The details of the massacre are revolting. The testimonies are horrific. The photos of the expected celebrations planned in honor of the murderer – hoisted up, flashing a victory sign, thanking Nasrallah – will infuriate us.
Yet the gut is not the right means for analyzing national interests. This job is better left for the mind, coolly and level-headedly. And the clear Israeli interest is, to hell with it, release Samir Kuntar.
After 28 years in prison Kuntar will no longer constitute a terror threat against Israel. Therefore, the only relevant question is the potential benefit or downside inherent in the act of release in and of itself.
There is no doubt that in terms of a cold mathematical calculation, in a vacuum, we are dealing with a problematic deal. Israel is releasing living prisoners in exchange for dead captives.
However, in the same breath Israel is doing something noble for the sake of two dignified families who made the ultimate sacrifice and deserve, at the very least, an opportunity to go on with their lives, with the fog cleared.
Nasrallah’s euphoria to be short-lived
At the same time, there is also a significant national effect here. The return of Goldwasser and Regev, along with the upcoming departure of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, will enable Israel to put away the Lebanon failure after two years.
However, the most meaningful benefit of the swap is related to the future, not the past. It is difficult to understand how top security officials, who objected to the deal, missed it: The release of Kuntar and the four Hizbullah captives can certainly prevent future abductions.
For years, the release of prisoners served as a major cause for Hizbullah. At a certain point it became a burden, a debt that had to be repaid vis-à-vis the families and public opinion. As of this week there will be no reason to continue the armed struggle. Therefore, Nasrallah’s euphoria is expected to be short-lived.
So this is what we can expect on Wednesday: In Lebanon, the murderer of a family will be hoisted after being released from prison. Around here, we will be able to celebrate, modestly, the chance of preventing the abduction of the next Goldwasser and Regev. We’ve known worse days.