Opinion |

Three Cheers for the Goldin and Shaul Families

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Zur Goldin (R), brother of Israeli soldier Hadar Goldin, and other family members talk to the media outside their home in the central Israeli city of Kfar Saba August 2, 2014.
Zur Goldin (R), brother of Israeli soldier Hadar Goldin, and other family members talk to the media outside their home in the central Israeli city of Kfar Saba August 2, 2014.Credit: REUTERS/Nir Elias/File Photo

As Hamas digs in once more and the south is being pounded with hundreds of rockets, there are Israelis who discovered who was responsible: the Goldin and Shaul families, “for dictating a hard line and tying the government’s hands.” It follows from this that the measures taken by the government to achieve calm are being stymied by families who are incapable of curbing their desire for two graves. Such comments were uttered this week anonymously by government and defense sources, and openly by public and media figures.

Let us be clear: Those who say that pain and bereavement ought not to dictate policy are correct. There’s just one problem with this argument: It’s manipulative. The people who are now using it against the Goldin and Shaul families said and wrote the exact opposite when it came to the Shalit and Goldwasser families (and their predecessors). 

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The media helped the more recent examples by exerting heavy pressure on more than one government. This pressure overcame prime ministers. They released large numbers of terrorists, many of whom reoffended — murdering soldiers and abducting civilians in order to perpetuate the cycle of live soldiers and additional remains, most recently those of Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul. The objection of those who supported previous deals of surrender does not, then, stem from opposition in principle to the involvement of the families of hostages in setting government policy, but rather to the reverse paradigm — logical, moral and correct strategically — that the two families champion.

In complete contrast to the Regev and Goldwasser families, the Goldins and the Shauls oppose the release of terrorists in exchange for the remains of their loves ones. The reason: As a result of the surrender of past governments to hostages’ families, their remains have become a strategic asset for Hamas. To turn back the wheel, the current government must cause the remains being held by Hamas to change from assets into a burden for the organization. The families suggest, for example, withdrawing many privileges from Hamas terrorists in Israeli prisons, including family visits, as well as imposing economic and other types of pressure on the Hamas government in the Gaza Strip.

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To avoid these harsh measures, the families of the terrorists and the terrorists themselves will press their leaders to release the remains of the Israeli soldiers. Once it becomes clear that the remains have turned from assets into burdens, Hamas will return them to Israel in exchange for the remains of terrorists being held by Israel, rather than prisoners. Equally important: As a result of the reversal in Israeli policy, abductions would lose their value to Hamas.

The advocates of the previous policy, which failed and caused so many losses, are attacking the families who propose a paradigm shift. We must remember that as a result of their errors over the years, the prisoners who were released in agreements such as the two Jibril deals founded the terror organizations, led both intifadas and eliminated the few figures in Palestinian society who were willing to consider a settlement with Israel. The leader of Hamas in the Gaza Strip, Yahya Sinwar, who was released in the Shalit deal, is leading the stubborn, sophisticated, soul- and body-scorching offensive against us, rejecting all compromises proposed by Israel or by anyone else.

For this reason, even if the government acts in accordance with the paradigm proposed by the Goldins and the Shauls, it is doubtful that Sinwar and his gang would submit to the pressure of public opinion on their side. Yet we have an interest in adopting a long-term approach that is correct both morally and strategically. It deserves respect, admiration and encouragement, certainly not reprimands and public attacks.