The Rebbe’s Opinion On: Prisoner Exchanges With Terrorist Organizations



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    Shifra Vepua

    The Rebbe’s Opinion On: Prisoner Exchanges With Terrorist Organizations

    Inset: The Israeli daily “Davar” reports: “Avraham Amram has returned, 76 prisoners and dangerous terrorists were given in exchange”

    Early this morning, Israel’s cabinet endorsed an agreement aimed at securing the release of approximately 50 hostages who were kidnapped and taken to Gaza during the horrific terror attack on Simchas Torah. In light of such a deal, as well as all matters related to the safety and security of Eretz Yisroel, we – Lubavitcher’s – turn to the Rebbe MH”M for his opinion and advice. The following is a portion from the sicha of Motzei Parshas Bamidbar 5739 on this topic • Full Article, Video

    On 27 Adar II 5738 (April 5, 1978), IDF soldier Avraham Amram was captured in Lebanon by the PFLP terrorist group. This occurred shortly after the beginning of Operation Litani, during a private tour a group of soldiers was conducting in southern Lebanon. In this incident, four soldiers were also killed. The captive soldier was returned to Israel after 11 months in exchange for the release of 76 terrorists held in Israeli prisons. This was one of the first mass prisoner exchange deals made by Israel. The Rebbe sharply criticized the deal saying that, “Though a Jewish life has infinite worth — surely more than that of seventy Arabs — the exchange should not have been made.” They could have obtained the same soldier for many fewer Arabs.

    The following is a portion from the sicha of Motzei Parshas Bamidbar 5739 on this topic, freely translated:

    “And another horrifying event was added, which shows how far things have gone. There was an incident with a Jew who was held captive, and they did not want to release him from captivity until they exchanged him for seventy-something from the other side.

    And this incident happened at the same time that the US signed a similar deal with the Soviet Union, exchanging five captives for two – whereas here they exchanged one for seventy-something! Indeed according to halacha there is room for debate, since it involves saving the life of one Jew, but when one needs to pay many times over his worth – there is room to debate what the halacha should be.

    But here, another main issue was in play: They (=the Israeli government – Ed.) said openly that since there is no other choice, and since it involves a Jew with a family – they could not cap how many they would need to release from prison for this, and therefore they did it.

    They were asked: Many times there have been incidents where hostages were taken and the terrorists expected that so-and-so and so-and-so would be released in exchange, an equal number or twice as many – but not seventy times over, and you yourselves declared that this is a matter of principle not to succumb to any threat.

    This policy had a reason behind it, a reason that has a source in Jewish law and place in simple logic, and even a place in the art of diplomacy (which is what they’re counting on now too): If they show them that through threats they can release their people and accomplish certain matters – that will cause them to pursue more hostages.

    Therefore there is no other solution and they have to show them that this is not effective. And they held to this policy for many consecutive years, even though it brought casualties among the Jews, casualties whose names are written, and these are matters of public knowledge.

    And here they suddenly reversed this policy, in a shocking way as mentioned above — one for seventy-something!

    …They tried to keep this deal confidential, but since it’s impossible to fool the world all the time and in all matters, [the truth came to light. Namely, that] among the seventy-something, almost half were such who were in prison not for trivial matters — and even when it was for trivial matters, they maintained for years on end the approach to not succumb to terrorist threats — for [among those released] were close to half (thirty-something) who were  involved in actual acts of terror, even acts of terror involving loss of Jewish lives!

    This is an act that cannot be reversed! The seventy-something are free and in such a place, heaven forfend, where no reason is seen why they shouldn’t again try, Heaven forfend, to do what they have done before!

    And as mentioned above, it’s not just this matter itself, it’s the whole policy, heaven forfend, that they now adopted: Those who threaten and pressure learn that there is nothing they cannot accomplish, Heaven forfend – and the proof is: There is no greater matter, no greater concession, no greater retreat than this – that for many years the government held by this position with insistence, and lost several Jewish souls because of this approach – and suddenly they released seventy-something terrorists! This is part of the general approach, an approach r”l which is the opposite of “I will lead you upright”.

    As said in the previous farbrengen, what’s happening here can be likened to when one is spat on, Heaven forfend, and he knows he’s being spat on in the face – yet he deceives the other that it is heavenly rain! He tells him to bless “hatov v’hameitiv”– not an actual blessing, but making a feast and giving “mazel tov’s” and dancing in the streets and waving flags, with all the things associated…

    Video: Part of the Sicha

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    1. unclear

      Does this mean the Rebbe is against any exchange or one for seventy?

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    The Rebbe’s Opinion On: Prisoner Exchanges With Terrorist Organizations



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