Up until now, I have not really discussed my thoughts about the Gilad Shalit exchange deal: Gilad Shalit for over 1000 terrorists, responsible for the murder and maiming of thousands of innocent men, women and children.
Sure, the life of one Jew is worth way more than the collective lives of over a thousand murderous scum. And I, like all my fellow Israelis, desperately want Gilad home. But this is way too steep a price to pay:
- The deal signals to all palestinian terrorist organizations that kidnapping Israelis pays off. Big time. So expect more kidnapping attempts in future
- The deal removes any possible deterrent effect that a prison sentence may have (except, perhaps, for those who really hate prison food or who want a university degree)
- The terrorists released have vowed to resume their Jew-killing ways, so the lives of more Israelis are being endangered
- The deal brings Hamas a huge victory and raises their esteem in the eyes of the palestinians
I am clearly not alone with these thoughts. One Israeli had this to say:
Do not release jailed terrorists. Among the most important policies which must be adopted in the face of terrorism is the refusal to release convicted terrorists from prisons. This is a mistake that Israel, once the leader in anti-terror techniques, has made over and over again. Release of convicted terrorists before they have served their full sentences seems like an easy and tempting way of defusing blackmail situations in which innocent people may lose their lives. But its utility is momentary at best. Prisoner releases only embolden terrorists by giving them the feeling that even if they are caught their punishment will be brief. Worse, by leading terrorists to think such demands are likely to be met, they encourage precisely the king of terrorist blackmail which they are supposed to defuse.
That Israeli was Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu (from p144 of his book Fighting Terrorism).
Ideally, we would have the death penalty for terrorists, which would serve the multiple purposes of deterring terrorism, reducing the overcrowding problem in Israeli prisons, and ridding humanity of those who have none. If we were willing to execute the Nazi Eichmann for his role in the murder of Jews, why should we not do the same to these modern day Nazis?
I share Brian’s sentiments. We now need to hunt down and vaporize these murderers after their release. Better yet, why not place some slow acting poison in their prison food?
Update: Former Israellycool contributor Elder of Ziyon thinks differently.
I’m seeing a number of people in the comments, on Twitter and on groups I follow who are against the Shalit deal if it means that hundreds of murderers are freed in exchange.
The argument has two components.
One is that they are likely to kill Israelis in the future – as we have seen happen in the past, many times. And families of victims of the murderers are understandably upset at the thought that the monster will go free.
The other argument is that these one-sided swaps encourage terror groups to kidnap more people to facilitate more swaps.
I am sympathetic to these arguments. I’ve even made these arguments. And from a utilitarian perspective, they make a great deal of sense – one person’s life is not worth the lives of many possible future victims.
However, there is a flaw in this logic, one that to me can tip the scales towards supporting the swap.
The fact is that the terror groups are already filled with people who would kill Israelis at every opportunity. The fact is that these groups already have a strategy of kidnapping any Israelis they can. With a few exceptions, most of the prisoners are not the brains behind successful terror attacks – they were just facilitators, people who are interchangeable with hundreds and thousands of other members of Hamas and Fatah and Islamic Jihad.
The reason that there have been relatively few terror attacks over the past few years isn’t because of a lack of trying – it is because Israel is better at defending herself. The number of potential terrorists has remained steady at best, and the ones being released would not change that appreciably.
Yes, statistically there is a good chance that there will be future attacks involving some of the terrorists in this swap. But chances are the attacks would occur anyway with different people. Brainless terror drones are a dime a dozen in the territories.
The organizers who actually dream up new ways of killing should not be released. But most of the terrorists in the swap, from what I can tell, do not fit that description.
On the other side, a swap shows how much value Israel attaches to its people, and how unified Israelis are in grieving over tragedy and celebrating good news. It proves that one side values human life and the other despises it. We all know this, of course, but it is important to remind the world that there is a right and a wrong, a side that is moral and one whose entire existence is based on immorality. Additionally, the release of Shalit means that there is no longer anything that Hamas can hold over the heads of Israelis.
I have a number of issues with Elder’s arguments:
- True, the terror groups already have a strategy of kidnapping any Israelis they can, but this is precisely because the strategy works. Remove the incentive and there will be way less kidnapping attempts. Even terrorists operate according to a certain logic.
- Elder’s proposal not to release the terror organizers is a likely non-starter. These are precisely the terrorists Hamas would not agree to compromise on. If Hamas agrees with Elder’s assessment that the other terrorists are merely “interchangeable facilators,” then they see their release as less crucial. After all, they are interchangeable.
- True, such a swap shows how much value Israel attaches to its people. But we have already demonstrated this by previous prisoner swaps and rescue missions such as Entebbe. If people do not already see which side is moral and which is not, there is not much hope for them seeing this after a prisoner swap.