Friday, January 22, 2016

Let’s take a page from America’s angst

Source: CNN screenshot
It is always difficult for me to read or hear about a shiva call that our prime minister has paid to a newly bereaved family of a terror victim.

This past week, when he visited the Otniel home of the young wife, mother and nurse, Dafna Meir, stabbed to death in front of her children, I knew what an insincere gesture it was. Netanyahu reaches out to terror victims when it furthers his ulterior, political motives.

Those are harsh words, of course. But I write them from personal experience. I know that when a terror victim's family dares to confront him or to simply plead for his compassion - as we did - they will be ignored.

We sent letters beseeching him to delete our child's murderer - who perpetrated  a full scale massacre of 16 victims - from the list of prisoners to be released in the Shalit Deal, We never received even a one-word response.

Another event this week brought back memories of those awful days.

The prisoner swap between the United States and Iran aroused much debate. While there was elation over the return of  five US citizens, many have criticized the price paid. Seven Iranians who were either serving time or awaiting trial for alleged sanctions violations were freed. In addition, the U.S. State Department dropped an international request to detain 14 Iranians on trade violations saying the extradition requests were unlikely to be successful. So, as critics note, it was, in effect, 21 for five who were actually imprisoned unjustly.

Now this swap should not even be mentioned in the same breath as the Shalit Deal. That 2011 terrorist windfall saw Israel free hundreds of convicted, unrepentant murderers and mass murderers included in the total price tag of 1,027 terrorists for a single Israeli hostage.

Conclusion of the Shalit Deal [Image Source]
And as for angst, debate, criticism?  In the weeks and days leading up to it, although everyone knew it was imminent, there was none. Isolated pundits were scathing - but only after it was a fait accompli.

Ari Shavit's day-after op ed in Haaretz was entitled: "In Wake of Shalit Deal, Israel Must Return to Sanity"
This is an important morning for the Shalit family and for the State of Israel. A first morning after the insanity. A first morning after the hysteria. A first morning after the loss of judgment and the loss of our senses. [Haaretz, October 19, 2011]
Avi Issacharoff also of Haaretz wrote in his day-after piece, entitled “Shalit deal throws Hamas a lifeline”, that the deal was
“the first significant achievement since the Hamas government in Gaza was established in January 2006”.
He added:
“Tuesday [the day of the first tranche] showed that after nearly four years, Hamas has reared its head in the West Bank. It's doing so with Israel's help… It was a sad day… Hamas celebrating in the streets of the West Bank, masses of people vowing to kidnap Israelis, songs of praise of Hamas’ military wing…”
But the pervading mood was one of unadulterated rejoicing. Period. And for a long time.

Months later, when releasees began appearing in the headlines as perpetrators of fresh terror attacks, there were some rumblings about the wisdom of that deal. But still nothing akin to the angst of last week's American deal.

Here is some background information regarding the Shalit Deal which I first published in an Israeli newspaper in 2012 [source] but which has remained swept under the carpet. Had it been more widely circulated, it is doubtful that we would have been subjected to the eight-year reign of Netanyahu which now seems set to endure even longer.

Starting the day after Gilad Shalit returned to Israeli soil, a succession of journalists, IDF officers and Netanyahu confidantes have publicized damning information hidden from the public throughout Shalit’s captivity.

First, we learned that, contrary to our prime minister’s insistence, the release of murderers was not the only way to rescue Shalit. Intelligence and military options existed for locating and saving him but were never pursued. [See "Why Did Netanyahu Free My Daughter's Killer? Mother Blasts Prisoner Exchange To Free Gilad Shalit", published in FORWARD December 09, 2011 [source]

In July 2012, David Meidan, who served for many months as Netanyahu’s envoy to the Shalit negotiations, delivered a lecture at Tel Aviv University. Contradicting Netanyahu’s strident assertions, Meidan disclosed [source] that politics, and not only security and diplomacy, were a factor in the prime minister’s decision to sign the deal. 

According to Haaretz [source], Netanyahu also recently conceded to the German newspaper Bild that his decision to sign the deal was in part due to pressure from his wife, Sara.

The ramifications of Netanyahu’s selfish gambit have proven dire.

Six months after the deal, the IDF website [source] posted the following: 
“Several of the terrorists recently released from captivity as part of the deal… have returned to terrorist activity… with ten terrorists arrested so far.”
In July 2012, Army Radio interviewed Col. Saar Tzur, the outgoing commander of the Binyamin division. Tzur said that the Shalit deal triggered a steady and noticeable rise in the number of attempted terror attacks in Judea and Samaria and inside the Green Line [source]. "It doesn't matter whether they were released to Gaza, the West Bank or abroad,” Tzur said. “We see a return to terrorism.”

We still have a lot to learn when it comes to dealing with terrorists. And, like it or not, this time the United States can be our teacher.

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