Monday 7 July 2014

Peace for Peace

The shocking news received last week that the bodies of the three missing teenagers were found in a shallow grave near to where they were kidnapped, has left me with a feeling of utter despair.  My heart breaks for the parents and the families of the three young men who will never see them grow to full adulthood.  We mourn for three lives that were taken in a random, unnecessary and evil way.

When news of the kidnapping broke, we all knew deep in our hearts that it could end like this.  We prayed and desperately hoped that the story would somehow end well.  That we would see the boys, once again, in the arms of their parents and rejoice like we did upon the return of Gilad Shalit.  We hoped all of this, despite the concern that we all felt for the safety of Eyal, Gil-Ad and Naftali.  In this case, however, the smiles that we all hoped to see have turned to tears and despair.  They have also turned to anger, bitterness and calls for retaliation and revenge.

I feel immense mourning and sadness for the murder of three children long before their time.  My despair, however, comes from a different place than the source of my mourning.  I keep thinking about the type of person or people that could have carried out this horrifying act.  Who are they?  Who are the members of their families that support them in these acts?  Who are their colleagues in the organisations that stand behind them and their ghastly murderous acts?  My great despair comes from the reality that these are the people that we have been sitting around the negotiating table with over many years.  These are the people who are being released from our prisons in prisoner exchange deals, only to re offend.

If these were the people that lived in my street, I would probably prefer to move to live elsewhere, in order to escape their vile influence.  The neighbourhood in which I live,  however, is the only one for me.  Instead of moving away, I continue to live where I really wish to be, in the hope that somehow the government will clean up my local area to allow me to live here in peace and security.

The source of my despair comes from the fact that I feel isolated in my fear about the neighbours that I live with.  The international community is forcing me to find a way to co-exist with such monsters, despite their unashamed desire to kill me off.  After I clean up my street by placing such unwanted people in prison in response to heinous crimes that they have committed, the international community thinks that it is acceptable to force my hand to release them.  All of this in the name of creating a better future.  Why can they not understand that releasing murderers, no matter what the reason for their murder, cannot create a better future?  It simply makes it acceptable for the murderers to commit their horrible acts over and over again.  Those who force me to litter my neighbourhood with unwanted individuals seem to understand the need to keep their own streets clean.  Why are we not justified in keeping our streets clean too?

Despite the fact that we are in mourning for three of our children who were murdered by those who were released to kill again, we will not allow ourselves to mourn for the future that we plan to build.  While we would prefer to have a good, peaceful co-existence with our neighbourhoods, we will protect ourselves when this is not the situation.  And we will not allow ourselves to give up on our vision for the future, even if this cannot be achieved right now.  The time has come for us to stand up to the international community and say that we will give peace in return for peace, and we will keep criminals in their rightful place.  If our neighbours do not value the peace that we offer in return for peace, there is no deal to be done.

It is my hope that three innocent lives were not lost totally in vain.  The unity that they brought to the people of Israel and Jews around the world, while we prayed for their safe return, is unparallelled.  Let us hope that this unity will allow us to overcome the obstacles that lie in our way to build a better future for ourselves and our children.

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