What’s an Israeli Worth?

In case you haven’t been following it, Israel traded almost 500 Palestinian prisoners for one captured Israeli solder today. More than 500 additional Palestinian captives are due to be released soon as part of the deal.

I heard coverage that the takeaway for some Palestinians was kidnapping soldiers works. Can’t argue that with this deal.

I, meanwhile, had to wonder how the calculus makes sense for either side. If the Israeli government equates one soldier to 1,000 Palestinians it may work out in the Palestinians’ favor this time, but over the long haul Hamas would be ill advised to endorse the trade. Embracing an arrangement where an individual from your ethnic group is explicitly valued at 1/1,000th that of your rival is bad policy. Palestinians may have felt in the past they weren’t treated as equals, but now they’ve established the exact ratio, the market price, the exchange rate, for their people.

It isn’t in their favor because it embraces the idea they are worth less than their Israeli adversaries. African slaves, at least, were counted as 3/5ths of a white man in early America; 1/1,000th of an Israeli seems a far worse deal.

I haven’t heard much about “fuzzy math” in the news coverage of this event thus far. I couldn’t let it just slip by.

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