The idea that Israel would negotiate with terrorists is appalling, and yet it has been true for too long. It is also true that it has accounted for nothing but more innocent blood being shed.
According to the Jerusalem Post, over 180 Israelis have been killed since 2004 by prisoners/terrorists that Israel has released since then. Let’s say that number is too high by half: Wouldn’t 90 be astounding? Say that number is off by half again: Wouldn’t even 45 be astounding?
Now I read that over the last 30 years, Israel has released about 7,000 Palestinian prisoners to secure freedom for 19 Israelis and to retrieve the bodies of eight others. That isn’t disproportionate, that’s madness. It seems to me a far saner policy would be that when a soldier is taken, the government gives 24-hours notice that if he’s not returned, the area where he was captured will face holy hell — door-to-door searches, home razings — holy hell. Over 1,000 terrorists are a lot of terrorists, and now we read it may include two terrorists involved in the Sbarro pizza-parlor bombing as well, and that it definitely includes a terrorist who received 36 life sentences for a 2002 attack in a Jerusalem bar that killed eleven Israelis and another terrorist who killed 29 Israelis at a Passover celebration.
I can’t think of a scenario where the American people would tolerate the return of a soldier captured on the battlefield of Iraq or Afghanistan (be it a general or a private) if the price were even one Gitmo detainee. Now it’s true we have returned Gitmo detainees, many of whom have rejoined the battlefield. But that was never in exchange for prisoners, it was done out of what we might call “the mercy of fools.” And it’s been bad policy. Finally, wasn’t the nadir of the Reagan presidency the idea of weapons for hostages — never mind terrorists for hostages? When that story broke, Reagan’s popularity dropped over 20 points in 1986. To paraphrase Kipling, “For the end of this game is oppression and shame, and the nation that plays it is lost.”