At this time we can and must declare decisively that a significant part of the religion public, just like the rabbis, objects to the Shalit deal (there are other objectors as well.) There are religious reasons for it, as well as ideological and practical grounds.
Before proceeding to offer the explanations, we must first respond to the banal but required question: “And if it was your son, would you agree to free terrorists?” The real answer is that in order to save the life of one of my children I would obviously agree to free terrorists. I would also agree to hand over Temple Mount, take a Palestinian refugee family into my home in Haifa, and possibly accept the death of some innocents. Yet this is not the collective vision.
The prime minister is not Gilad Shalit’s father, but rather, “the father of all of us.” The time has come to stop addressing this affair in familial terms and remove my family and the Shalit family from the equation – which sets 1,000 prisoners free.
Benjamin Netanyahu and the entire government of Israel must clearly declare: We are aware that former Mossad Chief Meir Dagan admitted that the terrorists released in the Elhanan Tenenbaum deal caused the death of 231 Israelis, and we are willing to take the risk of hundreds of additional Israeli fatalities in exchange for Gilad Shalit’s release – among other things as result of media and popular pressure.
Seek military solutionsThe objection has a religious dimension: Rabbi Meir Ben Baruch, known as the “Maharam from Rotenberg,” lived in Germany in the 13th Century. When he attempted to move to the Land of Israel, he was detained by authorities, yet surprisingly he ordered the Jewish community not to secure his release, given the inflated ransom demands. As result, he died in captivity, not before mentioning the rule articulated by our sages: Do not redeem captives for more than their value.
That is, the Jewish and humane desire to save a prisoner must take into account future deals, which may be much pricier. Hence, the expression “we must pay any price” is simply unthinkable.
We must therefore admit that a significant part of the religious public opposes a Shalit deal that includes the release of terrorists. Worshippers at almost all synagogues prayed for Gilad Shalit (and for Jonathan Pollard) on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. Rabbis, preachers and singers mention the desire and hope to see Shalit released at almost every turn. However, we can assume that some of those praying would not like to see his release secured this way.
That is, on this sensitive and painful issue, the mind should overcome emotion, and we must therefore reject the Shalit deal. At the same time, we must also convene all our security experts in order to produce military solutions to bring Gilad Shalit back home, and the sooner the better.
The writer is an editor in the Yedioth Communication chain