July 17: Readers reflect on the prisoner exchange

Perhaps this time we can learn something from Hizbullah. Not because it is so clever, but because Israel is, as always, so gullible.

letters 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
letters 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Sir, - In "A bad deal, but can some good come out of it?" (July 16), Amir Mizroch shed some positive light on this painful saga by quoting Dr. Ronen Hoffman, an expert on strategy and negotiations: "Paradoxically, what is perceived as our weakness is in truth a real strength. We allow ourselves to be vulnerable, and that reminds us that we are a moral and ethical people." Herein, one must add, lies Israel's greatness. RACHEL BIRATI Melbourne Sir - Perhaps this time we can learn something from Hizbullah. Not because it is so clever, but because Israel is, as always, so gullible. If, God forbid, we are again in the same position, we need to state clearly, from the beginning, that "no sign of life" means "no life." We can then declare our prisoners dead and take any exchange off the agenda - except for one involving bodies. It's all very well feeling morally superior, but nobody else cares or appreciates that. They just see it as a sign of weakness ("After two years in Hizbullah captivity, Regev and Goldwasser return home," July 16). CECILIA HENRY Kfar Bialik Sir, - How often have we heard our leaders say, "I couldn't look the parents in the eye if..."? When the whole country is held hostage to the pain of any parent, that is not fulfilling a Jewish value, as we like to think. It is, rather, a kind of collective cowardice which will do anything to postpone the suffering of tomorrow for a clear conscience tonight. CAROL CLAPSADDLE Jerusalem Sir, - This may be my first contact with what we call here in Lebanon "the enemy," but after seeing what went onyesterday on the two sides of our border, I realized how cold-blooded we are, all of us, Israelis and Lebanese. Especially after watching TV images of the Israeli families, I just wanted to ask forgiveness for what we have done and what we have become... and maybe we'll be able to realize that only peace would open our hearts. I hope you can forgive us like we'll forgive you. MARC ANTOINE ZABBAL Lebanon Sir, - There hasn't been a Jewish terrorist who murdered a toddler by smashing her head against a rock, but if there had been and he had been captured, he wouldn't have stayed alive for long. And if he had been allowed to live, he would not have been exchanged in a prisoner swap. And if he had been exchanged, there wouldn't be a national day of celebration on his return to Israel. How different we are. PAM GILBOA Jaffa Sir, - By making a deal while not knowing the status of our captured men, we are telling our soldiers, and the enemy, that it doesn't matter if we get captives back alive or dead, as long as we get them back. The government says it is important for our soldiers' morale to know that we will do everything possible to return them if they are taken. But how much comfort can it be to know that when they do come home, it will most likely be in a body bag? KATE HALLGREN Jerusalem Sir, - As we view the heart-rending images of the Goldwasser and Regev families mourning their sons, may they be strengthened in the knowledge that our entire nation shares their grief and pain. According to Jewish law, a rodef - one who pursues another to murder him - must be killed by any onlooker if he was first warned to stop and refused (Sanhedrin 73a). While there are certain limitations on such extrajudicial killings, our anguished souls ask: Why aren't brutal, unreformed terrorists killed rather than taken prisoner? There is ample evidence that many of our enemies harbor no such reluctance to kill our captured soldiers. Yet no doubt there are dozens of reasons why Israel's value system would reject what our hearts cry out for. The contradiction between that value system and those of the enemies who surround us is so palpable, yet much of the world chooses to ignore it. BLOSSOM AND ISRAEL RUBIN Beit Shemesh Sir, - I weep for the Regev and Goldwasser families, but I also weep for our very weak state. S. JONAH PRESSMAN Jerusalem Sir, - Consider this thought from one of our enemies of epic proportions: "A shrewd victor will, if possible, always present his demands to the vanquished in installments. "And then, with a nation that has lost its character - and this is the case of every one that voluntarily submits - he can be sure that it will not regard one more of these individual oppressions as an adequate reason for taking up arms again. "The more extortions are willingly accepted in this way, the more unjustified it strikes people finally to take up the defensive against a new, apparently isolated, though constantly recurring, oppression, especially when, all in all, so much more and greater misfortune has already been borne in patient silence" (Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, p. 668). J.P. GOLBERT Jerusalem Sir, - The most unsettling aspect of the terrorist release is neither the joyful welcome for the returning Arab terrorists in Lebanon, nor the mourning here for our fallen IDF soldiers. No, it is that any Israeli captured or kidnapped by terrorists need not be released alive by the terrorists since our government will apparently pay the same price for dead Israelis as it will for live ones. KENNETH BESIG Kiryat Arba Sir, - Is it sadism, or just indifference, to keep the families of abducted soldiers in the dark until the very last second, not knowing if their sons are alive or not? Maybe it's just hatred. Whatever it is, it's against international law, and should be called despicable on every possible occasion ("'We'll finally know what happened to our sons,'" July 16). M. NIEWEG Jerusalem Sir, - I was deeply disappointed with your insensitive headline "IDF prepares military funerals for Goldwasser and Regev on Thursday" (July 15). The families have been suffering and praying for two years. Why couldn't the Post let them have their spark of hope and wait for the incontrovertible facts? TAMAR KAGAN Jerusalem Sir, - There is an option which underlines our commitment to the true value of human life, and those who represent our justice system would be wise to implement it. Under current Israeli law, terrorists who murder using firearms are subject to the death penalty, something that, appropriately, applies otherwise only to Nazi war criminals. Therefore terrorists such as Samir Kuntar, for instance, can and should be legally sentenced to death by Israeli courts. Such a sentence could be suspended, allowing us a degree of pressure in negotiating the release of our prisoners. This option would allow us to properly link the condition of our released prisoners with that of the enemy, in a method both legal and just. Despite the law, no terrorist has ever been sentenced to death in Israel. While some might argue that this shows Israel's valuing of human life, any life, the reverse is true: We cannot claim to revere the sanctity of life if we do not exact the ultimate price from those who brutally violate it. SHLOMO GOREN Beit Shemesh Sir, - In their very fine and clear "Hizbullah's triumph" (July 16), Justus Reid Weiner and Dianne Morrison explained the difference between soldiers who are genuine prisoners of war and therefore entitled to Red Cross visits under the Geneva convention, and the rights of terrorists who do not belong to any army or state. The ridiculous situation of non-POWs having all their comforts - conjugal visits, lawyers, cell phones, etc. - while the Israeli POWs languish in total obscurity, must be changed. Unless the Red Cross has access to both sides of the dispute, it must be denied access to the terrorists we are holding. I can already hear the screams of the human rights organizations, but "What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander." JUDY PRAGER Petah Tikva Sir, - I can well understand that Shimon Peres had to sign a document to release Samir Kuntar from prison. But I fail to see the reason for a pardon. The Oxford English Dictionary defines a pardon as a "cancellation of the punishment incurred through a crime or conviction" and "forgiveness for an offence, discourtesy, or error." Are we saying that Kuntar never committed a murder? ("Peres: My heart is torn over this difficult decision," July 16.) MICHAEL PLASKOW Netanya Sir, - Shimon Peres was wrong to pardon the terrorist who killed a father, his two children and a policeman. He, in effect, showed pity for a terrorist who showed no pity and feels no remorse. NATHAN WIRTSCHAFTER Hashmonaim Sir, - I would like to convey my heartfelt condolences to the entire nation of Israel, to all sane human beings, and most especially to the families of your fallen heroes on this sad day. Long live the State of Israel. We are praying for you. EMOKOD JOE Kampala, Uganda