There will be more abductions


So here is Walter Reich weeping in the New York Times about “the many abductions — and the numerous dead — that his release will yield.” The spokesman for the military wing of Hamas has stated publicly that the sergeant “will not be the last soldier kidnapped by Hamas as long as Israel keeps Palestinian prisoners detained.” There’s a very simple solution to this, unconsidered by Reich, which is that Israel could release the Palestinian prisoners, the overwhelming majority of whom are illegally detained. Someone please explain this to Dahlia Scheindlin, who in an astoundingly unselfconscious racist spectacle comments on the sergeant’s “perfect innocence,” as though he had not been part of a terrorist army carrying out an over 40-year occupation and which has made it so most males in Israeli society are war criminals. Scheindlin goes on to write that “Hamas has reduced your prisoners to one-thousandth of an Israeli.” Think about the prisoner, she suggests,”on your way to the ballot box –inshallah soon – and you will see the fate of your own sons and daughters, if they ever run afoul of this gang.”

Actually, Israel has carried out that reduction, and Hamas has traded on the terms set by its superior. Ask the released prisoners: “The reason for a new Shalit is we left prisoners in a very bad condition and we want them back as soon as possible,” said Rafat al-Arouki. Israel could release them now or release them after one of the soldiers its criminal politicians claim to care so much about spends several years in a Hamas bunker. I’d prefer the former, but Israel would obviously prefer the latter. As is too often the case, what the Israeli ruling class wants, the Israeli ruling class will get.

Finally, the regional dimension: why did this deal go through now and not a year ago? January 25. If Mubarak had been in power, the prisoner exchange would never have happened, or at least not this way. While some have raised doubts about the terms of the exchange, Toufic Haddad explains that “The deal represents the first time that any Palestinian organization captured an Israeli soldier in territorial Palestine and was able to translate this capture into a negotiated settlement with the Israeli government,” representing a “significant advance for the armed resistance capabilities of the Palestinian movement,” working contrapuntally against both the need for the SCAF to try to retain some core of nationalist legitimacy in the Egyptian arena by advocating for the most symbolically powerful Arab cause – Palestine – while at the same time openly colluding in the continued repression of the Palestinians, as is clear through the military’s policy at the Rafah Crossing and its maintenance of the peace treaty with Israel, a long-standing pattern amongst the bourgeois nationalist and monarchical Arab regimes in which they cynically and selectively deploy support for the Palestinian case, usually at the rhetorical level, sometimes in more tangible ways, but never to the point of open rupture with the regime of oppression in Palestine.

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