Sunday, July 6, 2008
I arrived in Israel to news of the upcoming prisoner release. Israel has signed an agreement to exchange captured terrorists (including Samir Kuntar who brutally murdered a father and his four year old daughter in 1979) for the bodies of its soldiers, Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser. Israel has agreed to release many Lebanese prisoners even though it means not the return of its soldiers but the bodies of these soldiers killed in the attack that precipitated the 2006 War with Lebanon. That the exchange lacks balance is clear. Despite this fact as of today's writing 60% of Israelis support the deal. There are a great many problems with the deal. We are negotiating with terrorists. We are repatriating terrorists with blood on their hands who will surely receive a hero's welcome orchestrated by Hezbollah in Beruit. Hezbollah and in particular Hamas who still holds Gilad Shalit (and who it seems clear is still alive) will no longer have the incentive to keep their hostages alive. Yet most here appear to favor closure for the Regev and Goldwasser families over these legitimate concerns. Most favor securing the present and healing the wounds of these families over worries of the future. Most believe because our enemies do not fight by the "rules" must not be an excuse to let loose of our moral fiber and Jewish values. Pidyon shevuyim (the redemption of captives) is a Jewish value of the highest order. If I have read the attitude here correctly it is we will fight to protect our families while doing our utmost to preserve our values. In the State of Israel the Jewish choices bubble much closer to the surface. They are at times painful and wrenching, but there is no mistaking that Jewish values animinate the soul of this country.