Jewish World Review Feb. 3, 2004/ 11 Shevat 5764
Richard Z. Chesnoff
Israel's swap is dumbest deal in a long time
In what may be the dumbest deal in a long time, Israel just sprang more
than 400 imprisoned Palestinian and Lebanese terrorists, who
returned to heroes' welcomes in Beirut, the West Bank and Gaza. In
exchange, Israel got the remains of three murdered soldiers and the
live body of a kidnapped Israeli businessman with a dubious past.
How did the Palestinians respond to this rare gesture of Mideast
On the same day, a Palestinian Authority policeman boarded a
Jerusalem bus and blew himself up, murdering 10 Israelis and
wounding dozens more.
So why did the normally hard-nosed Israeli prime minister, Ariel
Sharon, agree to such a bum deal? It looks like a misguided attempt to
boost his popularity, which is sagging in the face of continued Arab
terrorism and new charges of corruption against Sharon, his sons and
some of the people around them.
If so, it has backfired. Large sectors of the Israeli public are loudly
critical of the unbalanced exchange. There is no doubt that for the
bereaved parents of the three Israeli soldiers the return of the bodies
for burial represents some solace. But that is not enough justification.
As for the Israeli businessman, he is a colonel in the Israeli reserves
named Echanan Tannenbaum who was kidnapped by Hezbollah during
an illegal business trip to Lebanon. Tannenbaum says he was there
seeking information about a still-missing Israeli airman, Rod Arad.
Israeli authorities dismiss his story - but who knows? Maybe there are
secrets about the exchange we don't know.
What is certain is that Hezbollah's success in this deal could make
kidnap targets out of Israelis everywhere. Worse yet is the sense that
no matter what gestures Israel makes, the Arab response is more
Thursday's suicide bombing was especially vicious. The bomb was
packed with nuts and bolts to maximize casualties. Body parts were
blown into apartments up to 50 feet away.
Israeli spokesman Jonathan Peled made the point succinctly, even as
he tried to justify the swap: "We are releasing another 400 Palestinians
with a very heavy heart, because we know that these 400 will return
very quickly to the cycle of violence."
You said it, pal.
Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in Washington
and in the media consider "must reading." Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.
JWR contributor and veteran journalist
Richard Z. Chesnoff is a senior correspondent at US News
And World Report, a columnist at the NY Daily News and a senior fellow at
the Washington-based Foundation for the Defense of
Demoracies. A two-time
winner of the Overseas Press Club Award and a recipient of the National Press
Club Award, he was formerly executive editor of Newsweek International. His latest book, recently updated, is Pack of Thieves: How Hitler & Europe
Plundered the Jews and Committed the Greatest Theft in History. (Click HERE to purchase. Sales help fund JWR. )
Richard Z. Chesnoff Archives
© 2003, N. Y. Daily News