The Shalit family’s solidarity campaign aims to promote Gilad’s release from captivity. Yet instead of marching to the Turkish, French, and British embassies in Israel, or to the Foreign Ministries in those countries, the campaign is heading to the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem.
I think we got confused while navigating; instead of heading to places that in the past boosted Israel’s deterrent power, we are heading to places and policies that in the past created a weak image of Israeli society, prompting our enemies to liken it to a spider web.
As it is, the Israeli government already made more concessions than a sovereign state can afford, and certainly more than what any other Western country has done. The proof of this is that the Americans put an end to the abduction of their soldiers in Iraq by refusing to negotiate with terrorists. I believe that we should negotiate, but not when it comes to such prices.
We took the phrase “at any price,” which is used to educate soldiers and commanders to sacrifice their lives and the lives of their comrades for the sake of one soldier, and shifted it to the top leadership too, even though the meaning and implications here are different.
We also got confused while navigating elsewhere; instead of boosting the Palestinian Authority, we are boosting Hamas, and this too has real implications measured in human lives.
Counting the minutes
We got lost and confused because we attribute more importance to one soldier than we do to many other civilians and soldiers. We confused the real pain of a noble family with a modus operandi that is the result of advice granted by PR firms. We are confused as we count the minutes, hours, days, and possibly years of soldiers in captivity rather than measuring the existence of a people and state for many years.
A state does not resolve problems via short-term solutions; it must look at the long-term implications. The government sees one soldier facing danger, and he has a name and parents, yet it must also see the certain number of people who will be paying the price of his release.
I educated tens of thousands of combat soldiers and commanders during my IDF career. We always promised them that should they be captured, we will do what we can to bring about their release. Yet we never promised them to do everything.
Elazar Stern is an IDF major general (res.)