The Bones of Confusion (Extract)

Extract from an article in Issue 9, August 18, 2008 of The Jerusalem Report. To subscribe to The Jerusalem Report click here. This is a terrible admission for an opinion columnist but here it is. Sometimes events become so morally tangled that I lose my way. I agree with all sides of an issue at once, even when they contradict each other. I hope this is not a sign of oncoming dementia. Perhaps it's just a symptom of a struggle to remain an ethical person while the jaws of a rabid dog are biting at my heels. I am not saying that I can see the rabid dog's - or in this case Hizballah's - point of view. It's the argument inside Israel that has me flummoxed. Of course I understand the importance of the return of the bodies of the two Israeli soldiers held by Hizballah. I understand the Israeli army does not abandon its dead or forget its hostages. I understand that this promise of the Israeli military is profound and cannot and should not be violated. I understand that the families need the coffins and the ceremony and the prayers and the finality of the solemn moments of mourning with a real body, the body of a loved person before them. I saw the photographs of the prime minister hugging the widow and the grief on the faces of those around and I knew it was right to bring the bodies home to the families that had waited for them in that terrible state of doubt and false hope. But then there was the price paid. A man who had smashed in the head of a 4-year-old child was released as the Lebanese cheered, as his political allies hugged each other in joy. Flags waved, celebrations were held, and on the political scale a victory was won by those who murdered, those who invaded from the sea and showed no mercy, not even to a small child. And it hurts: this release of a killer, this return of a man who would cut the throat of any one of us at a moment's notice. I think we should have executed him when we had him. (I don't believe in capital punishment, and I don't really mean that, or I do.) Yes, he was more valuable alive in that we were able to trade him for something important but in the long run he lives to embrace a woman and drink and eat and dance through the night and our dead are still dead and he gloats and prepares to kill again and we have strengthened the very group that we most want to weaken. I am on the dovish side of the political spectrum. I have always believed that the enemy is not a faceless terrorist but is a member of a group that has its own story of pain and injustice. The tragedy is not that evil people seek to do Israel harm but that harm has been done to all and peace remains elusive and passions on both sides boil in the blood. But that said, I remain confused. Extract from an article in Issue 9, August 18, 2008 of The Jerusalem Report. To subscribe to The Jerusalem Report click here.