Randy's Corner Deli Library

17 July 2008

The Return of Jewish Dead - Regev and Goldwasser

I love how Israeli Jews, especially those in the West Bank, get all self-righteous about the return of bodies of IDF soldiers in exchange for 200 dead Hezbollah and five live terrorists including Samir Kuntar, whose acts when he was 17 remain outrageous offenses.

If Israel is going to maintain mandatory enlistments at the age of 18, the social contract that the IDF has with the people to bring them all back dead or alive, must remain sacrosanct and beyond religious or political ideology. Israel and Jews should not be comparing the "deal" that they got with Hezbollah.

To compare the lives of Regev and Goldwasser with the rabble that were returned is an insult to Jewish dead. the IDF has an obligation to bring those soldiers home so that every other soldier or soldier-in-waiting knows that regardless of whether they live or die in the service, the state of Israel is and will do what is necessary to give them back to their families and the country whose principles and existence they fought and died to defend. The rest of the calculations are the equivalent of dancing to the enemies tune. Israel dances to its own music, not that of others.

The argument that this deal with Hezbollah will encourage further "kidnappings" is almost laughable. Do you think for a second that IDF soldiers are not going to put up a vicious fight to prevent the kidnappings from occurring? They aren't just going to stand there and give up. They are going to fight like hell to avoid being taken prisoner, just as every other soldier does. And in that fight, that soldier knows that his country will do what it takes to get him home, dead or alive. Besides which, I am sure that Israel did not give back all of the bodies of Hezbollah fighters, did it? As much as IDF and Israel wants its citizen-soldiers back, Hezbollah probably isn't too keen on having its dead in Jewish hands. It is a sad situation all around, no doubt, but everyone knew this day was coming. They knew (or had very strong indications) that Regev and Goldwasser were dead awhile ago.

Pity that it's only today that the government put up a video on youtube about the crimes of Samir Kuntar. This should have been done some time ago and it is disappointing that Israel did not attempt to control the media spin on the release of the prisoners and terrorists. There should have been a more concerted effort to tell the world and diaspora Jewry why exactly Israel would accept two bodies in exchange for what it gave up in return, and why, according to the Israeli calculus, getting its soldiers back, dead or alive, is priority number one.

Explained properly in the right media and with enough frequency, Israel might have scored a media victory by comparing what Israelis do with what its enemies do. Israel mourns its dead. Nasrallah holds "victory" celebrations. In the end, Israel must satisfy itself that it did the right thing, without regard to what it had to give up in order to do so. Doing the right thing for its citizens and soldiers in order to preserve the social contract is fundamental and should never, in the final analysis, sacrificed on the altar of religious politics.

Randy Shiner

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