Prisoner Swaps 44

I am ganuinely glad to see Gilad Shalit go home, and to see so many Palestinians reunited with their families. In conflict resolution we tend to refer to such events as “confidence building measures”, and there is no doubt that prisoner releases have to be a part of any eventual solution to the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. But this is hardly an unprecedented event – I can remember three or four similar ones, with no long term effect. Still, on balance a good thing.

I find the wall to wall media coverage so laughably one-sided that I am surprisingly relaxed about it. Anybody likely to be paying the slightest attention to a news channel is going to know some background on the Israeli occupation and the plight of the Palestinians, so the ludicrous one-sidedness of the BBC and Sky News is much more likely to provoke derision than to have the desired propaganda effect.

I had the peculiar thought this morning that the crazed extremism of the Netanyahu government, with their walls and accelerated settlement building, may not be a bad thing in the long term. Another year or two of this kind of land grab and a two state solution will become patently impractical, and unacceptable to all Palestinians. As someone who has always favoured a single, secular democratic state in Israel/Palestine, I am hopeful that the two state idea, which is a Zionist trap into which well meaning but despairing liberals fell, will lose support when it becomes clear that the proposed Palestinian state is becoming an ever shrinking, increasingly disconnected series of tiny waterless and resourceless bantustans.

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44 thoughts on “Prisoner Swaps

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  • mary

    Wingfield Hayes should try writing romantic fiction.
    At the scene

    Rupert Wingfield-Hayes

    BBC News, Tel Nof air base

    ‘The first sight of Gilad Shalit’s homecoming were three little black dots just above the horizon. Within minutes they had grown to three huge Sikorsky helicopters roaring in across the perimeter fence and hovering over the runway of the Tel Nof airbase.
    Out of sight of the cameras Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu walked out to greet the young soldier.
    “Welcome home, Gilad,” the prime minister told him, before taking him to meet his parents. Speaking to the media a few minutes later, Mr Netanyahu said he had told Sgt Shalit’s parents: “I have brought you your son home.”
    In a televised address to the Israeli people, Mr Netanyahu then justified his decision to free 1,027 Palestinian prisoners in return for one Israeli. He said it had been a very difficult decision. But he said there was a need to bring home a soldier that had been sent to the battlefield by the state of Israel.’
    At least Netanyahu confirms that Israel sees Gaza as a battlefield for the IDF in which to operate.

  • Uzbek in the UK

    Watch your language. I did not use any abusive language and one other thing you need to learn is that if you want people to HEAR what you say then SAY it POLITELY. Otherwise the only result you will reach will be IGNORANCE.
    Also by stating the following
    ‘If Zionists can’t seem to live together as equal citizens in places like Russia, they need to change what is within themselves and become able. Not go off to a nation where they or their fathers have never even visited, claim it as their own and kick out the natives inhabitants.’
    Do not you think that the same (using your knowledge and peace keeping recommendations) can be said to Palestinian Arabs living in Israel?
    Try to learn of the problem first before coming up with such revolutionary solutions.

  • mary

    Not sure if this has already been posted. It is the list of CFoI MPs who signed a petition to Hague in 2010 demanding the release of Gilad Shalit.
    Out of the woodwork –
    CFI was delighted that over 60 MPs signed the petition. CFI were also pleased that a number of House of Lords members add support, in addition to 4 MEPs and a member of the Welsh Assembly.

  • arsalan


    Craig has seen fit to delete my posts to you. But I am glad you read it before he did.
    When it comes to my comparisons between Zionism and Nazism, I do not in anyway mean it as a an insult. But as a statement of fact.
    The same goes for racism.

    You mention the Palestinians in Palestine, which you call Israel.
    We that is a land which they not only live in but were born in, and so were their fathers and grandfathers.
    That is their land. Not the Land of someone who born in Russia, whose father and grandfathers were born in Russia going back as many generations as can be traced.
    The Homeland of the Russian is Russia even if he calls himself a Jew. When he doesn’t even believe in Judaism, and he gets to claim ownership of Palestine and a house once owned by a Palestinian, or built on a farm stolen but not paid for from a Palestinian. That IS racism, and people like yourself who justify it are racists.
    You are no different from the Nazis in Nazi Germany who invaded Poland and Russia, claiming for some Racial reason that it was theirs by right due to race, or ancestry. Real ancestry in regards to the Nazi Germans but Fabricated in regards to white European Jews.
    Whether real or imaginary, you have no right to invade someone else’s country and claim it as your own.

    If you deem that comment as an insult. Please enlighten me and explain how your Zionist nation is any different from the Nazi German fatherland?
    How your belief in the rights of Russian or American Jews over Palestine, and I include what you call as Israel as Palestine is any different to the Nazi belief that Poland and Western Russia belongs to the Germanic peoples of German instead of the Slavs that live there.
    Nazism is just a cheap copy of Zionism and Hitler is nothing but a Plagiarist.
    What he did to Jews, Gypsies, Slavs and others deemed to get in the way of his Uni-National state were just him implementing the Zionist plans for Palestine in Europe.
    And that is what you did, when Zionists expelled or exterminated 80% of Palestinians. And that is what you are doing now, and will continue to do. Unless and until you are stopped.

    Craig I attack individuals for what they say. It seems amazing to me, while you delete my posts. you tolerate posts by the likes of Martin Peters who slanders the whole race of Arabs and the religion of Islam on this very thread. Is it fear of being called an Anti-Semite or pro-Muslim that drives you to such double standards?

  • Tom Welsh

    Angrysoba, I merely observed that the Israelis were content to release 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in return for one Israeli. I made no comment about whatever bargaining may have taken place, because I am not interested in that.

    I am interested in the equivalence of 1,000 of one kind of human being to one of another kind.

    We have all read about repressive regimes which made it a practice to retaliate for the loss of any of their soldiers by killing 50, 100, 200, or more of the offending population. (Assyrians, Egyptians, Jews, Romans, Normans, English, French, Turks, Germans, Americans… take your pick).

    The common factor is the belief that “each of us is worth N of them”.

  • Dena Shunra

    Uzbek in the UK, what “centuries of troubles between these two ethnic groups” are you talking about?

    And which ethnic groups are you talking about? Israelis? They didn’t exist before 1948. Jews? Not an ethnic group.
    Jews of various ethnicities had a lot of trouble in some places, but the Christian places seemed to give it much more trouble than Muslim ones. This may be due to the fact that Christianity considered Judaism a scary heresy, while Islam considered it a viable form of worship of the same divinity.

    Conflating the ideas of ethnicity & religion, and inventing “centuries of troubles” where none such exist – these are Zionist talking points. They are designed to hide the reality that the objection to Zionism is because it put into place a plan to steal a LOT of land from a LOT of people, killed, displaced, and subjugated a LOT of people, and continues to do so. That – and not the religious affiliation – is causing troubles there. And Zionism started its racist colonization project in 1888 – not “centuries” ago.

  • Arsalan

    Dene Shunra
    Zionist are not Jews in anyway, shape or form.
    As well as having no Ethnic connection to Palestine other than one fabricated. The have no religious connection to it, as most of them are Atheists so do not believe in the Jewish scriptures.

    The are just a Bunch of people, from all around the world who have claimed to have some Jewish ancestry to be given a nice house in stolen Palestinian land and lots of free American money.
    People from anywhere and of any race and ethnicity can claim this to get that. As far is the Zionist government is concerned everyone is welcome except for the natives, the Palestinians who were expelled by them.

    But even if their funny fictitious claims of being descendent of ancient Israelites was true. It would not matter at all. It would make what they have done and are doing just as bad. Because it would mean a white Americans whose families left the UK 400 years ago has the right to come here, expel any black or Asian men from the houses the Blacks and Asians own. No payment, just the claim the whites were their first, with the assertion that whites in Virginia have some British ancestry.

    Lets not fall for their games. What matters is the fact that they exterminated people, expelled them and stole their homes. Not their imaginary ancestry.

  • mary

    Noam Chomsky on Israel-Palestine Prisoner Exchange, U.S. Assassination Campaign in Yemen
    MIT Professor Emeritus Noam Chomsky, the world-renowned linguist and political dissident, spoke Monday night at Barnard College in New York City about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, just hours before Israel and Hamas completed a historic prisoner exchange. “I think [Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit] should have been released a long time ago. But there’s something missing from this whole story. There’s no pictures of Palestinian women, and no discussion, in fact, in the story of—what about the Palestinian prisoners being released? Where do they come from?” Chomsky says. “There’s a lot to say about that. So, for example, we don’t know—at least I don’t read it in the Times—whether the release includes the elected Palestinian officials who were kidnapped and imprisoned by Israel in 2007 when the United States, the European Union and Israel decided to dissolve the only freely elected legislature in the Arab world.”
    Chomsky also discusses the recent U.S. assassination of U.S.-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen. “Almost all of the critics, of whom there weren’t many, criticized the action or qualified it because of the fact that Awlaki was an American citizen,” Chomksy says. “That is, he was a person, unlike suspects who are intentionally murdered or collateral damage, meaning we treat them kind of like the ants we step on when we walk down the street. They’re not American citizens, so they’re unpeople, and therefore they can be freely murdered.” [includes rush transcript]

  • Joschka Flascher

    I liked Ahmadinejad’s comment on the tragic FBI sting Iranian assassination plot nonsense: “Iranians are civilised people, we don’t need to assassinate people.”
    Take that, Barry Obomber

  • mary

    From the Media Lens Message Board.
    Email to Jeremy Bowen. Galid Shalit: Israel, War and the Art of Propaganda
    Posted by The Editors on October 19, 2011, 9:09 am
    From: Colin
    Sent: 19 October 2011 01:52
    To: Jeremy.Bowen at
    Subject: Galid Shalit: Israel, War and the Art of Propaganda
    Galid Shalit is an Israeli armoured tank crew corporal seized by Hamas militants in a daring raid behind Israeli lines five years ago in which two others of his tank crew were also killed. It was a military coup in act of war between Israel and the Palestinians. A war which has seen thousands killed and thousands captured and imprisoned with many subject to torture in Israel. Those that Israel has killed in this long-running war, including hundreds of women, children and other civilians in Operation Cast Lead are termed casualties of war – notwithstanding that a majority have been non-combatants.
    But when an Israeli conscript soldier, Corporal Galid Shalit, was captured whilst on military service, he was misleadingly described as ‘kidnapped’ – a term that that is usually used in a civilian context to describe the abduction of a child.
    And the 7000 Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails and often subject to regular torture to obtain information are not the enemy engaged in war in which one either kills or is killed, but are termed by Israel, ‘murderers’, in an attempt to convey the impression that when Israel kills, it is the enemy but when Hamas kills it is murder. When the IDF intentionally bombs a civilian family with children in Gaza or Lebanon, or uses banned chemical weapons, it is ‘collateral damage of war’, but when Hamas kills an Israeli family, it is always the ‘murder of innocents’.
    The Israeli foreign ministry has disseminated this type of propaganda daily through its embassies and diplomatic missions worldwide for many years, but never so effectively as this week’s theatrical performance of an innocent boy being ‘abducted’ and then returned (unharmed) to his family whilst a tearful Binyamin Netanyahu, the supreme commander of the Israeli army takes the credit as Corporal Shalit, (yesterday promoted to Sergeant Major Shalit) is reunited with his family. Meanwhile, thousands of Israel’s enemies still rot in Israeli prisons and hundreds of woman and children, in both Lebanon and Gaza, lie dead.

  • mary

    From the Media Lens Editors
    Bowen’s report
    Posted by The Editors on October 19, 2011, 10:48 am, in reply to “Re: Email to Jeremy Bowen. Galid Shalit: Israel, War and the Art of Propaganda”
    Shalit is humanised, presented as a flesh and blood individual. The Palestinians are presented as an unknown, anonymous mass. There’s ten seconds on an 11-year-old Palestinian girl waiting for her released mother. But the girl is a silent, anonymous figure; her mother an indistinct picture on a poster. They’re presented fleetingly, as strangers; they’re not humanised.

  • Coledale

    Poor Corporal Gilad Shalit! Conscripted into Israel’s national army, shoved in an IDF tank, taught how to shell enemy positions i.e. Palestinian houses, captured in his own tank on Israeli territory when he was half asleep, his two fellow tank crew killed. Imprisoned by the enemy for five years without any outside contact. Repatriated in exchange for 1000 Palestinian freedom fighters i.e. the Arab Stern Gang terrorists. Taken to Egypt, bundled quickly into an IDF uniform to give the impression of a military man and flown to the Israeli border to be reunited with his family and, wait for it, to salute the amazing superbinyamin Netanyahu who can procure the release of anyone, if given five years or so.

    But, wait! That’s not all! Shalit turns out to be human. A regular guy just like me or you or our little brother. Funny that! Because Palestinians are not human! They are not like you or me or Gilad Shalit! Palestinians don’t need homes to live in. Or olive groves. Or essential supplies and medicines. And Palestinian women don’t have babies like we do, or our mothers and sisters do, because Arab women are well, just numbers, not real like you or me. Their families are not real families like ours. They are mostly terrorists, not like us regular guys. They kill people in order to regain their land and homes, and assets. We don’t – do we? I mean, we don’t actually kill anyone, do we? Those 700 odd non-combatants including hundreds of women and children in Gaza that were killed, was a mistake, or if not a mistake then unavoidable. I mean they could have emigrated to France or Herzliya couldn’t they, during our attack of Operation Cast Lead. We gave them adequate warning that we would kill. AND WE DID. Women, children, anyone.

    We didn’t really intend to kill anyone or to inflict collective punishment upon a civilian population because that is illegal isn’t it? We know that. It was, er .. collateral damage, that’s what it was! COLLATERAL DAMAGE! As for the white phosphorus and the schools. Well, that was just a mistake. We didn’t know it was a banned chemical weapon, So we’re sorry! Whaddya want, blood? Look! We just want to live in peace, on our land and on your land, in our villages and in your villages, in our houses and in your houses, to tend our olive groves and to acquire yours – well you’re not here anymore are you?

    Of course, I’ve always wondered why we Israelis are human and Arabs are not. To me they look the same. Legs, eyes, stomachs, hair. They eat pitta bread as we eat pitta bread. They bleed as we bleed. They die, as we die, if you shoot them. They cry, as we cry, if you torture them. And if they are dispossessed, they strive to regain what is rightfully theirs. We do that also – only we’re not quite sure what is ours and what is yours.

    What we do know is that Shalit is actually also just a number. A young lad who had no option but to be conscripted and to attack Palestinian homes when so ordered, or to kill the enemy – you know, those men, women and children who we are told don’t bleed like we do, because they’re the Arab Stern Gang terrorists. And I thought they were freedom fighters. One thing that I am sure of is that Gilad Shalit doesn’t want, and never wanted, to steal anyone’s land. But he wasn’t given the choice as to whether to support illegal settlements and/or to kill freedom fighters. He just followed orders. Have I heard that before?

    The trick is to humanize your own whilst dehumanizing the enemy. That way, you get your side to kill the other with no problem. It’s simple. That’s why Gilad Shalit is everyone’s son or younger brother whilst Palestinian freedom fighters and their sons, mothers and daughters are just terrorists. Not worth the time of day, really. And, as always. It’s not the defense minister, or the prime minister, or indeed any minister who gets captured, killed or incarcerated – it’s the poor mug, the conscripted soldier carrying out orders to fulfil a political agenda. C’est la vie! Nothing changes.


  • mary

    ‘Hannibal’ policy: Israel’s plan to kill its own soldiers

    Jonathan Cook

    The National

    Oct 26, 2011
    [..] As Sgt Shalit made his way back to Israel, Hamas leaders warned that they were preparing to capture other soldiers unless Israel began releasing more of the many thousands of Palestinians remaining in jail.

    A response came quickly from the Israeli army’s former chief rabbi, Avichai Rontsky, the spiritual guide until last year to tens of thousands of recruits. He proposed that Israel stop arresting Palestinians and execute them instead. Quoting scriptures as justification, he said Palestinian suspects should be “killed while sleeping at home”.

    Gideon Saar, the education minister and hawkish ally of the prime minister, spoke for many this week as he articulated the myth of an Israeli moral superiority. The oath soldiers made to the army was not one-sided, he said. “Each soldier who embarks on a mission knows that if, heaven forbid, he is injured, he will not be abandoned by his friends, who, in the spirit of the IDF, would risk their lives to save him.”

    But the surprising and inconvenient truth is that official Israeli institutions, including its army, value the lives of Jewish Israelis no more than they do Palestinians – except insofar as it is necessary to keep public opinion onside and the ranks of the conscript army filled.[…]

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