No one denies the long suffering of the Schalit family. Noam and Aviva Schalit
and their relatives have endured five years and four months of uninterrupted
anguish since their son St.-Sgt. Gilad Schalit was abducted from his army post
by Palestinian terrorists and spirited to Gaza in June 2006. Since then, aside
from one letter and one videotaped message, they have received no signs of life
from their soldier son.
There is not a Jewish household in Israel that
doesn’t empathize with their suffering. It isn’t simply that most Israelis serve
in the IDF and expect their children to serve in the IDF.
It isn’t just
that it could happen to any of our families.
As Jews, the concept of
mutual responsibility, that we are all a big family and share a common fate, is
ingrained in our collective consciousness. And so, at a deep level, the Schalit
family’s suffering is our collective suffering.
And yet, and yet, freedom exacts its price. The cause of freedom for the Jewish people as a whole exacts a
greater sacrifice from some families than from others.
sacrifice is made willingly, as in the case of the Netanyahu family.
Prof. Benzion and Tzilla Netanyahu raised their three sons to be warriors
in the fight for Jewish liberty. And all three of their sons served in an elite
commando unit. Their eldest son Yonatan had the privilege of commanding the unit
and of leading Israeli commandos in the heroic raid to free Jewish hostages held
by the PLO in Entebbe.
There, on July 4, 1976, Yonatan and his family
made the ultimate sacrifice for the freedom of the Jewish people. Yonatan was
killed in action. His parents and brothers were left to mourn and miss him for
the rest of their lives. And yet, the Netanyahu family’s sacrifice was a product
of a previous decision to fight on the front lines of the war to preserve Jewish
Sometimes, the sacrifice is made less willingly.
Israel allowed the PLO and its terror armies to move their bases from Tunis to
Judea, Samaria and Gaza in 1994, nearly 2,000 Israeli families have
involuntarily paid the ultimate price for the freedom of the Jewish people. Our
freedom angers our Palestinian neighbors so much that they have decided that all
Israelis should die.
For instance Ruth Peled, 56, and her 14- month-old
granddaughter Sinai Keinan did not volunteer to make the ultimate sacrifice for
the freedom of the Jewish people when they were murdered by a Palestinian
suicide bomber as they sat in an ice cream parlor in Petah Tikva in May
And five-year-old Gal Eisenman and her grandmother Noa Alon, 60,
weren’t planning on giving their lives for the greater good when they, together
with five others, were blown to smithereens by Palestinian terrorists in June
2002 while they were waiting for a bus in Jerusalem.
Their mothers and
daughters, Chen Keinan and Pnina Eisenman, had not signed up for the
watching their mothers and daughters incinerated before their eyes. They
did not volunteer to become bereaved mothers and orphaned daughters
lives of the victims of Arab terror were stolen from their families simply
because they lived and were Jews in Israel. And in the cases of the Keinan,
Peled, Alon and Eisenman families, as in thousands of others, the murderers were
the direct and indirect beneficiaries of terrorists-for-hostages swaps like the
deal that Yonatan Netanyahu’s brother, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, made
this week with Hamas to secure the release of Gilad Schalit.
that Netanyahu has agreed to is signed with the blood of the past victims and
future victims of the terrorists he is letting go. No amount of rationalization
by Netanyahu, his cheerleaders in the demented mass media, and by the defeatist,
apparently incompetent heads of the Shin Bet, Mossad and IDF can dent the
IT IS a statistical certainty that the release of 1,027 terrorists
for Schalit will lead to the murder of untold numbers of Israelis. It has
happened every single time that these blood ransoms have been paid. It will
Untold numbers of Israelis who are now sitting in their
succas and celebrating Jewish freedom, who are driving in their cars, who are
standing on line at the bank, who are sitting in their nursery school classrooms
painting pictures of Torah scrolls for Simhat Torah will be killed for being
Jewish while in Israel because Netanyahu has made this deal. The unrelenting
pain of their families, left to cope with their absence, will be
This is a simple fact and it is beyond dispute.
is also beyond dispute that untold numbers of IDF soldiers and officers will be
abducted and held hostage. Soldiers now training for war or scrubbing the floors
of their barracks, or sitting at a pub with their friends on holiday leave will
one day find themselves in a dungeon in Gaza or Sinai or Lebanon undergoing
unspeakable mental and physical torture for years. Their families will suffer
The only thing we don’t know about these future victims is
their names. But we know what will become of them as surely as we know that
night follows day.
Netanyahu has proven once again that taking IDF
soldiers hostage is a sure bet for our Palestinian neighbors. They can murder
the next batch of Sinais and Gals, Noas and Ruths. They can kill thousands of
them. And they can do so knowing all along that all they need to do to win
immunity for their killers is kidnap a single IDF soldier.
There is no
downside to this situation for those who believe all Jews should die.
his public statement on the Schalit deal Tuesday night, Netanyahu, like his
newfound groupies in the media, invoked the Jewish tradition of pidyon shevuim
or the redemption of captives. But the Talmudic writ is not unconditional. The
rabbinic sages were very clear. The ransom to be paid cannot involve the murder
of other Jews.
This deal – like its predecessors – is not in line with
Jewish tradition. It stands in opposition to Jewish tradition. Even in our
darkest hours of powerlessness in the ghettos and the pales of exile, our
leaders did not agree to pay for a life with other life. Judaism has always
rejected human sacrifice.
The real question here is after five years and
four months in which Schalit has been held hostage and two-and-a-half years into
Netanyahu’s current tenure as prime minister, why has the deal been concluded
now? What has changed? The answer is that very little has changed on Netanyahu’s
part. After assuming office, Netanyahu essentially accepted the contours of the
abysmal agreement he has now signed in Jewish blood.
Initially, there was
a political rationale for his morally and strategically perverse
He had Defense Minister Ehud Barak and the Labor Party to
Supporting this deal was one of the many abject prices that
Netanyahu was expected to pay to keep Labor and Barak in his
But this rationale ended with Barak’s resignation from the
Labor Party in January.
Since then, Barak and his colleagues who joined
him in leaving Labor have had no political leverage over Netanyahu.
have nowhere to go. Their political life is wholly dependent on their membership
in Netanyahu’s government. He doesn’t need to pay any price for their
So Netanyahu’s decision to sign the deal with Hamas lacks any
WHAT HAS really changed since the deal was first put
on the table two years ago is Hamas’s position. Since the Syrian people began to
rise up against the regime of Hamas’s patron and protector President Bashar
Assad, Hamas’s leaders, who have been headquartered in Syria since 1998, have
been looking for a way to leave. Their Muslim Brotherhood brethren are leading
forces in the Western-backed Syrian opposition.
Hamas’s leaders do not
want to be identified with the Brotherhood’s oppressor.
With the Egyptian
military junta now openly massacring Christians, and with the Muslim Brotherhood
rapidly becoming the dominant political force in the country, Egypt has become a
far more suitable home for Hamas.
But for the past several months, Hamas
leaders in Damascus have faced a dilemma. If they stay in Syria, they lose
credibility. If they leave, they expose themselves to Israel.
to Channel 2, in exchange for Schalit, beyond releasing a thousand murderers,
Netanyahu agreed to give safe passage to Hamas’s leaders decamping to
What this means is that this deal is even worse for Israel than it
looks on the surface.
Not only is Israel guaranteeing a reinvigoration of
the Palestinian terror war against its civilians by freeing the most experienced
terrorists in Palestinian society, and doing so at a time when the terror war
itself is gradually escalating. Israel is squandering the opportunity to either
decapitate Hamas by killing its leaders in transit, or to weaken the group by
forcing its leaders to go down with Assad in Syria.
At best, Netanyahu
comes out of this deal looking like a weak leader who is manipulated by and
beholden to Israel’s radical, surrender-crazed media. To their eternal shame,
the media have been waging a five-year campaign to force Israel’s leaders to
capitulate to Hamas.
At worst, this deal exposes Netanyahu as a morally
challenged, strategically irresponsible and foolish, opportunistic
What Israel needs is a leader with the courage of one
writer’s convictions. Back in 1995, that writer wrote: “The release of convicted
terrorists before they have served their full sentences seems like an easy and
tempting way of defusing blackmail situations in which innocent people may lose
their lives, but its utility is momentary at best.
only embolden terrorists by giving them the feeling that even if they are
caught, their punishment will be brief. Worse, by leading terrorists to
think such demands are likely to be met, they encourage precisely the terrorist
blackmail they are supposed to defuse.”
The writer of those lines was
then-opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu wrote those lines in his
book, Fighting Terrorism: How Democracies Can Defeat Domestic and International
Israel needs that Netanyahu to lead it. But in the face of
the current Netanyahu’s abject surrender to terrorism, apparently he is