Our answer to Hassan Nasrallah

Let him bark like a dog - but don't give him what he wants.

Nasrallah at mike 224.88 (photo credit: Channel 1 [file])
Nasrallah at mike 224.88
(photo credit: Channel 1 [file])
The "Butcher of Beirut" - this was the headline in Yediot Aharonot the morning after the Saturday speech given by Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah, who in the name of Allah announced that his organization was in possession of a number of body parts, even a skull or two, belonging to Israeli soldiers that fell in battle. He said that he was willing to "trade." Not only we, but the entire civilized world were outraged at his braggadocio. I would like to believe that there are also Palestinians who felt uneasy at this brutal demonstration of willingness to trade in dry bones. Some here said, "Nasrallah only confirms what we already know about the Arabs." Others said, "That is what radical Islam is all about." Yet others maintained that this provides further proof that "there is no hope of dialogue with them." Many here argued for killing Nasrallah from the air, and if the bombing happens to cause some collateral damage, taking a few hundred Hizbullah supporters along with him, well that's all right too. He has been called a cannibal, a madman, a raving lunatic. But he's not the only one that's crazy; we are too. Nasrallah would not have made such a horrific offer unless he believed it would have an attentive ear. He knows that the cult of death is stronger here than reason and logic. And that the redemption of prisoners is a Jewish religious commandment. And that no politician can stand up to the pleas of a mother whose son has been taken captive or the entreaties of a father to return home the body of his fallen son in one piece. In the unfortunate deal with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command, headed by Ahmed Jibril, in May 1985, then-defense minister Yitzhak Rabin traded 1,150 Arab terrorists for three captured Israeli soldiers. The released Palestinians proceeded to help ignite the first intifada. WHY DID Rabin and then prime minister Shimon Peres do it? "Because I could not withstand the parents' entreaties." Yoel Marcus wrote in a recent Haaretz that "national whimpering has become a form of collaboration with the enemy." But that is how we are. In that, we are different from them. In that, we are better than them. We are all responsible for one another. We do not desert our wounded in the field, nor do we abandon a soldier that has been taken captive or a dead soldier on enemy land. That is true, and it is good - humanly, morally and Jewishly - that it is. But I am not sure that it is also proper from a collective national standpoint. The government must operate from national considerations. One of the state's interests is not to encourage the abduction of soldiers. If in return for a captive soldier, terror organizations can get hundreds of imprisoned terrorists, with or without blood on their hands, then the abduction of an Israeli soldier is an excellent deal for them. Consequently, they will not pass up a single opportunity to abduct more soldiers and will release them only in return for as many security prisoners as possible. I am aware that if - heaven forefend - my grandson were to fall captive, I would be singing a completely different tune. I would be demanding that he be released at any cost. But that still does not mean that I should be listened to. Because as important as compassion is, considerations of national security are more important. While this may sound callous and hardhearted, it is preferable to having the heart of yet another dead soldier be put up for sale in the butcher market of Beirut. True, a dog tag is not a human body part. However, one cannot but salute the family of the late Ron Mashiah, who was killed in the Second Lebanon War, after a photograph of his dog tag was displayed this week in a Lebanese newspaper. Ron's father said in response that he would not allow the secretary-general of Hizbullah to break his spirit: "He can continue to bark like a dog till he chokes," he said. And Ron's brother, Moti, said that even if parts of Ron's body remained in Lebanon, the family would not demand their return. "The moment he's dead, he's dead, and I don't concern myself with body parts." The writer is a former MK and justice minister.