The ‘prisoner exchange’ — that is, the ransom payment for Gilad Shalit — is a reality.
Hamas is celebrating its “historic victory” and threatening more kidnappings:
Abu Obaida, spokesman for the armed wing of Hamas, Izzadin Kassam said that Schalit, who is set to be released as part of a prisoner exchange deal, “will not be the last solider kidnapped by Hamas as long as Israel keeps Palestinian prisoners detained” …
Tuesday night [Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal] called the deal to exchange Schalit for over 1,000 Palestinian prisoners a “great achievement.” “We are happy with this great achievement and we thank our God for that. But our happiness is mixed with sorrow because we were not able to gain the freedom of all prisoners,” Meshaal said from Damascus, speaking in a televised speech. Hamas presented the prisoner exchange agreement as a “historic victory,” saying Israel has accepted all the demands of the captors.
Of course this is not true — Israel held out on some important points — but it is a victory nevertheless.
This affair is a small thing overall (not for Gilad and his family, of course) but it illustrates something about Israel’s situation.
The big picture is that vicious aggressor entities — Hamas, Hizballah and the PLO — have been allowed to take root in Gaza, Judea / Samaria, and Lebanon. None of these will coexist with the Jewish state. They cannot be negotiated, bribed or ‘engaged’ into accepting coexistence. Their essence is confrontation.
This didn’t have to happen. Historic mistakes were made — in 1993, 2005, 2006 and 2008-9.* But now, it, too, is a reality.
There are three possibilities:
- The status quo will continue forever. That means that the aggressors will continue to build their military capabilities while engaging in a war of attrition with Israel (the Gilad Shalit affair is an example). This is inherently unstable, so this option is impossible.
- Hamas, Hizballah and the PLO will be replaced by a leadership prepared to accept the existence of Israel. Practically speaking, this can only be accomplished by force — defeating them so completely that the course of peace, which they presently despise, will be left as the only option.
- The Jewish state will disappear.
Many Israelis and Diaspora Jews have in essence chosen option 3. They understand that 1) is not a viable option. And they can’t stomach 2) — or they believe that “the world won’t allow it.”
Sometimes they try to escape the dilemma by proposing to change their enemies into friends by preemptive surrender. They will say that “Israel must take risks for peace” meaning that if Israel makes some huge concession, the aggressors will suddenly change and stop wanting to destroy Israel. But why should they? A concession is proof that their program is succeeding. Remember what I said:
Their essence is confrontation.
Just as the prisoner exchange is seen as a huge victory for Hamas, every Israeli concession is a victory for the other side. They are playing a zero-sum game. There are no ‘win-win solutions’ that benefit both sides.
Palestinian and Hizballah politics, media, literature, art, education, religious expression are all about destroying Israel. Why should what they see as a victory make them repudiate their ideology? The opposite is the case!
The extreme Left in Israel already realizes this and explicitly calls for the end of the Jewish state. Some are cynically planning to flee to Europe or the US, while others appear to have convinced themselves of the comical proposition that Jews will live in safety in an Arab-majority state.
There’s no escape from option 2, other than surrender. If you think that there should continue to be a Jewish state, then understand that the only way to keep it is to defeat its enemies.
* I refer, of course, to the Oslo Accords, the withdrawal from Gaza, the botched Second Lebanon War, and the premature end of Operation Cast Lead.