BY STAN GOODENOUGH—
In an expression of unfathomable grief, a young Jewish man Thursday night defaced the memorial in Tel Aviv to assassinated Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.*
Shvuel Schijveschuurder – who was arrested then released on bail – was 17 years old when, in 2001, his mother, father, brother and two sisters were killed along with 10 other people in the Sbarro Pizzeria “suicide” bombing in Jerusalem.
The female university student who drove the bomber to restaurant, when sentenced to 16 terms of life imprisonment, expressed pride in her accomplishment and confidently predicted, “I know I will be freed from prison.”
One year before, Israeli reservists Yesef Avrahami and Vadim Novesche accidentally drove into Ramallah and were set upon, beaten, stabbed, had their eyes gouged out, were disemboweled and cannibalized by a Palestinian Arab crowd. Vadim’s wife, who called his cellphone while the lynching was underway, was answered by a shrieking Arab man who jeeringly told her: “We are murdering your husband.”
This week Schijveschuurder learned that the woman guilty of massacring his family will indeed walk out of jail. So will the men who butchered Avrahami and Novesche; a terrorist who drove an Israeli bus over a cliff, killing 16 people; abductors and murderers of other Israeli soldiers, and more than 1000 other terrorists – many also with Jewish blood on their hands.
The despair and sense of betrayal that drove Schijveschuurder to pour paint over the monument to Rabin is shared this weekend by many whose loved ones lives’ were brutally ended by Palestinian Arabs.
Contrasting shockingly with their anguish is the elation that erupted Wednesday night among the residents of Mitzpe Hila, and which is expected to climax on Tuesday.
This coming Tuesday, according to Israel’s Chief of Staff, after five years and three months in captivity, Gilad Schalit will return to his home in this western Galilee settlement.
It is in exchange for his release that Israel has agreed to set free a total of 1027 Arab security prisoners – AKA terrorists.
At last, after endless agonizing days, and nights of inconceivable torment, Gilad’s parents have left the demonstration tent they moved into outside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s residence, where they kept their family’s plight on the national radar, handing yellow ribbons to hundreds of thousands of passers by as the months and years went by.
They are festively preparing for the homecoming of their son who was 19 years old when Hamas terrorists captured him in a battle in the Gaza Strip. He will be 25 when he returns.
Actually we have to still say IF he returns. Israeli officials have cautioned that the situation remains fragile. From bitter experience they know that the Palestinian Arabs are not to be trusted. While the exchange has been structured by Israel to try and ensure that their man returns alive, no actual proof of this exists. It would not be the first time Israel has let go living terrorist prisoners only to receive dead Jewish captives in return.
While Gilad’s mother said – upon hearing the news of the deal earlier this week – that she would not release her emotions until her boy was back in her arms, reporters camped out around the Schalit home have noted that both Gilad’s parents have been laughing aloud with their excitement, anticipation and joy.
Of course they are – and no feeling, caring human being would wish for them anything less than the happiness they hope to experience in just three days from now.
But for a great many people in Israel – many feeling, caring, loving people – the news of the exchange has been a devastating blow – turning a knife in the wounds they have hoped time would, somehow, start to heal.
The small and only consolation the families for these victims of terror has been that some small justice was done by the incarceration of the killers. That is being taken from them too.
Terrible as this is, there is more.
The agreement is a most important victory for Hamas, the group that kidnapped Schalit and demanded as ransom the release of hundreds of their men. By giving in to their demands, not only is Israel boosting Hamas’ prestige and popularity in “Palestinian” eyes; it is also strongly encouraging the abduction of more Israelis, as the terror group’s leaders have already vowed they will now do.
And as 60 percent of previously-released terrorists have been shown to do, the Arabs that walk free in the coming days will return to trying to kill Jews tomorrow.
Israel’s enemies are again being proven right: terrorism does pay.
Although he will surely suffer for the rest of his life from the trauma of his kidnapping and incarceration, and the ever-present fear that he could be killed at any moment, Gilad’s anticipated return will restore some peace and happiness to the family Schalit.
But pain, anger, dejection and dread will enter – and has already entered – many, many other Israeli homes.
*In 1993 Rabin signed the 1993 Oslo Agreement with Yasser Arafat, opening the door in Israel to waves of terror that took the lives of thousands of Jews.