The slippery slope of prisoner swaps

20.10.2011                      22.Tischrei. 5772                       Schmini Azaret

Kommentar:

The slippery slope of prisoner swaps

Failures of politicians, rivalries between intelligence organizations and in-the-box thinking – all have contributed to a situation where Israel pays unreasonable prices for the return of captives.

The deal for the return of Gilad Shalit is the most salient manifestation of the unwritten contract between the State of Israel and the young citizens it drafts into its army. As part of the organizational culture of the Israel Defense Forces, about which a consensus exists in society, army commanders make it clear to new recruits that "the IDF does not leave wounded soldiers in the field" and that even if they are taken captive, "the state and the IDF will do everything to bring them back home."
IDF officers and civilian policy makers who have engaged in negotiations for the return of POWs also find support and reinforcement for this approach in Jewish tradition. Indeed, the precept of pidyon shevuyim (the ransoming of captives ) carries great importance in halakha (religious law ). Maimonides, who was among the greatest of arbiters, wrote that the redeeming of captives takes precedence over supporting or clothing the poor. There is no greater mitzvah, he added, than redeeming captives, for they are hungry, thirsty and unclothed, but also in existential danger….