The Gilad Shalit affair is the psychodrama of the Jewish nation under siege. Today, each of us shares Noam and Aviva Shalit’s joy with all his heart. It’s hard to imagine the pain of this family over the past five and a half years — and that of Gilad, the Israeli soldier who came back home in exchange for a thousand terrorists. No other country would conceivably act in this manner: The deal reveals the compassion Israelis share and the lengths they will go to avoid forsaking their sons on the battlefield.
But in the long run, Israel lost. For many years, since the Oslo Accords, Israel became self-hypnotized with the fable of a pacified, normalized, territorially integrated post-Zionist society. The dream of normalization seemed close at hand, but then collapsed miserably under Islamic genocidal belligerence — a new, potentially fatal chapter in the story of the Jewish people. Shalit’s ratio of 1:1,000 is another chapter of the gospel of trading “land for peace.” Or, in plain language: Neville Chamberlain–style groveling appeasement.
The Israeli strategy on terrorism began to fail when Rabin and Peres cut a deal with Arafat and when Israel adopted a defensive strategy of retreating behind walls. It began to fail when the misbegotten, ill-fated Oslo peace accord led directly to the suicide-bomb slaughter of Israelis, young and old. Since Israel allowed the PLO and its terror armies to move their bases from Tunis to Judea, Samaria, and Gaza in 1994, nearly 2,000 Israeli families have involuntarily paid the ultimate price in the “peace process.” The Shalit deal is a moral defeat most especially for these families of the victims of terrorism: Israel just cancelled more than 900 life sentences to embrace again one soldier. Meir Schijveschuurder, who lost his parents and three of his siblings in the suicide bombing in the Sbarro restaurant in Jerusalem in 2001, yesterday declared against the deal: “We feel like a man who woke up in Germany a day after World War II.”
Terrorism is now sanctified throughout all the Palestinian areas. The streets are plastered with posters glorifying terrorists and suicide bombers. Children trade “martyr cards” the way Western children trade baseball cards. Necklaces with pictures of terrorists, many released today by Israel, are very popular. Signs on the walls of Palestinian kindergartens currently proclaim their pupils as “the martyrs of tomorrow.” Elementary-school principals commend their students for wanting to “tear their [Zionists’] bodies into little pieces and cause them more pain than they will ever know.” Unlike terrorists in other parts of the world, the Palestinian movement aspires to immortality and its violence is always “sacred.” That’s why the freed terrorists will return to kill the Jews.
The Almagor association revealed that 177 Israelis have been killed by prisoners released by Israel in previous deals. The Jews living in the settlements are afraid of a new round of killings. “Many terrorists have been allowed to return to live near our homes, it’s a shock and a disaster,” Hillel Weiss, professor of literature at Bar-Ilan University and a leader in the settlement community, tells me. The deal is a victory for terrorism, since Hamas can now justly demonstrate that killing Jews is infinitely more effective than negotiations in achieving their objectives. It will also be much easier to recruit terrorists when they are encouraged to believe that no matter how many Israelis they kill, there is every likelihood that, if apprehended, they will be released.
Hamas has already drawn up a new list of killers to be released: Hammed Ibrahim, who killed, in the attacks he organized, 76 Israelis; Abdullah Barghouti, “the mechanic” who prepared all the explosives that caused bloodshed in Jerusalem between 2001 and 2003; Sayed Abbas, who masterminded the suicide bombing in a Natanya hotel in 2002, in which 30 Israelis were killed, including many elderly Holocaust survivors.
Releasing the terrorists meant saving Gilad’s life, but it also means that more Jews will die and more soldiers will be kidnapped. Now many Israelis ask: How many more lives are to be sacrificed before the rest of the released men — and those to be released in future exchanges — are put behind bars again? Appeasement breeds only death and destruction. Capitulating will culminate in greater disasters.
— Giulio Meotti is the author of the book A New Shoah: The Untold Story of Israeli Victims of Terrorism (Encounter).