ישראל נאמן | Lectures, Articles, Tours: Israel | Mideast onTarget | Elliot Chodoff & Yisrael Ne'eman | A Matter of Values

A Matter of Values

 

17 July 2008

By Yisrael Ne'eman

Last week Israel was in mourning while the Hezbollah was celebrating. The bodies of Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev were returned two years after the outbreak of the Second Lebanon War (more correctly “The Hezbollah War”). 199 bodies of terrorists killed by Israeli forces over a three decade period were returned while five Lebanese were released, four captured during the war and Samir Kuntar, the notorious terrorist who came ashore at Nahariya in 1979 and killed four people, one of them a four year old child whose head he crushed. For Israelis he is regarded as the most brutal of terrorists. In Lebanon he is a hero.

Hezbollah Sec. Gen. Hassan Nasrallah made Kuntar into a symbol of resistance. At the time Kuntar worked with the PLO in south Lebanon in their battles against Israel. Hezbollah’s world encompassing Islamic ideology has replaced pan-Arabism. Nasrallah sees himself as responsible for Israel’s ultimate destruction and the leader of anyone who believes in the same objective. He therefore sought Kuntar’s release and upon his arrival made Kuntar into a hero. But the true hero is Nasrallah who has rearmed threefold (now over 40,000 rockets) compared to what he had in the 2006 war and has physically battled his way back into the Lebanese government, now holding veto powers over all decisions.

UN Res. 1701 never stood much of a chance and today it is completely dead as Syria and Iran have rebuilt Hezbollah’s forces in south Lebanon despite the UN presence and most likely with help from the Lebanese army. The cause for another war has already been stated by Nasrallah - “defending” Lebanon. Two points were made clear during Wednesday’s Beirut celebrations: The Shaba Farms must be returned and Israeli over flights will be halted. The Shaba Farms were never mentioned by the Lebanese until Israel’s withdrawal in May 2000 and once the UN marked the border between the Syrian side of the Hermon mountain range captured by Israel in 1967 and the Lebanese side it was clearly understood that the existing border is the international one. Shaba Farms is just a pretext for the next war.

Israeli over flights exist to keep track of the amount of illegal weapons arriving and to gather intelligence about Hezbollah moves in Lebanon, something not done from 2000-06. The mistake of allowing Hezbollah to train and rearm without a clear picture of what is happening on the ground will not be repeated.

Hezbollah is clearly looking for another war. Extremist Islam glorifies death and the “shaheed” or Islamic martyr while reveling in the death of its enemies, meaning Israel, America and the West. In Judaism and in Israel as a state, life is sanctified, resulting in lopsided prisoner exchanges over the years. Nasrallah Inc. enjoyed torturing the families of the dead soldiers by not releasing word of whether they were alive or not thereby violating all rules of human decency, but virtually no one holds him to such “western values” since there are no expectations that he holds similar values to those in Israel. Hezbollah spokesmen have explained it as a negotiating tactic to keep the price extremely high since Israel will give much more for a live prisoner that a body. This is known to be our Achilles Heel.

In Israel there is a debate about the over-sanctification of life and paying a far too heavy price in a prisoner exchange where arch terrorists with oceans of blood on their hands will be released for Gilad Shalit, held by the Hamas in Gaza. Here we need to be exceptionally careful since we know Shalit is alive and Hamas will squeeze us for every blood thirsty terrorist they can retrieve. The question is where to draw the line.

On the Islamic extremist side the sanctification of death has led to massive suicide bombings. More often than not Moslems are massacring other Moslems not only in the Arab world (Iraq) but in Pakistan as well. Apparently every day hundreds are killed and maimed and it is barely reported anymore by the western media. It is a virtual non-story.

Society’s values will invariably boomerang when internal conflict arises. Ultimately, the way one treats his external enemy is the way one behaves towards a domestic rival. Hezbollah will kill whomever gets in its way in order to remain in power. Many more Lebanese have died and will die at their hands than from Israeli actions. Israel may be “overpaying” in prisoner exchanges but the overall price is the value of life in one’s own society. In the big picture: Do we prefer Israel with all its faults or do we want to become like Lebanon and in particular the Hezbollah?