While the release of fifty hostages must be celebrated, there are a myriad of other thoughts that must accompany this event. I will state those as a series of discrete thoughts that, I believe, are worth considering. I totally reject a comment that I recently read, “The release of fifty hostages today is worth the concerns for a thousand unknown tomorrows.” The absurdity of that assertion can’t be overstated.
In reality, it is the future that will experience the impact of this event and I would offer that the future should not be easily sacrificed for the expediencies of today. It is only the unknown circumstance of the events that surely lie ahead that make this hostage exchange even marginally appropriate.
If I supposed a future scenario, one that is entirely possible, it is easy to see how the hostage release would become totally unacceptable. If a thousand future Israeli deaths could be directly attributed to this “exchange,” I think we could probably reach agreement that it should not have occurred. So, this event is only protected within the obfuscation that the unknown future offers. While my specific conjecture can’t be documented, by all we know of the history of Jihadist Hamas, it says it will be one that has some degree of fulfillment.
Here some thoughts that I believe should be given weight within this emotion laden discussion:
1)Hamas would not enter this agreement without a believe that it will serve their tactical needs. There is no element of humanitarian commitment within any actions that Hamas has ever taken. They’ve shown no concern for the citizenry of Gaza and certainly wouldn’t find that within themselves now.
2)If it does serve the tactical needs of Hamas that will translate into the deaths of Israelis and others. All that can be debated is the number. We do know that the pause, cloaked in humanitarian needs, exists primarily for Hamas to retool their war making capability…and build and fuel thousand of new rockets to threaten Israeli cities.
3)Hamas will never release all the hostages. It is these hostages that serve as their major barrier between themselves and their annihilation by the Israeli IDF. Their release will be bargained down to the point that the number remaining retains a significant deterrent implication.
4)As this all unfolds, Hamas knows that it places Netanyahu, and Israel in an untenable situation. As we see now, the Israeli government is being buffeted by a myriad of groups with widely varying positions. Many, primarily family members, want the hostages released with no concern for other issues interfering with that process. I understand the reasons that is happening. If I were the father of one of the hostages that might be my position …but…perhaps not. Another group doesn’t want the 150 Palestinian terrorists released. Either they, or their loved ones, have been damaged by someone in this group and their release is bitterly protested. Another group is comprised of general Israelis’ concerned for their security and the last are the Leftist “peace at any cost and Israel must stop its genocide” whiners. We can easily see how difficult this situation is for Netanyahu. He apparently decided to go in the direction of the choice with the most defendable expediencies. I know he did that with deep regret and a sense of foreboding.
5)What must also be considered is the long-taken position that hostage taking should never be incentivized. While exceptions to this “rule” have often occurred, it should never be dismissed out of hand. We know as the gains experienced by Hamas in the current situation become manifest, we can predict with surety that hostage taking will increase in the future.
6)There is no equivalency between the fifty women and children that will be released by Hamas and the 150 women and children released by the Israelis. The former are all innocent victims, the latter comprised of convicted terrorists…many of them violent. The way the word “women” enters this conversation suggests that they are all helpless victims. Many of the most heinous crimes of Hamas were committed by women.
If the Third Reich had maintained the Jewish population of Europe as hostages, rather than slaughtering them, and then demanded that the allies cease their military operations on the continent, would the allies have complied? I don’t believe they would have and couldn’t have. The stopping of the Germans was far more necessary than the choice the allies would have been offered. This analogy is used to demonstrate that there is often a situation where the expediency of saving lives must be pushed aside for a greater good to be achieved…often that includes the saving of more lives.
In fact, a similar moment actually did occur. FDR rejected the bombing of Auschwitz/Birkenau and its feeder train lines, so our bombers could hit more “meaningful” targets elsewhere. To paraphrase FDR where he stated, “The best thing to do to help these beleaguered Jews is to end the war.” While I actually believe he should have bombed the death camp support areas, I think the analogy still makes a substantive point.
My bottom-line point for this entire essay is…Israel will pay an enormous price for freeing these hostages as events unfold. I say this while acknowledging that Netanyahu may not have had a choice when making this difficult decision.