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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Things that you see from there, you don't see from here?

Based on his recommendation, Prime Minister Netanyahu's cabinet passed a deal releasing 1,027 terrorists in exchange for kidnapped IDF Corporal Gilad Shalit on Tuesday night. But Netanyahu didn't always believe that releasing terrorists was a good idea. In his book, Fighting Terrorism, How Democracies Can Defeat the International Terrorist Network, Netanyahu warned against releasing terrorists.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu warned against exchanging terrorists for kidnapped soldiers in his 1995 book, Fighting Terrorism: How Democracies Can Defeat Domestic and International Terrorists, writing that it was “a mistake that Israel made over and over again” and that refusing to release terrorists from prison was “among the most important policies that must be adopted in the face of terrorism.”

“The release of convicted terrorists before they have served their full sentences seems like an easy and tempting way of defusing blackmailed situations in which innocent people may lose their lives, but its utility is momentary at best,” Netanyahu wrote.

“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 terrorist blackmail they are supposed to defuse.”
So is this a case of things that you see from there, you don't see from here? Hardly. First, Netanyahu has not always practiced what he preached.
In his first term as prime minister, he released Hamas mentor Sheikh Ahmed Yassin from jail in 1997 in order to bring about the release of Israeli agents who had failed to assassinate Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal in Jordan.

Both as prime minister and finance minister, Netanyahu voted to release terrorists from jail on several occasions. But he made a point of insisting that none of the prisoners who were freed had “blood on their hands.”

In 1996, Netanyahu gave Hezbollah 45 Shi’ite prisoners and more than 100 bodies of Hezbollah terrorists in exchange for the remains of IDF soldiers Yosef Fink and Rahamim Alsheik. In 1997, he released 750 prisoners as part of the Hebron Accord and 250 ahead of the Wye Plantation Agreement. None of the prisoners had blood on their hands.

As finance minister in November 2003, Netanyahu voted to release 430 prisoners in return for the release of Elhanan Tannenbaum and the bodies of IDF soldiers Benny Avraham, Adi Avitan and Omar Sawayid.

Netanyahu justified his vote by ensuring that no terrorists with blood on their hands would be released, but he absented himself from a final vote on the exchange two months later.
But this time, the 'prisoners' being released clearly do have 'blood on their hands.' In fact, you may recall that during former Prime Minister Ehud K. Olmert's term, he bent over backwards to try to convince us that he would not release prisoners with 'blood on their hands.' So why did Bibi change his mind?

First, a carefully orchestrated media campaign from people who see the Shalit's as 'one of their own.' Second, let's face reality: Bibi capitulated.

But at least we did win some points:
However, Israel scored a major victory as nearly all top Palestinian terrorists will not be freed in the exchange, including:
Marwan Barghouti who was sentenced to five life sentences for his role in the murders of Israelis during the al-Aksa intifada

Abdullah Barghouti who is serving out 67 consecutive life terms for building the bombs that murdered 66 people

Ahmed Saadat who headed the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and was responsible for the assassination of Israeli minister Rehavam Ze'evi

Hassan Salama, a Hamas leader who was convicted of murdering 67 Israeli citizens

Abbas a-Sayed, mastermind of the Park Hotel suicide bombing in which 30 Israelis were killed on the eve of Passover 2002

Ibrahim Hamed, who was found guilty of involvement in terrorist attacks that led to the death of 82 Israelis
"450 is a large number but 300 are leaving the area to Gaza or overseas," [General Security Service Director General Yoram] Cohen said.

According to Cohen, "It is a hard deal to digest for the families who lost their loved ones, but we cannot wait. If we do wait, we may not be able to bring Gilad home."
That's small consolation to my friend Arnold Roth, whose daughter Malki HY"D (May God avenge her blood) was murdered in the Sbarro terror attack, whose planner, Ahlam Tamimi, is among those being released. Here's what Arnold wrote in an email during the night.
You asked my wife Frimet and me how we feel about tonight's agreement for a mass release of Palestinian Arab prisoners in exchange for the freedom of Gilad Shalit, held hostage by Hamas for five years.

A government that seeks the defeat of the terrorists must refuse to release convicted terrorists from prisons. Israel has entered into transactions like this one several times in the past. If the plan was to bring terrorist attacks on Israelis to an end, then the release of those terrorists failed. We wonder why that lesson has never been properly internalized. Releasing imprisoned terrorists emboldens them and their colleagues. If they are captured, they know their imprisonment will be brief. By nurturing the belief that their demands are likely to be met in the future, you encourage terrorist blackmail of the very kind that you want to stop. Only the most unrelenting refusal to ever give in to such blackmail can prevent this.

If what I have just keyed in sounds vaguely familiar to some readers, there's a good reason. It's a paraphrase of page 144 of a 1997 book called "Fighting Terrorism: How Democracies Can Defeat Domestic and International Terrorists". The author is Benjamin Netanyahu, and tonight we are astonished at the decision he pushed through the government.

Nothing is official yet but the murderer of our daughter and 14 other people, most of them women and children, is on the release list as we feared for years she would be. She has said in published jail-house interviews that she will be freed. She says she is not sorry for what she did. Her central role in the murders at the Sbarro restaurant have made her a hero. With her release, she will be a living inspiration to countless young Arabs desperate for a positive role-model in life. Is Israel ready for the consequences of that?

Has our government taken into account what the release means to families like us, and we are in the thousands, who have suffered the worst possible loss and now see the perpetrators dancing and prancing in the arms of their supporters?

Everyone wants Gilad Shalit home, safe and well. If we were his parents, we might have done what the Shalits did. But this is not the same as deciding, as prime minister or as the cabinet, what is good for the country, for the people of Israel. The jubilation emanating from the two Palestinian Arab governments tonight, the Hamas and the Abu Mazen regimes, should make clear to Israel's friends everywhere that something dreadful has happened tonight. We may come to bitterly regret this transaction for years to come.
I'm with Arnold. He has more to say here.

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At 12:04 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

Carl - I've expressed this view elsewhere and in my opinion, the Shalits are the most selfish people in Israel.

They certainly succeeded - but we should not absolve them.

This has nothing to do with their son's homecoming. It has to with their reprehensible disregard for the national welfare. That must never be forgotten or forgiven.

At 3:07 PM, Blogger Empress Trudy said...

Wait till Israel frees a quarter of them then Hamas refuses to free Shalit then the Quartet etc screams and pouts that the Jews haven't done enough. Then Bibi will free the remainder anyway. Hamas will walk away and in 10 years they will open discussions to release Shalit's remains. Only an idiot would think that Shalit will ever be seen alive.

At 3:10 PM, Blogger RichardN said...

Don't be too hard on Gilad Shalit's parents, NormanF, they did what they could. The shame is on the international community, the UN, Turkey, the Red Cross and the NGOs for their dealings with Hamas, as if a credible partner in peace.
One Israeli is worth a thousand of them, for sure.

At 3:18 PM, Blogger RichardN said...

Please don't be too hard on Gilad Shalit's parents, NormanF, they did what they had to do. Rather, blame the international community, the UN, the USA, the Red Cross, the NGOs who choose not to act. They continued to talk with hamas.

One Israeli is worth a thousand of them.

At 6:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Iranian agents hatched a plot to take out Saudi and Israeli diplomats in the United States, a potentially very violent operation and nobody seems unduly concerned: not in Europe, not in the United States, not in Saudi Arabia, not in the Israeli blogosphere:


This is the world we live in.

Bottom dollar: Israel's ruling class does not, when it comes down to it, feel existentially threatened by its foes: not by Hamas not by Fatah not even by Iran not even even by an Iran with nukes. So all these maneuvers and side gambits play on and on and on.


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