The Goldin rule

The Goldins are to be commended for teaching us that one can advocate for his or her particular interests, while not sacrificing the safety and security of those around you.

By
March 14, 2018 19:09
4 minute read.
GILAD SCHALIT is reunited with his father, Noam, at the Tel Nof air base in 2011 after  ve years bei

GILAD SCHALIT is reunited with his father, Noam, at the Tel Nof air base in 2011 after ve years being held in captivity. (photo credit: ARIEL HERMONI/IDF/REUTERS)

Israel is a country of extremes. On a physical level, one can go skiing in the snowy hills of Mount Hermon in the morning, and, with a bit of effort, scuba dive in the clear waters of Eilat the very same afternoon. We have abundant wealth among our people – multi-million dollar homes are de rigueur in virtually every city, along with expensive, late model cars – while at the same time close to two million people live below the poverty line. And political opinion? Well, just tune into any raucous Knesset session and you’ll sample the entire spectrum.

We are surrounded by some very nasty, nefarious neighbors, whose behavior can be shocking beyond words, but we also have great heroes in this country – most of whom are humble and self-effacing, and live quiet, dignified lives out of the limelight, unless forced into it by God and Fate. One such family deserves special recognition.

It is six and a half years since IDF Sgt. Gilad Schalit was freed in a grossly lopsided “prisoner” exchange with Hamas. To secure Schalit’s freedom, Israel allowed 1,027 Palestinian terrorists to be unleashed on Israel and the world. Among them were some of the most bloodthirsty, despicable murderers, who had committed atrocities such as the Sbarro carnage (15 murdered), the Netanya Passover massacre (30 killed) and numerous cafe and bus bombings. Several of these terrorists had actually been released previously, only to engage in further acts of terrorism and be jailed once again.

Many argued strenuously at the time that this was a black day in Israeli history, an outrageously bad decision that would haunt us for many years to come, and invariably result in increased terrorism. Representing bereaved families, I spoke to numerous Knesset members, urging them to avoid making a horrendous mistake that would destroy the sacred principle of law and order and put the entire nation at risk. Surviving the murder of a loved one is struggle enough; seeing the murderer go free, accompanied by cheers and celebration, is sheer torture.

But the intense pressure generated by Noam Schalit and his public relations team proved too much to overcome. Schalit demanded that Gilad be freed, even if it meant bowing to Hamas’s maximalist demands. The government capitulated – giving in to almost all of the terrorists’ terms – and the murderers were set free. It was a monumental blunder that has already caused more than a dozen deaths at the hands of these same criminals and strengthened Hamas’s hand in its relentless war on all Israeli civilians.

I was roundly criticized for the columns I wrote against the deal. People wrote that any price is worth paying to free a fellow Israeli; they quoted the famous Talmudic saying that “he who saves one life saves an entire world,” while ignoring the very same Talmud that forbids excessive payment to kidnappers. They argued that it is immoral to leave any soldier in the field, not understanding that in war, there must always be a risk-benefit calculation for the good of the majority. Many people defended Noam Schalit, suggesting he did “what any good father would do” to save his son, regardless of the repercussions.

Well, thank God we are now witnessing an example of what truly intelligent, concerned parents can and should do in such a dreadful situation. Leah and Simcha Goldin, parents of Hadar Goldin – killed in August 2014 during Operation Protective Edge and whose remains, along with those of Oron Shaul, are still held by Hamas – have courageously petitioned the Supreme Court to refrain from handing over terrorists’ bodies until our own citizens’ and soldiers’ bodies are released. The Goldins, rather than fighting to give in to Hamas, are doing just the opposite: They are creating pressure to deny the Hamas terrorist structure any and all benefits until they meet our demands. It is absolutely insane, they correctly argue, that the State of Israel daily sends hundreds of trucks supplying electricity, food, building materials and more to Gaza, as if these are friendly neighbors who deserve our support. We should all be in awe of a family, without closure or consolation for three and a half excruciating years, who can battle so admirably for justice.

In an ironic twist, Simcha Goldin, a senior lecturer at Tel Aviv University, wrote a book about Rabbi Meir of Rothenberg, a 13th-century French rabbi famous for, among other things, not allowing his community to bail him out when the authorities jailed him. To this day, this precedent is cited in halachic arguments about redeeming captives.

I remember – too vividly – that, when we received an early report concerning our late son Ari and a fellow soldier, that “one had been killed, and the other wounded” in battle, our first thought was to pray that our son was the wounded one. But then we stopped, for how could we wish that the other boy was dead, and our son alive? There is no moral justification, as Jewish law clearly indicates, to save one life at the cost of another.

The Goldins are to be commended for teaching us that one can advocate for his or her particular interests, while not sacrificing the safety and security of those around you. They epitomize what we might call the Goldin rule: Boldly speak out and speak up for what you believe in, but be sure that while pursuing your rights, you do not trample on the rights of others.

The writer is director of the Jewish Outreach Center of Ra’anana; jocmtv@netvision.net.il


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