We are not talking about a peace treaty, whereby we may be able to show understanding to the release of terrorists based on hope for reconciliation. What we have here is the extortion of a terror organization that constantly declares that it will never accept the State of Israel and relentlessly works to destroy it.
The absence of Palestinian commanders and leaders, who were nabbed through the immense efforts and endless dedication of Israeli security forces, is felt on the ground and manifests itself via a dramatic decline in terrorism in recent years. The return of all these commanders and leaders will stimulate a new spirit among the terrorists and may cause a sharp rise in terror attacks. The immediate result of such rise would be numerous Israeli casualties.
It’s clear to all that the release of hundreds of Hamas murderers constitutes a declaration that the State of Israel is giving up on its war against Islamic terror. The razing of homes and banishing of families were banned by the High Court, the death penalty does not exist in Israel in practice, and the only punishment left to us is a life term to terrorists and murderers. Letting go of the last punishment still being used against our murderers is akin to surrender. From now on, we would be able to proceed with terminating our statehood, as there is no point in maintaining a state that is unable to punish the murderers of its citizens.
The prime minister and our national leaders must not capitulate in the face of the Shalit campaign. You are responsible for seven million citizens and not only for the Shalit family. Should you cave in and free the murderers, you will be accountable for the blood of the hundreds and thousands of future terror victims.
Israel’s rabbis in general and our chief rabbis in particular know just as well as I do that one soul should not be sacrificed for another, as articulated by Maimonides. Anyone who endorses such act or keeps silent instead of protesting is a party to any future bloodshed. What would you say in the future, when you’ll be asked why you remained silent, while attending the funeral of future terror victims, heaven forbid? I urge you to openly declare the Torah’s view on this matter without fear.
Message to Shalit family
Israel’s citizens in general, and our teachers and educators in particular, who may join the Shalit march without thinking much and based on cheap populism should look into the eyes of their children and students. Should you join the egotistical march, you may be leading these tender children, who you love so much, to their death, heaven forbid. I urge you to stand up and demonstrate against the Shalit family. Should you not come out to protest so that a different voice is heard – a saner, more responsible voice – the government may capitulate in the face of the family’s campaign. What would you tell your families should someone be hurt? Why didn’t you raise a hue and cry? Why didn’t you protest? Why did you abandon the public discourse to the voice of one family?
I’m urging the public to embark on a different kind of campaign to counter the Shalit family’s march. It would be a campaign that represents the interests of the whole Israeli public rather than those of one family within it. It would be a campaign that regains the sanity and normalcy on the Israeli street.
My last message is directed at members of the Shalit family: Everyone understands your sorrow and pain, yet you cannot ask us to abandon our children and terminate our state because of your personal pain. There are moments where a person must realize he is a part of the public and of a whole nation, and must therefore concede his own personal interest for the benefit of the whole and for its existence. One of those nights perhaps, when you cannot fall asleep, your conscience will awaken too and lead you back home.
Let the Israeli government and its elected leaders continue the struggle for returning Gilad, in line with the interests of the entire state and all its citizens. Believe me, I am personally familiar with the prime minister and with some of the senior ministers – they are people with a humane heart and with moral feelings. When they say “no” to the release of hundreds of murderers, they do not do it because of indifference or wickedness, but rather, based on a broad vision of the State of Israel, its existence, and its future.
Go back to your homes, and may the God of Israel heal your pain and release your son, along with our beloved Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard, who has been in American captivity for 25 years now and takes his suffering courageously and nobly, along with the other missing IDF soldiers. “Be strong and let us fight bravely for our people and the cities of our God. The Lord will do what is good in his sight."
Dr. Hagi Ben-Artzi, Bar-Ilan University