No Price Too High?(guest post)

October 18th, 2011 Posted by Susan's Musings 9 comments

Anyone who is neither evil nor wacky rejoiced at the return of Gilad Shalit to his family after five years in captivity. Anyone who is not naïve also felt emotions ranging from concern to trepidation, and even grief and anger at the release of terrorists which secured his freedom. One can wish the Shalit family well and still think that Israel’s actions were terribly wrong. Over the past few days, I have heard numerous conversations which sound something like this: “What do you think?” “Of course I’m happy, but…” Quite frankly, my own feelings were running too deep to write down my thoughts. So, I am grateful that my son wrote down some of his and is allowing me to share them. I found myself appreciating his suggestion that, for just a short while, we focus solely on the Shalit’s joy. At the same time I think he makes an important point well worth pondering.

This morning witnessed the return of a son of Israel, Gilad Schalit, after almost five and a half years of captivity. I do not want to discuss whether the exchange of one man for over one thousand terrorists with the blood of hundreds of Jews on their hands was a wise one. There will be a time for that, but today is not that day. Today is a day for Jews to unite and share in the joy of the Schalit family and of all of Klal Yisrael (the community of Jews).

But, these events have brought to my attention a disturbing viewpoint that I believe needs addressing. Facebook is currently filled with statuses such as these:

No price is too high!

One Jew is worth any number of terrorists!

Some of you are disgusting! Stop focusing on the bad implications of the trade! Our brother is coming home!

I have no doubt that their motivations were entirely pure, but statements such as these capture a fundamental problem that lies at the root of many of the poor policies implemented in both Israel and the United States.

You may have heard a similar idea expressed with regards to another policy. For example, “Even if the number of deaths caused by drunk drivers decreases to one person per year, that would still be one person too many.” Or, “Of course we should put nets up on the sides of the Golden Gate Bridge! If it stops just ONE person from committing suicide then it will have been worth it.”

The flaw in these arguments is only looking at the benefits and disregarding, or worse not even considering, the costs. If one death from drunk driving were really one too many, then I have a very simple plan that could be implemented to guarantee an end to all motor vehicle related collisions: Ban motor vehicles. Or, if you’d rather, install speed governors on all motor vehicles in the United States limiting their speeds to 5mph. Think of the benefits! No deaths from motor vehicle collisions (the leading cause of death in the US for people 5-34)! Reduced carbon dioxide production! However, no one in their right mind would implement this, because…wait for it…THE COST IS TOO HIGH.

All suicides must be prevented? How much are you willing to contribute from your paycheck to erect nets at every elevated point in your city? $10? $100? $1,000? I’m not sure what the point is, but I guarantee you that at a certain point it is no longer worth the cost to you. Especially considering that the money could also be spent in another manner, perhaps a more effective one, to prevent suicides. Once again, THERE IS A COST.

When seat-belts and airbags were made standard equipment, required by federal law, in all cars in the United States, the motivations were pure. After all, who could possibly be against saving lives? But did anyone consider the corresponding price increase of those cars? Did anyone consider the newly arrived, poor immigrant who would be more than happy to drive a car without airbags that fits his budget? Or the tax increase needed to pay for the new airbag inspectors and the bureaucrats needed to implement the new policy? Honestly, I don’t know. But the point is, that THERE IS A COST.

With regards to Gilad, once again, there is a point at which the price is too high. I do not know what that point is, perhaps this deal is beyond that point, and perhaps it is not. For the purposes of this piece, it is irrelevant. However, every decision has a cost, and unless that cost is truly considered and weighed against the benefits, a wise decision cannot possibly be made.

 

 

9 comments

MaryLena Anderegg says:

Like you, I can share the family’s joy and, like you, I can realize that a terrible precedent has been set. As a Christian, I pray daily for God’s Protection over Israel not just because of the political ramifications of the intent of Israel’s neighbors. Primarily, I pray so because the foundations of my faith are established in Judaism and because of the incredible example of courage Israel has set for the world.
Many of my early years were spent in a Jewish community in the South. It was a safe place and (because there were so many refugees living there after WWII) an inexpensive place for a single mother to bring up her child. I learned much from my Jewish neighbors about community and family and faith. I owe an immeasurable debt of gratitude to my neighbors of those years. And, the world owes Israel a debt of gratitude for the example of fortitude and perseverance the very survival of Israel provides.

EJ Hemingway says:

Points well taken. Thank you, Susan.

tz says:

One thing I’ve wondered at is Israel, at least the less religious portion tends to have very few children. If you have only one son, the loss would destroy the future. Your enemies have many children, many sons so the loss of one is tragic to them but not devastating. One wonders at the attitude on abortion.
I think the apparent disproportion might be because of simple supply and demand. Mothers in Israel only want one son, so they are far more valuable than the many the Palestinian mothers have. Why aren’t Israeli sons valued to the point that each family would have as many as reasonably possible?

Matt says:

First, I would like to say that I agree with the decision to trade over a thousand Palestinian terrorists for one Gilad Schalit.
The Palestinian people too were overjoyed at the release of jailed Palestinians. But they were sad too. Being overjoyed was obvious, but why sad? Because so many other Palestinians still languish in Israeli prisons.
It shouldn’t take much thought to realize that it won’t be long before another Israeli solder is captured again. Only this time the demand will be for the release of 2,000 Palestinian terrorists.
You can see the start of the next Israeli war right here.
And I have ignored what the released terrorists are going to do to Israel.
In the end I see much good coming from the release of Gilad Schalit, but it won’t be a straight line going from here to there.

Norma says:

One thing that has not been mentioned is the condition of the prisoners that Israel released compared to Shalit. The world can see that Shalit was thin and did not look well, whereas the prisoners released by Israel looked well-fed and well. That is a BIG
testimony, and in favor of Israel and their treatment of prisoners compared to how Shalit looked. I am glad that he was able to come home. God will work out the other problems that could arise from this. A son has returned home! I rejoice with his loved ones and will continue to pray for the peace of Israel.

Barbara says:

I was reading another site regarding Gilad Shalit’s release….. One person commented that Israel should have a death penalty for terrorists. Another commented that one Jew is worth 1,000 terrorists……. May G-d bless Gilad… I pray he will be treated for the mental anguish he went through those 5 years.

Debra L Gabriel says:

Thank you that one life matters. Thank you for the men that have to make these decisions and the strenght it takes to make them. Like Susan my personal feelings are too many to state but there is one thing that can be stated Our God is all mighty and in Him we must put our trust.

Glenn says:

It depends upon on’e’s sense of which is too high a price, as you know and imply. Permit me then to name my own price. I’ll tell you what my price was if you’ll say what was yours. Elsewhise I belong to the Lord and never to intermediaries.

Diane Medved says:

This is listed as a “guest post.” Whose opinion is this?
Of course Gilad Schalit’s release is subject for relief and gratitude, but I agree, there is a cost, and I fear that it is too high.
The US has a policy not to negotiate for hostages. Woe to the hostages, but that is a major deterrent to taking them, and insures that none makes a mockery of our justice system and the moral values behind it.

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