It is inconceivable for a country that considers itself a military power to become a pawn of a terrorist organization. This state, which resolved in its earliest days that it would never negotiate with terrorists - as in the case of the Sabena and Entebbe hijackings in the 1970s - has given in to blackmail in an embarrassing manner. The same Khaled Meshal - who owes his life to the intervention of Jordan's King Hussein and is now publicly threatening to abduct "another Shalit and another Shalit" until all the Palestinian prisoners are freed - could himself be abducted the moment Israel decided to do so. In our present situation, there is really only one question: If we are going to fold in any event, why drag out the negotiations?
I propose that we release all the Palestinian prisoners in our possession. Keeping them under excellent conditions, which includes providing an education, costs the state a fortune. And after Gilad Shalit returns, we can decide, once and for all, on the principle of a one-for-one exchange.
In a country that has sacrificed more than 20,000 of its citizens in wars for its survival, it is unbelievable the extent to which reporters have penetrated the holy of holies of private, familial grief, with their cameras and vulgar questions. Asaf Ramon, who was killed in a plane crash the likes of which the Israel Air Force has seen before, was instantly turned into a saint because of the circumstances of his father's death.
"A terrible tragedy for the entire Israeli nation," said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. "It's more than a terrible accident, it's a disaster," President Shimon Peres said. Journalist Dan Margalit said Ramon and his father had entered the "national pantheon." Ramon's mother noted, correctly, that two hours before she was officially informed of her son's death, photographers were already in her yard. Journalist Amos Carmel asked, with a note of bitterness, whether anyone remembered Hanan Barak and Pavel Slocker, the two soldiers who were killed in the incident during which Shalit was abducted.
When the video arrived, all the country's radio and television stations opened their phone lines to listeners. They brought in psychologists and other experts who analyzed every sound Shalit made and every line on his face. In light of three years of uncertainty, he looked terrific.
In the 61st year of Israel's existence, the song "The Whole World Is against Us" has become a reality. How did we get to the point where our defense minister risked being detained in London on suspicion of war crimes? How could it be that senior officers are being warned to review their travel plans carefully? It is inconceivable that in the past eight years thousands of Qassam rockets have been fired at civilian communities, but no Goldstone Committee has been appointed against Hamas.
Israel's image has never been as poor as after Operation Cast Lead in Gaza. There were no executions, no looting and no rapes there. The operation was personally approved by Justice Minister Menachem Mazuz, and every brigade commander had a direct line to legal counsel. Around 1,200 targets considered "sensitive" were not touched. We admitted every error, especially when we killed our own soldiers by mistake. The operation may have gone on for too long - Defense Minister Ehud Barak was in favor of curtailing it, but Olmert opposed that.
Oh, yeah. We lost only 10 soldiers, not 200. If that annoys the enlightened world, then there's nothing we can do but ask for forgiveness for winning.
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