[As published in The Jerusalem Post, Dec. 22, 2009]
THE PLIGHT OF YOUNG GILAD SHALIT, and the struggle of his family and parents who have worked so hard for his freedom, have captivated the nation. Never before has the absence of one person been such a personal matter for all of
"Thou Shalt not Kill" is probably the most important rule for civilization. No society could survive long, let alone flourish, if men could kill each other without consequence. We therefore have a justice system, at the head of which stand judges, who are, arguably, among the most respected members of society. These judges conduct fair hearings and render harsh judgments against those who have taken the lives of other human beings. Their judgments prevent the killers from killing again, exact retribution in the name of the victims, deter would-be murderers and enable society to function normally.
The worst of those who take life are those we call "terrorists," who kill because they hate Jews and desire to terrorize Israeli society. Due to the heinousness of their crimes, our justice system locks away these "beasts on two legs," as Menachem Begin called them, forever.
Today, organized gangs of these murderous animals seek to overturn the rulings of our justice system by having hundreds of terrorists, among them many convicted murderers, freed. Hamas seeks to boost its standing as a terror organization that can obtain the release of prisoners and bring
The Lebanon War of 2006, in which over a hundred IDF soldiers and thousands of Lebanese were killed, was the result of this policy. Shortly before the war, Hassan Nasrallah announced publicly (as was reported in Time Magazine, July 25, 2006) that Hizbullah would obtain the release of the child-murderer Samir Kuntar by kidnapping IDF soldiers. This kidnapping sparked the war. Two years later, the Olmert government traded hundreds of terrorists for the bodies of Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser. The Olmert government thought it were being merciful and populist. In reality it played right into the Hizbullah's hands.
Today, the Netanyahu government faces the same demand: Release a thousand terrorists in exchange for Gilad Shalit. But is this really the only way to obtain Gilad's release?
All of these actions, if done correctly and persistently, would force Gilad Shalit into the international arena, rally public opinion in the
Yet no such proactive steps have been taken. In Netanyahu's speech at the UN earlier this year, which was televised on major news networks in the
Netanyahu, who once harshly criticized prisoner exchanges, is surely taking into consideration the fact that some 80% of Israelis are reportedly in favor of the deal. If he concludes the deal, this 80% would hail him as a leader able to succeed where others (Olmert, for example) failed. But are Netanyahu and those millions prepared to take responsibility for the lives of the future victims of those released and any future "Gilad Schalits" who will be taken captive? For these are the consequences that will surely follow.
Releasing the terrorists may mean saving Gilad's life, but it also means that more Jews will die and more soldiers will be kidnapped. It means that justice can never be served even against jailed murderers.
Surely this is not the way for the Jewish state to conduct itself. Let us put an end to this dangerous and embarrassing policy of negotiating with hostage takers and releasing convicted murderers once and for all. Let us obtain Gilad Schalit's release without giving our enemies the opportunity to murder more Jews.