Israel knows about prisoner exchanges

The one we traded five hardened terrorists for himself deserted, got six Americans killed…Why are we doing anything to get this guy back?…He’s ashamed to be an American. He calls America ‘disgusting.’ He wanted to leave, so he left. He got what he wanted.”

If an Israeli said that about a captured Israeli soldier…well, I can’t imagine any Israeli saying that about a captured Israeli soldier. At least not before a proper trial in Israel.

Perhaps it’s because we don’t have anyone as heartless as American Republican pundit, Ann Coulter, here in Israel. I do know, however, that if someone said the same thing in Israel about one of our prisoners of war, he or she would be lambasted nationwide by all citizens regardless of political affiliation. I can’t see the military of either nation changing their motto to “We leave no soldier behind…unless Ann Coulter has tried and convicted you…”

Brian Kilmeade, a co-host of the Republican bastion, Fox & Friends, needed to comment on the American soldier’s father’s physical appearance. “I mean, he says he was growing his beard because his son was in captivity. Well, your son’s out now. So if you really don’t — no longer look like a member of the Taliban, you don’t have to look like a member of the Taliban. Are you out of razors?”

I mean…seriously? Taking a very cheap shot at the father of a soldier who has been in enemy captivity for the past five years? And Kilmeade has kept his job? “Are you out of razors?”

Fox host, Bill O’Reilly, thought it was also necessary to condemn Bergdahl’s father. “But it is Robert Bergdahl, the father, who is also engendering some controversy. He has learned to speak Pashto, the language of the Taliban, and looks like a Muslim.”

I can’t think of a better reason not to retrieve a soldier. If O’Reilly and Kilmeade are correct about the ‘beard making you look Muslim’ evidence, then the characters in the TV show Duck Dynasty better run for the proverbial hills. They are Muslims in prime time!

The argument of ‘not negotiating with terrorists’ is a lame one for both the United States and Israel. George W. Bush, Time magazine noted, “cut deals with Sunni insurgents in Iraq’s Anbar province — working with and even paying people who had been killing American soldiers.” And this while, in 2008, President Bush spoke in Israel where he shared his lesson on the danger in trying to deal with the devil.

Israel negotiates with terrorists to get our soldiers back. We are aware that it incentivizes terrorist kidnappings, but it doesn’t matter. The army is on guard. Israel has recently thwarted 11 attempts to kidnap Israeli soldiers. Because that’s what we do.

Israel has gone as far as handing over five Lebanese terrorists (including Samir Kantar, who brutally murdered a man and his daughter in a 1979 attack) for the two coffins of Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev. Because that’s what we do.

To watch the Republicans and Fox News decry and denounce President Obama’s actions towards getting a captive American soldier back is baffling to me. Bergdahl may have been absent without leave. He may have knowingly or unknowingly prompted what happened to him. That will be determined, thankfully, in the United States now.

Israel knows this. The American military believes the same. That is the beginning and the end of the statement. There is no ‘unless’ included in the statement. No matter how long it takes. Ask Gilad Shalit. It seems as if a portion of America needs to learn the same lesson every Israeli (and most of America) already knows.

Leave no soldier behind.

About the Author
Charley Warady is an author/writer/stand-up comedian, living in Israel since 1996...and surviving.