Ariela Ringel Hoffman
Photo: Shalom Bar Tal

Bibi, do the right thing

In open letter to prime minister, Ariela Ringel Hoffman urges him to finalize Shalit swap

I know it’s hard, and possibly very hard under the current circumstances, yet you are the only person who can approve the deal with Hamas and secure Gilad Shalit’s release. And it’s your decision alone. Even if at times it appears to you that there are people around you who assume some of the responsibility. A moment after the decision is made, they will disappear, and rightfully so. This is a decision for a prime minister, and right now you are the prime minister.


I know it’s sad, and possibly very sad even, and maybe not too fair either that the person who had to take this decision before you, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, didn’t do it. First he declared – with arrogance and foolishness that had nothing to rely on given past experience – that we do not engage in negotiations with abductors, as if this is true. Later he kept dragging his feet, until he just left this mess for you to handle, so that you can make a decision he didn’t want to make.


While doing so (and this is even sadder,) he left Gilad Shalit trapped in the same place. Ever since then, to put it mildly, time has not worked in our favor. Hamas’ demands had not shrunk, and our bargaining ability had not improved. It didn’t happen in the year and a half since Olmert retired, and it won’t happen if you decide to pass this issue on to your successor.


I know you have a problem of image, and that people who claim that you’re prone to pressure don’t make your life more pleasant, and certainly don’t make it easier for you to take decisions on controversial matters. But that’s the way it is; you did not only choose to be a prime minister, you fought hard to get there. Therefore, you have no right to evade this decision. Certainly not now, when time is gradually running out and the fourth anniversary of IDF soldier Gilad Shalit’s captivity is approaching.


I know it may not appear that way at the moment, but the latest Shalit campaign and the popular journey to Jerusalem will prompt Gilad Shalit’s release. Because the masses who decided to join the journey made this choice, and this choice – after reaching a critical mass – can move mountains. Check what happened here in the past. It’s all in the books.


After four years, everyone is familiar with the risks. We even know that the risks are real, but we also know the implications of leaving Shalit over there. We know it’s a complex deal, with difficult implications; we know that it may bring hundreds of activists to the streets, and that at least dozens of them will immediately take part in acts against Israel. We also know that this move may create more motivation for more abductions, while undermining Israel’s deterrent power. It may also undermine Fatah and destabilize Mahmoud Abbas’ position.


Yet when it comes to the bottom line, many citizens in this country decided that the price needs to be paid, and that returning Gilad Shalit is part of the State of Israel’s ethos – possibly one of the last parts of what used to be a constitutive national ethos; a remnant of values that were wholly blurred around here, in the framework of the general liquidation sale, the privatization malady, the corruption, and the revulsion.


I know you may not see this, but the writing is on the wall, and it tells you that you’re out of time on this issue. At this time, and only now, you can choose whether to lead this move, or drag behind the people heading to Jerusalem. Sadly, you can’t have it both ways. And to end on a positive note, it is possible that in this case capitulating to public pressure can be very sweet; sweet, and right.


פרסום ראשון: 06.24.10, 12:23
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