Sunday, October 16, 2011

Getting Gilad Home...painful and neccessary

I feel compelled to write this. In another two or three days, a five-year saga will come to an end. Gilad Shalit, a young Israeli soldier abducted during his national service, will come home to his family and a joyful nation, after five years in captivity by Hamas.
But not everyone in the nation of Israel is joyful about the deal that was forged to secure his release. The deal calls for the pardon and release of 1,027 Palestinian prisoners - many of them with blood on their hands - enough blood that would "...the multitudinous seas incarnadine" (to invoke the Bard). 
Those against the deal feel that the price is too high; that releasing so many terrorist prisoners will just set the stage for the next round of terror attacks, abductions, murders and general mayhem. This is a compelling argument. As I write, there is a petition to Israel's Supreme Court to halt the deal because it is basically illegal in Israeli law.
The petitioners are families of terror victims, families whose loved ones have died at the hands of many of these soon-to be-released prisoners.
One additional petition is particularly heart-rending: it is filed by Arnold and Frimet Roth of Jerusalem against one prisoner only: the women who drove the suicide bomber to the Sbarro Pizza parlor in King George Street, Jerusalem, in 2001, where their daughter Malki was killed with 14 others - eight of them is difficult not to sign and support this petition: but regretfully, Arnold and Frimet,  I'm not going to. And this is despite the fact that my wife lost her mother and sister in the Purim suicide bombing at Tel Aviv's Dizengoff Center in March of 1996 together with 11 other victims, five of them children under 16. Now let me explain why.
It's not because I have any love for the prisoners; the woman prisoner against whom the Roth's are petitioning is a particularly loathsome individual. She spews hatred and venom and is the more dangerous because of her undoubted charisma and eloquence. It's certainly not because I'm a raving leftist loony who believes that all the world's problems can be solved by "love, love, love..." and it's not because I blindly support the current government in all its decisions...I don't.
It's quite simply because we, as a family, believe that it's time for Israel to be able to celebrate something worthwhile for a change. It's time for this son to be restored to his family and his nation. It's time for us to show the world that one Israeli soldier - one Jewish life - is worth multitudes of our enemies; it's time to show the world that we value life over death. And I for one do not believe that keeping any prisoners in our jails will halt the next bomber or murderer if they really set their minds to it. 
Count the incidents and deaths we have experienced over the past five years - when there was no deal. Look at the incitement and the rocket attacks and the anti-Israel propaganda. I don't believe that this deal - or no deal - will change that one tiny iota. In any case, the terms of the deal are somewhat more favorable towards Israel: the security agreements (yes, I know, agreements with Hamas are not worth the paper they are written on...) are stringent. Each one of the released prisoners may as well have a target strapped to his or her back - one step out of line and another one bites the dust.
But too much time and too many proposals have been tabled to go backwards now. Too much effort has been invested by "honest brokers" - Germany and Egypt - for us to give in to the albeit justified feelings of many victim's families - and my G-d it's difficult to say that. It's easy to say that we must just trust the powers-that-be, the security forces and prison service personnel who had to vet the names - but in this case, we have little choice.
Above all, I put myself in the Shalit family's shoes and say, "What if - God forbid - it was my son?" I would give anything in the world - and expect my country to give anything in the world - to get him back safe and sound. No matter if those that planed the Dizengoff bombing were among the released - good riddance to them. Let them go and rot in Gaza or in some foreign country. I no longer want my tax shekels to be spent on keeping them safe and warm in one of our prisons from where they can plot anything they wish anyway.
Let Gilad come home: let his family rejoice and let Israel rejoice. Yes, the price is high. But let us show the world the value we place on one Israel soldier, as a cartoon in the weekend edition of the International Herald Tribune, showing two prisoners leaving an Israel jail, so succinctly observed: One says to the other "I just did the math - I'm worth 70 grams of an Israeli soldier:" Yes indeed.. .even that's much more than any of them are really worth. Think about it. Let the world remember it. We value life above all else. Bring Gilad home.