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Horrible Deal

Reader comment on item: Gilad Shalit and Doing Business with Terrorists

Submitted by Dave Gerber (United States), Oct 21, 2011 at 13:54

Horrible Deal – The Dangerous, Disproportionate Prisoner Swap

By Dave Gerber

I am very, very sorry. I cannot now, and hope to never have to experience the pain Gilad's family has experienced from the day he was taken. I cannot imagine it and I know that it would drive me, quite possibly, insane. Nothing I share in the following piece is intended to diminish this pain as it must be beyond any threshold we as parents thought we could endure, and then some. I'm also sorry if Gilad Shalit's family feels any added pain upon reading this, as it is not a personal statement about their son; we can substitute any soldier's name and my feelings would be the same.

I am also cognizant of the fact that some critics of my opinions may say "you never served in the military, what do you know?" or "You don't live in Israel, how can you understand?" I respect those perspectives as well. That said, I have spent a lot of time around military personal and my respect for what they do actually reinforces my opinion. I suspect that many service members in all branches of the military would agree with my view point.

There are so many reasons why this prisoner exchange deal is wrong. Supporters of the deal believe they own the "trump card" to the vast number of reasons why exchanging murderous prisoners for one soldier is the right thing to do. But, it's not. There is no "trump card." There is also no denying the deep love of life we, as Jews, have for all people, particularly other Jews. This feeling is real and it does not supersede the rational, logical considerations and the very real, daily pain of thousands of individuals that deal every day with the same pain the Gilad's knew. There are too many reasons why this deal was a huge mistake, for the short and long term interests, goals and lives of Jews in Israel and globally, where terrorism has been franchised - seemingly everywhere.

Regrettably, Arabs around the world are surely laughing. An "eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth" outlook supports their view that they got 1,027 human beings for just the price of one. This grossly imbalanced ratio further empowers and emboldens them. Unfortunately for them and Arabs around the world, these terrorists who kidnapped Gilad failed to realize that their near term victory with this prisoner exchange is merely an event. The ratio and value of life they defined for Arabs and agreed to is amazing and could have disastrous effects down the road.

Essentially, Palestinians and Arabs have determined their own value. Their agreement highlights their own internal believe that it takes 1,027 Palestinians to equal the value of one Jew. While many people may have agreed with that in their own mind before this situation, the owners of this deal have publicly acknowledged it and negotiated based on it. They are in fact, admitting to a devalued culture, populated with devalued "humans."

In the case of prisoners, when you add up low life, terrorist, 14th century thinking cancerous criminals you can never get to one, no matter you add, subtract, multiple or divide. Adding 1,027 zeros still equals zero. Even by their new math, you still cannot ethically exchange 1,027 Palestinian murderers and criminals for one, human, soldier or not. This ratio has been solidified by Palestinian Arab leadership and supported by thousands who danced in the streets. [a discussion for another time, but…does this mean that in the future, if an Arab kills a Jew, Israel has the right to kill 1,027 Arabs? This now becomes a reasonable argument, based upon the rules PA leadership has designed.] Whichever your opinion, none of it discounts the pain of those touched by their non-civilized behaviors that resulted in their jailing in the first place.

It is not right to trade one life for a 1,027 for many reasons. Any one of these reasons could stand independently as the sole reason why it was a bad deal. When you add up all of them, it reinforces the belief this is wrong in massive proportions. One of those stand-alone reasons is the amount of pain each family member and friend has to now endure because of these killers. Whatever the society, opening the doors to release known killers, terrorists and murders that have the motive and intention to kill again, reinforces the pain like a dagger to the heart. How can we deny this pain and not see it, individually or collectively, as well beyond the 1027:1 ratio the government is willing to accept?

Accepting a policy of having soldiers taken and eventually returned after blackmail only reinforces terrorist's desire to kidnap more often. In fact, before the exchange has taken place, Palestinian Hamas leadership has already stated they plan to take more soldiers. Part of their strategic plan is to kidnap with the intention of returning the other 5,000 murderers, terrorists and criminals still held in prison. This deal has opened the door to their policy and invited them in. This, by itself, supports the notion that this deal is, well, at the very least, ignorant.

It's probably safe to assume that most of the terrorists and prisoners who are being released aren't that bright, though they are probably fine as 'trainees.' How long did they sit in prison, planning for the day they could get back, chomping at the bit, ready to get new tools and skills to kill and murder and torment, again? How does putting 1,027 terrorist and criminal trainees back on the streets help Israeli society? Some of those 1,027 will become so good at their craft, they will become future trainers and the numbers of evil people with new skills will move forward sporadically, exponentially.

The opposite of helpless is emboldened. That is exactly what this deal does for Iran, which has franchised its terrorist, anti-civilized, prehistoric, way of thinking and behaving to the Gaza strip. This deal will support Iran's desire to send more specialists on kidnapping to that region and help the terrorists, currently there, further develop their guerilla style tactics. Hamas, Hezbollah, and all the rest of these homicidal gangs will all glean the best practices of these dirty tactics and have more trained couriers to spread the message and share the resources.

Some questions to consider: How much money is being spent to transfer these murderers and prisoners? How much will have to be spent to reinforce the deal after it happens? How much money was spent and will continue to be spent trying to create and sustain security procedures that prevent a negative impact from the direct or indirect actions or teachings from these prisoners? How much money, time, thought and other resources will be drained or reallocated to deal with the immediate and future impact of this release with respect to security concerns? Have there been any documented promises and exponential consequences if future terror of any kind is created by those let out? And a last, often overlooked essential question - Doesn't this "deal" fly in the face of the very pillars of why societies punish wrong-doers?

The four main reasons a society punishes are: rehabilitation, retribution, as a punitive measure and prevention. Clearly, there was and is no desire to rehabilitate any of these prisoners.

The second is retribution, to retaliate at the person who commits a crime. Clearly, in all cultures, there is the desire to get back at the guilty. In Arab cultures and some others we often see this justified as "honor" killings. The honor of having a murderer in your family is better and somehow overcomes the self and society-imposed shame of having a relative that was a victim?

The third reason is to be punitive, to cause pain and suffering by removing freedom. Because Jews are civilized, they do not commit hatred-filled, violent, vile acts on prisoners…therefore, the only real punishment is taking away freedom to the outside world. By letting these 1,027 go, the "powers that be" have decided that a totally unrelated, unequal and disproportionate situation involving one life should take the place of punishing people and taking their freedom as a result of barbarous acts they committed on fellow Jews resulting in the death, destruction and pain of thousands.

Finally, the last reason societies punish is prevention. If they are in prison, they are prevented from murdering, plotting, helping to hurt Jews (and Christians – wake up). If you let them go and they are motivated and can carry out any intentions of hurting more innocents. How do we prevent future violence and the subsequent, cyclical (retributive) and justified retaliatory strikes of various kinds? We can't.

Returning to terror is exactly what many of these terrorists and thugs are planning to do when they get out. No one should be certain that their violence will be contained and Israel may not be their only target. The U.S. government was opposed to many of the individuals named on this list, seemingly because it increases the likelihood that a newly released bad guy might take his anger out on American soldiers or US interests. This is another reason this deal is bad. By unilaterally making this deal and discounting the needs and interests of the United States, Israel has potentially damaged a long history of trust with the one country that stands up for Israel's survival, right to exist and is a tremendous source of help to fend of the "bad guys." This could have been an opportunity for Israel to at least listen to people with vested interests as significant stakeholders in the success of the global war on terror. The United States has spent billions of dollars to track down terrorists and criminals like this and now with one motion, Israel has opened one of the floodgates of evil. This doesn't serve to advance the global society and its security or financial interests.

Global stakeholders may look on with now an even more warped perception and misunderstanding of Jews. This approach reinforces our willingness to accept lopsided deals and may increase expectations from the global community that Israel accept less and forfeit more of its needs to have a long-sought "peace." This is also about perception. This bad deal does not reinforce positive thoughts about Jews within the global community, it reinforces thoughts of weakness. To some that consider the deal irrational, it reinforces feelings that Jews are not of a sane mind. That thought makes it easier to scapegoat, stereotype, think, act and support anti-Semitism. Additionally, as the United Nations moves forward towards making a decision on statehood for the Palestinian people and provide a home for other terrorists, this deal may embolden UN leaders and help them to rationalize their thinking, dismiss their common sense and jettison any empathy for the Jewish State.

With all of these arguments laid out, some would say it is even easier that I have made it all sound. Let us conclude with the consideration many writers might have started with; Gilad Schalit, is a soldier. Soldiers understand sacrifice. Many understand that sometimes one must sacrifice to save and/or protect many. He knew that as a part of his duties, these horrible circumstances were a possibility. Some would argue that the difference between a compulsory service versus a volunteer force makes a difference on the responsibility a government has to protect their soldiers. There is something to this argument.

That said, however, Israel, as a society has culturally embraced the belief the service to country is a fundamental principle for all Israelis. With this acceptance, each individual knows growing up that this societal value needs to be a personal value and that positive sacrifice of the one – similar to the requirements for survival in the Holocaust and subsequent wars , it is the highest of values to sacrifice while protecting the many. All people need to ask themselves about the value of their own life. While some may say government values need not be personal values, I ask if they live in a country where their long term survival is questionable. If the laws need to be changed, then it must be taken up in court. Until then, these values cannot support trading 1,027 murderers, criminals and terrorists for one soldier.

There is no trump card. Letting out terrorists to kill more Jews is not something that can ever be trumped. Letting these 1,027 terrorist, murders and convicts experience freedom again, if nothing more, cannot be trumped. The pain that victims feel every day and that will now be intensified as a result of this 'deal,' cannot be trumped. Will the victims be remembered; relatives and friends pain recognized; or will this massive, disproportionate exchange damage Jews from within? While this is an ongoing essential question Israel must address, this was a bad deal. Not for one reason alone, but for many, many reasons.

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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