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July 24, 2008 - Image 28

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2008-07-24

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

maAiNeher

Opinion

POINT/COUNTERPOINT

Yes: Freeing Killers Encourages Attacks

Ron Kehrmann

Point

Haifa, Israel/JTA

I

am writing from Israel as my gov-
ernment releases terrorists back to
Lebanon in exchange for the return
of two Israeli soldiers kidnapped by
Hezbollah and for information on the fate
of missing Israeli airman Ron Arad.
My government made this decision
without knowing all the details and the
exact price Israel will have to pay, without
knowing if the captive soldiers are alive,
without knowing if the report on Arad is
reliable.
The negotiations over the prisoner swap
deal and the families' torment have been
in the headlines here for more than 700
days, since Gilad Shalit was kidnapped by
Hamas in the Gaza Strip and Eldad Regev
and Ehud Goldwasser were taken captive
by Hezbollah in Lebanon.
The constant concern in Israel for our
captive soldiers has increased the price of
their release.
As a father who lost his daughter in a
terrorist attack, this fateful trade — one
that is backed by public opinion and
fueled by the news media — forces me to
raise some questions.
How many terrorists will Israel ulti-
mately have to release from prison to
bring home its captured soldiers? How
much will this decision increase the price
of releasing Shalit, the solider we know is
alive? Would the price of a swap have been
this high if media outlets had not injected
themselves into these deliberations?

How many more Israelis will die or be
taken captive as a result of this swap?
My daughter Tal was 17 when a suicide
bomber detonated his explosives belt on
March 5, 2003, killing 17 Israelis — Jews,
Christians, Muslims and Druse. Did I fail
as a father to protect my daughter's life
when I did not try to change my govern-
ment's decision to release convicted ter-
rorists years before the attack? Would my
government have listened to me?
During the past months and especially
in the past few weeks, we have seen the
families of the abducted soldiers criticiz-
ing and banging on the doors of Israeli
government ministers, Knesset members
and other public figures urging them to
release terrorists and get back their sons.
As a parent, I understand their efforts
and agree that a parent must always do
everything for his child's well being. The
parents of an abducted child have the full
right and obligation to act in any way pos-
sible to bring back their child, irrespective
of the price the public must pay.
But the involvement of the media and
public opinion in their efforts raises seri-

out blood on their hands?
The past has taught us that some con-
victed terrorists who are released from jail
kill again. These attacks are a matter of
when, not if.
These terrorists were found guilty by
the Israeli legal system in fair trials. But
they remain heroes — and inspirations
— to their people. Releasing them further
jeopardizes the Israeli people and is a
breach of the government's responsibility
to its citizens.
As a parent who must protect the lives
of his children, I wish that I would be
welcomed in the halls of the Knesset with
the same attentiveness, understanding
and empathy as the parents of the captive
soldiers. I wish I could add my input and
experience to influence a decision with
such a strategic and long-term impact.
In any case, deliberation of such crucial
issues must take place far from the public
eye, free from the influence of stricken
families or the media. Their intervention
increases the price of a swap and prolongs
the process of bringing home captive sol-
diers.
Israel has to set a firm policy for dealing
with the release of kidnapped soldiers and
citizens — a policy that will make clear
that kidnapping Israelis does not bring
rewards.
The mass release of murderous ter-
rorists teaches that terror is the way to
victory. But we need to show that only
honest negotiations will bring peace. Then
Israeli and Arab children will have a better
future, and not lose their lives as a result
of senseless and hate-driven acts of
violence. ❑

These terrorists were
found guilty by the
Israeli legal system
in fair trials. But they
remain heroes —
and inspirations —
to their people.

ous moral questions. Should governments
take such considerations into account?
What about the other Israelis who now are
at greater risk of attack?
Poor decisions by politicians led to the
murder of my daughter and 16 others on
Bus 37 in Haifa. Now that I have joined the
ranks of the bereaved, what should I do in
order to protect TaFs brothers, Dror and
Mika? Who will safeguard their lives after
the mass release of terrorists with or with-

POINT/COUNTERPOINT

At Issue:

Was Israel wrong to swap terrorists
for the bodies of its slain soldiers?

No: Bring Home Captives Period

Chezi Shay
Counterpoint

Holon, Israel /JTA

S fitting in a Syrian prison, one
thought kept me alive: the
knowledge that my country was
doing everything possible to bring me
back home to my family and homeland.
At times, I imagined a hole in the floor,
with Israeli troops emerging from it to
rescue me.
In the Syrian prison, I recalled the
images of our war captives from Egypt
stepping off the plane. I remembered

A28

July 24 • 2008

the efforts the state made to get back the
bodies of its soldiers. Time and again, I
recounted the story of the hostage rescue
in Entebbe.
Even in times of despair, I knew that
everything was being done to discover
what happened to me and that Israel was
making every effort to bring me home
alive.
There were times when I considered
the possibility of ending my life, espe-
cially so my captors would have a body
and not a living soldier. But I knew they
would bring my body back to Israel, too.
I knew they would never say that I disap-
peared.

So I support the current prisoner swap.
As one who sat in prison, with his family
told for two years that he was dead, I am
convinced that we had to make the swap
despite the heavy price of releasing the
murderer Samir Kuntar. Every soldier
who goes to war should go to the battle-
field knowing the state will do everything
to bring him home.
This knowledge should be etched in
the consciousness of every soldier.
God forbid that the example to be
etched in our soldiers' minds would
be that of Ron Arad, whose fate, to our
regret, remains unknown.
I am glad that the swap is taking place

and that the Goldwasser and Regev
families can rest. When, heaven forbid, a
soldier dies, army officials knock on the
door and inform the family of the ter-
rible news.
Here, we have two families who for two
years have been facing a terrible situa-
tion, waiting for that knock on the door.
Therefore, we had to do everything in
order to end their distress. ❑

Chezi Shay was held hostage by the Popular
Front for the Liberation of Palestine from 1982
to 1985.

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