The Emperor’s New Clothes: The Tragedy Of The Shalit Deal
Tue, 10/25/2011
Special To The Jewish Week
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The Emperor needed new clothes. His wardrobe was not garnering admirers either on the Left or on the Right.

So his tailors pretended to stitch a stunning outfit that could only be seen by “good citizens”. 

Flashy accessories were added – slick, emotional hype: "This is the last window of opportunity."  "Gilad will be killed if we don't free him immediately." "This is the best deal that Hamas has offered." "The worst offenders will be 'exiled' to distant lands."

The ruse succeeded. The Emperor and his tailors bask in glory. His subjects have dubbed him “a true leader.” They are oblivious to the fact that they have been conned. Only the little boy – the marginalized 20 percent of Israelis who opposed this deal – announces the Emperor's nakedness, unafraid to be a “bad citizen.” But he fails to convince the enthralled crowds.

It will take some time but eventually more subjects will regain their vision and admit to what they see: a naked and reckless Emperor.

That process has already begun. My child’s murderer, Ahlam Tamimi, was released last Tuesday. My husband and I disseminated a petition pleading for her to be removed from the list of prisoners in the deal. Within three days, we collected close to 9,000 signatures.

For two years, we have presented our arguments against this release as presumptions. We said that nobody had actually proved to the Israeli public that alternative means to free Gilad Shalit were ever investigated and attempted.

We never imagined how correct we were.

Last week, hours before Gilad’s return, Colonel (res.) Ronen Cohen gave candid, shocking interviews to Haaretz and the IBA, Israel Television. Cohen, a recent retiree from the intelligence division at the General Staff, said that the IDF never even considered an operational option to rescue Gilad Shalit.

It "was a resounding failure of the IDF. There are no other words to describe it. The IDF never took responsibility for the soldier and did not even set up a team to deal with bringing him back. They simply passed it on to the Shin Bet [security service]."

Cohen added: "It may also be that during the operation [Operation Cast Lead, Dec. 2008] it was still possible to do something, under the cover of the chaos of the fighting, but it was not done.”

He noted that Israel failed to gain "bargaining chips" in the form of abducting senior Hamas figures in the Gaza Strip, which could have pushed Hamas to make concessions earlier.

When questioned about claims that there was no intelligence on Gilad, Cohen said: “Intelligence is not passive. You must activate intelligence sources. This was never done.”

I cried when I heard Cohen’s revelations.

Now that the deal is irrevocable, even some of those who helped make it happen have sounded the alarm. A parade of columnists at Haaretz, Israel’s newspaper of record and whose editorial line heavily promoted the release, spews criticism.

One of them, Anshel Pfeffer, writes: "Shalit's capture … was a colossal operational blunder, at just about every level... His eventual release was a victory primarily for the other side's negotiators."

Another columnist, Yoel Marcus warns: “Shalit's release alone does not make Netanyahu a leader. He will be considered a true leader on the day he realizes that great concessions are made not only for the sake of one soldier, but for a peace agreement inside safe borders for the sake of all the people. And he isn't there yet."

Finally, Amir Oren, railed at the Shin Bet for promising the cabinet to “’contain the terror’ that could increase as a result of the prisoner releases” and at the High Court of Justice for having “underestimated the danger posed by murderers who have announced their intention to return to murder if freed. Magistrate's court judges have kept suspects in detention for less.”  “If the murderers keep their promises who will bear the responsibility?” Oren asks.

Surely our naked Emperor.  He ultimately made this decision alone. As he told the Shalits: “I brought your son home to you.”

If anybody must be held accountable, it is he. If the damage he wreaked is to be repaired, he must first be exposed. The blinded 80 percent of this nation must be awakened to their mistake.

Frimet Roth’s 15-year-old daughter, Malki, was one of 15 civilians killed in the Sbarro Pizza suicide bombing in Jerusalem in August 2001.

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