November 10, 2003
The decision to proceed with the prisoner swap was regrettably approved by just one cabinet vote.
There can be no doubt that Israel?s negotiators assessed every consideration, every which way. The appeals from the families have struck a responding emotional chord deep within the Jewish ethos. For our sages and commentators regard the ransoming of hostages as one of our greatest mitzvot. (Commandments of Jewish law.)
Prime Minister Sharon added another reason for paying the extortionate ransom, namely that of ?saving life?. While none of the approximately 400 prospective releasees appears to actually have ?blood on his hands? we can assume they were detained because they were judged to be dangerous if set free. A goodly number have been held for many years.
At the time of capture, Israeli soldiers sort prisoners by pre-established criteria for detention. Only the few who meet these criteria are detained, for professional questioning by Israel?s security forces. (Our equivalent of the FBI and CIA.)
Those who are further detained are deemed to be dangerous to the welfare of Israel?s inhabitants. Many of these who are now being described as not having blood on their hands, gave their support to one or more murderous actions.
Even though they may not themselves have killed anyone, they clearly abetted murder. They were part of a gang of would be murderers who were captured during or after a particular operation. They would be judged equally guilty, as accessories before or after the fact, in the courts of most democratic countries . . . including Israel.
Realists will readily foresee that some of these failed terrorists will plan and take part in new murderous initiatives. (Israel has experienced this before.) One successfully planned suicide bombing could result in 25 deaths . . . just one.
When this happens will Mr. Sharon apologize to the families of new mourners? They will have every right to blame the Prime Minister for his irresponsible decision which will have led to the death of their loved ones. He will then learn that he did not save life. That on the contrary he caused even greater loss of life.
How will the families of the 4 returnees (3 dead and one living) then feel about the tremendous pressure they brought on members of the cabinet to vote for the swap? Were they so certain this could not happen? Will they be able to sleep when it does?
I had heard that the mother of Ron Arad had stated, while she was alive, that if Ron were dead, his remains should not be traded for more ?prisoners?. I have searched vainly for confirmation of this. However, I would have hoped one of the families of the 3 dead soldiers might have taken this view.