It’s not going to be easy for the Regev and Goldwasser families, nor for the Haran family or the Israeli public. Seeing Samir Kuntar, who murdered the Harans, stepping down from the airplane and raising his arms in victory as the masses roar, thus immensely boosting the prestige of Hizbullah leader Nasrallah, would be an agonizing sight. Very agonizing. We can even say it would be unbearable.
Yet still, this is inevitable. Refusing to make the swap at this time means ongoing uncertainty for the families of our kidnapped soldiers.
The dilemma is clear to all of us: What is the State of Israel willing to pay if it turns out that we are dealing with bodies? This is apparently the reason Hizbullah is rushing to make a deal. This is apparently the reason the price we were asked to pay isn’t inflated: Kuntar, four Hizbullah men from theSecond Lebanon War, and dozens of bodies.
We should keep in mind that in the previous swap Israel released 400 prisoners in exchange for the bodies of three soldiers and a living drug dealer.
So it is true that the indications are discouraging. It is also true that the families have been prepared for the worst. Yet still, until the deal is completed and Udi and Eldad’s condition is clarified, their families won’t be able to rest.
Moreover, the distance between such prolonged state of uncertainty to a situation whereby the abducted soldiers become a symbol is small. We, as a state, cannot afford another symbol like missing Airman Ron Arad. We, as a state, cannot afford another Tammy Arad, a young woman who has been running around the world for dozens of years in order to save her husband.
Not againWe, as a state, cannot afford to again pay the price for missing out on an opportunity for a deal. We cannot afford to forget and we cannot afford to pay the price of abandonment. Not again.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was scheduled to meet with the Arad family Tuesday and explain to them why he decided to release Kuntar. The meeting was apparently called off on the family’s initiative. Our heart goes out to this family, who time after time is forced to hear that the affair involving her loved one is being put off; a family that again hears promises that next time, yes, next time for sure, there will be no deal without receiving information about Ron Arad.
Is it any wonder the family lost any trust? That this time around, upon Kuntar’s release, it feels that we are losing the last bargaining chip that could be used to ever find out what happened to Arad? And what a terrible fate it is for the man who for 20 years now has been waning, increasingly forgotten from our collective memory.
Yet from this story we must learn that we must not put off opportunities; that there is no such thing as “next time” or “the next deal.” This is not only about Regev and Goldwasser. Not even about Gilad Shalit. The State of Israel cannot afford to again pay the price of missing out on an opportunity. It cannot afford to forget or to pay the price of abandonment. Not again.