No doubt the release of so many Palestinian prisoners will make some observers think more kindly of Israel - Al Beeb seemed to me, in the snatches I managed to get of its coverage of Gilad Shalit's homecoming, far more balanced than usual (it was, for instance, most gratifying to see Jonathan Sacerdoti and Mark Regev interviewed fairly and at length). However, there's no pleasing Israel's hardcore detractors - plenty of them have been posting snide comments over the internet claiming that the ratio 1:1027 shows that Israelis value Jewish lives so much more highly than Arab ones.
What the ratio does show, as Isi Leibler points out in a characteristically superb article, is the underlying importance that Jewish tradition attaches to
"the mitzva of pidyon shvuim – the obligation we have to ransom captives – that was traditionally regarded by Jews as a priority. It reflects the reflects the humanity and concern for one another that has personified the Jewish people over years of persecution and isolation. No other country would conceivably act in this manner and it reveals the compassion Israelis share and the lengths they will go to not to forsake their sons on the battlefield."Look at who Israel is freeing in order to have their young soldier home (compiled in the article "Murderers' Row" by the JTA ):
* Abd al-Hadi Ghanim: In July 1989, during the first Intifada, Gaza resident Abd al-Hadi Ghanim grabbed the steering wheel of a Tel Aviv-to-Jerusalem bus on Israel's main highway and steered it into a ravine. Sixteen people were killed.
* Yihia al-Sinwar: A founder of Hamas’ military wing, Yihia al-Sinwar was involved in the October 1994 kidnapping of Sgt. Nachshon Wachsman, an Israeli soldier who had American citizenship. Wachsman was killed by his captors during a rescue attempt several days later by Israeli commandos. Al-Sinwar's brother is believed to have been an organizer of Gilad Shalit’s abduction.
* Aziz Salha: In October 2000, Aziz Salha produced one of the most horrifying images of the second intifada. He was photographed proudly waving his bloodstained hands out of the window of a Ramallah police station after participating in a lynch mob that broke into the building and beat to death two Israeli reservists who had been taken into Palestinian custody there after making a wrong turn into the city. An Israeli court convicted him of the murder of Cpl. Vadim Norzich.
* Mona Awana: In January 2001, West Bank resident Mona Awana, pretending to be an American with a romantic interest in an Israeli high school student, used the Internet to lure 16-year-old Ofir Rahum to meet her in Jerusalem. They then drove Rahum to a prearranged location on Ramallah’s outskirts, where he was shot and killed by Palestinian gunmen.
* Fuad Amrin: In May 1992, Gaza resident Fuad Amrin stabbed to death 15-year-old Helena Rapp on her way to school in the Israeli city of Bat Yam.
* Husam Badran: As the leader of Hamas’ military wing in the northern West Bank, Husam Badran was the instigator of several of the deadliest suicide bombings of the second intifada, including the 2001 bombing attacks on a Sbarro pizzeria in Jerusalem (15 killed), the Dolphinarium discotheque bombing in Tel Aviv (21 killed), the 2002 suicide bombings of a Passover seder at the Park Hotel in Netanya (30 killed) and the bombing of the Matza restaurant in Haifa (15 killed). More than 100 people were killed in terrorist attacks directed by Badran.
* Tamimi Ahlam: In August 2001, Tamimi Ahlam, a female university student and journalist originally from Jordan, led a suicide bomber to the downtown Jerusalem Sbarro pizzeria where he detonated himself, killing 15 people, including seven children.
* Walid Anajas: Hamas operative Walid Anajas assisted with the 2002 suicide bombings at Jerusalem's Cafe Moment (11 killed) and a gaming club in Rishon LeZion (16 killed), and the remotely detonated bombing of a cafeteria at the Mount Scopus campus of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, which killed nine people, including four Americans.As Leibler also says, this state of affairs plays right into Hamas's hands:
"The exchange of 1,027 terrorists, including the most cruel and barbaric mass-murderers and masterminds of major terrorist attacks plus six Israeli Arab terrorists, in return for one Israeli soldier, is not merely a stunning victory for Hamas and global terrorism. It also conveys a number of other disconcerting messages that will undoubtedly return to haunt us.
First, Hamas can now show conclusively that murder and terror are infinitely more effective than negotiation. The exchange will embolden terrorists throughout the world and encourage them to intensify their efforts. Indeed, former Mossad chief Meir Dagan has repeatedly stated that past precedents demonstrate that the release of these killers will have deadly future consequences and undoubtedly facilitate the murder of many other Israelis. In fact, Hamas chief Khaled Mashaal explicitly boasted that “those released will return to armed struggle. It is a great national achievement.”
The full impact will only become apparent to us in the weeks to come, when the world is subjected to Hamas-sponsored victory celebrations in which the murderers will be paraded in the streets as heroes.
Second, by exposing the “soft” side or “Achilles’ heel” of an otherwise tough Israeli adversary, Hamas (and Fatah) share a clear incentive to exert every effort and make every sacrifice to kidnap additional Israeli hostages in order to impose new demands.
Third, it will be much easier to recruit terrorists who believe that no matter how many Israelis they kill, if apprehended there is every likelihood that they will be released.
Fourth, Hamas has undoubtedly displaced the PA and demonstrated that it was able to force Israel and other states to negotiate and thus provide itself with legitimacy. Indeed, Hamas, which remains adamantly committed to terrorism and the total destruction of Israel, has now emerged as the dominant face of a future Palestinian state.
Fifth, this is also a victory for the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas’s parent organization, which is emerging as the principal power broker in Egypt. The new Egyptian government will therefore impose far greater pressure on Israel in relation to Hamas than was the case during the Mubarak era. Israel must also factor in Turkey, which in addition to Iran has now emerged as a vociferous supporter of Hamas." Read the entire article here