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Sunday, April 08, 2007

Quantifying that which shouldn't be quantified

There is an old joke that makes the rounds in the medical community every few years:

Q: How do you differentiate between major and minor surgery?

A: Minor surgery is something that someone else has to undergo.

I was reading the news this morning when a headline caught my eye and made me sad.  Once upon a time it would have made me angry... maybe even furious.  But today it simply reinforced my conviction that modern Israel is hopelessly divided between the elites in power and the rest of us with whom they have zero connection and/or empathy. 

The headline, which was a quote from the Social Affairs Minister, Yitzchak Herzog, read:

"Israel should be flexible in defining 'blood on hands'"

The story went on to detail how our government now seems willing to blur one of the last lines in the sand in order to trade terrorists in Israeli prisons for a kidnapped soldier who we have no indication is even alive. 

Now, call me old fashioned, but the concept of having blood on one's hands is arguably the last bastion of things for which there should be absolutely no wiggle room.  Either someone was involved in the taking of a human life... or they were not.  There has never been a reason in the past to differentiate between those who plan and those who act since they are all part of a murderous conspiracy.  But now it seems that even this hair can, and will, be split by the people in charge.

What saddens me most is that, like the medical joke, the criteria for adjusting the definition of 'having blood on one's hands' will almost certainly be modified according to whose blood was spilled and how closely the political elite in our government can identify with them. 

A shooting, knifing or bombing in Tel Aviv or Natanya?  Bloody hands. 
A shooting, knifing or bombing in a development town or in the territories?  Well, not so fast... let's talk about this a bit, shall we?

There was a time when Israel didn't openly negotiate with terrorists.  This was perhaps the only thing that kept us reasonably immune from the emotional blackmail of kidnapping and the dirty trade in body parts in which our ghoulish enemies seem to take delight.  But somewhere along the way we allowed the Arabs to set the market price for a Jewish captive:  A dead captive (or any part thereof) was worth dozens of prisoners.  A live captive was worth hundreds.

It doesn't take a great thinker to realize that agreeing to this kind of extortion only whets the terrorist's appetite for more Jewish captives.  And now that the last taboo of not allowing terrorists with blood on their hands to be considered in these shameful trades is about to be set aside, there is quite literally no limit to the demands that these savages can make.

It is no coincidence that in addition to the normal ministers that a typical political entity might have, that governments like Iran, Syria and the Palestinian Authority feel no shame in openly appointing permanent government representatives called 'Chief Negotiators' and asking the rest of the world to extend full diplomatic status to them.  These are nothing short of savages in suits who feel no shame at all in demanding all the political niceties and protocol due a government representative, while acting in the finest tradition of their predecessors who stood on balconies in Munich in 1972 clutching machine guns and wearing ski masks.

The only thing that has changed is our willingness to play along with the charade to the point of allowing our enemies to quantify the value of spilt Jewish blood.

Posted by David Bogner on April 8, 2007 | Permalink

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"A live captive was worth hundreds."

I think 1,000 plus is the closer figure. Given the current leaderships desperation to save their own political skins by having something, anything, to claim they accomplished I'd not be surprised if they make it a couple of thousand all with blood on their hands and decided to give Haifa away as the door prize.

Posted by: Yael | Apr 8, 2007 1:57:04 PM

Trep,

I couldn't say it any better.

Chag Sameach, anyway!

Posted by: dfb1968 | Apr 8, 2007 2:05:19 PM

All too true. Sickening.

It's always easier to rationalize or excuse actions that would normally be considered unacceptable by removing the human aspect of the equation; Jews become "settlers" (with a most negative connotation there), terrorists become "freedom fighters"...

Posted by: tnspr569 | Apr 8, 2007 6:39:51 PM

Sitting from afar it is very hard to try and come up with positive remarks about Olmert and company.

Sadly the same cannot be said about negative remarks.

Posted by: Jack | Apr 8, 2007 6:52:01 PM

Morality is so rigid - not at all like a good politician, eh?

Posted by: Bob | Apr 8, 2007 10:23:53 PM

"Thus saith the L-rd G-d; I will even gather you from the people, and assemble you out of the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel." (Ezekiel 11:17)

"G-d is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? Or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?" (Numbers 23:19)

G-d did not bring his people all the way back to Israel to forget them. He made a promise and He is keeping it.

He will deal with the evil rulers and wicked Islam when He is ready.

Israel is yours.

Posted by: Dina | Apr 9, 2007 3:12:39 AM

Agree with the post 100 percent. If I get going on this topic, it will be larger than the original post itself. Thanks for saying what needs to be said.

Posted by: Seattle | Apr 9, 2007 8:35:34 AM

I have a simple, albeit a radical and unsavory solution. If Gilad is indeed dead (we have no proof that he's not), return Barghouti's and Sadat's bodies in exchange. As unjewish and as uncivilized as it may seem, this action will send a loud and clear message to the terrorists that Jewish blood does not come cheaply and one that will not be soon forgotten.

Posted by: Allan | Apr 9, 2007 6:17:40 PM

It occurs to me that Israel's pols are disconnected because there's nothing to connect to. A hodgepodge of people who have little in common. Israel is a dream held in too many minds when it was to be one people of One G-d. Maybe a new sort of two state solution is in order. Didn't work too well before though.

Posted by: Scott Fleming | Apr 10, 2007 2:13:00 AM

‘Islamic regimes’ have found an adamant way of taking International diplomacy to the next level in the Middle East and Europe, they only have to forge a scenario where the ‘victim’ governments have no bargain, unless the captives are lucky enough to get pardoned.

Posted by: Rami | Apr 10, 2007 10:56:48 AM

Seems we already are living a "two-state solution." The elite and the rest of us. Or is it the religious and the non-religious? Wait - no, it is the Settlers and the rest....er..no, it is the natives and the olim...hmmm - well, nevermind, the total lack of unity among Jews makes all of these seemingly ridiculous political stances so much easier to implement. The house divided continues to crumble.

Posted by: Yonah | Apr 10, 2007 11:19:42 AM

I just had a similar discussion when the list of prisoners to be released in exchange for Gilad Shalit came out. Certainly I hope and pray that he (and the other soldiers) are alive and will be returned to their families but the "Catch-22" of the situation remains. If we give in to the terrorists' demands, how many more soldiers, journalists, tourists...people will they abduct in order to get what they want?

Posted by: orieyenta | Apr 10, 2007 3:40:43 PM

Yael (or whoever you really are)... I am shocked that you would react the way you have. Just shocked! ;-)

dfb1968... Well, I'm not sure about that but thanks.

tnspr569... Don't get em started about the deliberate use (misuse) of language to attack Israeli interests.

Jack... Anywhere else in the world this bunch of idiots would at very least be out of jobs... and probably in jail to boot.

Bob... This isn't even about morality. It is about survival.

Dina... Whoa, Dina... I thought you were gonna pull out that speech from Pulp Fiction on me! :-)

Seattle... Not that it will matter one bit in the long run...

Allan... You might remember this little ditty. :-)

Scott Fleming... Hey, where have you been?! I've been trying to goad you out of hiding for months now! :-) Nice to have you back.

Rami... Please don't slander the religion of peace around here! :-)

Yonah... Your confusion is understandable you g-dless infidel! :-)

orieyenta... Ah, you must be referring to the 'cylce of violence' that the world seems to think is Israel's fault. :-)

Posted by: treppenwitz | Apr 11, 2007 5:10:07 PM

you said:
we allowed the Arabs to set the market price for a Jewish captive: A dead captive (or any part thereof) was worth dozens of prisoners. A live captive was worth hundreds.

Part of the problem was, we accepted the values they put on their own lives... Our people are worth 1000 times their people...

Another part of the problem is, they accept the value they've put on their lives; and if you're worth only 1/1000th of your enemy, it's easy to die to kill.

Or to used a jailed criminal as a political weapon.

Posted by: michael | Apr 16, 2007 2:30:59 PM

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