The first batch of convicted killers is already en route to the Gaza crossing through they will shortly pass en route to whatever politically-complicated welcome awaits them from their Hamas lords and masters.
The remaining 21 are probably being put on buses now, if not already there, for the short ride to Ramallah. Mahmoud Abbas, whose term as president of the PA ended five years ago but remains in power for reasons that any student of corruption, nepotism, incompetence and the like, will appreciate, is very likely practising his on-camera smiles and doing arm-raising exercises. On Israel's main radio station, they said: "Tonight the Muqata (Abbas' official executive nervecenter) is very happy, perhaps the happiest place in the region."
Even those who don't share our profound cynicism understand that the connection between what Israel is doing tonight, on one hand, and the pursuit of peace, on the other, is non-existent.
Against this background, consider for a moment what it means to those of us - the parents and siblings and children of those murdered by the terrorists - whose rights to justice and solidarity have been steamrollered by an uncaring, unresponsive political echelon to hear those politicians speak tonight of pain.
They mean their pain. They ask for the Israeli public's sympathy. They seek understanding for the very difficult decisions they have had to take. They call this a black day. For them.
It has been presented that way since the matter was first disclosed to a disbelieving public in July 2013:
“From time to time prime ministers are called on to make decisions that go against public opinion — when the matter is important for the country,” he wrote. He added that the decision “is painful for the bereaved families, it is painful for the entire nation, and it is also very painful for me. It collides with the incomparably important value of justice.” [New York Times]The decision to give in to American pressure and agree to the freeing of today's 26 was executed via a five-person, hand-selected "special ministerial committee", acting as a proxy for the government. The matter was never put to the cabinet, or even the inner cabinet, and certainly not to the parliament. for reasons never explained but nonetheless quite transparent. Certain politicians, among them cabinet ministers, have expressed vocal opposition or, in some cases, a sense of discomfort. But they did little of a practical nature to get in the way of the fierce political will that has propelled it forward. And if they comprehended the actual damage being done to the role that justice plays in our society, they should remarkably little will to tackle that issue in public. It has been often mentioned and rarely addressed.
Public opinion on whether this disgraceful deal should have been done was overwhelmingly negative from the outset: "28-Jul-13: Releasing unrepentant killers: a massive 9.4% of Israelis are in favor". The unparalleled support for the Gilad Shalit Transaction never rose to that level. We think it is unprecedented in the annals of this country's public life.
But the deed is done. Overwhelmingly negative public opinion has not translated into widespread public outrage or action. Still, there is plenty of anger in the air, and a sense of something beginning to rouse although the Cottage Cheese Protests managed to get far more Israelis out of their homes and into the city squares in 2012. Certainly, it has been disappointing to see. Perhaps, when the third of the four rounds of this current convict release falls due in December, a more respectable number of Israelis will show a willingness to get up and speak and act, unlike this week.
But when it comes to the double-talk of the politicians, our feelings go beyond disappointment. As the buses are being loaded, it is offensive to hear public figures speak now of their pain, their difficulty, their black days, when they have avoided every encounter with those of us who personally paid the price of the crimes for which the terrorists were imprisoned.
We, the victims and the parents and siblings, partners and children of the victims, have been left to engage in a dialogue of the deaf. We have been patronized and belittled, marginalized and misrepresented. The arguments we put forward to the decision makers have been answered by blank faces. Empathy and understanding? An awareness that justice has been trampled? Acknowledgement that the possible justifications for this self-defeating and humiliating charade are absent, unproven, invisible?
Forget about it.
We are left where we were before this: trying to rationalize to ourselves and to our lost loved ones why we did not do more to protect them from the unthinkable harm that stole them from us.
As the celebrations get underway in Ramallah and Gaza, we have no need for the advice of our politicians in order to know about pain.