The Corner

Shalit’s Release Highlights Israel’s Democracy

Berlin — Analysts and terror experts outside of Israel have and will continue to second-guess the Israeli government’s decision to secure the release of one captive Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, in exchange for 1,027 Palestinian terrorists and criminals. While there are obvious counter-terrorism objections to the swap, which Robert H. Mnookin outlines in his fine Wall Street Journal op-ed “Israel’s Deals with the Devils,” I remain a divided self about the agreement.

In the final analysis, the painstaking agreement was green-lighted by the only vibrant democratic government in the Middle East, the state of Israel. The effort to win Shalit’s freedom is a tribute to Israel’s democracy and its acute sense of justice. While Syria and Iran’s totalitarian regimes are bludgeoning their populations, Israel’s government seeks to protect its citizens from terror and affirm the core principle of human freedom for its population.

But the understandable euphoria over Shalit’s release has overshadowed the horrific suffering of Israeli families who have to internalize that the Palestinian murderers of their family members are free.

Shalit’s release also highlights the failure of human-rights organizations such as Amnesty International (AI) and Human Rights Watch (HRW) and the International Committee of the Red Cross. The so-called human-rights NGOs and relief groups failed to aggressively campaign for Shalit’s release. In fact, during Shalit’s imprisonment AI and HRW devoted the bulk of their resources to bashing the Jewish state and publishing report after report about alleged defects in Israel’s human-rights record. In short, AI and HRW trafficked in a pro-Hamas and pro-Hezbollah strategy.

The feeble European Union response to Shalit’s captivity only added to the vile human-rights violations by Hamas. German foreign minister Guido Westerwelle issued one of the most bizarre statements about Shalit’s release, saying that he sees the swap as “new momentum” for both sides to “resume direct negotiations or the success from peace talks could be endangered.” It is more than odd that a German foreign minister appears to be encouraging Israel to deal with a lethal anti-Semitic terror group to bring about peace. The charter of Hamas expressly states that its aim is to obliterate Israel. The goal ought to be to free Gaza from Hamas’s despotic rule.

— Benjamin Weinthal is a fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

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