Suddenly everyone is a hero. Suddenly everyone has red lines. We are not a defeated country, said Prime Minister Ehud Olmert Tuesday at a press conference whose essence I still fail to understand. That is of course a mistake. We were indeed defeated.
Israel was defeated. If Gilad Shalit could have returned to his home today, and if there are people on the other side who are holding him and setting a price tag for his release, yet Israel is unwilling to pay it because of a foolish insistence on about 100 terrorists, then Israel has been defeated. It was defeated because it surrendered to Hamas' honor games. It surrendered to these needless power struggles.
There is no security official who can convince me that we can release 320 terrorists, but that the release of 450 will gravely harm us and eliminate Israel's future. Yes, the best thing would be not to release anyone and continue to fantasize that our elite forces will free Shalit or that he will be released after we prevent visits from Hamas detainees.
These illusions are nice, but not when Gilad is being held in Gaza, at a desolate tunnel below a moldy house, without heating or air-conditioning and without seeing the day of light, like a caged and wounded animal. Gilad Shalit was abducted, and we are responsible for bringing him back, and all of us know, deep in our hearts, that if it doesn't happen now it may never happen.
Admit Hamas wonI hear people saying that releasing terrorists will encourage future abductions. I am also familiar with the opposite thesis, which claims these are words of folly that are empty of substance. If we fail to release terrorists, Hamas will do everything in its power to abduct another soldier.
I don't have even an ounce of patience for grim-faced security officials who are currently explaining to us why we must not free 450 terrorists, but can go ahead and free 320. I have no respect whatsoever for their position.
Israel must immediately give in to all of Hamas' demands and free Gilad Shalit. The only terrible thing that will happen if we do it is that our big ego will be hurt. There will be no security damage here, a position supported by people like former Shin Bet Director Ami Ayalon. The only thing we will see here is undermined morale among insensitive patriots. So let's put our Zionist ego aside and admit that we have failed.
Let's admit that the Shalit abduction is a Hamas victory and bow our heads as we pay the price that this Hamas win exacts from us. Let's stop being heroes at Gilad's expense. In our collective memory, the terrorists' joy on the day of their release would be nothing compared to the excitement of the moment when we see Gilad getting out of the abductors' vehicle and running into his mother's arms. For a moment like that, any price is worthwhile.