With the coming home of Gilad, a chapter closes, and a terrible wound to the national psyche gets to start healing. Of course, it came at the cost of over a thousand terrorists unleashed on a vulnerable Palestinian society susceptible to the call to Jihad.
And, after much reflection and soul-searching, I can honestly say that I’m glad.
Yes, the cold-hearted armchair general in me regrets the release of so many talented terrorists and the operational stress that this will impose on the overworked Israeli security services. It is even true that MORE civilians are bound to lose their lives in terrorist attacks perpetrated by these evil miscreants. It will cost more in money, manpower and weapons systems. This trade is going to hurt, a lot.
But, with this trade, one young Israeli for a thousand terrorists, Israel renews its commitment to life.
Every society needs to decide what it is and what that means. And, there come moments in time when a society needs to reaffirm those decisions. The United States did that with the Civil War. Israel has been doing that for almost every year since it began, and it is doing it now with Gilad.
If the world cannot see what Israel really is, through the lens of this moment… they’ll never see it, and they don’t deserve to.
This is the kind of country Israel is. Would that we were all a part of a country like that.
Here are a couple articles that got me thinking about that:
By Yaakov Katz 10/18/2011 03:06
While its enemies praise death, Israel sanctifies life, for that reason it is willing to pay heavy price to retrieve one IDF soldier.
If everything goes as planned on Tuesday morning, Gilad Schalit will return home and Israel will once again prove that it is different from the rest of the countries that surround it in the Middle East.
On the one hand, there is no question that for Hamas and Hezbollah, Israel’s decision to release 1,027 convicted terrorists will motivate them to try and kidnap more Israeli soldiers in the future. Some in Israel are calling this move national suicide.
The fact that 450 of the terrorists are responsible for the deaths – directly and indirectly – of over 500 Israelis, just adds to the encouragement.
On the other hand, the exchange of so many prisoners for just one Israeli soldier can also be hailed as the exact difference between Israel and its enemies.
While its enemies praise death, Israel sanctifies life, and for that reason it is willing to pay such a heavy price to retrieve one Israeli soldier and bring him home to his family after more than five years in captivity.
The day after Schalit is released will be possibly the most difficult.
While it will take the media some time to back off from the story – Schalit will likely be hounded by photographers wherever he goes – the focus will shift, either back to the social protests, that until recently were at the top of the papers, or to the next crisis in waiting.
For the IDF this will also be a time of introspection.
And then, there’s this one, powerfully written – poignant:
In opposing the mass release of terrorists in exchange for Gilad Shalit’s freedom, I felt as if I was betraying my own son
By Yossi Klein Halevi|October 12, 2011 9:30 AM
For the last five years I have tried not to think of Gilad Shalit. I avoided the newspaper photographs of his first months as an Israel Defense Forces draftee, a boy playing soldier in an ill-fitting uniform. Sometimes, despite myself, I’d imagine him in a Gaza cellar, bound, perhaps wired with explosives to thwart a rescue attempt. And then I would force myself to turn away.
I tried not to think of Gilad because I felt guilty. Not only was I doing nothing to help the campaign to free him, I opposed its implicit demand that the Israeli government release as many terrorists as it takes to bring him home. Israel has no death penalty, and now we would lose the deterrence of prison: If the deal went through, any potential terrorist would know it was just a matter of time before he’d be freed in the next deal for the next kidnapped Israeli.
But the argument could never be so neatly resolved. Each side was affirming a profound Jewish value: ransom the kidnapped, resist blackmail. And so any position one took was undermined by angst. What would you do, campaign activists challenged opponents, if he were your son? “He’s everyone’s son,” sang rocker Aviv Gefen.
One day I passed a rally for Gilad in a park in downtown Jerusalem. Several counter-demonstrators were holding signs opposing surrender to terrorism. “I happen to agree with you,” I said to one of them. “But don’t you feel uneasy protesting against the Shalit family?”
“We’re not protesting against the Shalit family,” he replied. “We’re protesting to save future victims of freed terrorists. Those victims don’t have names yet. But they could be my son or your son.”
Every debate over Gilad ended at the same point: your son.
Pray for the peace of Israel.