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Are There Lessons To Be Learned From the Gilad Shalit Prisoner Exchange?


Hamas is still weak. It will get a temporary bump in popularity, but considering the horrible economic conditions in Gaza and Hamas's widespread unpopularity, in a month things will be back to abnormal. Netanyahu made the easy decision, the one almost 80 percent of Israelis supported. It only highlights how unlikely he is to make the tough strategic decisions necessary to reach a peace agreement.

One Israeli writer compared Netanyahu's efforts on Shalit's behalf to clipping coupons to retain credibility. The lesson, at least for now, is how little Netanyahu hasdone to secure Israel for future generations.

The New York Times is anti-Israel.

While many in the Jewish community could claim this conclusion, the man who has written two blogs in four post-Shalit release days wins the misdirected focus honor. That'll teach the New York Times not to ignore American Jewish Committee head David Harris's editorial submissions.

Netanyahu's action was anti-Israel because it harms Israel's security.

You'll be surprised who publicly led this chorus. Or maybe not.

Michael Rubin, a leader of U.S. Jewish conservatism, wrote in Commentary that Netanyahu "has legitimized terrorism and ensured the scourge will continue." The Zionist Organization of America, an organization led by Mort Klein that regularly attacks Jewish Diaspora groups like J Street when they publicly disagree with Israel about its approach to the peace process, also stepped in. Apparently disagreement with Israel is kosher so long as it comes from Klein.

Ha'aretz columnist Bradley Burston noted this hypocrisy and commented, "Why should people who have claimed the title of Zionists of America be swayed by the feelings of the overwhelming majority of Israelis - who are, after all, the ones who are putting themselves and their loved ones at direct risk in accepting the deal? The leaders of the ZOA are...a very particular sort of hardass. More Zionist than Thou. Hardliners by proxy."

The "creme de la creme" of Palestinian society have successfully escaped the shackles of their "dungeons" and "concentration camps" and will now participate in the future liberation of Palestine.

At least this is the view of Al Qassam, a Hamas publication that represents a strident and thankfully minority view. Of course the histrionic rant of Emergency Committee for Israel Board member Rachel Adams is also, thankfully, a minority view. Adams called for the slaughter of innocent Palestinian men, women, and children now that Shalit is free. ECI should revoke Adams' membership and encourage her to get a new perspective and prescription.

Fatah and Hamas may now be better positioned to reconcile, which can only help lead to a final peace agreement. They even appeared together in the West Bank to celebrate.

This is the "looking to the future" narrative and one that offers the most hope for a final resolution. Hamas offers only intransigence as a platform and continued conflict as their raison d'etre. Fatah could be a builder in the mold of the original Zionists. Israel should act on the opportunity.

So what are the lessons of the Shalit release?

Clearly, they are malleable. They can be whatever you want them to be. For Israel and Palestine's sake, let's hope the main lesson is to act with a strategic focus and to stop getting lost in all of the traditional tactical weeds that entangle everyone in hopelessness.

The author serves on J Street's finance committee and is the developer, a unique website that advocates for Israel to take specific, proactive steps that will lead to a two-state solution.To read more pieces like this, sign up for Tikkun Daily’s free newsletter, sign up for Tikkun Magazine emails or visit us online. You can also like Tikkun on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

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