Since Gilad Shalit was abducted by the Palestinians who attacked the Kerem Shalom outpost, killing two of his tank-mates and injuring others, Gilad’s father, Noam, has been available to the media. He has proven himself to be a calm and collected individual who is very clear in his faith in Israel, Zionism, the IDF and the Israeli leadership. He is fully versed in the nature of previous kidnappings and dealings of Israel with the Arabs who have learned that for one Israeli soldier Israel will often trade hundreds and even thousands of prisoners. Obviously this is what Gilad’s abductors were counting on.

Olmert has a problem in that he would be strengthening Hamas by giving in to their demands. The IDF seriously screwed up this time with prior intelligence indicating an attack was pending in this particular area and even the manner of attack – tunnels and all. Obviously, Noam Shalit must be torn inside about this matter. His son’s life is at stake, and yet, it is clear that this is a much broader issue for Israel and its security.

Today, Noam Shalit responded to a question by answering that his son’s “back was too narrow” for Israel to use him as its “force” for deterrence against Palestinian abductions and future attacks. He said these issues should have been addressed before the attack and not now.

Shalit was responding to comments made by Construction and Housing Minister Meir Sheetrit, who said Israel must restore its level of deterrence.

“Israel should have done that before the attack, when there was intelligence on tunnels being dug in the region. Despite this, we will not rush to conclusions and wait for the findings of the Eiland Commission [established to investigate the Kerem Shalom attack],” Shalit said.

He is right of course.

And he has changed my mind. Israel should trade prisoners for Shalit. It is the moral thing to do here. The IDF was not at its best when he was abducted and it was not his fault that he was abducted. Contrary to the use of the term terrorism to describe this attack, although it was conducted by members of a terror group, this was an unprovoked attack on a military target. As such, it is about as close to legitimate as we are going to see from the Palestinians. If they are fighting soldiers, it’s not the same as targeting civilians. In this case, the attack avoided civilians and targeted Israeli soldiers. They got one and now it’s time for Israel to pay up.

People are saying, probably justly, that this may encourage further kidnappings and they would be right. On the other hand, this is not the first time the Palestinians have tried this tactic and even if Israel does not trade for him, this will not be the last. In fact, they are more likely to kill than keep alive their victims – who are usually civilians.

Israel does have a history of trading prisoners for abducted Israelis and even did so in the case of Elhanan Tenenbaum who may have been captured by Hizbullah while traveling to commit a crime. Israel traded for him, so how could they not trade for a soldier who did nothing wrong?

Also, Israel has always promised its soldiers that it will care for them and do everything in its power to release them from their captors in the event of capture. What kind of message is being sent to Israel’s soldiers if they believe they are dead men if captured by the enemy?

Noam Shalit lost his twin brother in the ’73 War. He is a loyal and true Zionist; an obviously good man with a sense of commitment and love for Israel. Trade prisoners for his son and bring his son home. That is the right thing to do here.

By the way, Israel has just captured the alleged murderers of the boy, Eliyahu Asheri, who was kidnapped and killed right away by these scum.

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  • paying ransom only enoucrages more hostage taking.

    appeasement never won a war or liberated a single human soul.

  • “paying ransom only enoucrages more hostage taking.”

    Agreed. We still haven’t turned into Iraq, let’s keep it that way.

  • Yeah great idea. But how about this instead: The PA, by attacking the soldiers, de facto declared formal war against Israel – Israel needs to wipe out the PA and all of the attendant terrorist organizations that act on their behalf, including and especially in Syria – if the captured soldier is killed in violation of the Geneva Convention, then those responsible can be treated as war criminals. Full stop. The fastest way to end a war is to surrender – aren’t we tired of surrendering to terrorists already. Hamas has made a huge blunder and for Israel to now negotiate with them would let them off the hook. No way, no how – the IDF/IDA needs to be relentless. Break their backs once and for all -each and every soldier knows that their fellow troops will do all they can for them, but nothing more.

  • Yeah, yeah, I know all the reasons because I agreed with you initially. I disagree now. They can always go to war with Hamas after. They can target every one of these people as they target others now.

    We’ve “appeased” before, so what makes this incident the time where Israel draws the line?

  • themiddle: You do have a point. Unfurtunately events will have to unfold gradually over a long, long time. (I remember when I was in regular army in Lebanon when the 7 Nahal soldiers were captured. That episode took a long, long time and was handled very poorly). If the Arabs wanted to release 20 prisoners, or something similar, than perhaps it would make sense to negotiate. A 1000 security prisoners, most if all convicted of killing civilians, is a non starter.

    The basic problem is that we are dealing with semi-people who believe that civilians (ours and theirs) are fair game. They are terrorists and the only power they respect comes from the end of a gun.

    Shalit is a victim, a fall guy for past stupidity by previous Israeli governments with unclear agendas. Hopefully he will live to survive.

  • Yes, Ron Arad is precisely the point. What would Israel trade for Arad at this point? Anything. Do we want another Arad on our hands? Or another dead soldier?

    I know all the counter-arguments, like the ones about strengthening Hamas and weakening Abbas. I don’t care. This will not have the effect people are predicting. It will not encourage more kidnappings – they are already part of the Palestinian strategy. It will not strengthen Hamas, they are already strong and this attack on the IDF post is all they needed to make their point. Gilad is the icing on the cake.

    Try to avoid freeing murderers, give up a smaller number by far than what they demand, and get the young man back to his family. Really, do you want soldiers who are captured or near capture to assume nobody’s coming to save them?

    oh, and doing the deal doesn’t preclude the IDF from going nuts and killing every single one of these people in the future. They acted out in war against the IDF and they are now as legitimate a target as any suicide bomber or the people who send them.

  • If Israel cd do it over, the Ron Arad debacle would have been a complete non starter – further, the idea that once we get the soldier back we can go nuts on them (Hamas) does not consider the realpolitik implications: Once Israel “makes a deal” to then go after Hamas there would be zero world support and in fact, as usual, huge condemnation. What Israel should be doing now is say to the world, if he is not returned unharmed in 6 hrs, we will go into Gaza in such a fashion, that terrorists throughout the world will cry like children when they think about touching another Israeli – FURTHER, the IAF sh be not making sonic booms over Syria, but bombing the HQ of Hamas there.

    Picking at this scab won’t do anything but show the scum that Israel is soft – they need to demonstrate the full rewards of this kind of action as a lesson.

  • No, no, we always end up in the same place with these arguments where some want to “show the Palestinians.” They are not all combatants and they are not all terrorists and you can’t just go in there and destroy things willy nilly. It doesn’t work that way unless you’re China, Russia or, sadly, the US. It is a fantasy that Israel can do more than targeted killings without a pretext that would be so awful (bio attack) that it would be better to avoid it. Even as I write, Hamas (!!!!!) is planning to go to the Hague to complain that the attack on the power plant constitutes collective punishment and a war crime by Israel. Until today, not one Palestinian in Gaza has been killed by Israel’s incursion, but they will now go to the Hague and they will receive a sympathetic hearing.

    As for Ron Arad, I have no idea what you mean that today that debacle would have been a non-starter.

  • Sadly the US? Wow. Read the book “No True Glory”, it might open your eyes.

    Let them go to the Hague, but understand that the Gazans support and assist those very same people who have precipitated this war – further, I am not saying that Israel can pin prick wipe out the terrorists without civilian casualties, but, and sorry for saying, but so what? Why is Jewish blood so cheap, especially to Jews? Why must we always be more christian then christians? Chicago rules are in effect, and once the Arabs realize that, the rockets will stop and the killing will stop.

    My point re: Arad was in hindsight if Israel knew how badly they would be manipulated, lied to and in the end get dog bones for their effort, they would never gone along with the deal at all, but went in hard – Arad is dead and the Arab murderers got lovely press from their circles for it. It wdn’t have been so nice if the terrorist leaders were sulking around like OBL in some cave somewhere.

  • as an aside, and i am sure it need not be said, i mean no disrespect via my comments to any other commentors, including the middle.

  • Middle,

    Sorry about the length of the comment; I’ve been unable to respond to your recent posts on this issue, and have very much wanted to get your feedback.

    First, It takes real integrity to acknowledge the moral ambiguities and conflicting objectives in this situation, including, for example, the profound distinction between attacks on military targets and those on civilians. I’m not really sure I agree with the conclusion that a prisoner exchange is the best course of action in this case, but I fully agree – in contrast to those who are so cavalier in flushing Gilad’s life down the toilet – that the call is excruciatingly close, with compelling arguments on both sides.

    In any case, while the tactical implications of Israel’s response to this incident are important, there is precisely one meaningful solution to this appalling cycle of violence and retaliation: Peace, meaning two sovereign nations, Israel and Palestine, coexisting in the territory currently under the control of the Israeli government.

    You’ve consistently argued that if the Palestinians were to renounce violence and explicitly acknowledge the legitimacy of a Jewish state, Israel would embrace a peace based on territorial compromise, and the formation of a Palestinian state would quickly follow. First, let me make absolutely plain my belief that the incidence of anti-Semitism among the Palestinians is far more pervasive and virulent than is anti-Arab racism among the Jews, and that a substantial number of Palestinians continues to nourish fantasies of reclaiming all of Palestine by pushing the Jews into the Sea. Moreover, I also believe that a overwhelming majority of the Israeli electorate supports this vision, and that the government came very close to offering precisely such a compromise under Barak, the failure of which was principally attributable to a combination of intransigence and stupidly on the part of the Palestinians.

    At the same time, it is clear that there is a substantial element of both Israeli public and the Diaspora that maintains a fundamentally different conception of the nature of a Jewish state and the Zionist principles on which it was founded. This conception is the product of a worldview that is fanatically opposed to territorial compromise, that regards a two-state solution as nothing less than anathema, and that that seeks to maintain perpetual control over an entire population to whom Israel has no intention of granting political self-determination or civil rights. The comments submitted in response to your recent posts on Gilad and Asheri expose the fault line that separates this faction from the rest of the Jewish world. No matter what the particular matter under issue, the discussion invariably reaches a dead end over exactly the same points, including the following:

    1. What Does Israel Do With The Territories?

    Here are a few of the suggestions of how the Israeli government should respond to the Gilad kidnapping:

    not so many words needed : kill them all, turn off the water, turn off the power, and start shooting.

    Or, carpet bomb Khan Yunis. Turn it into a smoking crater. Tell them they have 24 hours to completely give up any and all belief in “Armed Struggle” or we’ll do the same thing to the next town, chosen at random.

    Idea: lets see if the “push them into the ocean” things works, we will do it in the name of helping Hammas and Iran. Sort of a cross cultural scientific exchange. Create a line of tanks and just start moving west, I suppose Ashkelon is a good port of entry. We can have gun boats out there directing them to swim towards egypt.

    The content of these comments speaks for itself, and effectively delineates the fault line between those who are willing to accept – if not fully embrace – the killing of civilians on a mass scale, and those who regard such indiscriminate killing as a desecration of Zionism itself. And even if these objections are set aside, the question that inevitably arises is how Israel is to cope with the fallout of such a policy, including worldwide political condemnation, diplomatic and cultural isolation, economic boycotts, financial divestment, and designation as a pariah state? Those on the Right NEVER have an answer to these questions, always responding with one of several non-sequiturs: Ask how Israel deals with an economic boycott, and they answer, “The Palestinians already have a state: it’s called Jordan.” Ok, but how does Israel respond to political ostracism? “No one cared about a Palestinian state when the territories were under Jordanian and Egyptian control.” Yes, fine, but what does Israel do now? “The Arabs lost the ’67 war, and now they expect to just get the territories back? sorry, it doesn’t work that way.” Maybe so, but what does Israel do about the millions of Palestinians? “Returning the territories would be rewarding terrorism.” And on, and on, and on.

    2. What Is The Appropriate Response To The Right?

    If peace is ever to be achieved, we have to accept that that the Jewish Right is as inveterately opposed to a two-state solution as the most extremist elements of Hamas and Islamic Jihad. As noted, that opposition is a reflection of a fundamentally different worldview that informs their understanding of Zionism, religion, democracy, and modernity itself, a worldview that seems to correspond with remarkable precision to the conspiratorial fantasies outlined by Richard Hofstadter in The Paranoid Style in American Politics. Indeed, the forces that shape the politics of the Jewish Right appear to be as much an expression of psychological insecurity and personal obsession as they are a rational analysis of political alternatives. Consider the following comments submitted in response to the Gilad kidnapping, for example:

    Unfortunately, Israel is a country without balls. No one in charge has any will to fight.

    Ohlmert should have said in 24 hrs if the soldier is not returned we will consider him dead and treat this attack on our soil as a cassus belli – and then he should have the balls to follow through 100% with putting an end to this once and for all.

    And what is all of this intelligence gathering in aid of if Israel doesn’t have the balls to drop bombs on terrorists when it needs to. . . . The only reason that those terrorists are still alive is because Israel, so far, hasn’t had the balls to simply shoot them like they should.

    If you cannot even get it up to raise the black flag and cut a few throats (as H.L Menken would say) when they fucking invade your country and capture one of your soldiers, then you might as well just grab your ankles and say “Go ahead, I don’t need any lube” because you are, after all, their bitch.

    Notice a trend? We talk policy, strategy, and practical consequences; the Right talks testicles. Similarly, Middle, I’ve seen you chastise readers for rendering moral choices in simplistic terms of “black or white.” But that is precisely the point; for those on the Right, morality is ALWAYS a matter of absolutes, of good versus evil, of Hashem versus His enemies (Jewish or Muslim). This is the essence of fanaticism, which regards compromise as an enemy and never perceives morality in terms of ambiguity, contingency, or gradations of right and wrong (such as the distinction between military and civilian targets).

    What is absolutely essential is to distinguish the Rightwing activism that is loyal to the State of Israel from that which crosses the line into active subversion. In response to your Asheri post, one odious bit of paranoid rambling included the following:

    We may never know the answer, however we do know that the blood of Eliyahu Asheri is on the hands of those who control the government of Israel. Of those who aid and abet Arab terrorists by evacuating thousands of Jews from their homes in Gush Katif and who plan to uproot more Jewish settlements in the ultimate goal of creating “peace” with our Arab enemy. We can blame a government of Israel who oppresses the free speech of Jews who oppose the Olmert convergence-realignment plan. We can point our fingers in outrage and indignation at a government who is bent on national suicide. It is true that the government of Israel is one that is devoid of belief and faith, true belief and faith in the G-d of Israel and Torah. It is a government that has elevated the concepts of a westernized democracy into their own personal god.

    One of the key historical errors committed by democratic societies has been their failure to vigorously protect themselves against subversion from within, by extremists of various stripes who would use the various liberties guaranteed in a democratic system in an effort to overthrow democracy itself. These fanatics must be taken at their word, while those who believe the dignity of the individual must oppose them with all the resources at their disposal. Of course, such self-preservation is always a challenge, since those who value pluralism and civil liberties are appropriately skeptical about restricting the expression of even the most abhorrent views. But, as I’ve noted before, a system that values tolerance must accept the legitimacy all positions, EXCEPT INTOLERANCE. To permit the expression of views that reject the legitimacy of democracy isn’t tolerance, but capitulation. It is precisely this reasoning that justifies Germany’s law against Nazi paraphernalia or Israel’s exclusion of Kach from the electoral process.

    If Israel is ever to realize the possibility of peace, it must extend that prohibition to the anti-democratic vipers in its midst, those unblinking fanatics who denounce the Israeli government for having “elevated the concepts of a westernized democracy into their own personal god.” We should acknowledge that she’s right, that while democracy may fall something short of god-like status, those who promiscuously agitate against it must be imprisoned or disenfranchised. Likewise, Israel must not be dissuaded from defending itself by the fact that there is a relatively large faction of its populace that is sympathetic to this treachery, or by their apparent willingness to oppose the policies of the duly elected government by force.

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