Like many of the challenges faced by Israeli society and political decision-makers, Gilad Shalit’s abduction poses a dilemma to which there are no easy answers. Gilad is a son and brother, a soldier, a dual citizen of both Israel and France, and a political bargaining chip whose worth in imprisoned Gazans varies depending on the state of negotiations between Israel and Hamas.
The dilemmas posed by his situation are painful: does Israel pay whatever it takes to free someone who could be anyone’s son? Or is the price to be paid – the release of a number of convicted terrorists back into Gaza – not worth the life of only one soldier? Does the Israeli government need to do whatever it takes to release him in order to show the current and future soldiers that their government will never abandon them? Or should the government take into account the safety of the society at-large and the danger that might be posed by the prisoners who would be released in exchange for Gilad?
In my opinion, there is no easy “right” answer to this question. The way I deal with this question, as well as many other controversial issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, is to accept that my emotional, moral, political and strategic perspectives will inevitably and uncomfortably clash with and contradict one another. The best way to understand is to become comfortable with the discomfort.