Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Value of a Single Israeli Soldier

By Alan Caruba

The Talmud, a record of rabbinic discussions on Jewish law, says “Whoever destroys a soul, it is considered as if he destroyed the entire world. And whoever saves a life, it is considered as if he saved the entire world.” (Mishnah Sanhedrin 4:5)

Every Israeli soldier knows that, if captured, his nation will move mountains to secure his return. It’s not just a slogan. It’s a reality.

Since 1982 Israel has engaged in eight such swaps, the latest being the release of Gilad Shalit, kidnapped five years ago and denied the most basic rights as defined by international law. Hamas even refused to permit visits by representatives of the Red Cross.

Since 1982, more than 10,000 Palestinians serving prison sentences for terrorist and other hostile actions have been released. In 1983, more than 4,500 Palestinians prisoners were swapped for six Israeli soldiers being held in southern Lebanon. In 1985, 1,150 prisoners were exchanged for three Israelis.

The value that Israeli places on its soldiers includes even casualties of war. In 2008, it released Samir Kuntar, convicted of murdering four Israelis in 1979, plus four Hezbollah fighters in exchange for the bodies of two Israeli soldiers seized during a cross-border raid.

The swap for Shalit, also the victim of a cross-border raid, demonstrates a fundamental difference between the Israelis and their enemies. They believe that each of their soldiers is more valuable than those who war against them.

Naturally, the most recent swap evoked a wide range of views. Daniel Pipes of the Middle East Forum welcomed Shalit’s reunion with his family as did thousands of Israelis, but said that “joy is tempered by the bitter realities of statecraft” calling the Israeli policy “the sentimentalization of strategy.” He thought the swap “poison(ed) the future” for Israel.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu disagreed. “As a leader who sends IDF soldiers every day to defend Israeli citizens, I believe that mutual responsibility is not just a slogan, but one of the foundations of our existence here.”

Netanyahu knows that Arabs have been kidnapping and ransoming people for the whole of Islam’s 1400 years and that it was standard practice among the desert tribes where the religion first took root. Islam is based on the promise of paradise for its adherents when they die; particularly its jihadist warriors.

Hamas and Fatah indoctrinate Palestinian children to want to be suicide bombers, but Judaism is based on the premise that life is God’s greatest gift and is to be valued above all else. Former Prime Minister, Golda Meir, said, “We will have peace with the Arabs when they love their children more than they hate us.”

Bill Levinson, writing about the swap, had perhaps the best interpretation of what occurred. He referred to the famous Chinese tract, Sun Tzu’s “Art of War”, suggesting that “Hamas might have played squarely into the hands of the Mossad and/or Shin Bet”, Israel’s highly effective and feared intelligence agencies.

“Israel might have just planted 50, 100, or even more double agents among the Palestinians who will cooperate, for example, in setting up Hamas terrorists to be killed or locating Palestinian rocket batteries for destruction whenever Israel considers this necessary.”

Sun Tzu wrote, “The enemy’s spies who have come to spy upon us must be sought out, tempted with bribes, led away and comfortably housed. Thus they will become converted spies and available for our service.”

Had the Israelis merely released one or a few prisoners their return would evoke suspicion, but with more than a thousand such prisoners it will prove impossible for Hamas to know which among them are double agents.

No people survive more than three thousand years against the greatest of odds and a multitude of enemies without learning a few lessons along the way. Hamas will pay the price in the weeks, months, and years ahead.

© Alan Caruba, 2011


scott adie said...

Hamas will pay the ultimate price when God returns to claim His remnant. We used this same tactic on captured enemy soldiers in Vietnam. It works.

retch said...

The Dutch decided a long, long time ago never to give in to terrorists. Result: No Dutch planes have been hijacked for a long, long time.
What's difficult to understand about this simple principle? Too bad for this poor kidnapped soldier and his family; good for the many others that will not be kidnapped.
In the Exodus days, Israel would never never ever have stepped into this trap.

Dave's Daily Day Dream said...

There is wisdom in "the Art of War", there is wisdom in Netanyahu's tactic as you explain the possibilities and wisdom in "retch's" point of view. I'm glad that I don't have to make those decisions.
I am thankful every day that back in November of '65, I got all shot up, but not shot down!

Cargosquid said...

Ya know...if they just stopped taking prisoners.....

Alan Caruba said...

Cargosquid: You know, if the Palestinians would just stop rocketing Israel or kidnapping hostages or murdering Israelis in their beds....

Don't come back Cargosquid. Further idiotic comments will not be posted.

Rich Kozlovich said...

Interesting! I never thought of that!

Malcolm said...

Have you read Daniel Greenfield article?

Alan Caruba said...

@Malcolm: Yes I read Greenfield's commentary. He makes his point well...though at too great a length for my preference. My commentary was based in the philosophical bedrock of Judaism. His in the hard reality of life in Israel.

Malcolm said...

From my understanding There is a real problem with this deal according to halacha .

Malcolm said...

Forgot the link regarding Halacha