The price of mutual guarantees

I do not envy the prime minister the impossibly difficult decision to be made, knowing the price – but Netanyahu must make it.

Schalit march 311 AP (photo credit: Associated Press)
Schalit march 311 AP
(photo credit: Associated Press)
A simple letter – that was the modest request of Noam Schalit, father of captured IDF soldier Gilad Schalit. He asked the “peace activists,” those who organized the recent Gaza flotilla, to help deliver a letter to someone whose basic human rights are being denied; to take with them a note from a father who misses his son, a son he has not seen in four years, and to demand that Hamas deliver the letter. The answer was no. We are a humanitarian flotilla, they responded, and our mission is to deliver humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza. Delivering a letter for a soldier held in captivity for nearly half a decade and whose basic human rights are violated was simply not on the agenda Gilad Schalit has been held in the Gaza Strip since June 25, 2006. He was taken from Israeli territory a year after the disengagement from Gaza adopted by the Sharon government, in which I had the honor to serve. Schalit did not fall into captivity during a military operation, he was captured by terrorists from his country’s own land.
But it seems the generosity of these “peace activists” from all over the world who set out on Gaza-bound ships, some more violent than others, does not extend to an IDF soldier who will soon mark his 24th birthday in Hamas captivity.
They didn’t even have the decency to demand from their “friends” in Gaza that Schalit be seen by the Red Cross, a basic right afforded to any prisoner of war, which is what Hamas claims him to be.
It’s safe to assume that, unlike the residents of Gaza, Gilad Schalit cannot count on the global “rights” movement to stand by his side. He needs us, citizens and leaders of this country, and more than anything, he needs Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
They say that being Israeli prime minister is one of the hardest jobs in the world. Anyone holding the title must make heartbreaking decisions, time and again, decisions of life and death in a society that sanctifies life, WHEN I brought up the issue of Gilad Schalit during one of my conversations with former secretary of state Condoleeza Rice, she pointed out that America has no small number of captured soldiers in Iraq.
I told her that this was the ethos of Israeli society: In our small country, a soldier-son is everyone’s soldier-son and a captive is everyone’s captive. An IDF soldier knows that his country and its leaders will do everything in their power to win his release. I am proud to be part of a people that views a soldier as part of its family and refuses to accept his continued captivity at the hands of Hamas.
This is the reality in which the prime minister must operate and which forces him to make an impossibly difficult decision to release Gilad Schalit, knowing the price.
I understand the implications. I am aware of the significance. In the time that I served as interim president of the state, I saw the terrifying list of terrorists that Israel is being asked to release and I thought to myself that the burden on the prime minister forced to make that decision is indeed very heavy.
Our high morality has brought us to such a low negotiating position.
Hamas could have seen its terrorists freed four years ago, but it’s in no rush. We, however, want to see Gilad home now. Worry for the soldier is part of that Israeli ethos, the mutual guarantee that makes us a strong, but trapped, nation. The worry is also a product of the deep wound in our hearts following the failure to free another captive, Ron Arad, whose face is carved into memory.
Mutual guarantees have a price, a price that the prime minister must pay.
In the absence of “peace activists” and human rights activists aboard peace flotillas, Gilad Schalit now needs his people to come through for him .
The writer is chairwoman of the Kadima Knesset faction.