A Daily Analysis
By Marc Schulman
December 20, 2009 Shalit Deal- An Alternative- The Settlement Divide
Israeli news has been dominated by reports of meetings relating to a deal on Shalit. According to most reliable reports, the security cabinet is split with Netanyahu holding the deciding vote. It would seem Hamas has not changed its position in any significant way, and now its up to the Israeli government to decide to accept it or not. It's an impossible choice- it's one I am glad I do not have to make, since neither answer is acceptable... and although I have a daughter who served in the IDF and will most likely have another one serving two years from now, I feel morally unequipped to support either side of the two currently proposed options. I would like to suggest a third approach: Israel should consider unilaterally releasing all prisoners, except those who have special technical capabilities (e. g. the bomb makers). These people are going to have to be released as part of a permanent peace agreement anyway, so why not see if they can be released without returning to terror. Why not take the high ground, upset the apple cart and take the initiative. It's risky, and it does not guarantee you could subsequently force Hamas to release Shalit. However, it's very clear that releasing the prisoners as a result of an agreement with Hamas will greatly stengthen Hamas and cause untold damage.
Last night I watched a talk show on Israeli TV whose panel was composed of an equal number of individuals who opposed or supported the cutting of ties between the IDF and the Hesder Yeshiva run by Rabbi Melamed. The discussion went beyond that narrow question. The discourse was as heated as any I have ever heard. One of the interesting formulations stated by one of the critics of the Hesder Yeshivas was his opinion the divide that exists in Israeli society is between those who see the STATE of Israel as most important, while others see who LAND of Israel as paramount. Stated otherwise, the original Zionists saw settlement as a means to an end for the creation of the State; while some of todays settlers see that state as a means of settlement. Though these goals are of course not mutually exclusive, and there clearly is a spectrum of views, they provide a good theoretical framework to look at these issues.