Negotiating with terrorists

11.25.09

A deal for the release of kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit was said to be “imminent”, but now seems to have stalled. The stumbling block? Hamas wants the release of some of its most heinous murderers in exchange:

Hamas officials refused to say which names were holding up the deal. But the -based Arabic daily al-Hayat said they included Ibrahim Hamed, the former commander of Hamas’ military wing in the West Bank and mastermind of a Jerusalem suicide bombing that killed 11 people in 2002, and Abdullah Barghouti, a mastermind of several suicide bombings serving several dozen life sentences.

Hamas appears to be demanding the release of Abbas Sayid as well, a planner of the Park Hotel suicide bombing on Seder Night 2002 that killed 30 people, according to lawyer Jawad Immawi, a senior official in the Palestinian Prisoners Affairs ministry, which employs many of the lawyers who represent high-level inmates.

That’s right, they mean the terrorist bastards behind attacks like this one. This is the Hamas that the world’s apologists keeps insisting is a “legitimate government” and should be dealt with.

The fact that Israel is even considering such a deal – the fact that it had already agreed to release hundreds of other terrorists from prison – speaks only to the value that it puts on Shalit’s life and the life of every one of its citizens. This, of course, is exactly what Hamas exploits as a weakness. And by negotiating with Hamas, Israel plays straight into its hands.

And of course, it’s tough for Hamas to complain that an Israeli life and a Palestinian life are valued unequally (by the media, by the West, etc.) when they insist on the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners in exchange for one IDF soldier.

Hamas will claim this deal – if it goes through – as a major victory, will use it to bolster its standing versus Fatah, and will argue that it proves that violence works. And really, with deals like these, it’s hard to argue with that logic. How many more innocent lives will fall victim to the newly-released terrorists? How many prisoners will Israel need to swap for the next kidnapped soldier?

I want nothing more than for Gilad Shalit to return home, safe and unharmed. But at what price?

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Philippe Daigneault 11.26.09 at 1:09 AM

Then again, what's the alternative: Do nothing and let the soldier die while the whole of the population has it's eyes riveted to their TV set only so that the Government's opposition can use the fact that the government let the soldier die bolster they political agenda? Either way it's a lose lose situation. They let the soldier die, they look bad. They give the Hamas what they want, they let terrorists go free. In my view the soldier knew what he was getting into when he became a warrior, he's expendable, as all soldiers are expected to be in. If his sacrifice means that even one life (probably more) will be saved by keeping those terrorists safely locked up then it is worth it. The problem is it's now become a political matter, laced with public opinion issues.

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2 Mario Parise 11.26.09 at 4:02 PM

I know you’re gonna hate me for this one, but I really think we need to move away from the notion of a terrorist. Not because I think those you label as terrorist don’t do atrocious things, but because I think it’s a mental block to understanding what’s going on.

We wouldn’t need to declare nazis as terrorists to understand they were evil and insane, and yet we are still able to discuss the topic of naziism within the construct of global and national politics.

“Terrorism”, on the other hand, has no intellectual dimension outside of crazy nuts who want to kill jews and americans. And I don’t think that’s a very useful way to understand the situation.

“Terrorism,” as a term, groups every anti-western/anti-israel group into the same bucket, and I think it’s wrong to do so. All we see when we use this term is an angry arab. The truth of the matter is that an Iranian “terrorist” is very different from a palestinian “terrorist”, and they’re all very different from american “terrorists”, and so forth.

Plus, let’s not forget that many people we now view as heroes and patriots were once labelled “terrorists”.

I guess my point is if we actually want to see a reduction of violence in the world and a safer israel, we need to dig deeper. “Terrorist bastards” might feel therapeutic to say, but it doesn’t do jack squat to actually improve anything.

Obligatory note: I’m in no way suggesting I know the solution to anything. I simply believe if there is a solution, it has to be found through some form of understanding (not necessarily compassion, just understanding) of what it is that motivates any individual person or group to choose extreme violence. We can’t lump together everyone we hate into one big bucket. The world is more complex than that.

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3 segacs 11.27.09 at 1:15 PM

Okay, fine. How about we call them an “ambiguously-named organisation that pursues its goals through targeting innocent civilians by blowing them up on buses or at Passover seders.”

“A rose by any other name…”

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4 Mario Parise 11.28.09 at 6:18 PM

:S I think you missed my point.

It’s not what we call them that I have an issue with (well, I do take issue with it but that’s a separate matter). It’s lumping them all into one vaguely defined evil group that I think is the bigger problem.

If you wanna use the word terrorist (itself a very politically charged term… who gets to decide who is a terrorist as opposed to a resistance fighter or patriot or legitimate army? They all kill people for their own goals…), then we can use the word terrorist. But, there is a world of difference between, say, an Irish terrorist and an Iranian one, or a palestinian terrorist and a lebanese one.

Everyone has their reasons for doing what they do, and if we want to stop or at least decrease the amount of extreme violence in the world, we need to understand why that violence is being undertaken. What motivates one group will be different from what motivates the other, even if at the surface-level they appear similar.

Am I making sense here? Makes sense in my head but hey, I could be full of it. Wouldn’t be the first time…

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5 segacs 11.29.09 at 10:00 AM

Was about to compose a long rambling answer but I’m still behind on my NaNo word count. Suggest you have a look through the archives here for my opinion on that one. And hey, thanks for reading!

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