One of the less salutary effects of the Goldstone report fallout two years ago was its blow to nuance. Within about five minutes of the report’s release, it was cast either as revealed text or as a phantasmic libel.
Efforts to pick through it, to expose its flaws and to use its sounder findings to advance justice were buried in the subsequent screaming match. Those groups and individuals who initially delivered thoughtful analyses retreated under fire.
I found this gratifying, because I am Israeli. I’ve lived there, I want to live there again, and when I read about the "white flag" killings — the alleged shooting of women and children who sought the protection of surrender, I thought: If this is right, if a soldier deliberately took aim and shot a child dead, why on earth would Israel not want, purely out of self-interest, to keep this guy locked up forever?
You can’t bifurcate evil. A man who kills toddlers in Gaza is a man who is dangerous to children in Ramat Aviv. No border crossing can separate evil intent from its dark heart.
It’s with a sense of similar wonder that I’m contemplating the reaction of the Palestinians and their allies to the exchange that freed Gilad Shalit.
The argument I’ve seen playing out in blogs, on Twitter, on Facebook, is this: The overwhelming media focus in Israel and the West on Shalit (and on his poor condition), and how same media contrasts Shalit with the crimes of some of the released Palestinians signals racism, because Israel is still holding innocent Palestinian children.
This doesn’t seem so hard to figure out: Had Hamas or any other Palestinian interlocutor wanted Shalit contrasted with innocents, it should have demanded the release of innocents and only innocents.
As long as you welcome back mass murderers, the story will be about the welcoming back of mass murderers.
And here is where I would be tempted to sign off with a "Good luck with that" raspberry, noting that the Palestinian polity is now welcoming into its arms men who plot the deaths of children celebrating holidays, of children who ride buses, women who lure lovesick boys to slaughter.
Except, here’s the thing: You can’t bifurcate evil. No border crossing can separate evil intent from its dark heart.
I am Israeli, I know Israelis, so naturally I’m more prone to worry about murderers walking free in Ramat Aviv. But I also know Palestinians, I’ve been to Palestinian areas, and the idea of these sociopaths walking free among Palestinian innocents frankly spooks the hell out of me.