Photo Credit: Hadas Parush / Flash 90
Israeli soldiers carry the coffin of Zachary Baumel, who went missing at the Battle of Sultan Yacoub in 1982, during his funeral at the Mount Herzl Military cemetery in Jerusalem on April 4, 2019.

Zachary Baumel’s return home made me think: If this had been the U.S. or any other country, would the retrieval of the remains of a soldier captured 37 years ago have caused the entire nation to drop everything and unite in an outpouring of relief and pride? Would it have immediately pushed everything else off the front page?

I don’t think so. I don’t think there is another place where a few bones can produce such instant unity and emotion as it can in our little Jewish country.


Zachary’s parents brought him to Israel from the comfort and security of the United States, desiring a life of greater meaning. Zachary was happy and flourished in the Jewish homeland – and then ultimately gave his life for it.

Should his parents not have left the U.S. for embattled Israel knowing that there was a chance that serving in the Jewish army meant being exposed to the Jews’ enemies?

I made the same choice as Zachary’s parents. I, too, served in the IDF. I too could have been called to my maker in the process. I, too, would have been found with my tzitzis.

Tzitit. That small item made a huge impact on me. It is the difference between just defending one’s country and something higher. Rabbi Akiva and Bar Kochba were killed in the land of Israel with their tzitzis. The same is true of those in the army of King David and Joshua. That is how Jews lived and died – as Jews fighting for a Jewish land.

Tragically, in the Diaspora, many Jews fought and died for foreign countries, often fighting on either side of the trenches while suffering from anti-Semitism in their own trench.

The rebirth of our Jewish country ended that painful anomaly. Dear Zachary died in a Jewish uniform fighting for his people against the enemy of his people. In historical terms, that is a revolutionary concept.

Still, every Jewish soul is an entire world, never just a statistic. The leadership of Israel must memorize the words of General George Patton to his troops: “I don’t want you to die for your country; I want you to make the [devils] on the other side die for theirs.”

Sadly, the very unJewish rules of engagement Israeli soldiers are bound by cost precious lives. Former IDF Chief and current candidate for prime minister Benny Gantz said, “I prefer to endanger my troops rather than the lives of enemy civilians. That is the moral choice.”

That’s no Patton – or King David or Joshua. It is not at all Jewish. How dare he! But it well reflects what is so very wrong today amongst the “moral elites.”

As a parent, I would have to ask myself if I have the right to send my son to an army led by a man like him. What a tragic situation for a Jewish  parent and the Jewish people!

This insanity must end, and I believe it will. The days of the Gantzes and the very non-Jewish thinking elites are numbered. (It is not just the “Left” that is infected with this amoral, non-Jewish thinking. Bibi freed thousands of terrorist killers. Over 100 Jews have already been killed by them. Bibi’s response to Hamas murder is destroying empty buildings and paying millions to them in protection money.)

I hope on Tuesday, Israelis chose to begin turning this insanity around.


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Shalom Pollack, a veteran Israeli tour guide, served in the Israeli Navy and lectures on the Mideast.