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Thursday, July 17, 2008

An Elusive Prophecy

A few people have suggested that written reactions (here at Treppenwitz) to Israel's challenges tend to sound vaguely apocalyptic or Conan the Barbarian-esque (e.g. "We must crush our enemies, see them driven before us, and hear the lamentation of their women", etc.).

Point taken.

So, to provide a somewhat softer, and perhaps more balanced, perspective on yesterday's events, I've asked Zahava to weigh in.  Here's what she had to say:

There are so many conflicting thoughts swirling around my head today, that it is more than a tad overwhelming.  Of course, the dominant feeling for most of us is simply profound grief.

I am so very sad for the families of Ehud Goldwasser (z"l) and Eldad Regev (z"l) – their memories should be a blessing.  After two long years of hoping and praying, these families now bear the horrific task of releasing hope, and must now mourn the loss of these courageous, dearly loved young men.

I am also so very sad for the rest of us. This is a national loss – a national tragedy.

I can't comprehend the scores of issues factored into the decision that ultimately resulted in our trading five live convicted terrorists for the remains of two soldiers. And I don't have the energy, or desire, to try to contemplate them in writing here.  I think that rehashing disagreements over this 'done deal' is futile.  Clearly we were damned no matter what we did.  I can only hope and pray that our government acts to ensure that we never again find ourselves in such an untenable position.

More important for me, at this point, is the relative quiet in which yesterday's events took place.  I want to know why there was no outrage from the rest of what we (erroneously) refer to as the "civilized" world?  How is it that the Lebanese government was able to hold a celebratory home-coming in the streets of their capitol for a man who murdered a 4-year old and her unarmed father, and whose actions are directly responsible for the suffocation of a 2-year old, and there is no outrage or condemnation from the family of civilized nations?

How is it that the rest of the world managed to refrain from comment on this?

For context, consider for a moment the level of protest and condemnation that would erupt in the western halls of power if a convicted murderer anywhere else in the world was released and publicly feted in a state ceremony, and held portrayed a hero for his crimes. Now consider the new levels of outrage if it came to light that a kidnapping/murder were carried out with the sole intention of gaining leverage to negotiate the murderer's release?!

Whatever nation celebrated and rewarded such primitive, barbaric behavior would be marginalized and permanently ostracized from civilized political discourse.

But amazingly, the moment you slap "Israeli" as a modifier in front of the words "murder victim", the world falls strangely silent…. or worse, uses horribly twisted logic to justify 'militancy', 'resistance'… anything so as not to call it by its real name; pre-meditated, cold-blooded murder.

I can only hope and pray that the world's resounding silence regarding our national loss, and the glee with which the Lebanese people are celebrating it, has not gone un-noticed by the Israeli public.  I pray that this telling silence will serve as a wake-up call to our fractured society… and a clear message to all that unity and cohesion hold our only hope of protecting and preserving Israel and her citizens.

Throughout all this, one thing remains crystal clear to me:  Until such time as Israel's existence is finally recognized and her people are accepted as full and legitimate global citizens, Isaiah's elusive prophecy; 'Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more', will remain nothing more than a bunch of empty words carved in stone outside the United Nations, designed to allow apologists for murderer's to sleep at night.

Posted by David Bogner on July 17, 2008 | Permalink

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Why should the rest of the world be outraged when Israel's government isn't? When the Israeli electorate seems to stand behind the government?

Posted by: Russ | Jul 17, 2008 10:33:49 AM

Great post, Zahava.

In answer to your questions regarding the world's silence -- which, as we all know, is nothing new -- I suggest Alex Bensky's Exception Clause, as laid out at Meryl Yourish's blog some years ago.

(If one asks why the Exception Clause exists in the first place... I think we're still trying to figure that one out.)

Posted by: Rahel | Jul 17, 2008 10:45:59 AM

Wow, Zahava! That was so well written, thank you. Your optimism that Israel's existence will eventually be recognized by all is encouraging, but it's getting harder and harder to plod along in the meantime...

Posted by: toby | Jul 17, 2008 2:10:01 PM

Russ: Decent people everywhere should be offended by the notion that officially the government of Lebanon gave a hero's homecoming to the killer of an unarmed father, a four year old, and a two year old. I do, however, agree that it would have been nice if our leaders publicly decried the celebrations with at least as much volume and conviction that they are not corrupt....

Rahel: Yep... well... okay... not really what I wanted to hear back, but kinda what I'm saying....

Toby: [blush] For honesty's sake, I must confess that I rely heavily on the suggestions of the resident writer (read: my work is edited before publication). Also, I hate to burst your bubble, but I am not feeling particularly optimistic about the global recognition of our right to exist.... just pointing out that I think that the UN is a tad hypocritical in hiding behind the words of our prophet while turning a blind eye to crimes committed against our country and her citizens.

Posted by: zahava | Jul 17, 2008 2:27:36 PM

Because I speed-read, I didn't realize that you had written this and not David. It was so well written, I assumed it was him...ou should contribute more often.

And "profound grief" is exactly right....

Posted by: Baila | Jul 17, 2008 2:34:16 PM

"A few people have suggested (...)"

It's a bit funny... Treppenwitz is a place I come to, because I want to read the opinions of someone else, not to educate its writer to a style and thinking that's exactly how I want it to be. If I wanted to read what rings unisono with my own opinion, I'd read my own blog.

Just my two Eurocents, of course. But other than that, I could perfectly well imagine Zahava becoming a regular contributor to Treppenwitz. Correction. I'd really love to see her blogging more often!

Posted by: a. | Jul 17, 2008 2:46:36 PM

One notable exception to the muted reaction in the media: Fox News repeatedly told the story of this killer's barbarism throughout the day. It currently is prominently featured on their web site.

Posted by: Alan T. | Jul 17, 2008 2:48:18 PM

Zahava, it's not true that there is no revulsion in the wider world at the Lebanese triumphalist crowing over the return of the child-murderer and his fellow terrorists.

Here's one post on the very widely read "Harry's Place" (read and followed by many members of the UK Labour government).

Even that most notorious of anti-Israel "reporters" Robert Fisk of The Independent

What all of these did not consider was the great Jewish traditions of redeeming the captives and Kol Yisrael Areivim Zeh Bazeh that still drive secular as well as religious Jews in Israel.

I'm just completing a post on the subject. It should be up on very soon.

And thanks for a moving and sensitive response to these very tragic events. May all the mourners be comforted amongst those who mourn for Zion and Jerusalem.


Posted by: Judy | Jul 17, 2008 3:30:23 PM

Zahava, it's not true that there is no revulsion in the wider world at the Lebanese triumphalist crowing over the return of the child-murderer and his fellow terrorists.

Here's one post on the very widely read "Harry's Place" (read and followed by many members of the UK Labour government).

Even that most notorious of anti-Israel "reporters" Robert Fisk of The Independent expresses his scorn for the Hezbollah and wider Lebanese political establishment's triumphalism and stage management of the return of the murderers.

I listened over yesterday evening to the BBC mainland and world service coverage of the events. Whilst most played down the horror and brutalism of Kuntar's crimes and all refererred to the terrorists as "militants", there were some that did describe the murders in detail and most did comment on the triumphalism and some on the tastelessness of the Lebanese parades. Others pointed out that the real cheerleading came from Nasrallah and allies, and that the people of the other politicians who shamefully took part in them did not seem to be widely supported by their people.

What all of these did not consider was the great Jewish traditions of redeeming the captives and Kol Yisrael Areivim Zeh Bazeh that still drive secular as well as religious Jews in Israel.

I'm just completing a post on the subject. It should be up on very soon.

And thanks for a moving and sensitive response to these very tragic events. May all the mourners be comforted amongst those who mourn for Zion and Jerusalem.


Posted by: Judy | Jul 17, 2008 3:31:42 PM

Judy: Yes, there were several declarations of revulsion by some Lebanese and other non-Israelis (thank G-d).... which is why I said "relative quiet." Sadly, I saw these as יוצא מין הקלל (yotzei min haklal, out-of-the-ordinary).

And you should just know how deeply I was touched by your words at Harry's Place (and again at Not A Fish). I couldn't agree more with your sentiments regarding the great Jewish traditions of redeeming captives.... If only we lived in a world where Jewish/Israeli captives were held according to the Geneva Convention, perhaps we would redeem more live soldiers than coffins....

Posted by: zahava | Jul 17, 2008 4:00:41 PM

Zahava - beautifully written post.

As far as the concept of redeeming captives, the person I keep thinking about is the medieval Rabbi Meir ("the Maharam") of Rothenberg. I'm sure you know the story. He was kidnapped by a local nobleman, tortured, and held for ransom. In an act of almost unbelievable heroism, the Maharam refused to allow the Jewish community to redeem him, insisting that it would only encourage other kidnappings of prominent Jews. Rabbi Meir eventually died in prison, unredeemed. It's one of the most tragic personal stories in Jewish history, but it points to the idea that, as difficult and horrible as it may be, we have to be very careful when dealing with these situations, especially when unconditional capitulation can be seen as a precedent for future kidnappings.

In any case, it's certainly not the sort of thing I would entrust to the gang of idiots that is currently running the Jewish State. As usual, Olmert screwed this up as thoroughly as possible, then blamed everyone else for his lousy decisions. This guy should be so long gone.

Posted by: psachya | Jul 17, 2008 6:25:11 PM

Well done, indeed! We're very proud of you and this perspective. Dad

Posted by: Delmar Bogner | Jul 17, 2008 6:44:56 PM

My response to the events, developed from what I wrote on Harry's Place yesterday, and which does indeed centre on Rabbi Meir of Rothenberg's approach is posted here.

Posted by: judy | Jul 17, 2008 7:18:55 PM

You are hated for the same reason that America is hated-- you will not be a victim.

You are hated even more, because you are a tiny country, which had the deck stacked against it from the beginning (Seriously, a totally unarmed nation of Jews in the middle of a bunch of Arabic states?

When attacked, you don't whimper and go to the UN for help-- you DO something. (although you mightn't always do as much as, say, my blood-thirsty self would prefer....)

That's unforgivable, for the "civilized" world.

For the little it's worth...my entire family is on your side. I admire Israel's bravery to exist, considering, and I'm disgusted at how two-faced the UN is; the way the UN reacted to Israel was actually the first wedge that ended up making me see what the UN is actually like.
And I know that the talk radio I listen to was telling exactly what kind of @#$@# unspeakables were being celebrated-- Mr. Reagan even explained the tradition of Jews always ransoming their people when pirates and other criminals take them.

Posted by: Foxfier | Jul 17, 2008 7:47:12 PM

"How is it that the rest of the world managed to refrain from comment on this?"

We live in a world where too many 'civilized' people are taught to feel uncomfortable about having morals that they are willing to fight for. You know, it's all relative.

Pile on the fact that people are too lazy to inform themselves about complicated political situations and trust journalists way too much and there you have it.

Posted by: Alice | Jul 17, 2008 10:43:47 PM

Well written Zahava.

At times like this, you stiffen your lips, balance your tears and hope the hostile Northern and Gazan neighbours don't get any more ideas, because if they do, it won't matter what the world will have to say...

Posted by: Rami | Jul 17, 2008 10:46:44 PM

Please read today's Wall Street Journal.
There is an article describing the "prisoner swap" by Cam Simpson.
We should all read the article and deluge the WSJ demanding this person never be allowed to write a "news article" again.
What he writes is Hizbullah propaganda.

Posted by: JoeSiegman | Jul 18, 2008 5:03:41 AM

"As I walk through
This wicked world
Searchin for light in the darkness of insanity.

I ask myself
Is all hope lost?
Is there only pain and hatred, and misery?

And each time I feel like this inside,
Theres one thing I wanna know:
Whats so funny bout peace love & understanding?"
-- Elvis Costello

What's so funny about peace love & understanding is that it makes them more convinced they should kill you. What's funny about bombing them and killing their neighbors is that it makes them consider alternatives to killing you.

I weep for the West. If an entire government can be swayed by the desperate grief of parents, if we have forgotten that in every generation dead soldiers is the eternal price of freedom, if we are willing to mortgage our granchildren's safety to recover our children's corpses, then the era of freedom is drawing to a close.

Posted by: Albert | Jul 18, 2008 5:30:59 AM

the issue as i see it, albert, is not necessarily that an entire government was swayed by desperate grief. we had no definite word of whether the two soldiers were alive or dead. while most opinions were of the latter, until there was some finality, some absolute word, there was always a shred of hope. and what if they were alive? would you be able to look those families in their faces and allow their children to rot in some prison? that was the position these terrorist animals placed us in. had there been certain word of their deaths, the outcome of this tragdy would probably have been different. had this arch terrorist that we freed been executed long ago, removing him as a bargaining chip, the outcome may have been different. but as long is there was some tiny glimmer of hope that there was life, i don't i could be so hard-hearted.

Posted by: nikki | Jul 18, 2008 11:52:11 AM

Nikki: Why make a deal under such circumstances? It would have been easy enough for Hizb'allah to produce evidence that they were alive (if they were). Without such evidence, a leader with courage who cared about his country should have exactly "look[ed] those families in their faces and allow[ed] their children to rot in some prison".

Posted by: Albert | Jul 18, 2008 4:13:21 PM

albert: even if it were your child?

Posted by: nikki | Jul 18, 2008 6:00:25 PM

Nikki: You're making my point. If it was my child I would beg the gov't to release 1,000 enemy prisoners and empty our central banks of currency in exchage for his corpse. I pray that my leaders would have the sense to gently, humanely, decently, ignore me.

Posted by: Albert | Jul 18, 2008 6:07:09 PM

Nikki: You're making my point. If it was my child I would beg the gov't to release 1,000 enemy soldiers and empty our central banks of currency in exchange for my son's corpse. I pray that my leaders would have the sense to gently, humanely, decently, ignore me. Pitty that your leaders don't.

Posted by: Albert | Jul 18, 2008 6:08:12 PM

Nikki (and Albert)... When Gilad Shalit was captured I addressed this topic here. The last part of the post answers your question, Nikki. Asking what someone would do if it was their child is unfair and unrelated to the point. A parent would do everything and anything to get their child back... which is why it is essential not to listen to parents when formulating policy.

Posted by: treppenwitz | Jul 18, 2008 6:10:14 PM

Zahava, great post. BTW, speaking of the Lebanese government, isn't this the same government everyone said was being unfairly attacked because they were being held hostage, (or something to that effect), two years ago. Guess all the celebrations put the lie to that.

Posted by: Amanda | Jul 20, 2008 11:24:04 PM

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