Haaretz correspondent Gideon Levy is too radical-left "Israeli=Bad and Palestinian=Good" for my taste. So I was surprised when I clicked on one of his articles today. I fully expected to hate it and him; instead I found myself actually nodding and agreeing with the man.
Only one banner needs to be raised reading "release 1,000 terrorists." That banner shouldn't be put up outside the Prime Minister's Residence but outside the Hadarim Prison where Palestinian prisoners are held. How many of the thousands of activists who support Shalit's release are willing to do that? Just like other crucial matters like, say, peace, we are all in favor - but at what price? That's another matter. Let's not get into it. It's enough to say we favor a two-state solution. When exactly? Why not now? What about the Jewish settlements in the West Bank? Let's not quarrel over trifles and spoil everything.
As is their wont, Israelis demand to fly business class but pay with bonus points. Peace for peace, Shalit for Shalit. They want to have their cake and eat it too; for Shalit to be released without releasing Palestinians. The media fan the flames, crying that the prisoners have "blood on their hands;" politicians preach that we should stay quiet "lest the price rises." But the price has not risen or fallen, nor will it fall in the future. But how many of Shalit's supporters even debate that issue?
In respect to Gilad Shalit, I have had mixed feelings about the "bring him home" campaign for some time. In respect to Levy's take on the Israeli mentality, I have noted and despaired of such tendencies myself. For example, there is the oh-so-popular school of thought that goes something like this:
1) Israel gets to keep all of the 1967 territories.
2) Arabs living in the 1967 territories do not receive citizenship or the right to vote.
3) Said Arabs are expected to act like good, happy Arabs and accept this situation forever and ever.
Hello! Are you freaking insane? Would you accept this? I do not believe in violence and certainly cannot see myself ever becoming a suicide bomber, but you can damn well believe I would be engaged in some serious non-violent protests against such treatment.
Everything has a price.
Maintaining a Jewish majority in Israel has its price: giving up land in exchange for the Palestinians being the citizens of some other country. Maintaining control over the West Bank has its price: the sacrifice of a Jewish state in favor of a bi-national one as the current situation in which we get land and the Arabs get squat being untenable in the long run. (Hell, it is not particularly tenable in the short run; a situation maintained only through the exertion of force is not what one would call "stable"). I am also not a huge fan of Avigdor Lieberman (too radical-right, rather fascist etc) but based on his pet proposal to redraw borders to leave the Jewish populations in the Jewish State and the Arab populations in the Palestinian State (ie. giving up control of land) I do have to admit that he seems to understand this concept.
Getting Gilad back has a price: the release of terrorists. And yes, keeping the terrorists in prison has its own price: not getting back Gilad. It is possible to argue that we could send in commandos to rescue him. But that also has a potential price, in the form of dead soldiers. How many dead soldiers is one live one worth, when all of the soldiers are from our side? Take, for instance A Soldier's Mother. She has a son in the Army. Would she consider her son being killed or injured a reasonable price to pay in order to get Gilad home?
This is not a mean question. It is a real one. It is a question that needs to be asked, and answered.
There is a price for anything and everything we might wish for ourselves and for our country. We know, or we should know, what that price is. The only question is whether we are willing to pay it. And once we know, are we brave enough to own our beliefs, to stand up and say that price aloud.
So, am I willing to trade terrorists, and the lives of their future victims, for Shalit? If the roles were reversed, if I were the one in captivity, would the price be reasonable? No. I am sorry. But, no.