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Tal Cohen
Eitan Haber
Tal Cohen
Something went wrong
The day after, we’ll have to look into what went wrong with handling of captives

The day after, and it is not too far apparently, some good Jews will have to sit down and discuss the following question: What happened here? Who decided? And what did they decide?

 

Something went wrong in the way the political leadership handled captives Gilad Shalit, Eldad Regev, and Udi Goldwasser. Something here is off.

 

Regrettably, all Israeli governments over the years had, and still have, a tradition of dealing with our captives: We believe that we do not pay a highly inflated price for the sake of saving one, two, or three captives. We believe there is no room for comparing the price tag. At times, we freed thousands of people who went back to their homes in various Arab countries.

 

Many people, and certainly in Arab states, saw those acts as a sign of weakness. We liked to say that this is the source of our strength. Deep in our heart we liked the sight of thousands of Egyptians or Jordanians or Syrians or Palestinians, submissive and humiliated, expelled from Israel in exchange for two, three, or four of our captives.

 

All Israeli prime ministers, including Ben-Gurion and Begin, went with their heart and with the Jewish mitzvah of redeeming captives. They didn’t give a damn about anything else.

 

In the case before us now – Shalit, Goldwasser, and Regev – everyone knew the expected price. All that was left was to (pretend to) bargain, and mostly to decide.

 

Bitter and skeptical 

Yet something went completely wrong in the handling of this affair; mostly, what went wrong is the unique and devoted treatment normally accorded to the suffering families. The political mess has taken over this holy duty as well, and made the families bitter, and most of all skeptical.

 

The day after, we will have to look into what happened, in technical terms, but first and foremost we will have to look into what happened on the moral plain. Are we still a special people, whose handling of its captives is different than that of all other peoples?

 

And something personal: I cannot forget the noble Ms. Rachel Sasportas, the mother of Avi Sasportas, the IDF soldier who disappeared and was murdered in the late 1980s; every meeting she had with the defense minister ended with “there is no information” about her son’s fate, but also with the mother’s belief that “the defense establishment is doing everything.”

 

What happened to the defense establishment ever since then? And what happened to the families?

 

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