Prisoner Swap

I was talking to my father the other night, and, as usual, he asked me which segments I'm working on here at Talk of the Nation. I told him that I'm putting together a show on prisoner swaps; and, after I gave him the rundown on the different guests I was considering, he told me that Mohammed Abu Nasser, the man who kidnapped him back in 1989, had been released in a prisoner swap prior to the kidnapping. (Btw my father is fine. He was held for less than two days, and he was treated well. He says that he was served some amazing traditional Palestinian food during that time.) My family doesn't talk about the kidnapping very much, but I bring it up because it is a perfect example of why people oppose prisoner swaps. Not only does it mean that governments have to negotiate with entities they deem terrorists (Israel and Hezbollah), but often there was a reason those people were in prison in the first place. Yet, countries still do it. Why?

Today we are talking to Haaretz Defense Correspondent Amos Harel; author, former Israeli politician, and one-time "swapee" Natan Shransky; and Civil War historian Jeffry Wert about the logic behind prisoner swaps.

What do you think? If you were taken prisoner during a war or conflict, would you want your government to swap you?

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

hello neal
with this gesture israel is attempting to gain sympathy from the world. that oh we are the good guys and they arabs are the bad guys. that oh we are the fair and humanitarian world and the them arabs are a bunch of barbarians.
This is just a cover up for the displacement and murders of millions of palestinians. you are not fooling anyone.

Sent by farzin | 2:30 PM | 7-22-2008

Shame on NPR for characterizing these prisoner swaps as a concession to terrorist hostage takers, rather than a legitimate swap of combatant prisoners in a colonial struggle. Where is Palestinian voice to counter the voice of your guest, a guest who when saying "terrorist" with such anger and disgust means "Palestinian." It is a carefully chosen method to justify his racism.

Sent by Joe from Portland | 2:33 PM | 7-22-2008

This swap is a bit different. We did not know if the Israelis were alive or dead. Now we know that they died while in the care of the kidnappers. This does not bode well for the treatment of Gilad Shalit, or any other prisoners in their hands. They have no motive to keep him/them alive.

And yet to turn down a deal that would free a woman from the status of agunah is also difficult. Ron Arad's wife has lived in limbo for so many years and to know we could end that for someone and not do so is almost unthinkable.

If I were an Arab I would be insulted. Even their bargainers said that two dead Jews are worth five live Arabs plus hundreds of dead ones. At least in that math the Israelis had a possibility of two live Jews. The Arabs knew they were dead.

Sent by Sarah M (Please do not announce my name) | 2:34 PM | 7-22-2008

I see the precedent as going back at least to the Palestinian Mandate when Zionist terrorists were killing British soldiers in retaliation to Britain trying and executing Zionist terrorists for murder.

Britain made concessions to the Zionist terrorists and the Zionist terrorism drove Britain to wash its hand of Palestine and leave as quickly as it could without regard to the ensuing ethnic cleansing and wars in Palestine.

It seems to me that one can see the British as being defeated by the Zionists just as the US was defeated by the Viet Cong.

Sent by michael pettengill | 2:34 PM | 7-22-2008

In a prisoner swap, there are 2 sides - in the one you are talking about, there were Palestinians and Israelis. Inviting one side to talk at length, but not the other, is typical for the American media's reporting on this conflict and one of the major reasons, why it has not been resolved. It REALLY bugs me that not even NPR recognizes that there are 2 sides to this story.

Sent by Dietrich Speer | 2:40 PM | 7-22-2008

How come Kunter is the only one seen as a terroist. The Israeli Soldiers were trespassing on someone's else's land.
Can they kill because they belong to a government!

Sent by Ernie nedder | 4:41 PM | 7-22-2008

Israel should have never given back Samir Kuntar! He is the one of the reasons for the 2006 Lebanon War. Does anybody think Hezbollah wants him back so he can become Hezbollah's Ghandi or Mother Theresa? I thought not.

Sent by Sue | 4:50 PM | 7-22-2008

Not only does it mean that governments have to negotiate with entities they deem terrorists (Israel and Hezbollah), but often there was a reason those people were in prison in the first place.
------
Why is it so amazing to Americans (and Israelis) that the Palestinians don't like an illegal occupation? Maybe they feel that waiting 50+ years is more than enough. Any people would do the same thing. We talk about India but most countries (including America and Israel) came into being because their people were willing to fight and die for a country.

Remember, to the British George Washington was a terrorist. BTW, why don't you interview the family of the 91 people killed in the bombing of the King David Hotel? How did they feel when Menachem Begin (head of a terrorist organization called Irgun that carried out the bombing) was elected president of Israel?

Sent by Maddie | 7:31 PM | 7-22-2008

It is interesting to me that this blog appears to be the voice of the palestinians' supporters. Where were these comments on air? I agree with the guest that the swap was not in good judgement as the anti is now upped once again and those soldiers are still dead. Killed by the side that continues to refuse any offers that Israel has made for peace and that uses any concessions by Israel as launching pads for rockets.

Sent by LG | 11:25 AM | 7-23-2008

Let me get this straight; this one fellow sneaks into Israel, invades a private home, kills a father and four year old daughter, inadvertently causes the death of an infant and is celebrated as a hero by his home society?

Doesn't this demonstrate, conclusively, that one side in this dispute has less moral standing than the other?

Sent by RWK | 9:27 AM | 7-25-2008

Support comes from: