"So, in the face of all the good arguments about how no self-respecting country trades a almost two hundred dead bodies and several living terrorists including Samir Kuntar (who, we should recall, shot a man at point blank range in front of his four-year-old daughter, and then killed the girl by smashing her skull against a rock with the butt of his rifle – and all this at the ripe old age of 17) for two soldiers who were almost certainly dead, how does one justify this decision? Wasn’t it certainly a mistake?
Yes, in strategic terms, it was probably a mistake. But sometimes mistakes are worth making. Take the Disengagement. It is now clear that the Disengagement from Gaza was a horrifying, costly and still painful mistake. But – and I realize that this is not a popular position – it was a mistake that Israel needed to make. It was the mistake that proved, once and for all, that the enemies we face have no interest in a state of their own. They just want to destroy ours. That is what Israelis learned, now without a doubt, as a result of the Disengagement. There’s almost no one left around here myopic enough to imagine even for an instant that further retreats will get us peace. OK, there are still a few arm-chair peace-niks in the States, insisting that there is simply no conflict that cannot be resolved. But here? Precisely the opposite. Now we know that the right was correct – further retreats will only embolden our enemies. They’ll demand more. And more. Until we’re gone.
The benefits of that lesson are understandably of no consolation to the families who paid so dearly in the summer of 2005, who are still living in temporary housing, whose marriages didn’t survive, whose livelihoods have never been restored, whose children hate the country that did that to their parents – but despite all that, the Disengagement was probably a horrifying mistake that Israel needed to make. For now we know, even those of us (and I include myself) who were naive enough to imagine something else. Peace is not around the corner. Peace is not a year or two away. Peace is not possible. Not now. Not a year from now. Not a decade from now. Because their issue isn’t a Palestinian State it’s the end of the Jewish one. We learned that through the mistake we made in 2005, a mistake that we probably needed to make.
And that’s why we had to make the trade this week. Yes, according to a variety of strategic criteria, the trade was problematic. It may raise the price for Gilad Shalit (not that those negotiations have been going anywhere, of course). It may affect future prisoners of war.
But if it was a mistake, it was a calculated mistake, a mistake well worth making.It was a mistake worth making when we think about what is the real challenge facing Israel. The challenge facing Israel isn’t to win the war against the Palestinians. The war can’t be won. We can’t eradicate them, and they won’t accept our being here. The challenge that Israel faces is not to move towards peace. Peace can’t be had. No – the challenge facing Israel is to learn how to live in perpetual, never-ending war, and in the face of that, to flourish, and to be a country that our kids still want to defend. And that is what we did this week."
July 21, 2008
The Value of a Mistake
Rabbi Daniel Gordis' has issued another dispatch called When Mistakes Are Worth Making that I suggest you read. It discusses the value of the Kuntar exchange, the disengagement and why these mistakes were necessary.