There are no problems more entangled and seemingly unfixable than the Arab – Israeli conflict. It is a story that goes back as long as time and is a perpetual cycle of parents teaching children to hate and so the loathing gets passed from generation to generation, from war to war and from prisoner to prisoner.
A few days ago Gilad Shalit was released from captivity for the exchange of the 1027 Palestinian prisoners. This is not the first time this has happened in fact Israel have a history of releasing large numbers of prisoners to free their own soldiers
The most notable of all was the Jibril Deal of 1985. The Israeli government headed by then-Prime Minister Shimon Peres (the current president) agreed to release 1,150 prisoners in exchange for three Israeli soldiers captured in Lebanon by the Palestinian Militant Front led by Ahmed Jibril.
The question I keep asking myself is what is the long term effect of a decision like this, does this encourage the kidnapping of more and more Israeli soldiers in an effort to broker deals of freedom for hundreds of Palestinians held captive for acts of terrorism (this is what most of them were found guilty of)
While saying no to a deal like this must be one of the hardest decisions to make, to tell parents that their child may never be free because the cost of one life is far less than that of thousands of prisoners and millions of Israelis, is not a fair thing to pass onto any person but does that make it wrong. Leaving the future consequences of these actions for a moment, what about the victims of these terrorists (before you get all angry I’m not saying all of the prisoners are but certainly a lot were). Their families have suffered loss and injustice and when they finally have seen these people behind bars serving a sentence, for whatever crime was committed, now have to face the truth that these people are free – is this really justice?
Is it fair, as a leader of a nation, to put the entire population at risk to save the life of one or two, perhaps its humane but is it the best RATIONAL decision? The answer is not clear like so many tough decisions, there is no right or wrong, there’s just a choice that people have to live with. For me the American quote ‘we do not negotiate with terrorists’ has always resonated. I think it strikes me so hard because if it wasn’t a hard and fast rule that has been drummed into leaders it wouldn’t work, emotion would get in the way and people would die, attacks would escalate and more people would be in danger.
On a human level, Israel saved a young man who probably survived the most horrific of ordeals in captivity and tonight he is at home with his family and for that I am happy and relieved but has his release has perhaps put more soldiers in danger of being kidnapped and used as bargaining chips?
I truly hope that the root cause for this decision by the Israeli government is to use this event as a stepping stone to peace. If this peace is possible or at least a chance of it is then its worth ten deals or perhaps hundreds of deals like this. If long term harmony between nations is the eventual goal here then it has to be the right decision and whatever injustice forms part of it is miniscule in comparison to the long term joy that peace would bring.
IF, and it’s a big if, this is the case then, it certainly is the epitome of the saying ‘the end justify s the means!
AS always though only time will tell!
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