October 23: The Schalit debate - One more look

Are there justifiable solutions or clear paths out of difficult circumstances?

Sir, – Many have expressed their opinion that the price for bringing home Gilad Schalit was too high.
Who can disagree? But if something had happened to Schalit, would this be more satisfying? Are there justifiable solutions or clear paths out of difficult circumstances?
TOVA WALD Jerusalem
Sir, – Why did we wait five years before canceling the excessive benefits bestowed upon terrorist prisoners? Had we done so immediately after the kidnapping of Gilad Schalit, who was not extended even basic, elementary considerations, he might have returned to us much sooner and at a lower price.
Sir, – The Kinneret has a red line to mark the water level below which it is considered dangerous.
Then, when the water drops below that line, no problem: The line is simply lowered.
This policy of moving red lines has now been adopted in the diplomatic sphere. We have seen it in the release of prisoners with blood on their hands and I fear we will see it again in the peace process.
Sir, – No longer must Israel endure unfair world criticism about its disproportionate responses to acts of terror. The Arabs themselves determined the value of the lives of their people: 1,027 Arabs equal one Jew.
In the future we should follow this formula. The world will surely honor us for being good neighbors.
Beit Shemesh
Sir, – I opposed the Schalit deal from the start because of its excessive cost. Nevertheless, I cried in joy when I saw the first film clip of Gilad on Egyptian soil. At that point it was clear that he was coming home.
But this sort of deal in not sustainable.
I suggest that the Knesset adopt the following as law: 1. Future exchange will be on a one-to-one basis. If need be the ratio can be increased by the government but cannot exceed 10 prisoners for one hostage.
2. For a prisoner to be released he or she must have served at least 50 percent of the sentence.
Those sentenced to life terms are ineligible.
3. The prisoner must sign a statement that if arrested again for terrorism he or she will also be tried for violating the release agreement. The combined punishment might include the death penalty.
4. To override any of the aforementioned points, 80% of all members of Knesset (96 MKs) must vote in favor.
The moment our enemies see that we cannot be coerced into a one-sided deal, their incentive to take hostages will be reduced.
Petah Tikva
Sir, – A proposal: Declare the fifth day of the intermediate days of Succot “Yom Pidyon Shvuyim” (POW Redemption Day). Whether with joy or sadness or a combination of both, it would be an opportunity to reflect and remember that the people of Israel must be united and stand strong.
Sir, – Relief and joy in the Schalit family is understandable, but there can be no doubt that the unrestrained glee of so many other people, fed by the tasteless and endless media frenzy of special reports and talking heads, trampled on the dignity and feelings of thousands whose loved ones, including children, will never return, having been murdered by the monsters set free.
Judaism does not sanction the saving of a life by the sacrifice of another, and it is a statistical certainty that others will die so that Gilad Schalit can continue his life.
Surely it would have been more sensitive and far wiser to restrain the expressions of unbridled emotions and allow this unholy swap to happen quietly, far from the cameras and spotlights, without the endless stream of interviews, programs, articles, analyses, arguments and polemics.
On the other hand, some of the reactions by the families of terror victims have also been characterized by hysteria. It does the memory of the fallen no service to declare that the country places no value on them or that the country is dancing “on their blood.”
I call for citizens, leaders and the media to rethink their modes of expression and allow good sense and cool reason to trump rampant emotion in future such instances, for they will surely come.
Rosh Pina
Sir, – There is some merit (perhaps a lot) in what Jonathan Rosen has to say (“Time to institute the death penalty for terrorists,” Comment & Features, October 19).
If I had my way I would certainly add to the list one who murdered a prime minister and sits in prison receiving all kinds of benefits (such as being allowed conjugal visits, thus fathering a child). To my mind, this person is just as much a terrorist and should be dealt with in the same manner.

Sir, – I wish to thank Sherri Mandell for her beautifully written “A mother’s pain” (Comment & Features, October 18).
She and other terror victims are not the only ones who were against the prisoner exchange for Gilad Schalit! I know I am.
Her thoughts mirror my own sentiments exactly.
I resent the accusation that those of us who oppose the deal don’t care about Gilad Schalit and his long-suffering family. This is a lie and completely unfair. But we recognize the value of every other person’s life, which has been immeasurably cheapened by the release of these unrepentant murderous terrorists.
Beit Shemesh
Sir, – The Second Book of Samuel, 7:23, tells us: “Who is like you Israel, a unique people on earth.”
These words came to mind when I read Esther Wachsman’s reaction upon hearing that Gilad Schalit would be released: “....all we wanted to do was to get to the tent and to embrace Noam and Aviva and to rejoice with them. I had no mixed feelings then, only relief and joy that Gilad would be coming home. A mother was to get her precious son back from hell” (“A mother’s prayers,” Comment & Features, October 18).
What an amazing woman. I am so proud to count myself as an Israeli whose country continues to serve as a light unto the nations.
Sir, – Gilad Schalit is in Israel.
We have done the impossible.
This is Israel’s strongest and finest hour.
But there is still one voice of despair, a cry for help we must respond to immediately. It is of Oudah Tarabin, who has been held in Egypt for 11 years on trumped-up charges of spying for Israel (“‘Al-Ahram’: Grapel to be released in exchange for all 81 Egyptians being held in prisons in Israel,” October 17).
Tarabin’s father believes that if anti-Israel elements rise to power in Egypt he will not be seen again.
If we do not demand his return with that of Ilan Grapel, we will fall short of our duty to protect every Israeli civilian. And that is bad news.
Sir, – Congratulations to the State of Israel for overcoming gigantic obstacles to finally secure the release of Gilad Schalit. Perhaps now it can focus on obtaining the freedom of another long-imprisoned Israeli: Jonathan Pollard.
Israel should try its utmost to get US President Barack Obama to do the honorable and humanitarian thing and use his powers of executive clemency to either pardon Pollard or commute his life sentence to time already served, and release him into Israel’s custody.