Oddly enough, the public debate on the Shalit deal’s price focused on a very narrow issue. Only one matter was up for debate: Will the release of terrorists ignite a new terror wave around here?
Up until now, the harm caused to the rule of the law here has been barely discussed. The Shin Bet chief and Mossad director ruled that “Israel is strong enough to free 1,000 terrorists,” but said nothing about the terrible depreciation of our legal system as result of the swap.
When a murderer is sentenced to 36 life sentences but is being released after barely eight years, it becomes clear that verdicts around here are not binding. The judges wrote something, so what?
For lack of other choice, what is left to do now is to at least adhere to the principle of equality before the law, or more accurately, equality before the absence of law. A mass release of Arab terrorists requires us to embark on a parallel release of Jewish security prisoners. It isn’t nice and it isn’t pretty, but it’s necessary.
If Israel is strong enough to cope with the release of 1,000 Hamas members, it is also strong enough to contend with the mitigated sentences of Jews who harmed Arabs. In this case we are not dealing with 1,000 prisoners, and not even with 450, but rather, with only 12 of them.
Jews pose no dangerAs opposed to the Arab prisoners released in the swap, believe me when I say that there is no danger that the freed Jewish inmates would ever take up arms again. The overwhelming majority spent a much longer period in jail than most of the recently freed archenemies sent to Judea and Samaria or to Gaza.
Ami Popper has been behind bars for much longer than the female terrorist behind the Sbarro restraint bombing, while members of the Bat Ayin underground were imprisoned many years before the architect of the Café Moment bombing. Other prisoners include soldiers and police officers whose actions marked a momentary lapse, rather than the result of a lengthy conspiracy or membership in a subversive group.
Shin Bet officials would surely say that in this era of “price tag” we must not pardon Popper or the Bat Ayin group, but these officials are supposed to realize that the most effective way to uproot the “price tag” phenomenon is to put out the fires of frustration that give rise to this trend.
When 1,027 Arab terrorists go home with the Shin Bet’s approval, yet Yoram Cohen insists on keeping the handful of Jewish inmates in prison, the frustration merely grows. Hence, we should free them at once. This too is part of the intolerable price of the Shalit swap.
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