October 17: Readers weigh in on swap for Gilad Schalit

Israel is paying a high price but is demonstrating at the same time its loyalty, responsibility and respect for the lives of its citizens.

letters (photo credit: JP)
(photo credit: JP)
Sir, – I applaud the tenacity of Gilad Schalit’s parents in their struggle to free their son, but I cannot help wondering if Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s decision to exchange so many terrorists was in the true interest of the Israeli people. The price for Schalit’s freedom gives new meaning to the expression “getting away with murder.”
Israel must develop a policy to prevent something like this from ever happening again. My suggestion is quite simple. We should take alive only those terrorists we would be willing to exchange. For those who feel this is savage and extreme, it must be weighed against the real possibility that these murderers will live to strike again.
As the names of the terrorists to be exchanged for Schalit are made public, it makes me wonder if there is any real justice in the world.
Sir, – Arguably, the release of 1,027 terrorists in exchange for Gilad Schalit is a must-do. But to pardon them before their release? Dear Lord, have we gone absolutely bonkers?
Tel Aviv Sir, – One soldier for over 1,000 terrorists! Gilad Schalit is not a king, a prince or a general.
He is a young soldier and, like everybody, a human being.
Israel is paying a high price but is demonstrating at the same time its loyalty, responsibility and respect for the lives of its citizens, irrespective of social background, while its neighbors send their youngsters on holy missions with explosive belts.
Well done, Israel. Congratulations and God bless you.
Sir, – Prime Minister Netanyahu’s decision to free 1,000 terrorists for Gilad Schalit is immoral, and Steve Linde’s justification (“A cause for celebration,” Comment, October 12) completely irrational.
Linde’s argument is that while freed terrorists might go back to terrorism and the swap communicates a message of weakness, it would be worse if Schalit never returned.
Why is Schalit’s life more important than the next victim’s? While a part of me is happy that a soldier is being freed, I have yet to hear a logical argument for the morality of the deal.
New York
Sir, – The deal that will bring about Schalit’s release sounds almost like a carbon copy of a deal that was considered out of the question by Prime Minister Netanyahu and his colleagues a couple of years ago, when they said there were “limits.”
These same limits appear in the current deal. Why is it okay now when it wasn’t a couple of years ago? What has changed?
Sir, – If one wants a precedent against the exchange of terrorists with blood on their hands for Gilad Schalit, an excellent example can be found in Jewish history.
In 1286, Rabbi Meir ben Baruch of Rothenburg, known as the Maharam, was imprisoned and held for ransom. But he ruled that his community not pay the ransom for fear that this would set a precedent whereby anyone could kidnap a Jew to extract a sum of money that could mount with each incident. The Maharam lived and died according to this principle.
Only long after his demise while still imprisoned did a wealthy Jew pay a large ransom to obtain his remains.
If the Maharam ruled that an exchange of cash would endanger his people, all the more so would he have ruled that murderers should not be released for a single Jewish captive.
What we are doing is setting up entire generations of precious soldiers to become captives and making it easy for terrorists to obtain a get-out-ofjail- free card in this crazy Middle Eastern game of Monopoly.
Sir, – If the Israeli government chooses to release murderers, so be it. But its members should have the decency to place at the top of the list the murderers of one of their own, Rehavam Ze’evi.
Sir, – Thank heavens for what we hope will be the release of Gilad Schalit. If only he could be released together with the disgracefully over-punished Jonathan Pollard. And also with Palestinian leader Marwan Barghouti. If anyone, it is Barghouti who could unite the polarized Palestinians around a peace deal acceptable to both the Israeli and Palestinian publics.
Egypt’s Anwar Sadat was at first more of a warrior than Barghouti ever was – and how many Israeli youths died in the Yom Kippur War that Sadat launched? But this is precisely what made the Egyptian a credible peacemaker to his people.
Cambridge, Massachusetts
Sir, – The difficulty of the Gilad Schalit exchange is not that Israel is getting the worse end of the bargain, but that it holds convicted terrorists in the first place. It ends up looking weak and vulnerable as it knowingly sends hundred of terrorists back out on the street, ready and positioned to kill our citizens.
The solution is simple: Israel needs to institute the death penalty and use it against anyone tried and convicted of killing innocent people in acts of terrorism. In this way it will be able to enforce justice, protect its citizens – and keep from being on the losing end of a terrorist swap.
Sir, – The Gilad Schalit exchange highlights the dire need to apply the death penalty in cases where innocent civilians have been murdered.
The United States uses this form of punishment. Why can’t we here in Israel exercise our right to execute murderers?
Petah Tikva
Sir, – I am very happy for the Schalits and applaud them for the battle they waged in order to get Gilad released. No parents could have done more.
Fortunately, I have never been directly affected by terror, and two of my three children served without harm in the army. But like many Israelis I have reservations about the prisoner swap.
The most disturbing feature has been some of the celebrations by Schalit’s supporters, which were very much over the top and shameful in that they did not take into account the many families that have suffered at the very hands of the terrorists who will now be free to resume the “armed struggle.”
I felt nausea and anger, and was close to tears. I turned off the television. What will they say when the first Israeli is killed by one of these murderers soon to be on the loose? The leaders of the “Free Schalit” movement, if not Gilad’s parents themselves, should have called on their supporters not to celebrate in this disgraceful way. This is not a victory or a cause for flagwaving.
Ma’aleh Adumim
Sir, – An agonizing weight has been removed from our hearts, like the constant fear that Schalit’s fate would be like that of IAF navigator Ron Arad.
We have restored the IDF’s unique status: that it never abandons its soldiers, wherever they may be, and that it will get to any terrorist who returns to terror, wherever he or she may be.
Kiryat Ono
Sir, – I am pleased to know that the prime minister’s “heart is with the families of the terror victims” (“Gilad Schalit to finally return home, PM says,” October 12). Does he mean the previous victims or the future victims? And how about the family of the next kidnapped Israeli? Is his heart with them, too?