While uneasy about the asymmetry of the Shalit deal between Israel and Hamas--a thousand Palestinian prisoners ( invariably described in Israel as “terrorists”) for one Israeli--the Israeli and the American Jewish media are also full of hymns of self-praise for us wonderful Jews: the “price” we paid was “a moral victory for Israel,” demonstrates our adherence to “profound Jewish values” such as “the pride in the value we place on every single human life,” is “a sign of humanity” that is “sadly absent in large parts of the world, especially in this region,” and the like. The implication is unmistakable: we are different from them, the parents of the 1000 Palestinians, and the nation they represent, either did not grieve or had no right to grieve over their “children” in Israeli prisons, nor rejoice over their release.
The blatant racism and infuriating claims of moral superiority aside, there are indeed significant differences between the Israeli and Palestinian prisoner situations. While some of the Palestinian prisoners were truly terrorists seeking the unjust cause of the destruction of Israel, surely many others were essentially soldiers in a just cause, national liberation and the creation of an independent state in a small part of Palestine. On the other hand, Shalit was a soldier of a nation whose real cause (continuing the de facto occupation of the Palestinians and Jewish expansion into what remains of their territory) is unjust and whose “profound Jewish values” and “adherence to the dignity of all human lives” does not prevent it—stop me when you think I’m misstating the facts—from occupying, killing, repressing, imprisoning, blockading, and deliberately inflicting deep economic as well as psychological pain on another people.
Who are these people, anyway? Never mind our supposed Jewish moral values, how about our celebrated commitment to reason? Or even self-preservation? Are they quite mad?