Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Shalit Capitulation

By Steven Plaut

“Those released will return to armed struggle. It is a great national achievement.” Khaled Mashal, Chairman, Hamas Political Bureau, Damascus, Syria

I think that the best definition of leadership is where a political leader is willing to resist populist pressure to do “popular” things whenever those “popular” things are harmful. Real leadership is someone capable of resisting the temptation to act as demagogue and play to the crowd.

In the massive release of mass murderers that took place to “buy” back from the Hamas terrorists Israel’s kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit, the current leadership has revealed itself to be the very opposite of what true leadership should be. This is cheap demagoguery playing to the crowd for transient popularity. And the people of Israel will pay the price for the theatrics.

The release of the Palestinian mass murderers is popular in Israel at the moment, according to public opinion surveys. Israeli governments and particular this leadership has a long track record of doing whatever the caprices of the public happen to favor at the moment. So I suppose in some ways it was not surprising that they agreed to this atrocity. A government that does not have the backbone to stare down and dismiss summer Woodstock-on-the-Yarkon “social justice” protesters cannot be expected to resist the passionate Israeli public desire to see Gilad Shalit released.

The release of the murderers is fleetingly popular this week. Negotiating with Palestinians is also generally popular in Israel. So are price controls on housing and raising the minimum wage. So is (depending on wording of question) creating a Palestinian state. True leadership means refusing to create disasters just because the public this week happens to feel that it is a nice idea to create them.

There is a general and deeply-felt desire for Shalit’s release among all Israelis. The media have kept the plight of his family in the headlines for five years. Shalit has been in captivity for longer than the US soldiers who survived the Bataan death march in the Philippines or British troops captured in Hong Kong and Singapore. But it is now clear that the main effect of the organizations in Israel drumming up support for “Let’s get Shalit Released,” and “We demand Shalit’s Freedom,” was to increase the number of murderers released in the exchange, from a couple of hundred to over a thousand.

It was obvious all along that the protests “on behalf of Gilad” had no effect whatsoever on the Hamas other than persuading it to hold out longer for greater and greater levels of appeasement. The protests simply weakened the resolve of the already weak Israeli political leadership to resist the extortion.

The first of the atrocious massive releases of terrorists by Israel took place in 1985, when the National Unity Government of the Labor Party and Likud released terrorists in the “Ahmed Jibril Deal,” to the PFLP terrorist leader Jibril. 1150 prisoners were released in exchange for three Israeli POWs, who had been captured during the first Lebanese War. Many of the terrorists released resumed their careers in terrorism and led the “First Intifada.”

That moronic “deal” served as precedent. Thereafter Israel paid in the currency of murderers in every “deal” in which captive Israelis were taken, and even in exchange for the release of the corpses of Israeli soldiers murdered by the terrorists. The massive release of murderers naturally always served as incentive for the terrorists to kidnap more Israelis. There is some serious doubt as to whether Shalit would have been kidnapped in the first place had it not been for those precedents.

In those repeated wholesale releases of terrorists, Israel always attempted to maintain a figleaf of self-respect, setting some limits on who could be released. There was Israeli reluctance to releasing murderers of children, or those who had actually pulled the triggers in killing civilians, or those involved in suicide bombings.

No longer.

The Shalit capitulation has at long last put an end to all pretense. The very worst mass murderers of children and civilians are about to be released. The litany of their crimes is too long and horrendous to be reproduced here. You can see more details here:

But they involve those who murdered multiple members of the same families, those who placed bombs in the Jerusalem Sbarro pizza restaurant murdering children, those who lured a 15 year old boy into the West Bank with internet flirting and murdered him, and too many other murders. Some of the atrocities sound more like events that took place in Nazi-conquered Europe than in the independent Jewish state. A surviving member of the family destroyed in the Sbarro attack is in the news this week for having vandalized the grave this week of Yitzhak Rabin, whom he blames for the murders of his family and the release of the murderers. (See

As in all cases of mind-numbing stupidity being perpetrated by Israel’s government, Netanyahu came in right on cue and defended the capitulation on grounds of “What choice was there?” Whenever Israeli politicians choose the stupidest choice possible, they always insist there is no other choice. What choice was there? The choice was not to agree to the capitulation. Just say no.

Of the terrorists released, many will revert to their careers of murder, as did so many released terrorists before them. They will be celebrated by the barbarians as heroes and role models. It should not take long before the cost of saving the life of one Jew will turn out to be the deaths of many Jews. The deal is popular because the Israeli public is familiar with the faces of Gilad Shalit and his family. The people who will now be murdered or kidnapped by the terrorists newly inspired by the capitulation do not have faces. Nor do THEIR families. Yet.

It was clear all along that there were other ways in which Israel and its government could have dealt with the Shalit kidnapping and captivity. Israel could have assassinated 30 terrorists a day and announce that the targeting would continue every day until Shalit was released. Or Israel could have kidnapped the family members of Hamas leaders and held THEM in captivity until Shalit was free. Or Israel could have executed 30 imprisoned terrorists inside Israeli prison each day.

Better yet, Israel could have eliminated the terrorist “bait” that drives kidnapping in the first place -- by executing terrorists. No one has ever been murdered by a terrorist who has already been executed. Every time anyone brings up the idea of capital punishment for terrorism, Israel’s politicians wring their hands and whine about how “unethical” it is, how it violates Jewish ethics. All this coming from politicians who do not have the slightest idea of what Jewish ethics has to say about anything. Suffice it to say that capital punishment is as fundamentally grounded in Torah and Jewish ethics as are bans on incest and adultery. Jewish ethics explicitly prohibits abandoning other randomly chosen Jews to be killed in order to obtain the release of one Jew being threatened.

The current government may soon be learning how ephemeral “popularity” is and how capricious the throng can be. It may not take long for their cowardice to reap what it has sown, in the form of buses exploding on Israeli streets or suicide bombing attacks on Israeli restaurants. And those victims of the Shalit capitulation will have faces and families.

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