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zensky's avatar

Have you heard about the Israeli prisoner exchange?

Asked by zensky (13418points) October 17th, 2011

Where you live, how is it being covered by your local news (as objectively as you can, please)?

How much have you been following it?

What are your thoughts?

Would you like to know more about it (from an Israeli)?

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27 Answers

CWOTUS's avatar

I really don’t know anything about it. But if it follows the usual format, the Israelis will hand over like two dozen murderers for one of their soldiers, right?

Judi's avatar


janbb's avatar

Have read about it in the NY Times.

rebbel's avatar

Only one thing I read on it (only one sentence, actually) if it was about the same deal that you talk about and it went like this put in my own words, I can’t recall it literaly: “Imagine how one persons life is valued compared to dozens (or was it hundreds?)”

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

I get my news online from the Washington Post several times during the day. From what I understand the Israelis are handing over 1000 prisoners in exchange for the single man being held in Gaza. If I remember correctly, the Israeli captive in Gaza has been there for years now. It’s a shame it’s taken this long to find a solution to this matter. Honestly, the Occupy Wall Street Movement has been getting more headlines here in the States.

wonderingwhy's avatar

I’ve read a couple AP articles online, that’s about it. I only know a little surface detail. The move seem pretty standard with regards to the trade although the size of it seems larger than usual and I don’t know how frequently the court system is involved as it was. The action itself seems to be a potentially destabilizing move for Palestine politically at least to the extent of creating more internal pressure. It hasn’t been a big headline grabber in the US that I’ve seen just when it was first announced and now that it’s resolved, at least that’s all I noticed (though there have been other less prominent articles and opinion pieces).

Rarebear's avatar

I’m glad he’s finally being freed. But the prisoner exchange ratio seems a bit high.

Jeruba's avatar

@zensky, I take this as a follow-on from your post here and your answer to my clarifying question.

I don’t watch TV, and I hear news from the public radio station only when I’m driving. I look at the newspaper sporadically and have an uneven relationship with Time magazine. So I can’t tell you a thing about coverage where I am.

But I would like to know why you agree with the prime minister’s decision, which sounds so weird on the face of it: 1000 killers released in exchange for one imprisoned soldier. My heart went out to the grieving and outraged families of their victims, especially the family of the 15-year-old girl whose murderer is now bring freed.

zensky's avatar

@Jeruba et al. Thanks for your posts and interest on this controversial subject. I propose reading up a bit first – perhaps on Google news – Gilad Schalit (I believe the two spellings are due to Shalit being the phonetic version of his Hebrew name, and perhaps Schalit is the original French spelling – I know they have French citizenship (at one point Sarcosi was involved himself in trying to get his release).

This recent Reuters article coldly sums up the technical aspects and mini-history of the case. I have read it and it’s quite impartial.

The fact of the matter is that unless you live in a crazy place like Israel, it really is hard to wrap your head around a lot of things and decisions that go on in Israel in particular and the Middle East in general. Perhaps due to the unfortunate massacre that was 9/11 and the subsequent involvement in the Middle East by the US, England and its allies – and the ongoing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, there is a little more personal involvement, study and interest in things Middle Eastern – Arabs, Jews, Israelis and Palestinian in particular.

Even from your posts above one can see that intelligent, inquisitive jellies who live in Europe and the US still get very little info about such a groundbreaking and controversial issue as this one – for us – that is, for people who live here. But that’s news for you: Occupy Wall Street is grabbing the headlines in the States, and I’m sure the water-logged people of Thailand could care less about the exact figure of prisoners being exchanged in Israel.

But to answer Jeruba’s question of why I agree with the exchange – it’s complicated. I didn’t agree to it up until a couple of years ago – and there have been a few times when the negotiations seemed to almost reach an agreement in the past. In other words, when it was being discussed initially, I did not think it fair to exchange these terrorists (the exact number has always been around 1000) for one soldier.

As @Rarebear and others have said – it seems a bit high.

It’s not only high – the actual prisoners being exchanged, what they have done, how they have done their murderous acts – and perhaps even worse, the fact that they have no remorse and can’t wait to go back to doing it – is a bit of a shocker and hard to comprehend why I, and at last poll about 80% of Israelis, would agree to this.

Like I said – it’s complicated.

But let’s just say that I am not in a minority at all – the Prime Minister, who himself lost a brother (the hero Yoni Netanyahu of Entebbe raid fame) to terrorists, the 28 ministers (against 3 who objected) and about 80% of Israelis feel the way I do; disgusted at the price, but want to conclude this issue and get Gilad home.

Over the last five and a half years of imprisonment, and for those who have read some psychology think: well of despair – Gilad has become an icon, and moreover, Israel’s son. My son, my neighbour’s son – Gilad is everyone’s son.

Gilad was very quickly adopted by the (left leaning) media, and in a way we were brainwashed and conditioned over the years to think and believe we should do everything to get him back.

Mind you, many western countries, including the US, do not officially negotiate with terrorists – which is understandable, so news of one soldier kidnapped would not dominate the news daily – as it did in Israel. There are American soldiers and even civillians being held hostage in a couple of places around the world at this moment – do you know their names and faces?

But brainwashing aside – I am also a soldier, and a father of a soldier – and we were taught that Israel would always do everything in its power to bring us home. Every soldier around the (western) world knows: yo don’t leave anyone behind.

So it’s clear how Israel, and I, have become personally involved in getting him back. But at what price?

There are currently about 8000 prisoners in the Israeli prisons. These terrorists, some of them just car thieves, rapists and criminals – but many terorist plotters, foiled suicide bombers and the ilk, get wonderful treatment here. I guarantee you this – despite what they would have you believe. I have seen it.

Those who come from Gaza – and we are talking about suicide bombers here, live in poverty there – with almost 50% unemployment (but that’s for another post).

So three meals a day, visiting rights, and the ability to work and even get University degrees – some of them don’t want to leave.

I say – let them go.

As long as there is the occupation, and as long as the Palestinians teach their children to hate Israel – or as Golda Meir said: as long as the Arabs hate the Israelis more than they love their chiildren – there will be war, and terrorism anyway.

Remember Jay Leno’s commercial for Doritos (a little humour here for comic relief, sorry): Crunch all you want, we’ll make more.

I don’t think the release of them will cause more terrorism, because as the case is today – they have millions at the ready anyway. The exchange might actually open doors to negotiation possibilities with Hammas – who is the de facto leader right now.

If this is the case – it was worth it two-fold; we get Gilad back (collective sigh of relief) and there might be an opportunity to have real talks with real people who can make real things actually happen in the future between Israel and the Palestinians.

Am I being naive? Is this a mistake? Only time will tell.

Those who object, mostly terror victims and families of victims – what can I say? My heart goes out to them – I really understand their objection. But I pray this was a good decision by the PM – and I am backing him on this one – and keeping my fingers crossed.

janbb's avatar

Great background and info Mr. Zen!

zensky's avatar

Thanks sexy Bubby.

saint's avatar

… as long as the Arabs hate the Israelis more than they love their chiildren – there will be war, and terrorism anyway.
That is the essence of the debate. Trade away. Nothing will change anyway and you will have your guy back. Given the truths in Meir’s statement, I would have done it a long time ago.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I have. Not following it. Haven’t seen my coverage about it.

Kayak8's avatar

A friend of mine met with Noam Shalit (Gilad’s dad) when she was in Israel. Most of my local Jewish friends have indicated that they are very much in support of the exchange. My friend who met with Gilad’s dad said that she “proudly support these chuldren when they defend Eretz Yisroel. We have to stand up to the covenant that is made with every ISRAELI SOLDIER…We will bring you back. We are commanded to redeem the captive….This is what we have to do.” I think she worded it beautifully . . .

zenvelo's avatar

I saw it in a news summary yesterday in the San Francisco Chronicle. Nothing on TV news; one small radio mention this morning.

bkcunningham's avatar

“The State of Israel does not abandon its soldiers and citizens,” Benjamin Netanyahu.

That sounds very honorable to me. But on the other hand, what doesn’t make sense are these words of honor for soldiers and citizens and then the apparent disregard for punishing those who killed soldiers and citizens and allowing the murderers with blood on their hands to go free.

wundayatta's avatar

It was all over NPR. It seems like a very steep price, but the Israelis have done this before, if I recall. I don’t really care about the negotiations. Clearly you guys think it’s worth it. I think that’s generally the way it is with powerful nations. Palestinian people are a dime a dozen. But Israeli citizens really count. 8000 to one or something like that. Outrageous! Or is it 800? Whatever, it shows that the Israelis value their people very highly. Palestinians—not so much.

ucme's avatar

Well, I have now.

augustlan's avatar

I haven’t been keeping up with the news lately, so I only know about this from you, zen. I appreciate your bringing it to my attention, and for doing such a good job explaining why the exchange has so much support. Thanks.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

I’ve been following it through the years and listened to his radio interview this morning. Interesting how each culture puts a different value on the individual. I’m not sure what it means, I’ll have to think on it a bit.

wundayatta's avatar

It’s kind of interesting. In the Palestinian culture, life is cheap because of poverty and war. They are willing to use humans as bombs. Perhaps this is due to a high birth rate and poverty and a lack of employment. They can throw people away.

So, a Palestinian person being worth so little, it takes a lot of them to be worth one Israeli. Like a little more than a thousand of them. The symbolism of this is stark. The unbalance is shameful, it seems to me. If I were Palestinian, I would not be wanting to send this message to the world of how worthless Palestinian people are. 1000 to one? Shocking!

On the other hand, the Israelis are showing how valuable they are. One of them is worth a thousand Palestinians. It’s like the Palestinians are practically worthless. Why on earth would you negotiate with a people that hold themselves in such low esteem?

This might seem like a bad deal for the Israelis, but I think it is a shameful deal for the Palestinians. They might seem like good negotiators, but in fact this backfires. Why would anyone take seriously a people where they have to put up a thousand of their criminals to make up one Israeli soldier?

I know the negotiation went the other way around, but there is the money (people) negotiation and then there is the social capital negotiation. For the Palestinians to balance to scales this way is to show no shame and no value for life. It diminishes them psychologically and in the perception of the rest of the world. “Look at our deal,” they might say. “Yeah. Look at it! Your people were so worthless that the Israelis were glad to get rid of them and were willing to pay 1000 criminals just to get back one soldier! Criminals!”

And the Palestinians may greet them as heros, but criminal heros? And what will they do with them? Many are old and sick. Is there any health care in Gaza? Do they have any skills? Are they good for anything except suicide bombing? Only they aren’t even good at that. They failed the first time around. Frankly, I think there is every possibility that this deal will eventually turn out to look very smart on the Israeli part. There are wheels within wheels here.

bkcunningham's avatar

Here is the prisoner list for the first round of releases:

JLeslie's avatar

Just saw it very briefly mentioned on the news. The person reporting said people fear Israel will regret, “pay the price” for such an uneven deal. It said the PM of the Palestinians said to his people the prisoners were freedom fighters, and that Netanyahu warned the freed prisoners better not do anything to attack Israel The whole reported lasted a minute.

janbb's avatar

Big story on it on the front page of the Times and also on NPR today.

Rarebear's avatar

I muse on the relative value of a human life. The Israelis are willing to give up a thousand Palestinians for one Israeli prisoner. Does that mean the Palestinians value life less?

JLeslie's avatar

@Rarebear I don’t think we can draw that conclusion. Probably it means they realize how much the Israelis do value life, and use it effectively in the negotiation.

Since some of the prisoners are just car thieves and alike as @zensky points out, it is ok with me to let them go. In America these type of criminals are released all the time with barely spending any time in jail. I know, because when my hsuband’s care was stolen, supposedly the guy had already stolen over 20 cars, and in the end he only served a few months in jail. Terrorist plotters, well, that is disturbing, but probably most of them are not master minds. I would assume the major players in plotting terrorism are not released if being held. I just saw on The View Elisabeth Hasselback trying to imply releasing terrorists could affect US safety. I just think that is a really really far stretch, but I do worry of course for the safety of other Israeli citizens, which Sherri on the show brought up.

@zensky If Israel is holding about 8,000 prisoners, how man Israelis are the Palestinians holding?

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

@zensky I have only heard about this issue because of my subscriptions on Facebook. Lately I have avoided mainstream news broadcasts and cable news networks.

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