Rabbi Meir's Standards (Extract)

Extract of an article in Issue 8, August 4, 2008 of The Jerusalem Report. To subscribe to The Jerusalem Report click here. It was the classic case of shutting the barn door after the horses have escaped. Defense Minister Ehud Barak formed an illustrious panel comprising military ethics expert Professor Asa Kasher, former chief justice Meir Shamgar and reserve major general Amos Yaron to establish guidelines for future hostage situations. Unfortunately this committee will have no influence on the current hostage negotiations where Barak envisages Israeli flexibility - read collapse - in the attempt to secure the release from Hamas of captured soldier Gilad Shalit. Israel's red lines in hostage negotiations are being repeatedly breached and have sunk even below the red lines of the drought-parched Lake Kinneret. There is no problem with self-imposed limits on government to ward off internal and external political pressures. In 1997, the Blair government surrendered its power over interest rates to the Bank of England to avoid the impression that economics was captive to such pressures, thus joining other countries including Israel. Hostage situations exert an even crueler form of pressure and even ministers of sterling character have buckled under. Former education minister Professor Amnon Rubenstein confided that he had intended to vote against the notorious Jibril exchange back in 1985, but could not withstand the pleas by families of the captured Israelis and voted yes in the end. Rubenstein of course regrets his all too human indecision. That lopsided deal released a cadre of recidivist terrorists in our midst. They supplied the operational and ideological backbone for the first Intifada and more importantly served as living examples that terrorism and extortion could deliver results. On the basis of this and other terror releases there is no doubt that in return for securing the release of one Israeli many Israelis will surely die and our enemies will become further emboldened. In the case of the deal to secure the return (or apparently the remains of) Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev we further empowered Hizballah chief Hassan Nasrallah (even Lebanese Premier Fouad Siniora was compelled to congratulate his deadly antagonist on this dazzling success) and made it plain to our enemies that they could blackmail us over corpses and not just over live Israelis. Therefore why should they bother in the future to keep captured Israelis alive? This does not mean that our soldiers should be abandoned to their fate. Their rescue should remain a priority even if as in the case of the failed Nahshon Wachsman rescue attempt it may result in the death of other Israeli soldiers. It also means holding captured terrorists incommunicado without visitation rights until our prisoners are heard from alive. As Israel under military law can impose the death penalty in certain cases of terrorism, it should be made patently clear to the other side that if any harm comes to our captives, similar treatment will be meted out to theirs. This is not pretty, but Hizballah and Hamas don't respect Marquis of Queensbury niceties; they scoff at them. Nazi Germany did not employ poison gas against the Allies in World War II because of moral fastidiousness, but because it knew that it would face retaliation in kind. If we need a basic law passed to prevent judicial meddling on this matter so be it. Extract of an article in Issue 8, August 4, 2008 of The Jerusalem Report. To subscribe to The Jerusalem Report click here.