I don’t entirely know what to think about this prisoner exchange. My first impression, “good job Bibi, take the high road, give a concession despite demanding (or being offered) none.” He is, after all, a brilliant politician. Or is he?

I’ve let the idea simmer a little, read about the crimes committed by the people being freed, and now I don’t understand it. Some of those people are heinous, brutal murderers and they’re receiving a get out of jail free card? How many times did they roll doubles for that? Like this person who hacked away at a Holocaust survivor’s head with an axe, or the people who started wildly stabbing passengers on a bus? – What the f#@k!

America has its moments. OJ Simpson (not a Jew – thanks for the heads up Sandler), Enron, Watergate, Vietnam, Alien & Sedition Acts … the list goes on and on. But when you screw up and get caught, you’re caught. Sure, plenty of people deserve leniency that don’t get it (*cough* Jonathan Pollard), and a lot of people get off through legal loopholes. But I can’t imagine one of these murderers avoiding a death penalty or at the very least a life sentence in even the most liberal of U.S. cities. For the first time in about forever, I am jealous of the outcome given to criminals in the ‘States. Today, the Palestinian Authority had the audacity to call these people “Freedom Fighters” (because that’s going to make the whole situation less controversial, good move, guys).

My experiences during the past six months have shown me that Israel has a little more to it than I could wrap my head around while in California. The general population’s feelings toward controversial issues are not what people back home generally assume. The vast majority of Israelis I meet would favor a two-state solution, where the West Bank and Gaza would become Palestine, and I believe many are willing to give even more than that, for peace. Maybe my adventures have not introduced me to a representative sample, but it’s certainly had a fair bit of randomness to it, and is geographically diverse.

Will this prisoner release really act as some sort of voo-doo magic panacea for peace? It’s the first time I’ve run the gauntlet on news outlets in Israel and found almost everyone agreeing on the issue. That’s like FOX, CNN, and TLC all reporting the same story word-for-word – this kind of consensus doesn’t occur often. Thankfully some (including bereaved family members) are happy about the release, so maybe I’m overreacting.

People are fickle. And when you give people a pathos-based issue to rally around, like letting murderers out of jail as a good faith gesture toward the possibility of maybe considering a likelihood of discussing peace … public opinions (like mine) sway. Popular support is important in governance, and I think someone dropped the ball on this one. Ok, maybe it was damage control for approval of additional funding for homes in East Jerusalem – but there will be plenty of Israelis not in favor of that who also are going to be outraged with the prisoner release.

If Vegas took odds on political outcomes, I would drop a few Benjamins that  this will have an overwhelmingly negative effect on Israeli citizens. Unlike the release in 2006, this one doesn’t bring home a Gilad Shalit – it doesn’t provide anything up front to offset the outrage of releasing war criminals and murderers. It doesn’t have a hero. I just hope it will have a happy ending.