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Friday, 11 November 2011 00:00

 

A rhetoric class
offers enlightenment
A rhetoric class offers enlightenment

Daniel  StieglitzDaniel Stieglitz

In 2009, I took a rhetoric course at Bar Ilan University. During one exercise to improve our rhetoric techniques, the professor had us stand in different parts of the classroom, based on our opinions of a certain issue.  Those who believed that Gilad Shalit should be freed at all costs were to stand to the right; those who believed that not a single terrorist should be released in exchange for Shalit   on the left; and those (including me) who were “sitting on the fence” should stand in the middle of the room.

The professor then further divided us into even smaller groups, with one representative of each viewpoint in each group. Every individual was allotted two minutes to explain his or her particular viewpoint. I told my group that, although I consider every life precious and believe we should do everything in our power to save even one individual. If it were up to me, then blood would be on my hands if a released terrorist went on to kill others; so I was glad  not to be the person making that decision. I also said I would accept any decision Israel might make in weighing the pros and cons of freeing Shalit.

Then the professor instructed us to identify those issues on which we all agreed. At first, it wasn’t difficult to find common ground – we all agreed that Shalit did not deserve to be in captivity, even if we didn’t agree on the best way to free him from his inhumane confinement. Eventually we were able to pinpoint methods of freeing Gilad that we could all accept.

As this discussion was taking place a few months after Israel’s Operation Cast Lead in Gaza, we were appalled by the government’s decision to pull out without publicly stating that Israeli withdrawal would be conditional on Shalit’s release.  When Operation Cast Lead ended, Israel had Hamas on the run.

We suggested a simplified conversation between Israel and Hamas, in which Israel would insist on pushing forward until Shalit was returned. Hamas would then threaten to kill him if Israel didn’t withdraw. Israel would respond that if Shalit were killed, Israel wouldn’t stop until Hamas was entirely wiped out.

Though this hypothetical scenario would certainly have cost Israel more lives and resources, we would either have gotten Shalit back without releasing a single terrorist or eliminated the terrorist organization that kidnapped Shalit in the first place and is responsible for the deaths of so many innocent people.

Our final consensus fell within the category of “only time will tell.” All of us (including the group member who was opposed to freeing a single terrorist for Shalit) agreed that if we could know for sure that none of the terrorists would ever harm another person, we would free them all to save Shalit. Unfortunately, none of us can see into the future. However, now that terrorists have been released in exchange for Shalit’s freedom, only time will tell whether they will take more lives.

I’m overjoyed that he is home, and now that he is free I will never criticize the Israeli government’s decision. The past is past, and in the present, Shalit is free. Every life remains precious; and today in Israel, the biblical prophecy still  stands: “V’shavu banim li-g’vulam” (Jeremiah 31:16) – “Israel’s sons will return within its borders.”

Dani Stieglitz, a native of Providence, made aliyah to Israel in 2007. A resident of Jerusalem, he is the alumni relations coordinator and fundraising associate at Shapell’s - Darché Noam. Contact him at  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

 

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