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Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Eichmann To Al-Bis: Israel’s Revolving Door?

Mark.UlyseasThis is an updated version of an article which has just been published in the online international magazine, Live Encounters. Editor, Mark Ulyseas is an Indian travel writer who supports Israel and all matters Jewish. It is a privilege to work with him. See more at:


Gilad.Shalit(3)As Israel’s darling boy began to readjust to life at his Mitzpe Hila home, the western Galilee experienced a near-reprise of the  forest fires of now almost 12 months ago.

Moreover, the national  moral and political agonising over Gilad Shalit’s release in exchange for 1,027 Palestinian terrorist prisoners, resembled the rage engendered a near-half-century ago over the execution of a single Nazi - Adolf Eichmann. Adolf.Eichmann

But just as  the  sudden brushfires  near Kibbutz Yassur and Moshav Ahihud caused  no physical injuries - simply tailbacks of disgruntled motorists in diverted traffic - even those most against the prisoner swap joined the general rejoicing in Shalit’s return.

"I'm happy to hear that Gilad Shalit is alive and well," said Frimet Roth, whose daughter, Malki was among those murdered in the 2001 Sbarrao Pizzeria bombing in Jerusalem.

"That's a great relief and happy news. But it's  accompanied by other feelings, the difficult ones. There is sorrow, anger; we're having a hard time understanding and digesting it. There is also fear. I'm very scared."

Mrs Roth insisted that  her objection to the exchange, including the release of many terrorists, was based on reason, not emotion.

I know what she means. An outing to Fort Yechiam, quite near the Shalit’s home  and coincidentally on the day he was released – could have turned into personal tragedy  when neighbouring picnickers discovered an unattended backpack next to where we were seated at lunch.

A security man was called. The bag contained nothing nasty but we wondered why it had been left there and shuddered briefly when we considered the implications.

But there is no reason, only an ugly parody of emotion from illogical antisemites like The Guardian newspaper’s Deborah  Orr, who performed an extraordinary cerebral somersault by claiming that Israel’s prisoner swap was based on  racism; that one Jewish life was worth more than 1,000 Arab lives. She wrote:

"It's quite something, the prisoner swap between Hamas and the Israeli government that returns Gilad Shalit to his family, and more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners to theirs...[which is] an indication of how inured the world has become to the obscene idea that Israeli lives are more important than Palestinian lives."

It’s clear that Orr, while married to someone from a Jewish background, simply doesn’t want to understand the Jewish psyche: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whatever  his legion faults, thought as much like a father as a politician when he took the advice of his security chiefs and accepted the Hamas deal.

Yet Dr. Yaakov Hasdai, a respected Israeli historian  and retired army colonel, has advised that while Israelis may rejoice in Shalit’s return as private citizens, “as a society and a nation, we need to look at our situation and do some soul-searching as to where we stand.”

In an interview with Israel Hayom newspaper Dr Hasdai suggested that freed terrorists who had been on life sentences and  subsequently re-arrested for planning or engaging in terrorist attacks should then be given the death penalty.

“We cannot have a situation where prison is a revolving door. This needs to be said unequivocally: released terrorists can take advantage of their second lease on life, but if afterward they return to their misdeeds, then that is the end of the road.”

Rt Col Dr Hasdai is much admired in top Israeli circles. If his ideas are accepted, terrorists like Wafa al-Bis may fulfil their wish for martyrdom.

The day after her release as part of the Shalit deal she told cheering schoolchildren on the Gaza Strip that she hoped they would follow her example:

"I hope you will walk the same path we took and God willing, we will see some of you as martyrs.”Wafa.Al.Bis

Bis, a member of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades,  was imprisoned for 12 years in 2005 for planning to blow herself up with 22lbs of explosives sewn to her underwear. She was caught red-handed by Israeli guards at the Erez border crossing on her way to Beersheba's Soroka Hospital.

From Eichmann to al-Bis – is this Israel’s future revolving door?

  • Following bad publicity on the “Comment Is Free Watch” website run by Adam Levick, Ms Orr later published a part-retraction of her comments. She wrote thus:

    “Why It's Right To Weigh Your words  Carefully”

“I was wrong to use poorly chosen words to describe Israel, but that doesn't mean the country is above criticism.

Deborah.OrrLast week, I upset a lot of people by suggesting Zionists saw themselves as "chosen". My words were badly chosen and poorly used, and I'm sorry for it. But accusations of antisemitism have also been intemperate. One can accept the right of Israel to exist, while still believing that the manner in which the nation was created – against the wishes of many of the people already living there, hundreds of thousands of whom became refugees – was problematic and made a contribution to Israel's subsequent and terrible troubles. (This, in turn, does not imply that the violence against Israel has been either justified or deserved. It has done the Palestinian cause much damage, and rightly so.)

    “Nevertheless, it would be absurd to believe that Jewish people are any more or less capable of making geo-political miscalculations than anybody else, or any more or less likely to be called to account for them. Evidence from every corner of the world, throughout the ages, attests to the fact that such behaviour is all too typical of humans, as is reluctance to accept that such actions are bound to have their critics.”

    But neither I, Adam Levick nor a host of other Israel supporters, Jewish and not, were the least bit impressed. Please see for Levick’s full reply to her.


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