On Tuesday in Israel, kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit was finally returned to his family. Most Jews across the world celebrated – a man written off as dead had almost literally come back to the world of the living. Columnists cheered Israel’s respect for human life in trading 1,027 terrorists for Shalit. Politicians hailed the deal as some sort of step toward peace .
My heart is with Shalit. My head is against the deal. In fact, the entire situation turns my stomach. Here, then, are five reasons that Israel never should have pulled the trigger on the deal – and what Israel should have done rather than making the trade.
Renewed Intifada. In 1985, Prime Minister Shimon Peres authorized the trade of 1,150 prisoners for three Israeli prisoners captured during the First Lebanon War. One of the prisoners released was Kozo Okamoto, a Japanese Red Army member working with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, responsible for the massacre at Lod Airport in which 26 people were killed and another 80 were wounded. Another was Sheikh Ahmed Ismail Hassan Yassin, who would go on to found Hamas and plague Israel for the next two decades before being killed by an Israeli drone. That wasn’t the only problem – two years after the trade, the Palestinian Arabs launched the First Intifada, which ended in the death of 100 Israeli civilians and 60 Israeli security forces, with another 3,100 or so wounded.
This is the typical response of the Arab world to Israeli capitulation. When Israel pulled out of Lebanon in May 2000, the Palestinians in Judea and Samaria quickly launched the Second Intifada. When Israel pulled out of the Gaza Strip, Hezbollah started the second Lebanon War.
The World’s Willful Blindness. World leaders seems to think that this was a first step toward reinvigoration of the Oslo process. UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon has already said, “With this release, it will have a far-reaching positive impact to the stalled Middle East peace process.” President Obama’s press secretary said, “as regards [the] overall process, for us it’s always about each side taking steps that make it easier to return to negotiations instead of harder.” And, naturally, anti-Israel former Prime Minister of Britain Tony Blair said, “I hope it also offers us a moment of opportunity, and not simply in respect of Gaza where Hamas are presently in charge, but also for a … revival of credibility in a peace process we really need to prioritize.”
But here’s the Muslim Brotherhood on the trade: “It confirms that continuing the resistance is the [right] path and option [to take] until the Palestinian rights are restored in full, without exception …. The freed prisoners will be birds of freedom and torches to light the fire of resistance, and they are the incontrovertible proof that the Palestinian right[s] will only be restored through resistance….”
How is this hope for peace?
Endangering Israeli Soldiers. Some are arguing that Israel had to make the trade for Shalit to show its own soldiers that if they were ever captured, Israel would ensure their safe return. That isn’t true – the IDF has very specific rules in place for when surrender is appropriate, and beyond that, there are many cases in which Israel has not been able to obtain release. More importantly, terrorists now know that in order to free their brethren, all they must do is capture a single soldier. More and more soldiers will be taken prisoner; if Israel doesn’t cut rotten deals (and this will be the new baseline), they will be killed. Israeli soldiers are now in more danger than they have been for years. Don’t believe me? Just listen to Hamas: “As we say goodbye to Shalit, we hope to welcome a new guest, to capture a new soldier, to hurt the enemy in a way that will humiliate and distress him, to pull his soldiers from their tanks and even shoot down their planes, to destroy their vehicles and to lead them, handcuffed, to our jails.”
Undercutting the Notion of Jewish Self-Defense. Israel’s entire raison d’etre has been the uncompromising protection of Jews. That’s what the raid on Entebbe was about. That’s what the Lebanon Wars were about. That’s what the security fence is about. Now Israel has shown that it’s willing to sacrifice protection of all Jews in order to save a single life. Iran will be emboldened. So will Hamas.
Reinforcing the Oslo Syndrome. Finally, this trade reinforces the foolish-beyond-all-measure Oslo mentality, which suggested that trading material assets in exchange for promises (i.e. the promise of the terrorists not to go back to their activities) is worthwhile. It isn’t. It’s because of Oslo that Shalit ended up in Hamas’ hands in the first place. Now, Israel has shown it wants to double down.
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