I am having considerable difficulty coherently putting into words my sadness, anger, and utter frustration with today’s news about the “prisoner exchange.” Dry Bones said it quite effectively in his most recent political cartoon, but I’ll also give it my best shot:
The two Israeli soldiers kidnapped by Hezbollah two years ago, Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser, launching the most recent Lebanon War were returned in coffins as the cold-blooded unrepentant murderer and terrorist Samir Kuntar walked free to a hero’s welcome in Lebanon. I am far from surprised by the news, but it is undeniably clear that this reinforces a disturbing precedent: pardoning terrorists and murderers in exchange for body parts.
While such exchanges are nothing new (note Israel’s equally foolish swap in 2004 for three bodies and drug dealer Elchanan Tannenbaum resulting in the release of 435 terrorists), this one comes at a particularly sensitive time when soldier Gilad Schalit remains in Hamas‘ hands in Gaza. Lesson learned? Hamas can feel free to murder Schalit and still expect to be rewarded handsomely with more concessions and more releases of dangerous criminals and terrorists. We can now also be sure to expect much more of the same: more kidnappings, more killings, and more leverage for these despicable terrorist organizations. They’ve said as much.
Meanwhile Israel’s “partner in peace” Mahmoud Abbas congratulated Kuntar’s family and joined the families of the returned deceased Hezbollah operatives in mourning their loss. It’s nice to know his heart is in the right place. With friends like these, who needs enemies?
I recognize that Israel’s commitment to returning the bodies of its soldiers and citizens is an eminently moral one, but that does not always make it the right one. While I truly empathize with the Regev and Goldwasser families, I fear that the benefit of the momentary relief of knowing their loved ones’ fate is far outstripped by long term risks and costs. If one thing is certain, it is that the appeasing of tyrants and fanatics does little to dull their ambitions, it merely whets their appetite. The sooner Israel recognizes this, the better.