See positive, negative aspects of Gilad Shalit’s return to Israel
Monday was an undoubtedly emotional day for many in Israel and around the world. The exchange of captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit for 1,027 Palestinian prisoners has elicited positive and negative feelings. The Shalit family, Israelis and Jews the world over, can breathe a sigh of relief that after five long years of captivity in Gaza, Shalit has returned home in safety to his family and people. On the other hand, the freeing of more than 1,000 prisoners who are accused of brutally murdering hundreds of innocent people inside Israel simply for being Israeli or Jewish has forced the families of the victims to relive the nightmare and cope with the fact that their loved ones’ killers are now free from justice.
The exchange is clearly disproportionate, and from a purely practical point of view, one might say this whole ordeal is a sad day for justice. Exchanging one Israeli soldier illegally kidnapped by Hamas for hundreds of Palestinian terrorists rightfully convicted of murder is faulty arithmetic.
One of these “freedom fighters” to be set free is a young woman named Ahlam Tamimi. She helped the Palestinian cause by taking part in the infamous 2001 Sbarro restaurant bombing in Jerusalem, which claimed 15 lives, mostly children. When asked if she felt any remorse, she said, “I’m not sorry for what I did. I will get out of prison, and I refuse to recognize Israel’s existence. Discussions will only take place after Israel recognizes that this is Islamic land. Despite the fact that I’m sentenced to 16 life sentences I know that we will become free from Israeli occupation and then I will also be free from the prison.”
I’ll ignore her delusional belief that the land of the Hebrew Bible is “Islamic land” for now, and instead touch on the other legitimate concerns of many with regard to this exchange. Israel is paying as extremely high cost to bring Shalit home because many of the terrorists being released will almost certainly try to commit acts of terror and murder again. Tamimi is but one of the many terrorists who have sworn to destroy Israel if it’s the last thing they ever do. Israel will surely be facing heightened security risks in the road ahead, but Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seems to be operating under an age-old value of the Jewish people, which proclaims, “He who saves a single life, saves the entire world.”
Israel’s commitment to ensuring the safety of even one of its soldiers — even when it means releasing hundreds of these prisoners — is remarkable among the nations. Shalit became every Israeli mother’s son. Everyone knew him. He became an honorary citizen of Rome, Paris, Miami, New Orleans and Pittsburgh. The hope that he would one day return home burned bright for five long agonizing years. Though from a cost-benefit perspective this swap might seem illogical, Israel has given the humanistic approach priority in Shalit’s case.
No one knows for certain what the released terrorists plan on doing in the future. The names and faces of their future victims are yet unknown. Their new tactics in mass murder of innocent men, women and children is a mystery for now. For the time being, however, the emotional aspect of this bittersweet story can take charge. The return of Gilad Shalit resonates in the hearts of parents who love their children in Israel and all over the world.
Jared Fusia is a School of Arts and Sciences senior majoring in Middle Eastern studies with a minor in Italian.