From the Jerusalem Post:

MK Yitzhak Levy (NU/NRP) [ed. – these are the “religious” Zionists including a large representation of the settler population] announced on Wednesday morning that he was prepared to support the release of his daughter’s killers in return for kidnapped IDF soldier Cpl. Gilad Schalit.

Levy – whose daughter, Ayelet Hashahar Levy, was killed by a car bomb in Jerusalem in November 2000 – sent a letter to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, calling to include the perpetrators of the attack in a prisoner swap deal, on the condition that they then be banished from Israel.

In an interview with Army Radio, Levy said that “there is only one way in which a prisoner release would be reasonable, and that is [by] sending them outside of the state of Israel and [the PA territories] and keeping them in another country.”

He added that he was also prepared to release other prisoners with blood on their hands as part of a prisoner exchange, stressing that “Gilad’s return home is more important than one prisoner or another sitting in jail.”

“We have to do everything [possible] to return our children home, and this includes releasing security prisoners,” he said. “It’s possible to release prisoners with blood on their hands, on the condition that they do not return to Gaza or the West Bank. This is a security requirement, as well as a national one.”

I doubt that this idea that they would be released but sent elsewhere would be agreeable to Hamas, but unfortunately from a historical perpective, he’s right that many released terrorists return to terror activities. His letter to Olmert, however, bring us a reminder that in these hostage exchanges for Israeli prisoners, the families of the terrorists’ victims pay a second time for the original crime. Not only did they lose or watch a loved one suffer, but then they have to watch as the person who committed the crime is released long before serving out his or her sentence. It is a difficult and perhaps even unethical calculation that many Israeli governments have made, especially when considering that Israel has proof that many of these released individuals strike Israel again.

Another interesting issue is that Palestinians and Lebanese think so little of showing Israel and the world that THEY believe that one Israeli is worth a couple of hundred of them. With Hizbullah, they even equated dead Israelis with large numbers of prisoners. Consider the implication of Hamas asking for a single Palestinian prisoner in Israel to be released in exchange for Shalit’s freedom. I believe that this would make a statement far stronger than the one they establish by seeking hundreds of their men and women for one young Israeli soldier.

In any case, what Yitzhak Levi is doing by opening the door to releasing his daughter’s murderers for Shalit, is giving them ethical cover in what is an extraordinarily difficult choice that many Israeli governments have had to face. There are many Israeli victims’ families who oppose such exchanges and sometimes they win the day. I am sure, however, that Noam Shalit, Gilad’s father, is grateful to Levi for opening another crack in the door to have his son finally released in an exchange.

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  • It’s a very difficult issue, how much lives are worth in trade, and if it is right to trade at all.

    Still, what Levi said was definitely courageous and selfless. Kol ha-Kavod to him.

  • If you want to use quotes, say self styled “Religious Zionists”. That is what they call themselves. You can think anything you want about them. But putting the quotes around “religious” means you haven’t got much use for their religious viewpoint and indeed don’t agree with them that they are, in fact religous. In your view, their religiosity is phony.

    That is a separate piece, and impossible to defend, so don’t try. Reform and Conservative never positioned themselves as new religions. So, why are you implying that they are. That these heavy duty observant types are members of either another religion, or as you imply, no genuine religion.

    Shtreimel, TM and GM should get together, and stuff themselves on fabulous Sephardi food, especially sweets, and sing, and toast each other a whole lot, and sing some more, then weep a bit. Then they should phone for a taxi to The Western Wall, for a midnight visit to G-d, to see what He thinks about it all, assuming he is open 24/7 and is willing to talk to three dudes who are well stuffed with Sephardi sweets and l’Chaims. Then they should hang around until the sun comes up, napping on the warm stones.

    CK, can you arrange?

  • I may be developing a talent for post-birthright programming. Who knew.

  • Wow – such a tough situation to be in. I also agree that Levi is very brave to opening that door – I can’t imagine being in a situation like that.