Barbara Diamond

Hostages- The ultimate ethical connundrum

The families of the Israeli hostages ripped from their sleep in their own beds, and from the innocence of enjoying a music festival on October 7, 2024… want their loved ones returned home!  The entire nation of Israel wants the hostages returned to the safety and warmth of their families.  Knowing that is primary, but the ramifications which surround this situation are far more complex than onlookers might assume. This is not an easy issue to analyze without angering someone… but I will try just the same.

For at least thirty years, (which I recall), Israel has been negotiating with its enemies for hostages abducted, even for the remains of a fallen soldier held by the enemy.  With time, each negotiation became more costly than the previous one.  Israel has always seen itself as a nation committed to its citizens and in return, the citizens are committed to the nation.  Israel has promised to bring home each soldier…each abductee… (dead or alive…) and yet, this approach has created a vulnerability which is no longer sustainable.

This very precedent which has been established… now places not just our military, but indeed every Israeli citizen at risk for their own lives. The climate of Jew and Israel hatred, has reached a pinnacle.  As such, we must re-examine policies which may have once been considered standard.

When one of us gets into a taxi manned by an Arab driver, we now need to consider the risks. We are vulnerable. Might the driver push a button and lock us into his vehicle, only to drive us to enemies in order to abduct us? Do we need to fear walking down a street alone in a mixed neighborhood? Will we be attacked at a stop light in our own vehicle, pulled out of it to be taken as a hostage for negotiation?  Might we be on vacation in Eilat and be abducted by terrorists who entered by sea? Israelis have been warned that international travel is now dangerous.  Both antisemites and anti-Zionists around the globe now understand that abducting an Israeli gives them power beyond their wildest dreams.

Jews in high positions, living around the world find themselves needing security 24/7 to protect them against individuals they never knew existed.  One highly esteemed individual in Canada, whom I know personally, invites many people to his home these days, but prefers not to venture forth from his own abode because of the security requirements in place for his protection. His government provides substantial security for his residence, knowing that he is famous and, as a Jew, at risk. This is no way for good, innocent people to be forced to live.

Our lives have become valuable as a “bargaining-chips” for our enemies. This essentially means that every parent must now be concerned as to whether their children are playing safely outside, or in “harm’s way.”  Israel has always been a country when children were safe to meet with their friends, hop on-and-off busses, and play without a care, out-of-doors.

Each of us living in Israel, especially when travelling on an Israeli passport,  now needs to reconsider whether we really need to visit family abroad – take a vacation in the United States, Canada, or Europe …or to new and exciting ports of call. The possible examples of potential danger are endless.

Letters have been published …written by our young soldiers before they ventured into battle. These are the letters of those who have since fallen in service to our nation.  Time and time again, the soldier has asked as his/her final wish, that should their body be in enemy hands after their death… not to ask the government to redeem it with an exchange of prisoners. Our young adults, on their way to war, have a clarity of vision that most of us do not.  It is precisely because they love their families, their friends and their country, that they have the wisdom to make this request.  A soldier goes to battle to protect those he loves. The very concept of exchanging his/her lifeless body for those who wish to be free to murder more and more Jews as proof of their love of Allah, is an anathema to these soldiers. Why would they even go into battle, if their death ultimately would result in more of those whom they wish to protect, being murdered in the future?  This really is not complicated.  Many of our young heroes and heroines see the situation clearly. It is we, who stay behind, who cannot see the proverbial “forest through the trees.”

There is only one way to reverse this paradigm.  It requires the absolute refusal of our government to EVER negotiate for any civilian hostage again.  Only if they world hears this…and actually believes this …. Can the lives of our almost ten million citizens be secure once again.

It sounds cruel. I know that it does.  My heart breaks for any hostages and their suffering.   I am praying that this is the very last time my country will allow such an atrocity to be perpetrated. We must stay the course promised thus far and do our best to bring the current hostages home. This needs to be the last time.

If our enemies really understood and believed that abducting our citizens would bring them no profit… they simply would not do it.  It is clear that we can not take this stand during this war with Hamas. The dye has been cast and their methodical teaching of their terrorists as to how to abduct our innocents, has paid Hamas handsomely. They knew that abduction was the one and only negotiating tool at their disposal.

Our other National enemies falsely imprison Israeli citizens, simply in order to trade them for obscene amounts of money, or to be exchanged for dozens if not hundreds of their own citizens who have landed in Israeli prisons. They are there for serious offenses… for planning and perpetrating mayhem on our own people. Our innocents in exchange for murderers?  What about this is at all reasonable? Iran has perfected this game and taught it to each of their tentacles…. Hamas, Hezbollah and the Houtis. There is a greater explanation of this practice in my recent article:  What is the value of your life?” –

We as a nation, must accept that any potential for negotiation over abductees, puts every one of us in danger. It is time for our leaders to actually hold some civilized discussions about changing this dynamic. On a personal level, I promise that I would understand that I should not be traded for terrorists with blood on their hands… who would then go forward and kill many more of my fellow citizens.  What exactly would make my life so valuable, that it should be traded for multiple deaths other innocents in the future?

There is little question in any of our minds, that once this war is concluded, Israel will go to new elections.  This is the perfect time for potential candidates to address this cloud which hovers over our lives.

First- there must be a clear understanding of the reality on the ground.  Any Palestinian in our jails with blood on their hands (please note: women are no different than their male counterparts in this regard)- when released, devote their lives to revenge. They do not leave our prisons thankful for the exchange and vowing to go back to an innocent family life and their professions (if they indeed have one.) Hence, every prisoner we release equates to more dead Israelis… specifically dead Jews, although terror attacks kill many Christians and Muslims as well…. an equal opportunity approach to evil.

At present, the families of the remaining hostages are trying to force the hand of the Israeli government to stop this war and abandon the goal of destroying Hamas as a terror organization… in exchange for the return of their loved ones.  I do sympathize of course. But in essence, that trade would be so devastating to the future of our nation, that as painful as it truly is, it must be resisted. It is not possible to switch policy in the midst of this war. I believe that most of our nation understands this. In this war, Israel is committed to bringing home their hostages.  We will indeed be shocked when we finally realize how many of them have already been murdered by Hamas while in their ”custody.”  Their war crimes trials will take years to process, and will bring back not one of our innocents. Trials are mandatory but do not change future behavior. Prevention is the only solution.

For reasons not made clear to us here in Israel, the United States and the European Union appear intent on restraining Israel in its war with Hamas. They keep setting up boundaries and ultimatums which Israel cannot even consider.    They do not see our situation as it truly is. They still believe that “compromise” is the order of the day. In spite of the ammunition they supply to us, they also demand that we return to the concept of a Palestinian state with the very people who just murdered and abducted our innocents. They have the shocking audacity to suggest that a “two-state solution” is desirable and feasible. Israel essentially has had a two-state solution ever since we returned Gaza to Palestinian control. The world now witnesses the poisoned fruits born of that gift.

We would certainly lose this war, the moment we would succumb to international pressure for a lengthy cease-fire. If we lose…evil wins. If we lose…we have no tomorrow.  Attempting to force Israel’s hand in this regard is without any moral conscience.

If only the entire world would band together and agree never to negotiate with terrorists and criminals who abduct innocents … abductions around the globe would quite simply… end.  We know that such a wide spread commitment can never be achieved. It would be quite sufficient for our survival here in Israel, if the right and left sides of our own political spectrum could just agree on this one concept, in order to protect us all in the days and years ahead.





About the Author
Born in the Washington DC area, Barbara has been a pro Israel activist for over four decades, having had a radio show in Jerusalem called "Barbara Diamond One on One" , doing in depth interviews which aired in Israel and in the UK. She participated in missions to the USSR to meet with Refuseniks, to Ethiopia with a medical team to help the Jewish villages and to China to open up relations prior to China recognizing the State of Israel, She has been pro-active lobbying congress and helping to start a Pro Israel PAC in Los Angeles. She stays involved through the Jerusalem Press Club attending up to the moment briefings which she would like to share with the readers. Ms. Diamond is the author of the new website - and is the 2018 recipient of the "StandWithUs"-Israel leadership award.
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