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The Price of Freedom
By Dovid Efune
Gilad Shalit


The following exclusive news item was aired this week by fox and was quickly picked up and reported by other media outlets:
“The pieces are falling in place to strike a deal that will free the kidnapped Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit".
Shalit was kidnapped when Palestinian militants dug a tunnel underneath the Israeli-Gaza border on June 25, 2006. It was a violent, cross border raid that killed two of Shalit’s fellow soldiers and he has been held in Hamas captivity ever since.
Hamas has been demanding the release of 1,000 prisoners in total, in exchange for Shalit. But the hang up has been over 450 specifically named prisoners, many of whom are prisoners Israel labeled as having “blood on their hands,” meaning they have participated in violent attacks against Israelis.
A source tells Fox News that Israel has rejected 70 out of the 450 specific names. Israeli negotiators told German mediators those prisoners would remain behind bars, even if it means Shalit remains a hostage.
The source says Hamas responded with 70 new names, which are on their way to be reviewed by the Israelis.”
In the painful three years since his brutal capture and incarceration, Gilad Shalit has become a brother and a son to all of us; his family has risen to the forefront of Israeli political life in their undying and courageous efforts to do what it takes to secure his freedom. Many young Jews have changed their Facebook profiles to bear his picture, prayers are said at the start of gatherings and many Jewish hearts skipped a beat when they saw a pale and drawn Gilad addressing his parents in the recently released video.
One can’t begin to imagine the utter torment that his family is going through, as there is nothing worse than having a captured son. Because there is no closure, it is indefinite and ongoing and they live with the uncertainty every day.
But as difficult as it is to say, a prisoner exchange of this scale just doesn’t seem like the smart way forward, simply because of the even harsher long term ramifications.
This is because of the affect that this unprecedented reward will have in the future by encouraging terrorist organizations to commit these barbaric acts time and again. The perceived success of this prisoner release will undoubtedly fuel similar terrorist missions resulting in the capture of other young men and women. Over the past 30 years, Israel has released about 7,000 Palestinian prisoners in order to secure freedom for 19 Israelis and to retrieve the bodies of eight others. If terrorist groups were shown early on that such terrorist acts are never rewarded, how much heartbreak, loss and suffering could have been prevented.
Additionally when prisoners are released with such ease, the deterrent for would be attackers is considerably lessened, as prisoners serve minimal sentences and are released prematurely in such one sided exchanges.
Of course there is also the obvious danger of releasing terrorists onto the street; the rate of reoffending for released prisoners is extremely high. Recent figures show that there is an approximate total of 9600 Palestinian Arab prisoners in Israeli jails, this means that in this exchange over ten percent of all Palestinian Arab criminals held by Israel will be released onto the streets.
Of course Israel should uphold its policy to never leave a soldier behind, but for the sake of preventing future loss and suffering, it doesn’t seem right that this is the path to take.  A possible alternative would be for Israel to capture one or a few high ranking members of Hamas and only release them in exchange for Shalit.
The following is a famous story that took place with Rabbi Meir of Rothenberg of Worms, Germany:
In 1286, King Rudolf I instituted a persecution of the Jews, declaring them “serfs of the treasury", effectively negating their political freedoms. Along with many others, Rabbi Meir left Germany with family and followers, but was captured in Lombardy and imprisoned in a fortress in Alsace. Tradition has it that a large ransom of 23,000 marks silver was raised for him, but Rabbi Meir refused it, for fear of encouraging the imprisonment of other rabbis. He died in prison after seven years.
This is indeed a twisted dilemma, and no one can judge the value of any human life, but in striving to prevent us from ever having to suffer with a Gilad of tomorrow, the Israeli powers that be should re-consider making such grand concessions.

The Author is the director of the Algemeiner and the GJCF and can be e-mailed at defune@gjcf.com





Posted on November 27, 2009
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