Your email is not valid
Recipient's email is not valid
Submit Close

Your email has been sent.

Click here to send another

thescroll_header

One For One Thousand

New ‘Times Magazine’ story shows how the Shalit deal went down

Print Email
From the cover of the forthcoming New York Times Magazine.(SPD/NYT Mag)

Run, do not walk to go read the New York Times Magazine’s new cover story on the Gilad Shalit deal by Yediot Aronoth’s Ronen Bergman. It is extremely well written, comprehensive, and provocative. Some choice tidbits:

• Perhaps the most sensational aspect of the article is the light it sheds on just how crucial the Israeli lefty Gershon Baskin, a guy with no official government affiliation, was to freeing Shalit. Basically, through a Hamas contact that he made at an academic conference (!), Baskin was able to set up a more or less direct Israeli line not just to Hamas but to the ultra-hard-line leader of Hamas’ military wing, Ahmed Jabari—“the first name,” Bergman notes, “on Israel’s list of terrorists to be assassinated.”

• Bergman writes: “It is very unlikely that we will ever learn where he was held. The degree to which Gaza, unlike the West Bank, is opaque to Israeli intelligence has profound implications for future operations there. The inability of Israeli intelligence to discover Shalit’s place of captivity in a small space that is an hour’s drive from Tel Aviv was a profound failure, one to which the departing heads of Israel’s three security organizations—Mossad, Shin Bet and the military—all admitted when they retired this year.” In other words: if doing the deal reinforced the logic of abducting soldiers from Hamas’ perspective, Israel’s inability to rescue Shalit had already reinforced that logic.

• The story of Miriam Grof, the mother of a soldier captured in the 1980s whose activism on behalf of her son provided the template for Noam Shalit’s activism for his, proves—as if any proof were necessary—that hell hath no fury like a Jewish mother who misses her child.

• Bergman also scrupulously provides the perspective of a man whose little boy was killed during a 2003 bus bombing and who opposes all prisoner exchanges. It is chilling that his sentimental view is corroborated by the decidedly unsentimental men who have run Israel’s intelligence and security agencies—they also were greatly opposed to this deal.

Yet after reading Bergman’s piece—and after staring at the magazine’s incredible cover—I personally find it hard to avoid the conclusion that this was the right thing to do. A simple cost-benefit analysis ignores the expressive function of such a transaction: that Israel will exchange a thousand men for one is a statement—a “speech act,” if you will—about how Israel values life (a Jewish life, anyway) and how that sets it apart within its unfortunate part of the world. I don’t know that you can put a price on that, even when the currency is lives.

Gilad Shalit and the Rising Price of an Israeli Life [NYT Magazine]

Print Email

COMMENTING CHARGES
Daily rate: $2
Monthly rate: $18
Yearly rate: $180

WAIT, WHY DO I HAVE TO PAY TO COMMENT?
Tablet is committed to bringing you the best, smartest, most enlightening and entertaining reporting and writing on Jewish life, all free of charge. We take pride in our community of readers, and are thrilled that you choose to engage with us in a way that is both thoughtful and thought-provoking. But the Internet, for all of its wonders, poses challenges to civilized and constructive discussion, allowing vocal—and, often, anonymous—minorities to drag it down with invective (and worse). Starting today, then, we are asking people who'd like to post comments on the site to pay a nominal fee—less a paywall than a gesture of your own commitment to the cause of great conversation. All proceeds go to helping us bring you the ambitious journalism that brought you here in the first place.

I NEED TO BE HEARD! BUT I DONT WANT TO PAY.
Readers can still interact with us free of charge via Facebook, Twitter, and our other social media channels, or write to us at letters@tabletmag.com. Each week, we’ll select the best letters and publish them in a new letters to the editor feature on the Scroll.

We hope this new largely symbolic measure will help us create a more pleasant and cultivated environment for all of our readers, and, as always, we thank you deeply for your support.

Can there be any doubt that this exchange will lead to anything but further problems for Israel?

I see absolutely no upside (though I would love to hear one. The notion that Jabari is dressing better is risible.)

The idea that the “speech act” is true — and what it says is that Israelis — maybe Jews elsewhere — speaks that now they are truly fair game. Kidnap a soldier? Why bother? Why not civilians? children? Anyone?

If Israeli public pressure made the trade a political necessity then I fear for Israel.

2000

Your comment may be no longer than 2,000 characters, approximately 400 words. HTML tags are not permitted, nor are more than two URLs per comment. We reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments.

Thank You!

Thank you for subscribing to the Tablet Magazine Daily Digest.
Please tell us about you.

One For One Thousand

New ‘Times Magazine’ story shows how the Shalit deal went down

More on Tablet:

Argentinian Judge Throws Out Nisman Charges

By Tal Trachtman Alroy — Rules dead prosecutor’s case against president insufficient to investigate