Defense Minister Ehud Barak keeps saying things like “I will do everything to bring him [Gilad Shalit] back” or “Israel would do everything in its power to see the safe return of captured Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit.” It is highly questionable what the limits of that “everything” are. For instance, does everything include liberation by military means?
Meanwhile, we have watched Barak’s coalition partner prime minister Ehud Olmert complete his 2 year charade concerning deceased IDF soldiers Regev and Goldwasser which, as Evelyn Gordon seems to indicate in her commentary below;
“…With the public already enraged over the failed Lebanon war, he was afraid to admit that the soldiers whose return was the war’s ostensible goal had in fact been dead all along…”
In short, it would seem apparent that Olmert manipulated the sensitivities of the nation which he governed in order to maintain and perpetrate his power which he was in danger of losing as a result of post-war investigation commission findings. It would also seem that this was one of many moves, including Olmert’s very appointment of the members of the Winograd investigation commission which he, himself strong-armed into existence, in order to pre-empt high court appointment of a national commission of investigation, in order to save his own power.
This same indictment can be applied to Barak (regarding his repeated threats to leave the coalition and his subsequent retractions as well as his action as prime minister of abandoning South Lebanon to Hamas), the Shas party and, in essence virtually the entire government and Knesset.
This blog has noted repeatedly that change is NOT ONLY about the removal of Ehud Olmert from governance, but it is about the total deconstruction of the current mal-feasant, appeasement, “we’re too tired to fight” governmental mindset and outlook and replacement with a restoration of Jewish pride, dignity, self-respect and belief-basis to Israeli governance and the relationship between the governing and the governed. It is about restoration of respect due warriors such as Gilad Shalit, Jonathan Pollard and other MIAs, unheard from for decades, and about restoration to the IDF of the right to fight for Israel’s freedom and very existence. MB
Following last Wednesday’s swap of live terrorists for dead soldiers, media reports claimed that many Israelis felt cheated: Against all odds, they had expected Hizbullah to return living soldiers, and were outraged to receive mere corpses. It is frankly hard to sympathize with this. Given the overwhelming evidence that both soldiers were dead, anyone who deluded himself otherwise has only himself to blame. Yet in light of information that has emerged since the exchange, Israelis nevertheless had good reason to feel cheated.
Even the facts known in advance were reason enough for outrage: Five live terrorists, including child-killer Samir Kuntar, plus 199 bodies, were exchanged for two corpses. As numerous analysts have noted, once the dead can be ransomed as easily as the living, kidnappers have little incentive to keep their victims alive.
Moreover, the deal clearly inflated the price for Gilad Schalit, or any other kidnapped soldier known to be alive. After all, if Hizbullah can obtain a vicious murderer in exchange for two corpses, a live soldier ought to be worth dozens or hundreds of such murderers.
ALL THIS was obvious in advance, and should have been reason enough for a responsible cabinet to refuse the deal. Yet new details that have emerged make the picture even worse.
First, prior to the swap, the media repeatedly reported that Israel would not release Palestinians, it would only release Lebanese. Now, however, it turns out that the government promised to free “a few dozen” Palestinians at a later date, as a “gesture to the UN” (as if anyone will believe that). Clearly, this worsens the deal’s ratio substantially. Even more disturbing, however, these prisoners will reportedly include older Fatah members serving long sentences for serious attacks – the very people Israel has repeatedly refused to release to Abbas.
…Allowing Hizbullah to achieve through violence what Abbas has been unable to achieve through negotiations is the worst of all possible worlds. Nothing could more clearly demonstrate that terror, not peace, is the best tactic to use.
Second, according to the cabinet’s original decision, the swap was conditional on Hizbullah providing satisfactory information about missing navigator Ron Arad. Yet last week, the cabinet unanimously voted Hizbullah’s report completely inadequate – and then approved the swap anyway. It thereby once again proved that Israel has no red lines, that any “condition” it sets can be violated with impunity.
Granted, governments have violated their own red lines before. Yet each such incidence further weakens the government’s ability to set credible red lines in the future.
“…One can only speculate that, with the public already enraged over the failed Lebanon war, he was afraid to admit that the soldiers whose return was the war’s ostensible goal had in fact been dead all along…”
MOST APPALLING of all, however, was the revelation that the government knew all along that the soldiers were dead:
According to last week’s media reports, an army investigation submitted in August 2006, about a month after the kidnapping, concluded that given the weapons used in the ambush, where they hit the armored personnel carrier, where the soldiers were sitting in the APC and other factors, one soldier was almost certainly killed instantly and the other mortally wounded.
Yet rather than announce this fact, which would have greatly reduced public pressure for a deal, the government deliberately concealed it. And since government officials had said repeatedly during the month after the kidnapping that the soldiers were believed to be alive, their failure to correct this assessment naturally led people to conclude that it still held.
Even worse, government officials continued actively misleading the public on this issue. On December 4, 2006, for instance, Ehud Olmert publicly termed the soldiers “men whom I hope are alive” – thereby fostering the illusion that they were.
…Ignoring the obvious point that a leader’s job is to shape public opinion, not be led by it, Olmert could easily have eliminated this particular pressure simply by hammering home the truth: that the soldiers were almost certainly dead. Why he chose instead to lie remains a mystery; one can only speculate that, with the public already enraged over the failed Lebanon war, he was afraid to admit that the soldiers whose return was the war’s ostensible goal had in fact been dead all along – even though he could not have known this when it began.
But whatever the reason, the outcome is unchanged: Olmert and his government deliberately misled the public about the soldiers’ fate, thereby effectively collaborating with Hizbullah in encouraging public pressure for a bad deal. And Israelis will be paying the price of this deal for a long time to come.