Wednesday afternoon (Israel time), July 16, 2008, update: IDF statement about the identification of the fallen soldiers, Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev: “This painful process exemplifies Israel’s moral commitment to secure the return of all of their soldiers sent out on operational missions. It demonstrates a compelling moral strength which stems from Judaism, Israeli societal values and from the Spirit of the IDF.”
Wednesday morning (Israel time), July 16, 2008, update: Heart-wrenching stories and video of the prisoner swap.
As both Israel and Hizbullah-controlled southern Lebanon prepared in their own ways for the upcoming swap of Lebanese prisoners for the remains of Israeli soldiers Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser, the debate continues over whether the swap itself was the right move for Israel. Seeming to confirm some complaints that the swap gave up too much in return for too little, the Jerusalem Post quoted Ashraf al-Ajami, Palestinian Authority Minister for Prisoner Affairs, as saying:
“On the Palestinian street there is now an understanding that without kidnapping soldiers, we can’t get prisoners released. Through negotiation, we haven’t managed to get prisoners released.”
Yet is that rightly Israel and the Jewish world’s concern? What is the proper “price” to pay for kidnapped Israeli soldiers or others? Shalom Hartman Institute Co-Director Donniel Hartman had this to say in a recent article:
The country must do whatever it can to bring the children home, dead or alive. This and the future exchange are not only necessary but critically important for our country….
One life has infinite value, and as such there can be no disproportionate payment. If one of our children comes home there is no price, there is no numerical equivalent we have to worry about. Given our military prowess and success, the ratio of captives is always in the favor of the other side. However, we should welcome the opportunity to express the value we place on one life. We must constantly remember that the infinite value of every life makes every prisoner exchange, regardless of numerical ratio, a bargain from a Jewish perspective.”
Clearly, not everyone agrees with that stance. Our own website has hosted a heated discussion among readers of Rabbi Hartman’s column who have posted thoughtful, emotional, and angry comments. I ask you to comment either here or there. Join the conversation.
Writing from a firsthand perspective, a onetime Israeli captive in a Syrian prison, Hezi Shai says soldiers must know the State of Israel would do everything possible to get back its captives.