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Five years after the attack that captured Gilad Shalit, Hamas, the Islamic terrorist organization responsible, has finally won. The release of over a 1,000 terrorists in exchange for the captured Israeli soldier will turn experienced terrorists loose to participate in the next round of attack and train the next generation of terrorists.
However, the real victory belongs not to Hamas, but to its radical leftist partners. When Israel tried to isolate Hamas with a blockade, it was the international Left that did everything it could to break the blockade while spreading Hamas propaganda about starving children.
When Israel tried to take military action against Hamas, the Left threw together anti-war protests and compared the Jewish state to Nazi Germany. Code Pink met with Hamas leaders, and Viva Palestina brought money directly to Hamas. Left-wing clergy joined in a fast for Gaza and left-wing writers like Alice Walker and Henning Mankell boarded the Gaza flotilla.
While the Left tried to avoid using the word “Hamas” in their Gaza campaigns, just as they had avoided using “Saddam” in their Iraq campaigns, they were still working on behalf of a ruthless terrorist organization. Hamas pretended to be a social services agency and its leftist allies pretended they were concerned with humanitarian aid, but their true common goal was the destruction of Israel.
The Left kept Hamas from being isolated, gave it money and acted as its diplomatic corps, eroding Israel’s leverage and increasing Hamas’ standing. When the Left and its Egyptian mothership organization, the Muslim Brotherhood, joined forces to overthrow Mubarak, with Obama’s backing, that opened the door to Gaza. And it eliminated the remainder of Israel’s leverage.
In his book, “Fighting Terrorism: How Democracies Can Defeat Domestic and International Terrorists,” Netanyahu wrote, “Among the most important policies which must be adopted in the face of terrorism is the refusal to release convicted terrorists from prisons. This is a mistake that Israel, once the leader in anti-terror techniques, has made over and over again.”
Prime Minister Netanyahu is being rightly criticized for surrendering to Hamas, but he is well aware of the points that his critics are making. He has made them numerous times.
Release of convicted terrorists before they have served their full sentences seems like an easy and tempting way of defusing blackmail situations in which innocent people may lose their lives. But its utility is momentary at best. Prisoner releases only embolden terrorists by giving them the feeling that even if they are caught their punishment will be brief. Worse, by leading terrorists to think such demands are likely to be met, they encourage precisely the kind of terrorist blackmail which they are supposed to diffuse….only the most unrelenting refusal to ever give in to such blackmail can prevent most such situations from arising.
And Hamas has already stated that Gilad Shalit “will not be the last solider kidnapped.”
Why then did Netanyahu make the deal? Because the Left had drastically limited his options. Even while the international Left and portions of the Israeli Left were campaigning against any isolation of Gaza, his domestic left-wing opposition was running an aggressive Free Gilad Shalit campaign that accused Netanyahu, rather than Hamas, of keeping Shalit locked up.
Gilad Shalit became the unwitting symbol of a movement that had demanded a withdrawal from Gaza to save the lives of soldiers, and was now campaigning to release terrorists to save the life of a soldier who was only in captivity because of their withdrawal. After five years another installment of their policies is being paid for in blood.
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