Option 1: Free them because they could have been yours
They could have been yours. One of them could have been your brother, your child, your friend.
It could have been anyone standing on sovereign Israeli soil at dawn on June 25, when gunmen of Hamas and two other armed groups passed under the Gaza border via a long tunnel, to attack an army post near Kibbutz Kerem Shalom, killing two soldiers.
It could have been anyone, but it was Gilad Shalit they took captive.
It was chance, as well, that it was Udi Goldwasser and Eldad Regev who were patrolling the border on sovereign Israeli soil, on July 12, the last day of their 28-day stretch of reserve duty. It could have been anyone in their Humvee driving from Moshav Zarit to Moshav Shetula, on the Israeli side of the border with Lebanon, when Hezbollah gunners shelled a wide area, providing covering fire for a Hezbollah force which killed three soldiers in the Israeli patrol.
It was Udi Goldwasser and Eldad Regev whom they took captive, back across the border into Lebanon.
At this point, we know nothing definitive about of the welfare or their whereabouts.
We do know this: One word from Syria or Iran, and the soldiers held in Lebanon would be sent home. One word from Hamas, and Gilad Shalit would be sent home.
Is there anything that individuals can do to help them? There is. You can sign a petition to the government of Israel and Prime Minister Olmert, asking them to do all they can to free the soldiers.
Britons can contact their MPs.
You can donate funds to help the effort to free the soldiers, and you can support or join a march across the length of Israel.
Option 2: Free them. Even if the price is Barghouti. Or worse.
It's time we meant what we said.
We say, time and again, that we will not abandon soldiers in the field.
We say with conviction that we will do everything in our power to win their release.
We know the price. The price is releasing people we fear and loathe.
The price will be Marwan Barghouti. The Fatah leader serving five life terms for ordering terror attacks.
The price may even be worse. Certainly for the families and loved ones of the victims of terrorism.
But we also know, from past experience, that waiting longer only does two things. It raises the price, and it increases suffering for the families and loved ones of the captives.
Option 3: Free them, even if they could have been your enemy
There will be many among our readers who believe that Hamas and Hezbollah were well within their rights in taking the soldiers captive.
They will cite the more than 9,000 Palestinians being held by Israel. They will note that Israel has held Samir Kuntar, a member of the Abu Abbas terror group, captive since he brutally killed an Israeli and his 4-year-old daughter on a Nahariya beach in 1979.
All the more reason that they should work for the release of the three servicemen.
It is through the freedom of the three that Arab prisoners held by Israel will be released.
Now is the time to help free them. Even if for the wrong reasons.
They could have been yours. Or they could have been your enemies.
Help free them. It is rare that enemies can have a common interest.
The guiding principles of the talkback forum for this article will be mutual respect and openness to dialogue. Participants, even if they rule out, dismiss or oppose coexistence, must, within the confines of this forum, practice it.
Censorship will be unapologetic.
Political orientation will have absolutely no bearing on whether a comment is posted or rejected.
The following will be grounds for deletion:
1. Racist remarks, as well as slurs on the basis of religion, ethnicity and gender. 2. Use of the terms Nazi, Hitler, to describe the actions and policies of Israelis, Palestinians or other parties to the Israel-Arab conflict. 3. Disparaging remarks, personal attacks, vulgarities and profanities directed at other participants in the forum. 4. Advocacy of violence against individuals or religious, ethnic or racial groups, including statements which may be construed as urging attacks on leaders, officials, security forces or civilians.
Want to enjoy 'Zen' reading - with no ads and just the article? Subscribe todaySubscribe now