Sunday, January 04, 2009

The Value of Life

Glenn Greenwald of salon.com today attacks supporters of the Israeli military action in the Gaza strip, arguing

Those who giddily support not just civilian deaths in Gaza but every actual and proposed attack on Arab/Muslim countries -- from the war in Iraq to the Israeli invasion of Lebanon to the proposed attacks on Iran and Syria and even continued escalation in Afghanistan -- are able to do so because they don't really see the Muslims they want to kill as being fully human.

Personally, I don't support the deaths of civilians, and even less "giddily" so. And the implication that the war in Iraq= Israeli invasion of Lebanon= proposed attack on Iran= proposed attack on Syria= continued escalation in Afghanistan is extraordinarily simplistic, and disappointing in someone like Greenwald usually advancing arguments well-reasoned.

Most significantly, however, is the implied charge that the most enthusiastic- and in Greenwald's view (though my words) blood-thirsty- supporters of the attack on Hamas are motivated by a refusal to recognize "the Muslims they want to kill as being fully human."

Consider this:

1985: Lebanaon releases three (3) Israeli soldiers in return for 1,150 prisoners;

1998: South Lebanese Army releases remains of one Israeli soldier in return for 65 prisoners and remains of 40 Hezbollah guerillas;

2004: Hezbollah releases one (1) Israeli businessman, one Israeli soldier, and the remains of three Israeli soldiers in return for 30 Lebanese prisoners, 400 Palestinians prisoners,and remains of 59 Lebanese militants and civilians

2008 (July): Hezbollah releases bodies of two (2) Israeli soldiers in return for one notorious terrorist, four other Lebanese prisoners, and the "bodies of 1999 combantants and infiltrators from Lebanon."

According to Wikipedia (in an entry made between the incidents of 2004 and 2008),

Over the last 30 years, Israel has released about 7,000 prisoners to secure freedom for 19 Israelis and to retrieve the bodies of eight others. A number of diplomatic efforts have been made to secure the release of Israeli IDF personnel following their capture by enemy forces.

I don't believe Muslim life is less than fully human, or less human than any other. Neither, obviously, does Greenwald, nor you. But if actions speak louder than words, here is the statement of the terrorist: in exchange for approximately 7,000 of ours, we'll turn over 27 of yours. A ratio of 7,000 to 27- approximately 259:1. And that is the dilemma of the Israelis, to whom a human life is a human life. To their adversaries- Arab terrorists, not Muslims nor Arab civilians- a human life is something less.

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