On moral equivalence

What’s the big deal, many ask? Hezbollah and Hamas kidnapped some Israeli soldiers, turning them into prisoners, and they’ll readily release these prisoners if Israel, in turn, will release some prisoners it holds. It all sounds so beautifully symmetrical. Except it’s not. The kidnapped Israeli soldiers had done absolutely nothing beyond being soldiers, which is a matter of status, not acts. How about the acts of those Israeli prisoners? Well, the BBC describes one Hezbollah prisoner as follows: “[Amir] Qantar . . . attacked a block of flats in Nahariha in 1979, killing a father and his daughter.” How marvelously clinical. Here are a few more details, from the victims’ wife and mother:

It had been a peaceful Sabbath day. My husband, Danny, and I had picnicked with our little girls, Einat, 4, and Yael, 2, on the beach not far from our home in Nahariya, a city on the northern coast of Israel, about six miles south of the Lebanese border.

Around midnight, we were asleep in our apartment when four terrorists, sent by Abu Abbas from Lebanon, landed in a rubber boat on the beach two blocks away. Gunfire and exploding grenades awakened us as the terrorists burst into our building. They had already killed a police officer.

As they charged up to the floor above ours, I opened the door to our apartment. In the moment before the hall light went off, they turned and saw me. As they moved on, our neighbor from the upper floor came running down the stairs. I grabbed her and pushed her inside our apartment and slammed the door.

Outside, we could hear the men storming about. Desperately, we sought to hide. Danny helped our neighbor climb into a crawl space above our bedroom; I went in behind her with Yael in my arms. Then Danny grabbed Einat and was dashing out the front door to take refuge in an underground shelter when the terrorists came crashing into our flat.

They held Danny and Einat while they searched for me and Yael, knowing there were more people in the apartment. I will never forget the joy and the hatred in their voices as they swaggered about hunting for us, firing their guns and throwing grenades. I knew that if Yael cried out, the terrorists would toss a grenade into the crawl space and we would be killed. So I kept my hand over her mouth, hoping she could breathe. As I lay there, I remembered my mother telling me how she had hidden from the Nazis during the Holocaust. “This is just like what happened to my mother,” I thought.

As police began to arrive, the terrorists took Danny and Einat down to the beach. There, according to eyewitnesses, one of them shot Danny in front of Einat so that his death would be the last sight she would ever see. Then he smashed my little girl’s skull in against a rock with his rifle butt. That terrorist was Samir Kuntar.

By the time we were rescued from the crawl space, hours later, Yael, too, was dead. In trying to save all our lives, I had smothered her. [Emphasis mine.]

Only people who have broken free of any type of moral anchor could find equivalence in the nature of these “prisoners.”

Hat tip: Best of the Web Today

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  • http://www.whyweworry.com Clint

    Yes, but how do you know those Israeli soldiers hadn’t done anything to Lebanese or Palestinians in the past? I’m not saying they have, but it’s not really clear (at least not from what I’ve heard.)

    You mention the act of *one* Hezbollah prisoner – that doesn’t necessarily mean all the prisoners are guilty of atrocious acts and weren’t just taken prisoner b/c of their status. I’ve read news reports about Palestinians/members of Hamas/members of Hezbollah taken prisoner because they were “terrorists” or “militants” who wanted to do damage to Israel. In the mind of Hezbollah and those resisting Israel, the Israeli soldiers are equivalent – they wish to oppress them and continue a brutal occupation.

  • http://bookwormroom.wordpress.com/ Bookworm

    Clint: It really doesn’t matter if, in war conflict, those soldiers had killed an enemy combatant. For one thing, I don’t have a problem with that, because that’s the nature of war. For another thing, they weren’t kidnapped for their conduct. They were simply kidnapped because they were soldiers in the wrong place at the wrong time — much in the same way that Pfc. Thomas Lowell Tucker and Pfc. Kristian Menchaca were kidnapped. And even though Qantar is merely one of many prisoners his existence alone makes it inequitable to compare prisoner exchanges. In any event, keep in mind that, while he’s one case, all of the other prisoners in Israel went through some form of due process. Indeed, I doubt many of them would claim that they’re innocent of the crimes they’re alleged to have committed and for which they’ve been imprisoned. Most would simply dispute that it’s a punishable “crime” to massacre Israeli men, women and children in cold blood.

  • JJ

    There is no moral equivalence.

    Outside the pea-brain of Kofi Annan, the democrat party, and the NY Times, that is.

    I personally find them all easily dismissable.

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  • http://daveblog.wordpress.com/ YDS


    In fact, Kuntar is about it as far as Lebanese prisoners in Israel go, since the rest were released in the last prisoner deal 3 years ago, when Hezbollah captured an Israeli civilian in Europe and the bodies of three fallen soldiers on the border, and Israel exchanged hundreds of prisoners for their return.

    As for occupation – I don’t know if you’ve been readin the news , but there is no occupation in Lebanon, and hasn’t been for six years. And, maybe you also missed this one, but there’s no occupation in Gaza, either; Israel withdrew from that territory about a year ago (and doesn’t even control the border crossing into Egypt, from whence Hamas gets its arms). Yet the terror against Israel keeps coming from Gaza (not the West Bank, where Israel still maintains an occupation) and Lebanon (not Syria, which actually has territorial claims to press against Israel).

    But thanks for playing the Hate Israel First Game.

  • Marguerite

    I am not Bookworm, so I don’t have to be nice.

    It’s late, it’s hot, I don’t even have the energy to be tolerant of your ignornat, lame, whining, naive, boring, childish, whimpy, but OH-SO-TOLERANT-OF-EVIL-PERSONIFIED reply to On Moral Eqivalance. It just really sucks.

  • http://ymarsakar.blogspot.com/ Ymarsakar

    Of course there is no moral eq, that is why one Israeli soldier is worth 500 terroist prisoners. That is why trading one Israeli for 500 Hizbollah and Hamas terroists is the right thing to do (to channel the Left).

    If they don’t get you on moral eq, they’ll get you in the exchange. Either way, catch 22. If they are morally equivalent, it justifies fukushou, revenge. If it is not equivalent, and Israelis are worth more than terroists, then when exchanging prisoners, 1 Israeli is the same as 500 hundred terroists in jail.

    It’s kind of geometrical in a way.

    As for occupation – I don’t know if you’ve been readin the news , but there is no occupation in Lebanon, and hasn’t been for six years. And, maybe you also missed this one, but there’s no occupation in Gaza, either;

    You underestimate the power of doublthink and human self-denial if you believe that that actually is a reason for people to change their minds about occupation. I have first hand reports from the Left that it is still an occupation, because Israel controls access to Gaza. Catch 22s are designed to trap reason using people.

    EIther way, catch 22s are designed so that you are dead if it is equivalent, and you are dead if it isn’t equivalent. Death by grenade or death by suffocation, either way, they win, and you lose.

    There’s a way to beat catch 22 traps however, but most people lack the willpower to enact the solutions.

  • http://www.cheatseekingmissiles.blogspot.com Laer

    Thanks for an amazing story, Bookworm. It not only showed the evil brutality of the Islamofascists, but also the smirking compliance of mainstream media.

    And, as a bonus, it proved how blind, biased and butt-headed the Left is.

  • http://ruminationsroom.wordpress.com/ Don Quixote

    Hi Clint,

    Do you honestly think that, on balance, the prisoners Israel takes in have done no more wrong that the soldiers their enemies captured?

  • jg

    Betsy’s Page links to a nice summary article on the subject of moral equivalence from (of all people) Alan Dershowitz. (link below)

    Worth emphasizing:
    “Part of the goal of organizations like Hezbollah and Hamas is to gain moral legitimacy for their terrorist tactics by having them equated with the conventional military tactics used by democratic regimes. Only the morally obtuse–or perverse–cannot recognize the difference between a terrorist group that targets civilian population centers with anti-personnel weapons designed to maximize civilian casualties and a democracy that seeks to prevent terrorism by employing smart bombs designed to minimize civilian casualties.”
    and humorously
    -(on the subject of the GROSS VIOLATIONS of international relations by the UN itself):
    (WITH A hat tip to Abban Eban)
    ‘..as the late Abba Eban, the early Israeli ambassador to the UN, once put it: “If Algeria proposed a resolution that the Earth was flat and that Israel has flattened it, it would pass by a vote of 120 to 3, with 27 abstentions.”‘

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