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Friday, July 18, 2008

A (re)post from Gilad's father

A day or two after Gilad Shalit was kidnapped I wrote a post spelling out why the Israeli government should not consider the feelings of a captive's family when formulating policy.  I an re-posting the second half of that essay today because, as we now consider what to do about Gilad Shalit, I fear we will repeat the mistakes of this past week:


I am also a father of a Gilad.  In a few short years my Gilad will be donning the uniform of his country and will potentially be asked to walk in harms way. 

I know with absolute certainty that there is no price I would not pay to secure the release of my son if (G- forbid) he were ever taken hostage by the enemy.  I would endanger the lives of 100... or even 1000  other people's sons, and would throw open the doors of every prison in the land if it would mean having my precious son home again safe and sound.  I would even gladly exchange my own life for the chance to let my son marry, have children and enjoy a full life of his own. 

This is the reason why fathers should not make the decisions in such cases... and why the depths of an individual father's love for his son should never be considered by the government in matters of national security.  The government must be strong when the soul of every mother and father in the land screams out that this one life must be saved at any cost... because the alternative is to allow ourselves to become a nation held hostage.

Such is the power that kidnappers hold over a nation of parents, and our only hope of fighting this repulsive tactical weapon is to have our government return to the wiser days of refusing to negotiate... and to responding in such a terrible and disproportionate manner that the the stings take way any value the honey might have once held.

The value of the hostage is not set by the kidnappers, but rather unwittingly by those who want the hostages freed.  If the government allows itself to think like a mother or father, it exponentially increases the potency of this cowardly weapon and assures that it will continue to be employed.

The only way to potentially save the lives of countless future Israeli hostages is for our government to take away the value of the currency the enemy thinks they possess.  The latest [Iranian] threat of Nuclear, chemical and biological weapons is just further blackmail intended to hold the Israeli government hostage and tie its hands in the face of clear and present danger.  This unconventional threat too must elicit such a violent and disproportionate military response that no enemy would ever dare rattle this saber again for fear of total annihilation!

As much as it pains me as a father to say this, our government must act as though there is no hostage being held, and punish our enemies so severely that they could not possibly consider taking another one of our citizens captive ever again.  We must pretend that there are no weapons aimed at us and return to the days when an Israeli death was answered with 100 enemy deaths... and 10 with 1000! 

A scorched earth policy must be employed without mercy if we are to avoid finding ourselves in this situation again.

We all watched the ineffectual Jimmy Carter taken prisoner in his own White House by a few Iranian 'students' and how the mistake he made by acting as a father instead of as a head of state provided the blueprint for the potent tactic the Arab/Muslim world has used against the sentimental west ever since.

Kidnapping is the supreme test any government can face in time of war and I fear our government will fail miserably.  Our leaders will likely negotiate the release of Gilad Shalit... and in return 50 or 100 security prisoners will be handed over to rejoin their brothers in arms to fight another day. 

When this happens, mothers and fathers around the country (myself included) will hug their children and cry tears of joy at the happy outcome that our wonderful government was able to provide to the parents of Gilad Shalit. 

But our joy will be short-lived as the price on the head of our own children will have suddenly increased 1000-fold the moment our government hands over the ransom.

Posted by David Bogner on July 18, 2008 | Permalink

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so worth repeating, David.

Posted by: Val | Jul 18, 2008 8:00:47 PM

have you seen robert gordis's email on this topic? i will forward it to you. you are an antidote.

you didn't mention the story of golda meir durig the munich crisis?

"We must pretend that there are no weapons aimed at us and return to the days when an Israeli death was answered with 100 enemy deaths... and 10 with 1000!"

when was this? (unless you are referring to biblical times)

Posted by: Lion of Zion | Jul 18, 2008 8:34:11 PM

make that daniel gordis

Posted by: Lion of Zion | Jul 18, 2008 8:39:19 PM

Lion--
I'd (for one) would say King David's payment for the hand of Saul's daughter was fair - is it so unfair that this David proposes only half that price for a Jew?

David--
Is it cheating that we goyim comment on shabbat?

Posted by: Bob | Jul 19, 2008 6:12:15 AM

i was so emotionally torn last week for exactly the reasons you ended with. but what made me upset in the last post is that the government does not seem to have a policy in place, even though this horrific scenario has been frustratingly played over and over. as such, to place the blame on the parents, as i read in the response i commented on, for swaying an entire government, simply for reacting as any normal parents would in this situation, is just cruel. because of lack of clear policy, they have made themselves vulnerable to the cries of families.

Posted by: nikki | Jul 19, 2008 9:11:58 PM

there is no price I would not pay to secure the release of my son if (G- forbid) he were ever taken hostage by the enemy

I feel the same way.... so long as my child is alive.

But not for a dead body. I would not want to risk more lives, for a corpse, no matter how much I had loved the spirit that lived inside.

-------------------------------------------------------------------

On a completely different track, I'm curious what you think of my recent post about The Kotel, Har HaBayit, and Ma'ale HaZeitim

Posted by: Rivka with a capital A | Jul 20, 2008 2:44:35 AM

Thanks to the capitulation of the "prisoner swap," there is no logistically sound reason for the terrorists to keep our dear sons alive anymore. It costs money and manpower to feed and guard a living hostage. Unconstrained by ethics, morality, or fear of consequences, why should our enemy bother? Your original essay on Gilad Shalit was powerful and prescient. May Hashem grant us leadership that has eyes that see and ears that hear, wisdom, and true love of the people it is charged to protect.

Posted by: rutimizrachi | Jul 20, 2008 9:00:35 AM

Powerful, and well-said.

Posted by: psachya | Jul 20, 2008 12:31:31 PM

Excellent post. But is it realistic? Everything you said, re. our stance on kidnapping and negotiating with terrorists, makes perfect sense, so why don't %99.9 of Israelis think (and vote) the same way?

Posted by: RuralJew | Jul 22, 2008 4:19:31 AM

Did you know that two thousand years ago a Roman citizen could walk across the face of the known world free of the fear of molestation. He could walk across the earth unharmed, cloaked only in the words Civis Romanis I am a Roman citizen. So great was the retribution of Rome, universally understood as certain, should any harm befall even one of its citizens.

Where was Ehud Goldwasser's protection, or Eldad Regev's? Where is the retribution for the families and where is the warning to the rest of the world that Israelis shall walk this earth unharmed, lest the clenched fist of the most mighty military force in the history of the Middle East comes crashing down on your house!? In other words, what the hell is the Israeli government doing here?

Posted by: Steve | Jul 24, 2008 8:21:39 PM

Did you know that two thousand years ago a Roman citizen could walk across the face of the known world free of the fear of molestation. He could walk across the earth unharmed, cloaked only in the words Civis Romanis I am a Roman citizen. So great was the retribution of Rome, universally understood as certain, should any harm befall even one of its citizens.

Where was Ehud Goldwasser's protection, or Eldad Regev's? Where is the retribution for the families and where is the warning to the rest of the world that Israelis shall walk this earth unharmed, lest the clenched fist of the most mighty military force in the history of the Middle East comes crashing down on your house!? In other words, what the hell is the Israeli government doing here?

Posted by: Steve | Jul 24, 2008 8:39:38 PM

You know what I don’t get about Jews?

I would destroy a whole city, heck I would destroy whole nations to protect my family, my friends, and the fellow citizens of my country and while I would have some regret most of that would quickly dissipate.

Yet there is so much hand-wringing among you Jews about what to do about an enemy dedicated to your extermination.
In one way I guess one could see that as noble. It could be seen as the height of ethical behavior for a people to say they wouldn’t stoop so low as to adopt the behavior of their enemy or even come close to doing so even if it means the destruction of themselves as a people. But what kind of example is that? There were these people called the Jews, they were extremely ethical and they no longer exist because of that.

Don’t a people to be a moral light to the world have to well, first exist?

Survival is the first requirement of any people, any nation. All else is secondary. When threatened, a people, a nation needs to do whatever it takes to ensure their survival. Whatever it takes. It needs to embark on for a lack of a better term a time of “necessary cruelty”. A time where it puts away its ideals for the sake of its survival. After all if it doesn’t survive then neither does its ideals.

Someday, Israel will be in a place where it can afford to take “the high moral ground”. Someday Israel will be able to treat all people equally and justly with the dignity they deserve. But not now. You haven’t “earned” that yet. You haven’t gone through your period of “necessary cruelty”.

You know the people in the West, those who criticize you? Canada, the United States, England, they all went through a period of “necessary cruelty” some even more times than one. When their survival as a people was at stake they did the cruelest of things. They had to. If they hadn’t they wouldn’t exist as they do now. So now they can afford to be all morally superior as they have eliminated the threats that necessitates the actions that the Jews must do now to survive. But at one time they all did such actions and worse. Each and every one of them.

The choice any people have is this: will you allow yourself to be as a people subjugated to others, led into concentration camps, perhaps destroyed as a people, wiped out as a whole people or will you take your destiny in your own hands and fight back doing whatever it takes to survive?

In the end, no matter how it might seem, there is no nobility in a group of people just laying down and dying no matter the reason. It’s just national suicide not to do whatever it takes even if it goes against the higher principles of the society; even if you must be crueler than the enemy to win. For only after the threats to your existence are removed can you really build that idealistic society you want for your children and their children.

Besides if you just lie down and die against and evil force that just increases the evil in the world. That is kind of what it means that it is better to do evil than be evil. You must do evil to ensure that those who actually are evil don’t prevail.

As Steve said:
Two thousand years ago a Roman citizen could walk across the face of the known world free of the fear of molestation. He could walk across the earth unharmed, cloaked only in the words Civis Romanis I am a Roman citizen. So great was the retribution of Rome, universally understood as certain, should any harm befall even one of its citizens.

Israel needs to do whatever it takes to ensure that for its citizens. It needs to stand up for the worth of each and every Jew and that will only happen when people fear what happens when they don’t respect the worth of Jews and their right to exist.

NEVER AGAIN!

Posted by: Jay | Jul 24, 2008 10:44:54 PM

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