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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Let the enemy decide the rules

By the time this is posted the so-called 'prisoner swap' will have been completed.  But we really need to be honest about this… it wasn't really a prisoner swap.  Prisoners are alive.

Only monsters hold dead bodies for ransom… and only fools trade live prisoners for dead bodies.

One can argue forever about whether or not the unprovoked cross-border attack in which Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev were captured was reason enough for Israel to have gone to war.  But once that Rubicon was crossed and we'd accepted the attack as a 'Casus Beli' and sent troops into combat, there was no excuse for not using all means at our disposal to fight the war until our enemy was begging for terms of surrender.

Instead, our feckless leaders dabbled and deliberated and argued over whether to even call what they were waging a 'war'.  They squandered every advantage they held at the start of the war by installing lawyers and politicians to select bombing targets instead of allowing the IDF officers in the field do what they'd trained their entire lives to do; win!

We waited weeks to commit ground troops to battle, and when we finally did, we watched them being shuffled aimlessly around southern Lebanon without objectives or support.

Worst of all, we were forced to watch helplessly as Hezbollah conducted carefully orchestrated press tours painting Israel's pinpoint bombing as monstrous… while Ketyushah rockets were fired indiscriminately all over northern Israel.

Throughout the short summer war we heard voices from around the world - and even from within our own country - who argued passionately for restraint.  "The Lebanese people are not the enemy", they declared.  "Hezbollah is the enemy!"

These useful idiots pleaded for the IDF to spare the poor, hapless Lebanese who were caught between Israel's mighty army and Hezbollah's well entrenched forces… pointing out that the Lebanese deserved mercy because they are a modern, secular people just like us.

'Moderate' Lebanese blogs were linked, and the grand old days when Beirut was known as the 'Paris of the East' were invoked repeatedly… while doctored photos of burning Beirut neighborhoods became like fixed wallpaper behind the media's talking heads who dutifully read Hezbollah scripts about Israeli atrocities.

Ignored was the fact that these cosmopolitan Lebanese had watched approvingly for decades as Hezbollah set up rocket batteries and supporting military infrastructure in their towns and villages.  Ignored was the cover and support these poor secular Lebanese willingly provided to Hezbollah for a generation.

Nobody seemed particularly worried about Israel's blameless civilians who were forced to live in bunkers under relentless bombardment.  Israeli casualties were chalked up to 'the fortunes of war' while Lebanese casualties were paraded before the world as martyred innocents.

And when it came time to accept a shameful ceasefire that amounted to nothing more or less than surrender, Israeli leaders again failed (doomed, actually) the captured soldiers by refusing to establish enforceable terms for their safe return.

From the first moment of the attack that sparked the war, Hezbollah/Lebanon refused to abide by any modern conventions of warfare.  Not a single tenet of the Geneva conventions was honored by our enemy… yet we were inexplicably expected to fight the good fight according to the Marquis of Queensbury rules.

And even after the war's end, we had to have our face rubbed in how brutally we'd behaved by a couple of clueless Israeli journalists.  Under cover of convenient foreign passports, they traveled illegally to Lebanon in an effort to show how nice and normal these wonderful Lebanese people are… as if to say 'How could we have ever entertained such aggressive, warlike feelings towards people who are so much like us???'  Jane Fonda could have done no worse!

Where are these journalists now that their so called 'story' has come to its dénouement with the docile, cosmopolitan Lebanese we took such pains to spare holding massive state-sponsored celebrations for the return of heroes whose only fame comes from murdering Israeli civilians.  Could their silence indicate that even they are having a little trouble putting lipstick on this particular pig?

Enough!!!

When attacked by a wild animal you don't negotiate or ask what rules it wants to use in the fight.  You strike it down without mercy and without remorse.  If you are attacked by a pack of wild animals you fight savagely and without restraint until all of them are dead or neutralized.  To do otherwise doesn't mean facing ignominious defeat.  It means you move down the food chain and become an entrée!

The only way Israel can regain its deterrence in the region after this recent debacle is to make it clear to all that, from this day forward, we will play by whatever rules our enemies are willing to honor.

No Rules = No Restraint.

If our towns and cities are fair game… so are yours.  Don't complain that our weapons are better, or more powerful.  You should have thought of that before attacking us.

If you portray the killing of civilians as heroic, then we will surpass you in heroism.  Don't cry to the world about your precious civilians and then prepare a national celebration to honor a monster who deliberately destroyed a family, and whose final act before being captured was to gleefully crush the skull of a small child against a rock.

If our soldiers won't enjoy the protections of the Geneva Conventions… neither will yours.  A dead prisoner will be worth a dead prisoner in any exchange.  If we run out of dead prisoners to trade, we will make more.  As you've ably demonstrated today, live prisoners can be unapologetically turned into dead ones quite easily.

If this is the only way we can force our enemies to keep our POWs alive and to feel some accountability for their welfare… then so be it.  Otherwise our long-neglected death penalty will be dusted off and employed without hesitation or sentimentality.   And since those who attack us refuse to wear uniforms or insignia, henceforth they will not be entitled to the niceties of a trial or POW status.  Those we capture in the field will be summarily executed.

For more than 60 years Israel has dreamed of being accepted among the family of nations and being allowed to live peacefully within secure and recognized borders.  Yet again and again we've been forced onto the battlefield by our neighbors, and required by the world to engage a savage enemy as if we were chivalrous knights.

It is worth noting that even at the Battle of Agincourt (fought between the French and English in 1415), the accepted rules of Chivalry were set aside when one side was faced with an untenable choice between chivalry and victory:

After repelling two French attacks against their vastly outnumbered army, the English held more enemy captives than they themselves had soldiers in arms.  Upon seeing the French massing for a third attack the English King, Henry, ordered his men to begin killing the prisoners since he could not spare the soldiers to guard them… and if left alone the captive French knights could easily join the next French attack using weapons that still littered the field.

However, as soon as the next French attack failed to materialize, he ordered the execution of prisoners to be stopped.

Modern scholars nearly universally condemn Henry for his order to execute the French prisoners.  After all, the rules of the day required that those asking for quarter be granted protection without question.  However it is interesting to note that at the time, neither the French nor any contemporary commentators seem to have had a problem with Henry's decision. It was the only logical thing to do under the circumstances.

Given a choice between victory and chivalry, Henry chose victory.

In this day and age Israel can do no less.  We need not hold ourselves to a higher standard of conduct than our enemies… especially in conflicts not of our making.  Until we learn this simple lesson, we will have to endure many more shameful ceremonies such as we witnessed today.

Make no mistake; there will be another war in the not-too-distant future.  Our recent capitulation has all but guaranteed that.  Our appeasement and public displays of weakness have served only to whet the appetites of our enemies as they publicly proclaim that what the world witnessed today is proof that relentless armed struggle is the only way to confront and destroy the Zionist entity.

I can only hope that when the next war comes, we will have leaders in place who have the wisdom to first win the war… and only then, try to negotiate terms for peace.

May the families of those who were miserably failed by their government be comforted among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.

Posted by David Bogner on July 16, 2008 | Permalink

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Amazing post! Thank you.

Posted by: Dot Co Dot Il | Jul 16, 2008 2:27:04 PM

Spot on... but who in power will listen?

Posted by: Rahel | Jul 16, 2008 2:42:09 PM

I have been torn up all day over this (even posted on it).

On the one hand, it is really hard to justify allowing a family to suffer without knowing. On the other hand, Hezbollah did the exact same thing to us before.

I feel kind of like Charlie Brown and that damn football right now.

Posted by: gila | Jul 16, 2008 2:45:22 PM

You articulated clearly what I couldn't properly express in words from all the anger and sadness I'm feeling.

Posted by: JoeSettler | Jul 16, 2008 2:47:34 PM

Yeah, I too was disgusted by this action. From now on, soldiers captured by Arabs will immediately be executed.

Wrote about it here: http://planetisrael.blogspot.com/2008/07/sami-kuntar.html

Posted by: Evan | Jul 16, 2008 2:51:47 PM

"Don't cry to the world about your precious civilians and then prepare a national celebration to honor a monster who deliberately destroyed a family, and whose final act before being captured was to gleefully crush the skull of a small child against a rock."

Thank you for articulating this so perfectly for me. People who would celebrate this are broken, soulless, trash. They have put themselves in a state of war with all even remotely civilized people.

The people who support this bizarre swap are victimizing the mother of those murdered children all over again, except this time it's even worse because they are the very people who should be protecting her. Disgusting to the hilt.

Posted by: Alice | Jul 16, 2008 3:16:35 PM

In lieu of commentary (which from me would be superfluous), I sent this to everyone I know -- both those who agree, and would be strengthened, and those who could benefit from the clear-eyed expression of a better viewpoint.

Posted by: rutimizrachi | Jul 16, 2008 3:28:46 PM

Your well-articulated thoughts are my thoughts...such heartbreak for Israel today, it is so hard to hear this unfathomably terrible news. May Hashem Yisbarach avenge the murders of these young men, and may their families be comforted among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.

Posted by: Erica | Jul 16, 2008 3:33:24 PM

My heartfelt condolences to the families of Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev.

Get your act right politicians!!!!!!!

Posted by: Rami | Jul 16, 2008 3:44:04 PM

Well said!!!

Posted by: Sam | Jul 16, 2008 3:46:47 PM

Like so many others this situation has brought up a whole range of emotions for me. So much so that much of my thoughts are not making sense...you put into words so much of what we all seem to be feeling.

May the Goldwasser and Regev families be comforted among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.

Posted by: orieyenta | Jul 16, 2008 4:12:36 PM

Even before I heard the final news at 9 AM, my thoughts were pretty much summarized by the Shir Shel Yom of this morning (Psalms 94):

http://mechon-mamre.org/p/pt/pt2694.htm

It seems so appropriate today.

But I did get some solace in Ron Ben-Yishai's Ynet piece (here in English):

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3569019,00.html

The situation in Gaza and Lebanon is pathetic. However, the good news really is that we're being failed by our government. If we get a government in that knows how to lead - then in a way the Hamas takeover of Gaza and the Hizbullah take over of Lebanon leave them right where we want them. If (when?) we fight that war, we won't have to worry about how a full-frontal attack will reflect on Abu Mazen or Siniora - there are no allies there any more.

Posted by: Dave (Balashon) | Jul 16, 2008 4:33:50 PM

An excellent post for a very sad day.

Posted by: tnspr569 | Jul 16, 2008 4:33:52 PM

So saddened by today's news, you have said all that I feel. Thanks.

Posted by: SaraK | Jul 16, 2008 5:31:25 PM

Well said.

Posted by: Jack | Jul 16, 2008 5:37:40 PM

A brutal reminder that we're in galus. It doesn't make sense, and only will when H-shem reveals it to us.

Posted by: Chana Rivka | Jul 16, 2008 5:48:24 PM

As a jew living abroad, I kept hearing snippets on the news of the upcoming prisoner exchange.
I kept thinking "wow, the families of those soldiers must be so excited"
I did not realize until reading your post that it was not a prisoner swap, it was a freebie, the soldiers died (or were killed).
Great post, but here is the million dollar question: why does Israel keep electing such leaders? does this mean that a majority of Israelis wanted these leaders?

Posted by: RuralJew | Jul 16, 2008 5:54:18 PM

A sad day indeed.

As an American citizen who has strongly supported Israel in the past,
I am starting to doubt the wisdom of that support. Why should the U.S.
endure endless trauma to support a state full of such feckless people?

Since you are a parent of young children, you should seriously think
about emigrating to the United States. You Israelis obviously care
very little for your own lives. But you should care very deeply for
those of your children.

If you are unwilling to stand up for yourselves, why should we
Americans do so?

Posted by: anon | Jul 16, 2008 6:00:27 PM

I am (in this certain, specific way) thus more aligned with the enemies of my country than the leaders of my country: at least my enemies are "in it to win it."

But, amongst the civilized nations, who is there around which rational, civilized people can rally? Who to call people to a painful yet necessary action? Mr. Bush at least knew enough to make the rallying cry, but I knew at the time that the USA didn't have the stomach anymore for war. What civilized nation has the stomach for war? China, maybe? The Aussies? It's a short list.

Exchanging scores of prisoners for the bodies of the kidnapped dead. Ptui.

You know, Trep; there's maybe one last thing to be done. Perhaps we can get a few guys from Philly or Jersey to be in charge of "handling da prisoners" on the way to the exchange, and maybe -- tragically, of course -- some kinda accident could maybe be arranged?

"L--d, what fools these mortals be."

Posted by: Wry Mouth | Jul 16, 2008 6:39:26 PM

orieyenta; interesting, I posted that perek on my blog today.
Thank you, David, for saying at least some of what I feel.

anon 6:00:27 PM: Right, because there's no terrorism in the USA... until the next attack.
Not to mention that the rate of "random" violent crime (ie of people who do not know each other) is much higher per capita in the US

Posted by: triLcat | Jul 16, 2008 6:52:17 PM

ikept reading hoping for some silver lining. of course there was none. just the emes.

Posted by: Lion of Zion | Jul 16, 2008 7:31:45 PM

Spot on.

Posted by: psychotoddler | Jul 16, 2008 8:13:33 PM

Emotionally, I agree one hundred percent. One hundred and fifty percent.

Rationally, of course you know that I already can hear what our critics among the civilized nations of Europe, and among the liberal humanists of Americ, will say. Like a swarm of imaginary insects, the nasty droning already echoes in my mind's ear.

But emotionally. Emotionally. Emotionally, I'd like to add the European socialists and American collaborators en masse to the group that must be defeated by all means. There are several Dutch and Italian socialists who I would like to see get a bullet. There are several people in the Bay Area who should be in the bullseye, there are several academics in the US who need what in Dutch we call a nekschot.

I am not in a balanced mood right now. It is a damned good thing that there are no Lebanese within walking distance of the office.

Posted by: The Back of the Hill | Jul 16, 2008 8:34:05 PM

I would like to point out that the exchange brokered wasn't undertaken by a government in a vacuum. The Israeli public has demanded since July 2006 that Eldad, Udi and Gilad be brought home and the media has provided ample time and space to the issue. I'm not sure what we are supposed to do - not support the soldiers' families in their quest to bring their sons home (which might be the responsible thing, since we all know that they won't be returned in anything resembling a *fair* deal)? I don't expect the families not to campaign. Even when the PM and others said, "Goldwasser and Regev are most likely dead" no one wanted to believe this. The families and ordinary talk-back participants lambasted the government for not maintaining hope. The government negotiated a horrible deal - but no one listened to the government when it implied that, perhaps, no deal was better than the alternative, since our soldiers were dead. So, aren't we, the Israeli public who pressured for a deal also partially to blame?

We can't have it both ways - campaign for soldiers to be returned home and then eviscerate the government for getting a bad deal. Hizballah, Hamas and the rest of the gang don't play by the Marquess of Queensbury rules.

Posted by: Idit | Jul 16, 2008 8:42:20 PM

Idit, the problem is that the government failed for 2 years to get any proof of life or death of these two soldiers. The government created this problem by allowing the doubt to exist. There were no grand demands for proof of life, no yelling about the immoral, illegal treatment of our soldiers, as they were not visited even once by the red cross. If the table were turned could you imagine the terrible outcry that the arab leaders as well as the leaders of the "enlightened nations" that would have occurred. The truth is that whether the arabs are sincere or bjust pandering to the cameras, at least their leaders feign interest in the lives of their captive soldiers...ours can't even claim that much.

Posted by: Max Power | Jul 16, 2008 9:03:24 PM

You said it better than anyone.
I've linked to this post.

Posted by: Raizy | Jul 16, 2008 9:36:50 PM

Trep, I agree with you 99.99%

One thing this swap did was to free at least one Agunah. That's the .01%

The Agunah could have been freed two years ago had the war been waged as you suggest.

Posted by: Rich | Jul 16, 2008 9:51:24 PM

I kept waiting all day for an announcement that since Regev and Goldwasser were dead that Kuntar was just going to be marched right back to prison. Why didn't we renege on the exchange at the last second? Emotionally I would have loved to just shoot the bastard as he crossed but it would not have played well to the world. And to those who say that it would affect the negotiations for Gilad Shalit - well now Hamas has little incentive to keep him alive. I hardly think it could have mattered. Same if Hizbollah would treat a renege as causus belli. The intelligence services say that an attack is imminent anyway.

I think the three weeks started early this year.

Posted by: Gee a Moron | Jul 16, 2008 10:11:06 PM

I kept waiting all day for an announcement that since Regev and Goldwasser were dead that Kuntar was just going to be marched right back to prison. Why didn't we renege on the exchange at the last second? Emotionally I would have loved to just shoot the bastard as he crossed but it would not have played well to the world. And to those who say that it would affect the negotiations for Gilad Shalit - well now Hamas has little incentive to keep him alive. I hardly think it could have mattered. Same if Hizbollah would treat a renege as causus belli. The intelligence services say that an attack is imminent anyway.

I think the three weeks started early this year.

Posted by: Gee a Moron | Jul 16, 2008 10:12:02 PM

Max, that is incorrect.
Olmert was reported in the news in February 2008 as saying that it was believed that both Regev and Goldwasser were dead. (http://www.ynet.co.il/articles/1,7340,L-3507401,00.html). Furthermore, in June Ha'Rav Weiss, formerly the IDF's rabbi said that it appeared that the soldiers were no longer alive (http://www.keshet-tv.com/VideoPage.aspx?MediaID=39938&CatID=375).

This was made public. No one wanted to believe it; but not wanting to believe it doesn't make it false. The public could have demanded that Kuntar was not worth two dead soldiers. But the public pressed on. I highly doubt that the government would have concluded this deal without the public pressure. I can't fault the families for the pressure they exerted or for the support they rallied. But Israeli citizens can't, on the one hand, fault the government for not getting the soldiers back and then complain that the deal was unfair, unbalanced, whatever. Do you think that Nasrallah gives a damn that we think they are evil people? This is a victory for Hizballah, Hamas and every other terrorist outfit out there. We've played into their hands. (And no, I wouldn't have been happy to let the bodies stay in Lebanon. I'm conflicted. But people should acknowledge that they are talking out of both sides of their mouths.)

Posted by: Idit | Jul 16, 2008 10:58:29 PM

Perez the so called president of israel is only good for pushing israel into the disasterous oslo agreement and the subsequent pardon of the killers of Danny Katz and this Kuntar character, What I don't understand is how can a country like Israel, provide a comfortable jail for a killer such as Kuntar allow him to marry with conjugal rights and permit him to earn a degree from college on the backs of the israelis. if it is true that Israel is controlled by seven families who don't give a damn about their brethern. Under the circumstances those families should be stripped of their possessions and put in jail as their acts are more heinous than the killers of the innocent israeli civilians.

Posted by: M. Greenblatt | Jul 16, 2008 11:04:50 PM

Makes me sick hearing about this "prisoner" swap. What was the government thinking?

My G-d. What a repulsive bunch who murder 2, only to trade the murdered in return for another murderer, who is then free to go on and murder more. Sick society, sick religion, sick party of Allah.

Israel, wake up. Israeli government, wake up! My G-d, this is saddening. Wake up.

Posted by: Judah | Jul 17, 2008 1:07:26 AM

it's too bad we didn't return kuntar the same way they returned our chayalim. should have put a bullet in his head at the border right before handing him over.

Posted by: fern chasida | Jul 17, 2008 2:25:49 AM

idit wrote:

"The Israeli public has demanded since July 2006 that Eldad, Udi and Gilad be brought home and the media has provided ample time and space to the issue."

Sure.

But you Israelis fought a war that cost some 1200 Lebanese lives and some 140+ Israeli lives. And then did nothing for 2 years while Hizbollah rearmed to even a greater strength than they had in 2006.

And then you released a murderer of Jewish children for two bodies.

I am starting to think that it is time to close the Israeli experiment. While I have always been a fervent and strong supporter of Israel I am now inclined to think that the entire country is ... well ... mesuggah.

You spend Billions of Shekels and waste 1340+ plus lives for NOT A SINGLE THING. In fact, Israel is in a worse position now then if it did nothing at all. And instead of booting out your National Command Authority you allow it to remain in power.

Why on earth should America support you? No one else on the planet does.

Perhaps it is time for the United States to join the rest of Humanity on this issue and force you weaklings to surrender to your enemies. It certainly isn't worth the lives of MY children to let you all party in Tel Aviv.

Posted by: anon | Jul 17, 2008 2:35:22 AM

As soon as the coffins containing the ramains of the Israeli soldeirs appeared, the Israelis should have executed Kuntar on the spot, then handed his body over.

Posted by: Jim - PRS | Jul 17, 2008 4:43:03 AM

From your mouth to God's ear.

Posted by: ProfK | Jul 17, 2008 4:51:29 AM

Kuntar should have been returned in the same condition Israel received Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev. Jim - PRS had it exactly right.

The IDF will pay a heavy price for this useless capitulation. Our enemies have not only learned that they can kidnap, not merely with impunity but with the hope of being rewarded - they don't even have to worry about keeping their kidnap victims alive. Bastards.

Posted by: Elisson | Jul 17, 2008 5:15:26 AM

Perhaps it is time for the United States to join the rest of Humanity on this issue and force you weaklings to surrender to your enemies. It certainly isn't worth the lives of MY children to let you all party in Tel Aviv.

Perhaps you'd like to explain how your children are affected by what happens in Israel.

Posted by: Jack | Jul 17, 2008 7:03:25 AM

The emotions that all feel here I feel too. But I think Idit makes a few god points. It was apparent to high government officials that Regev and Goldwasser were no longer alive. Initial investigations early on actually cast doubt on the well being of at least one of them according to Haaretz.
I think the government got the only deal it could have gotten. David's fundamental question is more important- maybe no deal would have been better.
But let's not forget that the real boob in the conduct of the war was Dan Halutz, who proved once again that Air Force commanders will almost always argue that their arm of the military is all that is needed for victory. His conduct as C-O-S was reminiscent of the work of Walt Rostow and Robert Macnamara. The failure in Lebanon was a military failure as much, if not more, as a political failure. The Civilian echelon depended on the wrong military experts. Olmert could use some competency lessons, but no one gave a second thought to the idea before the war that the wrong uniforms were in charge.

Posted by: jordan Hirsch | Jul 17, 2008 7:10:40 AM

Idit raises excellent points....

That is what makes it so difficult.

Posted by: Gila | Jul 17, 2008 7:31:05 AM

I must respectfully (but firmly) disagree with Idit's assessment that the Israeli public is "speaking from two sides of it's mouth."

Dialogue of dissenting opinion is in fact the essence of democracy. It is the obligation of a democratic society to openly analyze and discuss matters of policy.

To suggest that yesterday's results are somehow excusable because a portion of the Israeli public rallied for the exchange is offensive. We elect leaders with the hopes that they will be the embodiment of wisdom, strength and courage, and that they will act for the best interests of the nation.

I refuse to argue whether or not yesterday's exchange was, in fact, in the best interest of the nation. It was clearly a case of "damned if we do, and damned if we don't."

My disgust with the deal lies in the details of the exchange. It shouldn't have taken rocket scientist to predict that we would be receiving coffins. Especially given Idit's contention that the government more than suspected the deaths.

The state of denial of both the public and the families over the little evidence that existed prior to yesterday can not be used to cover the government's a$$ on this one....

Posted by: zahava | Jul 17, 2008 11:45:14 AM

Anon- not convinced. IMHO, anyone who claims to have supported Israel in the past wouldn't feel the need to spew as much bile as you appear to be, particularly on this day and on this post.

In agreement with Idit. And with most of David's post: Except that I don't see the need to re-visit a bashing of the usual suspects again for voicing dissent during the 2006 war. Especially given that public dissent wasn't exclusively focussed on the Israeli/Lebanese civil society context: There were many points on a whole range of reasons as to why the war was a mistake raised at the time- and some of those points are even echoed in your post today.


Posted by: PP | Jul 17, 2008 12:36:19 PM

It is wrong to trade dead bodies for anything. Whatever the circumstances they should be returned. Israel is as guilty as Hezbollah on this issue. We should be ' a light unto the nations' not a tawdry grubby Levatine Middle East state.

Posted by: Expategghead | Jul 17, 2008 2:47:12 PM

Expategghead: If you are talking about the trade being wrong vis-a-vis the holders of the dead bodies, then I am (obviously) in 100-percent agreement with you. It is simply morally bankrupt.

If, however, you are talking about Israel trying to claim her fallen soldiers... well... and I say this with the heaviest of hearts, it really isn't so simple.

One of the reasons that you see the ZAKA volunteers working so tediously hours after a terrorist "event" is that there are halachic implications as to what is done with human remains. As I have said here before, because of our belief that all humans are created בצלם אלוקים (b'tzelem elokim: in G-d's image), even the remains of the terrorist who perpetrated the act are not tampered with. So, כל וחומר (chol v'chomer: all-the-more-so) we should feel compelled to retrieve the remains of those who've sacrificed their lives in service to our nation.

Despite the agony I feel over the details of the exchange, I really, really think that the situation was damned no matter how Israel chose to respond.

Sadly, since foreign democratic governments along with the UN and the International Red Cross are unable (or unwilling) to force terrorist institutions into compliance with the Geneva Convention, tragedies such as yesterday's are bound to occur....

With regards to our being "a light unto the nations," I was particularly touched, btw, by a comment of Judy's (Adloyada) which Imshin posted (orginally seen over at Harry's) discussing the fact that many Israeli soldiers are "who are organizing declarations that they do not to be redeemed if captured." I actually cried yesterday when I read that, and I am tearing up entering it here. I am, and always will be, eternally grateful and humbled by the courage, bravery, and patriotism of the individuals who comprise our armed forces.

Posted by: zahava | Jul 17, 2008 3:49:15 PM

Beautifully said.

Posted by: Z | Jul 17, 2008 4:13:02 PM

With Olmert at the command everything Israel does appears to be a sign of his weakness and stopping to be an Israeli. Releasing Arab Liars and murders from prison for the bones of IDF Soldiers is sign of weakness because the souls of these IDF soldiers are in heaven. Israel needs to have the upperhand in dealing with the Arab murders and liars. There is never a time for Israel to be pussycats. The Arabs understand only one way to make them behave
and live peacefully in co existence with Israel and the Non Muslim world and that is a major ass whipping to weaken their murderous desires.

Posted by: Isaac | Jul 18, 2008 12:43:52 AM

What can I say? "Brave words!" Words that resonate with my own sense of frustration

At the same time let me add a word of caution. Chazel say that the evening before Yakov met with Esau he was full of dread. They ask what had he to fear. In short their answer was very insightful. He feared dying, but just as much he feared having to kill. The first ends the life of the body, the second can corrode the soul.

I've lost many friends over the years and wars, but the deepest sense of loss I feel are for those I had to kill. I had to, make no mistakes I don't regret staying alive. But the difference between the 'brave words' written above and the thought of sending my sons into the fray of battle to kill, 'take-no-prisoners' and the resulting corrosion that will eventually seep into their soul ... it is a horrible dilemma that unfortunately our choices will be dictated by our enemies, not by our consciences.

Posted by: Yoel Ben-Avraham | Jul 18, 2008 12:15:38 PM

The Jewish people must wipe out Amalek wherever it rears its ugly head. We have no obligation to appease the world or anyone in it. We must stand up for each other, protect each other and be strong and united. If we are there for each other G-d will be there for us as well. We have to stand up to our enemies as we did in the past and make them realize that Jewish blood is not cheap. We are one people with one heart who must stand for what is right.

Posted by: Leo | Jul 18, 2008 5:00:05 PM

HY"D

Posted by: Juggling Frogs | Jul 20, 2008 2:56:37 PM

Good post. My sentiments as well. Although with one addition, I wonder when we will wake up and wrestle the power out of this gov's hand.

I say that very much as a coward would, because I honestly don't know if even I have the strength to rebel. sigh. But this gov is not on our side that 's for sure.

Posted by: miriam | Jul 21, 2008 3:24:21 AM

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