or taken prisioner by terrorist groups, it’s always been a death sentence – except for Elkanah Tannenbaum, who may have have “connections” that enabled him to stay alive.
Maybe Israeli solders should be issued a cyanide pill, like Mossad people are, and if they have the opportunity, to simply swallow it.
At least it prevents the suffering, including by such as Ron Arad, who actually died long ago (it was verified by Russian and other foreign diplomats who had received inside information).
That’s the sad reality of being captured. So much for the “pinchas shevi” issued every IDF recruit. It’s not worth the paper it’s printed on!
April 8, 2008 at 4:19 am
We hope and we pray for our loved ones. None of us, I hope, can give them up. In 1972 I helped a bus load of mostly UN Unicef workers and others, who had been released from POW camps (read torture camps) back to the US at a USAF Base in Calif. They had been captured between 1964 and 1969 in the jungles of Vietnam. The had been tortured with regularity by the No. Vietnamese. For what possible purpose I do not understand to this day. They were all ‘broken’ men on their return. My eyes well up even now as I remember them. Then I wanted to seek horrible vengeance on the animals that did this to them. Now we buy clay pots at Home Depot from their children. I would still advocate for war crimes trials for their parents if they were’nt already dead from agent orange poisoning.
I will not speak for the mothers and fathers of these missing children. To them they will always be their children. I will not speak for the guardians of the borders and the towns and the cities of Israel. I do believe that they must act with a strong but righteous hand that is used honorably. This word ‘honor’ has been used as the word under God for centuries. God on our side and on and on and on and on. There will not be an end. Horrible to think, but I think it. There will not. The Iranians will smuggle in bigger and better missiles that go farther and kill more. They have their agenda too. Their god is great also. So they say. They fight for their God and their honor.
I believe they have no honor. I believe the Vietnamese torturers had no honor. Somehow they ‘won’. Maybe it was an unjust war. Israel is not fighting an unjust war. They just need to be honorable about it and very strong.
April 8, 2008 at 6:56 am
I want to state that, for the record, I am vehemently against trading hundreds of Arab prisoners for the life of one. I have deep respect for those like Jonathan Pollard, who stated that he’d refuse to leave prison if it meant his freedom was at the cost of releasing those who have murdered and those who will.
I agree with both Norm and Moshe as I share their points of view, HOWEVER…I wrote this article from a parent’s perspfective, as I have 4 boys to send off to the IDF, *(one of whom will please G-d, serve in just over two years time) and I can’t help but think, what would I do if it were my kid?
April 8, 2008 at 8:41 am
ah but Rashi take into account that Gilad Shalit’s release doesn’t even guarantee his future safety even if he’s totally unharmed. Let’s remember that there are numerous terrorist organizations working in the strip. Gilad Shalit is famous and anyone can find him via a telephone book nowadays (how many Noam Shalits can there possibly be where he lives). If I were a Jihad Islami commander Shalit’s recapture, this time by my organization, would be a top priority. Can you imagine how incredibly embarassing Israel would be and what a laughingstock it makes of Israel in the world if after releasing all those prisoners Shalit just ends up right back in captivity and Israel can’t even complain to Hamas about reneging on the deal because “hey what do you want from us – they’re a different organization and we’re fighting them too.” What makes me think Jihad islami will suddenly be looking for an Israeli to kidnap? Well why not, considering the bounty Hamas will have proven it can get for a single soldier? And what do they have to lose? They can send out 100 separate 2 man teams with the mission of capturing an Israeli (Shalit or anyone else) and even if 99 teams fail, their members will all be released (after all, they won’t even have had “blood on their hands” if it’s a kidnapping) in exchange for the victim of the 100th team. If they’re more than %1 successful heaven help us!
The point is that Shalit’s essentially already lost whether he’s alive or not. If not dead already he’s a walking victim who can be (and will be considering his value for releasing prisoners) snatched again by anyone at anytime once you’ve placed a value you’ll pay for his freedom. The only question is whether you endanger everyone else, firstly by giving such a high payment in return for a captured Israeli and secondly by releasing the people best trained to capture and recapture them.
April 9, 2008 at 6:32 am
Moshe — As stated, it is easier said when it is not your child who is kidnapped. Am I depending more upon emotion than practicality? Perhaps I am. Yet, if it were my kid, emotion is all I would hang on to and use as a defensive/offensive shield to fight this more than likely losing battle.
Even more so, how can our gov’t put an end to kidnapping soldiers and even potentially civlians? Since we do know our enemy, we know that death is not a threatening obstacle to their activities, let alone jail (thats more of a joke than a threat, I believe). However, in lieu of instituting capital punishment in the country (something LONG overdue), why not get them where it hurts in the pocket? No millions of sheckels to the PA, cut off electricity and gas..yada yada yada??
One thing we for sure agree on — we are nearly at our wits end.
December 20, 2008 at 9:56 pm
It is my general opinion they should have executed one of the 350 prisoners per hour until his release, live on tv. It probably would have worked, and they could have started with the most violent of the people being held and worked their way down the list.