The deal Jerusalem made for Gilad Shalit's freedom represents a return to Israel's core values -- especially its pledge never to leave a soldier behind. As the country's enemies multiply and its social fabric decays, such a principle could rescue the country, too.
American peacekeeping turned into American bloodletting in 1983. More than any event since the war and oil embargo almost exactly ten years earlier, the October 23 suicide bombing of Marine headquarters in Beirut brought the Middle East conflict home directly to vast numbers of Americans stunned by the carnage that eventually claimed 241 lives--more casualties than in any other single incident since the 1968 Tet offensive in Vietnam.
Israeli politics have undergone a transformation, driven by the recognition that holding the West Bank and Gaza is not in Israel's interest and that the Palestinian leadership is not ready for peace. The new consensus has induced Israel to withdraw unilaterally -- and brought a measure of hope to a seemingly hopeless situation.