One of the comments I encounter every day regarding the Bowe Bergdahl release is that “the Israelis do it all the time”-that is releasing countless terrorist prisoners to get one soldier back. Absolutely true. However, even in Israel, this act is not without controversy and anguish. I was in Jerusalem the summer just before Gilad Shalit was released by his Hamas captors in a prisoner swap. Gilad’s parents had organized a tent protest in front of the Prime Minister’s office and had orchestrated marches in support of their son. I was there at the tent when Gilad’s parents sat outside in the blazing heat and greeted well wishers. But there were those who opposed the swap. Even in Israel, there were many who questioned the decision to negotiate an exchange of violent terrorists for one man.
However here is the difference. In Israel, most adults have children who serve in the military. The decision to seek the release of a prisoner echoes in the hearts of every Israeli parent-,up to and including the prime minister. The “reaction” to Bergdahl’s release in some American quarters, including death threats and the need to cancel a welcome home, indicates to me that before those who refuse to serve send other parent’s kids to war again, it is time to institute required military or civilian service-no exceptions, no exemptions, no deferments.