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To the rest of the world, and to many Israelis including myself, the "swap" of dead bodies of soldiers (and body parts of others- let's not forget those body parts supplied by the ghoulish Nasrallah) for the murderer Samir Kuntar was little short of idiotic. As I predicted (With blood on their hands and Hezbollah prisoner swap: it's not too late to save our boys and girls, the soldiers were dead, and the swap was a great "victory" for Hezbollah. After all, everyone can understand how a depraved animal like Samir Kuntar, who bashed in the head of a little girl, among others, should be the national hero of a great country like Lebanon and the object of admiration for "spiritual leaders" like Hassan Nasrallah.

The saner Lebanese, who cannot understand Israel and never did, view the swap as part of a Zionist conspiracy to sell out Lebanon to the Hezbollah. In this improbable view, it is the Israelis, of all people, who are responsible for undermining UN Security Council Resolution 1701. The Lebanese army that did not disarm the Hezbollah, the Lebanese government that agreed to give them veto power, UNIFIL that stands by idly and allows them to smuggle arms and Syria that supplies the arms, all are spotless. Only Israel is at fault, for the "crimes" of trying to negotiate peace with Syria and negotiating to get its soldiers back, and for not immediately surrendering Shebaa farms based on the false claim manufactured by the Hezbollah. And this, mind you, is from Michael Young, a "moderate" Lebanese and opponent of the Hezbollah.

The swap has already granted the predicted victory to Hezbollah, and caused the predictable and inevitable depression and disappointment in Israel. But it is a gift that keeps on giving. Israelis believe that now that the swap is concluded, Hezbollah will be eager to "avenge" the death of Imad Moughnieh by killing several hundred people, though there is no proof that Israel was involved in Mr. Moughnieh's little accident. There is every likelihood that the great victory of Hezbollah will tempt them, and Hamas, to carry out further kidnappings, and there is also every likelihood that they will not care whether soldiers are captured alive or dead, because dead hostages seem to have as much value as live ones. Palestinians commented that the deal proves that kidnappings are the way to free prisoners.

Israel's assent to the deal, when it was virtually certain that kidnapped soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev were dead, looks bizarre to outsiders. Yet it was supported by a majority of Israelis, and certainly by a majority of soldiers. But to Israelis it does not seem so strange. Prepare for a lesson in moral relativism and cultural differences in morality. When the Pompey besieged Jerusalem about 63 BC, the Roman besiegers were amazed that the fierce defense ceased on the Sabbath. Some considerations are more forceful than logic. Rightly or wrongly, Jewish tradition puts a great emphasis on respect for physical remains of the dead. More important, a very strong and growing IDF tradition, that is naturally also a part of the Israeli Jewish ethic emphasizes the that "nobody must ever be left behind." This tradition grew not only out of respect for the dead and their living relatives and friends, but also because of experiences of POWs in Egypt and Syria who had been tortured.

Ariel Sharon was famous for his adherence and inculcation of the idea that nobody must ever be left behind. Supposedly, a group of soldiers was traveling in an open command car and went over a rough stretch of road. The car bounced and one of the soldiers fell out. The commander feared an ambush and ordered his driver to continue. Instead, the driver backed up and collected the soldier. The commander had the driver court martialled for disobeying orders, and the case came before Sharon. Sharon exonerated the soldier and reprimanded the officer for failing to follow the principle that "nobody must ever be left behind."

The principle became even more of an obsession of the Israeli military because of the case of Ron Arad. Arad was captured by the Amal militia in Lebanon in 1986 when he had to bail out of his Phantom. At the time, it was argued that attempts to rescue him may have been insufficient. Israel was suffering from the trauma of the "Jibril deal," in which hundreds of Palestinian prisoners were released to get back three soldiers. At least those soldiers were alive, and they were captured in combat. Arad too was evidently alive, but the Amal wanted a $3 million ransom and release of hundreds more prisoners. Amal demands kept escalating. Yitzhak Rabin, then defense minister was reluctant to comply in the light of the Jibril deal, especially after the released prisoners were instrumental in starting the first Intifada. Negotiations continued slowly, but Amal somehow lost Arad or he died or was killed. This began a wave of recriminations over the supposedly botched negotiations and the supposed insufficient attention of the IDF to returning captives. Thus, the IDF has apparently developed a "hostage complex" based around guilt for the loss of Arad, and "nobody is left behind" has become a strong moral imperative. IDF soldiers have performed some successful and daring rescues of soldiers stranded behind enemy lines against daunting odds. There have also been some tragic and, in retrospect, senseless failures. The practical aspect of this this ethos is that every soldier, and the family of every soldier, wants to be certain that if they are ever stranded behind enemy lines or captured, everything possible will be done to retrieve them.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said before the swap:

"We have a moral obligation to return our soldiers from a mission whether they are alive or unfortunately dead. That's what guided the government's decision."

After the capture, Barak, quoted by Xinhua news agency, reported,

Stressing the moral covenant between the army and the people, Barak said that Israel will continue its efforts to determine the fate of Ron Arad, a navigator who has been unaccounted for since his fighter crashed in Lebanon in 1986.

Not all Israelis agree. Just as I did previously, Uri Orbach pointed out that the hostage deal will invite more kidnappings, and that the government has an obligation to protect future victims as well. Doron Rosenblum accused Israelis of magical thinking, of believing that wishing the soldiers were alive would make it so, and there may well have been a lot of that sort of "thinking" behind the pressure to do the deal. The deal has also provoked a lot of ill considered threats and calls for revenge, all too reminiscent of the empty threats of government and IDF personnel during the Second Lebanon War. If certain things ought to be done, they should be done, and not talked about. Other schemes, which may violate international law, are not going to be carried out for certain, and talking about them serves no useful purpose.

The motives behind the decision to complete the trade are understandable and even laudable, but the trade was wrong, and it was executed in a stupid way. The information Hezbollah gave about Ron Arad was worthless. That should have been enough to stop the deal. The fact that Hezbollah was unwilling to provide information that the soldiers were alive should have been sufficient proof that they were dead, and the release of their coffins should have prevented the release of terrorist Samir Kuntar. But nothing deterred Israeli officialdom from marching like zombies down the road to disaster.

For the future, Israeli government and IDF leaders have to take into account that the first obligation of an army, especially the IDF, is to win wars and protect its citizens. This, regrettably, must come before the welfare of individual soldiers. The moral obligation of "pidyon shvuim" (ransom of hostages) as it is called in Hebrew must not force us to recklessly and senselessly endanger the lives of others. That is also part of the moral covenant. Additionally, as it seems that imprisonment of any high profile murderer is almost certain to invite kidnappings in order to get him or her back, the obvious conclusion is that Israel must institute capital punishment. Any enemy prisoner who has committed multiple murders must be given the death sentence, because imprisoning them invites kidnapping. It is true that this may make it more difficult to capture them alive, but it will save many lives and kidnappings, and much misery. Capital punishment is odious and barbaric, but nothing can match the barbarous and nauseating show that the Hezbollah and the Lebanese put on this week, or the barbarity of kidnappings.

Ami Isseroff

Original content is Copyright by the author 2008. Posted at ZioNation-Zionism and Israel Web Log, http://www.zionism-israel.com/log/archives/00000582.html where your intelligent and constructive comments are welcome. Disributed by ZNN list. Subscribe by sending a message to ZNN-subscribe@yahoogroups.com. Please forward by e-mail with this notice, cite this article and link to it. Other uses by permission only.

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Replies: 1 Comment

Amen to the whole article!!

The whole swap was offensive to any Jew with an IQ above 60!

The only possible mitigating event for this whole shameful debacle I can think of would have been the news that the murderer Kuntar had been admitted to hospital with unexplainable fatal medical symptoms by now.......... Since that hasn't happened we can conclude that ISRAEL isn't just being run by a bunch of zombies, but that we are being lead by gut-less, impotent and extremely destructive zombies!!

The zombie metaphor is unfortunately apt concerning the ISRAELI government but for years now also for the majority of the ISRAELI population; only zombies would tolerate such an incompetent, corrupt and suicidal leadership.

When will ISRAELIS wake up from their stupor and throw the bums out and change the electoral system so we never have to deal with these people again.
When will ISRAELIS realise that the time for massive public action is way over-due? Get off your collective tuches now and ACT or go like sheep to the slaughter.

When will ISRAEL realise that only when we behave as proud Jews in a unapologetic Jewish country with a truly Jewish System of Government and Culture can we survive and thrive?

When will we realise that our interests are very rarely the same as those of other countries; that in the thousands of years that we have walked this earth we loose, we die when we try to appease or try to behave like people of other cultures or worst of all try to be liked by them; It's time to become authentically Jewish in every respect; it's time to use the vast well of wisdom our ancestors have left us.

And no I'm not talking about religion or rabbis; I'm talking about a modern political practical reinterpretation of a never fully implemented set of ancient blue prints for an ideal Jewish society; I'm talking about a new "secular" contemporary pragmatic interpretation and implementation of Moshe's system of government and laws. (Torah not Talmud)

I'm talking revolution!


Yidith, Friday, July 18th

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