Israel shouldnt let its tears cloud its vision on Shalit

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We are fundamentally a level-headed people — 3,000 years of grim history has toughened us up. What haven’t we gone through? We were banished twice and overcame Pharaoh, riots and pogroms.

Assaf Wohl

Yet we stubbornly have remained a tough and level-headed people.

However, despite this, one could not find even one pair of eyes in Israel that remained dry while watching the videotape of captive soldier Gilad Shalit last week. And once the availability of the tape became known, the media quickly prepared to offer us a highly emotional experience.

I do not intend to accuse the media of resorting to excessively yellow journalism. The media merely supply a certain public need for emotional manipulation.

The obsessively emotional preoccupation with Shalit guides the people of Israel everywhere. Everyone wishes to secure Shalit’s release. In every online forum and every other Facebook message, you can read something like: “Free Gilad Shalit!” Every other song on the radio calls for the captive’s release.

Yet none of them notes how this should be done. Will any of them agree to sacrifice their own son in the form of the next abduction?

Uttering slogans about “the need to free Gilad Shalit” has the same value as beauty pageant competitors claiming that they are interested in “bringing world peace.” The emotional festival sweeping through Israel right now has no benefit in promoting Shalit’s release.

In fact, the opposite is true: It increases the price, and much had been written about it already.

From now on, I expect those calling for Shalit’s release to note how they intend to do it.

I also volunteer to be the pioneer on his front, as I do believe he should be released urgently.

Despite this, I do not believe that we should pay “any price.” Actually, maybe I do believe it — yet those asked to pay should be the residents of Gaza. After all, they were the ones who chose to be led by a terror organization. Don’t they bear minimal responsibility for the results of their actions? As a reminder, we are dealing with a group that adheres to a platform that makes the Final Solution appear like a friendly TV show.

To enact Shalit’s release, I want to involve our anti-terror unit and the Shin Bet. I realize that Shalit’s location may be unknown and such an operation may go wrong. Yet even though my knowledge of military affairs is minimal, I am still familiar with several basic insights.

One of them is that we can exert unbearable pressure on the Palestinians that will turn the Shalit affair from our problem to their problem. As long as they’re holding him, their lives would be hell. On this front there is no need to provide detail; the “we need to …” crowd will do that better than me.

For the media, the artists and the bloggers who call for an immediate release, the Shalit affair is merely another reality show. They want it here and now — and they don’t care at all about what will happen here a week from now.

Yet the prime minister and decision-makers bear responsibility that goes beyond immediate needs. They need to look ahead for the sake of all Israelis. For that reason, I urge them to safeguard the entire Jewish people, not hesitate and use force where it’s needed.

And in the next case of abduction — and I can promise you that we’ll see another one — we shall have to again weigh our moves.

On this front, we would do well to recall our sages’ ruling: The release of a captive should not be secured by paying an excessive price. Next time, we would do well to take these words seriously. After all, they rightfully earned the title of “sages.”

Assaf Wohl writes opinion pieces for Israel’s, where this piece first appeared.