(Don't) free Gilad Schalit

Kindness and cruelty are often difficult to delineate.

Gilad Schalit 248.88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Gilad Schalit 248.88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
No, the above headline is not a typo. It sums up the enormous conflict facing our country and government, the latest excruciating dilemma foisted upon us by our cruel enemies. We are caught up in a monumental tug-of-war between our hearts and our heads, a slugfest between our emotions and our logic. On the one hand, we all identify with the Schalits and feel their pain; who among us would not go the ends of the earth to bring our child safely home? Abandonment of a soldier is a cardinal sin, one which demoralizes both the fighters in the field and the parents who send them into battle. On an ethical, Jewish level, human life - every single life - is precious to us, and no life is expendable. Yet, at the same time, there is the issue of the public good, which always takes precedence over the individual. If society will suffer for paying too high a price for Gilad, and if the death toll will rise precipitously as a result of his repatriation, then we must pause before we plunge into too disastrous a deal. Past history in the Middle East has shown that most freed terrorists continue doing what they do best - killing innocent Israelis. And whenever criminals conclude that crime pays, they are motivated to keep right on committing their dastardly acts. KINDNESS AND cruelty are often difficult to delineate. Going soft on lawbreakers, easing their punishment and forgiving their sins may seem like acts of mercy, but if they result in the death of innocents then they are anything but that. The Israeli public already is mystified and mortified by our continuing supply of goods and commodities to our adversaries, who laugh at our weak will and exploit our goodness in order to attack us. In most civilized countries, aiding and abetting the enemy is a treasonous act; but here, on a national level, we are guilty of it every day. And now, we will return terrorists to their murderous ways while strengthening the hand of Hamas, which is sworn to our complete annihilation? How hollow is it to criticize the PA's "revolving door" policy of freeing killers when we are prepared to do the same thing? WE MUST proceed very, very carefully in this moral mine-field, so as not to cross the line between what feels good and what is good. We cannot give in to any and all demands and acquiesce to conditions which damage our national security. Generally, the sign of a good deal is when both sides feel they have won. But if one side emerges buoyant and euphoric, while the other remains generally despondent, that is usually an indication that someone got robbed and someone else got away with murder - literally. I think most people understand that, if taken to an extreme, we would not agree to every outlandish condition imposed upon us by the other side. The Left, I assume, would not accede to the freeing of assassin Yigal Amir, who, after all, succeeded in killing an Israeli leader - an act which would automatically qualify him for sainthood among most Palestinians. And the Right could not abide the freeing of mass-murderer Marwhan Barghouti, whose significant popularity on the Arab street is directly proportional to the massive amount of Jewish blood on his hands. FAMILIES OF soldiers, in particular, are deeply conflicted. While we can readily relate to the need to rescue our heroes in enemy hands, we also remember how valiantly our children fought - and perhaps died - to put these terrorist monsters behind bars. On what basis would I agree to "liberate" the Islamic Jihad gunman who killed my son? So should we free Gilad Schalit? The answer is yes - and no. In a no-win situation such as this, we must be sure we choose the best - and not the worst - of all evils. The writer's son, Sgt. Ari Weiss, was killed in a battle with terrorists in September, 2002.