Gilad Shalit: Confirming the Value of a Single LIfe

The spontaneous solidarity march of 20,000 Israelis to the house of the parents of the young corporal Gilad Shalit held hostage by Hamas terrorists, and Prime Minister Netanyahu's offer to swap 1000 Hamas prisoners against one single Israeli soldier, are two gestures which confirm the value a single human life has in a democratic and civilised community. All the more grows the bitterness in Israel as to how little Netanyahu's gesture and the prevailing sense of values of the country are appreciated by much of the media but also state chancelleries in Europe. An amalgam of Israelophobe motives, fear of Islamic terror, the economic power of the oil producers, old prejudices against Zionism, hidden anti-Semitism, but alas also often crass ignorance of the reality still breeds today willing listeners and irresponsible critics in universities and trade union congresses.

Long have the media ceased to give systematic figures of carefully organised suicide bomb attacks. In every quarter of the Islamic world, but also in the great centres of the Western world, innumerable suicide attempts and murderous accidents are planned, effecting the loss of life of young people, even children. The wide variety of jihad operations on the part of Islamist extremists are nothing but organised infanticide. When bombs in big cities are aimed at crowded market places, official buildings, even mosques of inimical sects, their success is judged by the size of the casualties, even if those count innumerable innocent victims or indeed fellow religionists of the bomb throwers. This does not bother the criminals at all.

As far as the degree of cruelty of police investigations, court judgements, the use of naked force and indifference to human suffering are concerned, one must regrettably admit that Hamas and Hezbollah, al-Qaeda and the Taliban are torturers and killers in no way less cruel and culpable than the SS special death squads or the Ascension Commandos of the Gestapo.

No wonder that Israel's leadership finds it difficult to sit at the same table with radical elements in Gaza while these people negate the right to exist of Israel, or at best extend a brief moratorium before they once again inscribe their banners with curses of the State of Israel. Should President Obama succeed in giving Netanyahu the necessary assurances of support for Israel's security the people of Israel would be prepared to offer far-reaching concessions. Yet the disquiet in Jerusalem regarding Obama's attitude at the recent negotiations for atomic disarmament in the Middle East is not unjustified. If Israel were to surrender her atomic armament she would run the grave risk of being overwhelmed by the massive numerical superiority of her neighbours. Only fear of atomic defence holds many a bitter opponent from the temptation to attack the Jewish State.

The fundamentally and demonstrably false reporting of the so-called peace flotilla in the waters near Gaza, and the intervention by Israeli forces -- which was wholly permitted in international law -- contributes to the bitterness of Israeli public opinion. But what almost pains Israel more than the fuming hostility of her enemies is the superficial attitude of the 'neutrals,' who concede the same moral status to both sides. One feels that they no longer bother to find out what really happened. The rigid attitude of Israel's sworn enemies is almost easier to condone because of the frequent absurdities, thus there is that reaction of a noble Lord in the Bishop's Bar of the British House of Lords on the subject of Netanyahu's exchange of hostages: "Typical apartheid regime; one Jew is worth as much as a thousand Arabs."