Let's start with the bottom line: Naama Issachar deserved to return home, to Israel. She was arrested for possession of a relatively small amount of cannabis while was transferring en route from India to Israel, charged with attempted smuggling and given extreme and disproportionate punishment of 7.5 years in prison.
The State of Israel is one of the few countries in the world that works tirelessly to assist its citizens in times of trouble abroad, even if the trouble in question is of criminal nature. Some might not agree with this policy, but it is a fact.
The fight of Naama and her mother Yaffa is more than justified. The assistance provided to the Issachar family by the Israeli government is also justified. The apparent festival-like atmosphere surrounding her release, however, is nothing short of ridiculous and blown out of all proportions.
The talks preceding her pardon and subsequent release could have easily been done in secret, through quiet diplomacy, and the outcome probably would have been the same.
It’s quite unbelievable that an international event meant to mark the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp will be remembered for negotiations over Issachar’s release from prison.
Out of the entire broadcast of that historic event, one misleading video is engraved in my memory. Russian President Vladimir Putin, Benjamin and Sara Netanyahu as well as Yaffa Issachar all uncomfortably sharing the stage. Putin, in particular, looked like a pawn on a chessboard that couldn’t understand what everyone wanted from him. For the glory of the State of Israel.
The peak of this ridiculousness was to come on Thursday evening. Netanyahu decided to return to Israel from Washington - where U.S. President Donald Trump’s peace plan was finally unveiled - via Moscow in order to "consult" with Putin on the “Deal of the Century.”
“Coincidentally,” just hours before the prime minister’s visit, Putin officially pardoned the Israeli woman.
To bring an Israeli involved in criminal offenses abroad on the prime minister’s plane as if she was a prisoner of war is no less than shameful.
Netanyahu had the right to claim credit for striking a deal to ensure her release (and it is a deal because in return Netanyahu gave up expensive real estate in Jerusalem), but to turn this human tragedy into a political spin is terribly cynical.
As an aside, I'm not sure that Naama's arrival in Israel and her descent from the plane onto the red carpet will win Netanyahu a single vote in the March 2 election.
Although no one is disputing that Naama should have been brought home, there are thousands of Israelis in distress around the world. Some have experienced injustice while another harassment of political nature and nobody has ever heard of them.
In Thailand and Ukraine, Israelis are being arrested for similar offenses as we speak. So why Naama? Because it's convenient for us to do business with Putin? Because there are elections coming up in Israel? Or maybe it’s a combination of all these factors together.