Announcing an agreement to release 104 of the most blood-thirsty Arab prisoners
in Israeli jails in return for Palestinian Authority promises to show up at the
latest merry-go-round negotiations, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu bemoaned
the “agonizing difficulty” of making such a decision.
His insistence on
the necessity of making such a concession was unconvincing and
He was acting, he explained, as a national leader in
Israel’s national interests. He forgot one thing: consensus.
heavy-arm-twisting he wrung out a dozen required votes in his select security
cabinet, avoiding a larger vote, similar to what previous prime-ministers
maneuvered in releasing massive numbers of Arab terrorists and criminals in
return for a few living (and some dead) Israelis – with disastrous
The problem with such decision making is that it fails to meet
the minimal standards of a democratic process. Taking controversial positions is
inherent in political leadership, but doing so without at least approval of the
full cabinet and making sure that Israelis are protected is
The genius of Abraham Lincoln, whose leadership in
national crisis Americans celebrate, was his ability to bring together a wide
spectrum of politicians, some of whom were his bitter enemies, and inspire the
nation with magnificent eloquence and vision. On battlegrounds and in government
offices, he gave the American people a clear sense of what they were fighting
for, and they rallied behind him.
Instead, Prime Minister Netanyahu, like
most Israeli leaders, relies on expediency and subterfuge.
He may win in
the short run, but he and we will lose in the long run – not because the
decisions were right or wrong, but because they were done without sufficient and
The widespread sense that Netanyahu is making
decisions that reflect the interests of foreign politicians twists the knife
What he may win in a p p l a u s e from the diplomatic
community, we have lost – more important – in our national purpose and
Everyone knows that the current negotiations between Jews and
Arabs will fail; nothing Israel can offer – short of suicide – will satisfy
Arabs. The reason is simple: Their issue is whether the State of Israel should
exist at all. Every poll confirms that. Israeli-Jordanian and Israeli-Egyptian
treaties were not about peace, but the absence of all-out war – and that may
Israel’s civil/social wars, moreover, continue to tear us
apart; astonishingly, the prime minister has offered little or no vision or
leadership. Rather than carefully prepared speeches that raise the quality of
debate, he issues short press releases written by spin doctors to the media. A
safe method of avoiding troubling questions and confrontations, this creates
suspicion and animosity.
Releasing terrorists and combatants to achieve a
national goal is understandable – as in exchanges of prisoners following wars.
But releasing hardened criminals back into the population serves no purpose
other than giving them another opportunity to murder.
And pardoning them
in order to prime the Arab negotiating pump is pimping for diplomatic
Even that might be acceptable, however, if the decision was made
by a broad majority of elected representatives.
And even if that were not
possible, one might understand the necessity based on a reasonable quid pro quo.
But, for nothing? Assuming that Barack Obama threatened Netanyahu behind the
scenes over major security issues, such as bombing Iran, he may have had no
choice but to comply.
But conditions can be attached that will mitigate
the danger: Prisoners will not be released to Israel or any Israeli-controlled
territory; prisoners with Israeli citizenship will be required to give up that
citizenship; prisoners with families will be required to relocate with their
families. This is neither their homeland, nor their country.
this prisoner release should be accompanied by a presidential pardon for Jewish
prisoners who have served most of their sentence and pose no danger to the
If, as most predict, the planned negotiations (if they ever
happen) will fail, why try again now? Overlooked is the timetable: nine months,
or more. This means stretching the process until midterm elections in the US, in
2014, which set the stage for the presidential election in 2016.
timing of negotiations, therefore, has nothing to do with achieving a durable
peace, but with pressuring Israel to freeze building projects in Judea and
Samaria, release more terrorists, and make more concessions. The illusion will
work as long as the peace merry-go-round revolves.
When it stops, and/or
when we decide to get off, Americans will be swamped by local and national
politics, and Iran will have the bomb.
Al-Qaida Islamists finally learned
how to force the United States of America to temporarily surrender and close
dozens of its embassies.
Meanwhile, the Arab terrorists Israel plans to
release will be back at their deadly work, their children and grandchildren in
training, and more bribes to continue talking.
It takes nine months of
gestation to create life; in this case, however, the opposite seems more likely.