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Naomi Ragen is an American-born novelist and playwright who has lived in Jerusalem since 1971. She has published seven internationally best-selling novels, and is the author of a hit play.


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PostWed Jul 16, 2008 9:00 am     Infamy    


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Infamy

By Naomi Ragen
July 16, 2008

I was a new oleh when the PFLP and two Germans hijacked a plane full of Israelis to Entebbe. I remember well those nail-biting days, the moral dilemma of freeing dangerous terrorists for live hostages; the idea that negotiations would just lead to more hijackings. But what other choice did we have? After all, they were in Uganda, so far away.

We found a way.

I will never forget the morning of July 4, 1976, waking up to the news. Our soldiers had gone in, at great personal risk. They had saved almost everyone, and killed the terrorists. We were not helpless victims anymore, the Jews. No, we were clever, and resourceful and outrageous. We showed the world how to behave.

We led the way.

I wake up this morning of July 16, 2008 with quite another feeling. Our soldiers, kidnapped on our own land, not across any international border, are brought back to us in caskets after two years of sadistic playfulness with the hearts of their families by Hezbollah terrorists, who led us to believe they were alive. And in exchange for dead bodies, we turn over a despicable baby-killer, Sami Kuntar.

Oh, you will hear the boosters of the Israeli government sigh. What can we do? We are civilized and they are not. We care about our soldiers and their families.

No, I'm afraid you do not. If you cared, then you would have a death penalty for people like Kuntar, so that they too can be released in caskets. And if you cared, you would be intelligent enough, seeing our soldiers brought back to us dead, to have put a bullet through Kuntar and then turned him over to his friends.

Civilized is a euphemism for weak and helpless. Civilized is not a moral value, because we all know what Western civilization is capable of. Concentration camps. Civilian round-ups, the gassing of children. All this under the banner of laws and policemen and governments. On the other hand, the moral thing to do to a tried and convicted murderer like Kuntar is to spill his blood, because he has spilled the blood of others. That may not fit in with current civilized niceties, but let no one say it is immoral.

When it comes to immoral, to release Kuntar to a hero's welcome and the opportunity to murder others is on the top of the scale.

My government, the Israeli government, arranged this. They let it happen. They oversaw it and implemented it.

I am deeply ashamed to be an Israeli today. And I'm not very proud of being a Jew either, if this is how a Jewish country behaves. To lead the world in ever more despicable acts of appeasement is nothing to be proud of. The torch we always carried, the "light unto the nations" has been blown out by the hot-air of our politicians.

If we cared about our soldiers, we would not be showing our enemies that kidnapping and terrorism pay. We would not be setting the stage for the next murderous terrorist raid and hostage standoff. We would be passing laws with a mandatory death penalty for convicted terrorists with blood on their hands, as well as their accomplices. We would be making these laws retroactive. Then, we would be cutting off all water and electricity to Gaza until Gilad Shalit is released. If that didn't work, we'd begin executions within one week, increasing the number convicted terrorists facing firing squads with each passing day until Gilad is returned to us safe and sound. And if that didn't work, we would begin daily bombings of Gaza, with the same number and frequency of attacks that our own city Sderot has suffered over the past three years from the Gazans. Not civilized? Perhaps. But moral. Extremely moral.

My fantasy is that Israelis will rise up and overturn the political system which has left them with the dregs of their nation as leaders- a bunch of self-serving crooks and syncophants who will do anything to stay in office; an electoral system in which a party like Kadima, with its collection of felons and moral imbeciles , who got only 23% of the vote, is allowed to rule us into the ground. We have Mr. Olmert, and Ms. Livni, and Mr. Peres, and Mr. Ramon (a convicted sex offender, who is now in line to take over from Olmert) and many, many others to thank, for creating this day of infamy.

May G-d redeem us from them.


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