By Daniel Chejfec
Israel agreed about a month ago to a deal with Hamas by which a number of prisoners in Israeli jails were exchanged for a recent video of Gilad Shalit, the soldier whose kidnapping triggered the 2006 Gaza incursion, soon to be forgotten in the wake of the Hezbollah war during which the Lebanese militia rained missiles over Israeli cities. So out went the convicts, in the video. Was this an equitable trade?
It depends how you look at it. If you think that a couple hundred people got the chance to move on with their lives while Gilad Shalit is still in the hands of his captors, it looks like Israel got the short end of the stick, but there is another way to look at it.
Israel values the lives of each and every one of its citizens, and suffers with the pain of their families when a soldier dies; it is a small country founded on Jewish tradition, which means that a soldier is not just a soldier but part of a family, and the sense of closeness that exist in Jewish communities around the world is magnified in Israel because of the feeling of living under siege; so when Gilad Shalit was kidnapped, it touched on the fears of every Israeli family – what if it was their son or their daughter instead of Shalit?
The Shalit case embodies the fears of every mother's nightmare, and some kind of resolution or at least reassurance is balm that soothes not only the family of the kidnapped soldier, but the whole if the Israeli family, because it reassures them that the government is not going to abandon their children and do everything they can to bring them back or at least make sure they're OK.
On the other hand, for Hamas is not about the liberated women, but about the publicity value in their ongoing battle with the PLO for control of Palestinian society. Hamas did not think twice in the past about abandoning their own or sending them to blow themselves up to kill Israeli teenagers at the Dolphinarium Discotheque in Tel-Aviv of the Sbarro Pizzeria in Jerusalem.
So the exchange was in fact asymmetrical. Hamas won a publicity stunt and Israel was able to bring a grieving family news of their child and allow them to see him alive in a video and hear his voice. I don't know you, but I believe it was Hamas that got the short end of the stick...