Sunday, June 29, 2008

Terror Victims Appeal to Government: Don't Release Kuntar

Gil Ronen

?Almagor, an organization that represents victims of Arab terror, and the Bereaved Parents' Forum say they are trying to mount a last-minute counter-offensive to the current political and media campaign in favor of a deal with Hizbullah which Almagor chairman Meir Indor admits caught him off guard. The media is cooperating with the campaign for the deal "with complete devotion," Indor said, while it "almost completely rejects bereaved families' objections to the deal, and Channel 2 boycotts them outright." Once the terror groups noticed the great Israeli media interest in the abducted soldiers, he explained, they "tripled and quadrupled" the price they were demanding for their release.

"The Arabs and the European Union backers know how important the NGOs are for shaping public opinion," Indor told Israel National News. "They created a massive political and legal lobby and they use it to work with the media and politicians in the same way that a bank robber who holds hostages would use the hostages' parents to cry to the media and demand that his demands be met."

Vote expected Sunday
Once the terror groups noticed the great media interest in the soldiers, they "tripled and quadrupled" the price they were demanding.

With the cabinet vote expected Sunday, the two groups fired off a letter Saturday night to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in which they demanded that any government discussion of a deal involving terrorists who were convicted of murder be postponed until the IDF Chief Rabbi decides whether or not to accord abducted IDF soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev the status of servicemen who were killed in action.

Approving a deal without determining whether Israel will be receiving live soldiers or bodies, the groups wrote, "would constitute a radically unreasonable step." They noted that Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) chief Yuval Diskin determined that a deal in which Hizbullah succeeds in receiving child-murdering terrorist Samir Kuntar and others in return for dead bodies "would encourage the terror organizations to kill their abductees in the future and directly endangers Gilad Shalit who is being held by Hamas."

Karnit's agunah status
Recent statements by politicians regarding the proposed trade with Hizbullah have largely favored it, and the media reported a majority in the cabinet is expected to vote to approve the deal if it is brought to a vote Sunday. Shas chairman and Deputy Prime Minister Eli Yishai came out with a new reason for approving the deal last week: leaving matters as they currently stand, he said, would mean leaving Karnit Goldwasser – Ehud's wife – in "agunah" status, which would prevent her from remarrying by Jewish law.

Indor estimated that Karnit's status could be resolved by other means, however: "The question could, perhaps, be solved by the IDF Chief Rabbi in conjunction with other rabbinical authorities even without a deal with Hi
"Surrendering to blackmail also involves chilul HaShem and humiliation for Israel."

Rabbinical opinions
Indor and Dr. Aryeh Bachrach, who heads the Bereaved Parents' Forum, noted that esteemed Rabbi Yakov Ariel and rabbis from all streams have declared that live prisoners must not be exchanged for bodies. Ariel determined in an essay that "a country that is responsible for the security of its citizens does not have to succumb to any demand."

While the fact that the enemy holds bodies or body parts constitutes a personal and national dishonor, the Rabbi explained, surrendering to blackmail also involves chilul HaShem and humiliation for Israel. "The very fact that they believe that they have succeeded in defeating us raises their morale and spurs them on in their quest to kill children, women, civilians and soldiers," he wrote.

The letter also mentions the Maharam of Rotenburg, a leading 13th century Talmudist who was imprisoned by Emperor Rudolf I, who demanded an exorbitant ransom for his release. Tradition has it that 23,000 marks were raised for him but the Maharam refused it for fear of encouraging the imprisonment of other rabbis and died in prison after seven years.

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