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But one has to be careful how one endorses the decision of the Israeli government to enact so incommensurate and precarious an arrangement. The celebrated Israeli novelist A.B. Yehoshua is all for the exchange. But the apologia he cites for his enthusiasm unfortunately betokens the growing silliness of his political convictions, so typical of the unreconstructed and reality-challenged Left—for example, that the freed murderers “could also be influenced by the positive atmosphere created by the Palestinian Authority as it awaits the resumption of negotiations to achieve a two-state (and two-population) solution.” What gauzy fantasy world have Yehoshua and his kind been living in? The PA continues to incite rabid anti-Jewish hatred throughout all its institutions and has by-passed negotiations, as well as violated the Oslo Accords, by pursuing statehood via UN fiat. Such reasoning is so patently ludicrous that it actually inhibits approval of the exchange and makes one despair of the sanity of much of the Israeli nomenklatura.
At the same time, it is perfectly clear that the negotiating paradigm currently in place needs to be changed and replaced by a harsher and more appropriate way of dealing with prisoner exchanges. Spyer’s suggestion that Israel kidnap the family members of the terrorist leadership to be held ransom for its own abducted citizens, be they soldiers or civilians, seems eminently reasonable—assuming, of course, that the terrorist cadres actually care for the preservation of their families. The execution of terrorists who maim and murder Israelis may well function as a legitimate legal deterrent; after all, the American military has no compunction carrying out extra-legal executions-by-drone. Further, why Israel did not immediately turn off the electric power it supplies to keep Gaza running and shut down the border crossings from which Hamas derives hundreds of thousands of tons of domestic material annually from the Jewish state until Shalit had been returned is beyond me. If trading 1000 “homicidal sadists” (to cite Sarah Honig) for a lone soldier is acceptable, then it follows that braving the hypocritical outcry of the anti-Israel “international community,” which would have condemned Israel for acting exactly as they would have done under similar circumstances, is equally tolerable.
Gilad Shalit is home now after his long (and possibly avoidable) ordeal, and this is ample reason to rejoice. If we are candid with ourselves, we would admit that most of us, had we been personally implicated, would have proceeded no differently from the Israeli prime minister. But the arbitration model Israel has adopted and acted upon is undeniably obsolete and counter-productive, and must be revised to take unforgiving reality into account. For everyone knows that another Gilad Shalit is just waiting to happen.
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