Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Sami Kuntar

As I write, Israel is officially losing the Second Lebanon War. Everyone remembers that the war began with the kidnapping of two soldiers from Israel’s northern border, but there seems to be a blind spot in the national memory as to what came next. Forgotten is the liberating knowledge that, at last, Israel was not caving in to the demands of kidnappers and releasing thousands of Arab terrorists for a couple of Israelis. Rather than the standard Israeli response of retreat and negotiation, as was the case during Hezbollah’s kidnapping of three soldiers in 2000, this time the response would be military. "This time it's different," they told us. After one month, realizing the futility of eliminating Hezbollah, Israel took the cease fire option. And now, two years later, we’re back to the prisoner exchange game.

Captive soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev

I've been reading the book, "Live from Jordan," a collection of travel stories by an assimilated American Jew living and studying in the Arab world. What struck me the most about the book was one small paragraph, in which, listening to the news coming out of "Palestine," one of his roommates launched into an enraged tirade. He reserved his deepest animosity not for the casualties his side was experiencing, but for the lopsided prisoner exchanges. Arab society is what anthropologists refer to as a "Shame Culture," in which one's estimation of self worth is not based on obedience to an inner sense of right and wrong, but on demonstrating domination and in exchange receiving honor from one's fellows. When Israel trades thousands of Arab prisoners in exchange for one or two Israelis, it sends the humiliating message that a thousand of them is worth less to us than one of ours.

But this trade is different. Now, the bodies of the two kidnapped soldiers are to be exchanged for one living terrorist, Sami Kuntar. Kuntar himself is another one of these general-issue psychopaths which our neighbors seem to vomit up on us with great regularity. Back in 1979, he and his comrades beached their boat in Nahariya, invaded the nearest beach house, and took a father, Danni, and his four year old daughter, Einat, to the beach at gunpoint. The mother heard the commotion and hid in the closet with her baby daughter Yael, covering her mouth to prevent her from crying. Meanwhile, Kuntar smashed Einat’s head into the rocks in front of her father, and then fatally shot Danni. The mother then came out of hiding to discover that in her panic she had accidentally smothered baby Yael.

And now Israel releases this animal on humanity again, and in exchange for the bodies of two kidnapped soldiers. And that's what this is really about. Israel’s release of Kuntar is the ultimate manifestation of Multiculturalism, the belief that the values of one’s own society are no better or worse than those of any other. While Kuntar was being given three square meals a day, Red Cross treatment, and even conjugal visits, the leaders of Hezbollah have been releasing snippets of information, neither confirming nor denying whether the kidnapped soldiers were alive. It was just enough information to extract pleasure from torturing the soldiers’ families, which brought honor upon Hezbollah in the Arab world by proving their dominance over the Jews.

Goldwasser and Regev repatriated to Israel

Although his savage actions made him a hero in the Arab world, Kuntar is being paraded through the streets of Lebanon not for their sake but for ours. This is a celebration of Israel’s surrender to multiculturalist nihilism, and Hezbollah wishes to express its dominance over Israel by proclaiming the fact.

Hezbollah prepares for the party of the century

After all, if Israel is willing to exchange Arab psychopaths in exchange for the bodies of soldiers who protect the rest of us from those same psychopaths, this sends the message that we don’t think our values are any better or worse than theirs. That Israel is trading a living Kuntar, along with three of his comrades, for the dead bodies of two soldiers, means that Israel places no premium on keeping soldiers alive, that we place as little value on our lives as they do on theirs. The days of live prisoners being repatriated, as after the Yom Kippur War, are now over. It is unlikely any Israeli soldier taken captive will ever return home alive.

Kuntar (second from left) and his buddies are prepared for release.

Just as their grandparents disposed of Judaism in favor of Zionism, so too this generation of Israelis have disposed of Zionism in favor of... nothing. “Post-Zionism,” the Israeli ethos of the day, defines itself in its very name not as a set of beliefs but merely the absence of Zionist beliefs. Israel is a great country, with a strong and energetic people built on an ancient and beautifully restored land, but this country also exhibits serious moral deficiencies. Not only the immorality of Israel’s abolition of the death penalty, which would have made this travesty impossible, but the equation of soldiers and terrorists, of war and murder, is dragging Israel closer and closer to the barbarism beyond its borders. How I yearn for the day that Israel’s ruling elite abandons its post-ethical worldview and returns to Judaism.

Celebrations in Lebanon: Kuntar takes his place with Saddam, Arafat, and Che, in the pantheon of the faces of atrocity


Marni said...
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Marni said...

have yet to find one post or comment commending Israel from finally releasing the Goldwasser and Regev families from their two years of pain. And while I agree, logistically, that releasing alive prisoners with Jewish blood on their hands sends an ultimately horrific message to our enemies, that Israel cares more for its citizens, alive or dead, and is willing to pay any price to get them back - and while I fear for what this means for more Israeli soldiers, and potential non-soldiers as to future kidnappings - nobody has mentioned the alternative, which would be to tell the families, that we are sorry, there is nothing we can do for you and you should just move on.

Maybe it is too much humanity on Israel's part that they are willing to risk arguably too much for the return of their citizens, regardless of their moral state, but maybe that is also the nation's Achilles Heel. Therefore, if Israel really wanted to even the playing field, it would have to sink to some new lows, and whereas we would like to view Israel as a nation of strong Jewish soldiers/citizens who will put the country first, ultimately they are just people like anyone else, and no mother, father, wife, etc., wants to spend forever wondering if their loved one is dead or alive. I can't think of a worse fate.

Although today was arguably a sign of defeat to our enemies, a small part of the nation must feel good that the Regev and Goldwasser families can finially have some closure.