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December 18, 2014 / 26 Kislev, 5775
 
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘human’

Who Killed Sgt. Tomer Hazan?

Monday, September 23rd, 2013

Last Friday morning, Nadal Amar, 42, a resident of the Arab city of Kalkilya who worked in a fast food restaurant in the Jewish city of Bat Yam, talked his fellow employee, IDF Sergeant Tomer Hazan, 20, to come visit him at his home, over in the area under Palestinian Authority rule. They took a taxi together, stopped outside the Jewish town of Sha’arey Tikva in Judea and Samaria, and proceeded on foot to an open area outside the Arab village of Sanniriya. Shortly thereafter, Hazan was thrown into a water hole and died. Investigators suspect that he was not killed before being thrown in, but rather it was the fall that caused his death.

The distinction is important, because, according to Hazan’s abductor, Amar, his purpose in luring Hazan to his side of the “green line” was to use him as a bargaining chip in getting his terrorist brother released from Israeli jail.

Amar had a very good reason to do what he did: it is a well established Israeli government policy that Israel will always negotiate with terrorists, and will always—without exception—be willing to let go of hordes of Arab murderers, sometime in exchange for an abducted citizen, sometime in exchange for the dead bodies of fallen Israeli soldiers, and on occasion simply as a good will gesture. When an Arab murders a Jew anywhere in Israel and is lucky enough not to get killed during the act, he knows he would never serve out the full sentence imposed on him. And to get out he doesn’t even need to show good behavior, much less remorse – he just needs to wait for a good abduction.

This policy of letting go of busloads of murderers was always part of Israel’s insane policy of respecting the rights of Arabs to a fault while treating Israeli citizens like human trash. But it was carved in stone, for eternity, with the support of the vast majority of Israeli media, on October 18, 2011. Back then, 1,027 Palestinian prisoners were released to obtain the release of the Hamas abducted IDF soldier Gilad Shalit.

Some of the released in that infamous deal had been convicted of multiple murders of Israeli civilians. According to Israeli government sources, they were collectively responsible for 569 Israeli deaths.

When my government releases the murderers of 569 citizens as part of a negotiation with terrorists, what does that say about the value it accords those 569 victims? Simple: they don’t exist, they’re merely the price of getting the next political reward – and my prime minister decided to sweep away the memory of those victims in exchange for the life of a very popular young man at the time, IDF Corporal Gilad Shalit.

I have more sympathy for No’am Shalit, Gilad’s father, who led a relentless crusade for the release of his boy. I actually admire his resourcefulness, his sheer energy. It was a father’s love in action. But I did not appreciate the demonizing of those who objected to the astonishingly uneven proposed prisoner exchange (analyst Dan Schueftan called the swap “the greatest significant victory for terrorism that Israel has made possible.”). There were sound reasons for exceptionally sane people to oppose the exchange, and the media, taking its cues from Shalit Sr. presented them as heartless and, worse, right wing extremists.

But if the PM did it because he gave in to media pressure, and No’am Shalit did it for love of his son, the third culprit in this story, Jerusalem Post writer Gershon Baskin did it with unhidden joy, to advance his political agenda.

Baskin, an adviser on the peace process to prime ministers Yitzhak Rabin and Ehud Barak, and founding Co-Chairman of the Israel Palestine Center for Research and Information, negotiated through secret back channels for the Gilad Shalit swap.

Baskin’s book, “Free Gilad,” relates those secret negotiations. For more than five years, the NY born Baskin “dedicated and risked his life towards achieving a goal that had both national and human significance, to redeem the life of a human being who was confined in captivity.”

As a society — and a vast majority of Israelis, duped by their media, supported the Shalit exchange rate of one innocent Jew for more than 1,000 Jew killers — we have shown a deep disdain for the value of Jewish life. Our enemies are tenacious in their labor to free their own, blood on hands and all, while we are showing, day in and day out, that we do not honor our living or our dead.

I am deeply ashamed of my country today.

Pangs of Conscience on the Plains of Serengeti

Wednesday, August 14th, 2013

Readers of my column are aware that I returned to Africa to further my understanding of the Rwandan genocide and highlight the slaughter so that humanity can learn from its deplorable record of atrocity.

But I ended up learning perhaps even more about human and animal nature from the plains of the Serengeti in Tanzania.

Charles Darwin believed that we are all caught in an escapable struggle for survival where the powerful prey on the weak. This idea was one he garnered from watching animals, primarily and famously, in the Galapagos islands (I wrote a column on my visit to the Galapagos that can be found here. If only he had come to the plains of the Serengeti.

I have previously been on safari in African countries, primarily the excellent Kruger Park in South Africa. But nothing prepares you for the sheer brilliance and violence on display in the Serengeti. Today we saw three Cheetah move, with seemingly infinite patience, through the tall grass of the savannah, toward a Thomson gazelle which, in one short final burst, they fell in an instant and devoured almost totally in just fifteen minutes. When they departed the vultures appeared almost instantly along with other scavengers who were happy to feast on the scraps.

What went through my mind was that I was bearing living witness to every platitude I had ever heard. How only the fittest survive. How naiveté can be deadly (the gazelle stood enjoying the shade utterly oblivious to the impending disaster). And, more than anything else, the rewards of patience. The Cheetah crouched idly in the grass, moving only a step or two every few minutes, slowly and stealthily encroaching on its prey until it utterly destroyed its target. I, who has never excelled at patience, was in awe.

We were to witness the same sneak attack on the part of a female lion who, for over an hour, moved so slowly through a ridge in the grass, drawing ever nearer to an antelope, that it beggared belief she move that slowly. Baking in the sun and breathing heavily to deal with the heat (lions don’t sweat and regulate their temperature through respiration, or so I’m told), she waited and crouched in order to kill the antelope and feed her cubs. And after that monumental exertion, all was for naught as the antelope, seemingly oblivious to her approach, suddenly darted away.

But there was another emotion that I shared with my wife as we watched and watched, anticipating the kill. Were we no different to Roman hordes gathering in the coliseum to witness bloody spectacle as entertainment? Were we not the ones who would have signaled ‘thumbs down,’ begging the emperor for permission for one gladiator to disembowel the other for our enjoyment? Were we innocent bystanders as the weak were being devoured by the strong?

OK, I get it. This is the law of the jungle and I’m not meant to intervene. The beauty of the Serengeti is its utterly natural habitat, nearly unspoiled by human interference. We were meant to be spectators, innocent bystanders, on looking tourists, to the working of nature.

And yet…

Was not human society built on something utterly different that proved Darwin wrong? That human beings developed something called ethics which mandated, contrary to Nietzschean ideas of the ubermensch, that the strong are meant to use their might to protect the weak. That we are not animals but are endowed with a soul that gives us an innate conscience, a feeling of right and wrong, a desire to intercede when the powerful are guilty of injustice against the weak.

With all the tourists watching in utter silence as the Cheetahs and lions approached their prey, I whispered to my wife, perhaps only half jokingly, that my mind was drifting toward the famous doctrine known as R2P, or “Responsibility to Protect.” Samantha Power, the world’s foremost voice against genocide, was just confirmed as America’s new Ambassador to the United Nations. She is a personal friend and I campaigned hard for her confirmation. Once, I studied with her what I believe to be the only ancient source for R2P, namely, the Bible’s injunction in Leviticus, “Thou shalt not stand idly by the blood of your neighbor.”

Torture

Sunday, August 11th, 2013

Why do we inflict torture on each other so much? We have been doing it from the earliest of times. In Syria rival groups are inflicting the most indescribable and barbaric pain on each other (and let us not forget that Assad’s sub-humans started torturing and castrating children). If the reason for this cruelty were to try to get information that might lead to saving lives, this might arguably leave some room for mitigation. But all I see is primitive sadism and barbarism regardless of what the victims themselves may have inflicted on others. I am completely opposed to any torture. It says something very disturbing about those who inflict it.

Torture is not just the inflicting of pain. We can do that to ourselves in the gym. Military training often forces recruits to undergo deprivation and pain. Endurance athletes willingly drive themselves to suffer. Some sports, such as boxing and extreme fighting, are calculated to cause pain. What we mean by torture is the intentional inflicting of pain by one human on another simply out of sadism or because a state or power has authorized it. There is a nuance. Torture that will inevitably lead to death where there is nothing one can do to stop or reduce the suffering as opposed to torture that might be ended if certain goals are achieved. But they are both evil.

In the ancient times, if you conquered a king or tribe, inflicting pain was both an incentive for victory and an expression of superiority. It gave the victors total control over the vanquished. The more pain you inflicted the happier were your gods. I won’t go into the psychological pathology of this sort of cruelty. Sometimes it was payback for resisting and avenging your own losses. But the most common aim of such torture (other than human sadism, something that has been replicated in recent scientific experiments) was to so terrorize one’s opponents that they would capitulate without a fight. Romans impaled, and left to agonizing and prolonged death, hundreds of thousands of their captives in order to discourage revolt. Genghis Khan inflicted incredible agony on conquered cities to deter others from resisting. There was no escape, nothing one could do to stop the long, drawn-out agony.

Medieval monarchs would hang traitors, then while they were still alive, take them down and castrate them. Then slice open their torsos and pull out their organs for public display. King Edward I, who expelled the Jews, was very keen on hanging, drawing, and quartering. Perhaps there is a connection between being an anti-Semite and being a sadist! They were still burning traitors in the early nineteenth century in England. Twenty thousand spectators witnessed the last one. Impose a terrible death on traitors and others will be less likely to try. That’s what Germans under Hitler did, as well as every other hell associated with that infamous era.

Just as barbaric was the torture used as part of the judicial process. If a suspected criminal survived a ducking in the river or having his body pierced or mangled, this would prove he was in either forgiven by God or in league with the devil. While if he died that was atonement or punishment. You could not win. There is a recognizable change in a victim’s state when he knows he will die regardless. Judicial torture was only banned in England and the USA towards the end of seventeenth century. Confessions achieved through torture were, and sadly still are, often accepted throughout the so-called civilized world, although the methods are slightly less gruesome and less visibly degrading. But that’s not because we humans are any less cruel. Just that we fear public exposure. Gangsters, dictators, and ordinary evil people who feel themselves above or beyond the law continue, around the world, to torture to death thousands of ordinary human beings each year.

I suspect the survival of torture for so long owes as much to the Church as to human nature. Early Christians were tortured by the Romans to such an extent it seems they thought it only fair to do the same to their own theological enemies. The “Holy” Inquisition thought torture would eradicate its own heretics. As a sideline, it might encourage someone to convert to Christianity. Torture persists in some because they were founded on the belief not only that they are the possessors of the sole truth, but also that they had a mission to force it on everyone else if they could. Why is it that before they slash and kill, Muslim fanatics yell out “Allahu Akbar”, implying it is the will of their God? I guess if you think nonbelievers will burn in hell forever, aren’t you doing them a favor if a quick burn now or a slit throat is nothing in comparison?

New Film Highlights Israel’s Strengths

Thursday, August 1st, 2013

In Brad Pitt’s latest offering, World War Z, a virus transforms human beings into zombies determined to overtake the world and destroy every country on Earth. In the film, only Israel has the foresight to build a massive zombie-repelling wall. 

One of the film’s central characters, Mossad agent Jurgen Warmbrunn, explains, “In the ’30s, Jews refused to believe we could be put in concentration camps. In the ’70s, we didn’t believe we could be massacred at the Olympics.” Warmbrunn notes that based on these experiences, Israel remains ready for any security threat, maintaining a defense infrastructure that surpasses all other nations.

Some observers see the zombie-resistant wall as representative of the real life Security Barrier that keeps Palestinian suicide bombers out of Israel. In addition to being proactive in security, the movie portrays Israel as a humanitarian country that permits uninfected Palestinians to enter so that they will not be harmed by zombies. “Every human being we save is one less zombie to fight,” remarks Jurgen. He adds that saving Palestinian lives is good for peace. This too reflects an Israel that honors the rights of its Arab citizens, works to save Palestinian lives, and serves as an inspiration to the Islamic world by treating persecuted minority groups, such as Ahmadi Muslims and Bahais, with dignity.

In World War Z, Israel is also portrayed as a country in which women are given equal opportunities. For example, the film features an Israeli warrior named Segen, played by Israeli actress Daniella Kertesz, who saves lives and helps distribute the zombie vaccine.

In reality, Israel is a pioneer in women’s rights, a country where women proudly serve in the Israel Defense Forces. It is also engaged in humanitarian missions that help other countries across the world, including fighting against gender-based violence in South Sudan, sending agricultural and medical assistance to Haiti, rescuing people trapped under a collapsed shopping mall in Ghana, bringing relief to victims of an Oklahoma Tornado, helping Hurricane Sandy Victims, treating victims of the Boston Marathon Bombing, and assisting first-responders at the Newtown Massacre. In a fictionalized form, World War Z highlights Israel’s innumerable contributions to the world and represents one of the most pro-Israel films ever made.

Visit United with Israel.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/united-with-israel/new-film-highlights-israels-strengths/2013/08/01/

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