Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Hamas, As With The Rich, Is Not Like You And Me

What is the value of a life? The question has vast political implications, as The New York Times explained in February

To protests from business and praise from unions, environmentalists and consumer groups, one agency after another has ratcheted up the price of life, justifying tougher — and more costly — standards.

The Environmental Protection Agency set the value of a life at $9.1 million last year in proposing tighter restrictions on air pollution. The agency used numbers as low as $6.8 million during the George W. Bush administration.

The Food and Drug Administration declared that life was worth $7.9 million last year, up from $5 million in 2008, in proposing warning labels on cigarette packages featuring images of cancer victims.

The Transportation Department has used values of around $6 million to justify recent decisions to impose regulations that the Bush administration had rejected as too expensive, like requiring stronger roofs on cars.

And the numbers may keep climbing. In December, the E.P.A. said it might set the value of preventing cancer deaths 50 percent higher than other deaths, because cancer kills slowly. A report last year financed by the Department of Homeland Security suggested that the value of preventing deaths from terrorism might be 100 percent higher than other deaths.

In their role as human beings, most Americans, pro-life and pro-choice, pro-death penalty and anti-death penalty alike, believe life is sacred or at least so valuable as to defy pricing. In the Middle East, however, Israel and Hamas appear to have a different perspective. Reuters (by way of Talking Points Memo) reports

Israel and Gaza's Hamas Islamist rulers have agreed to swap hundreds of Palestinian prisoners for the lone Israeli captive soldier Gilad Shalit, resolving one of the most emotive and intractable issues between them.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced in Jerusalem that the deal was "finally summarized and both sides signed."

In the Gaza Strip, Hamas confirmed that it only remained to conclude technical arrangements for the exchange in the coming days.

The breakthrough pact, after many false dawns in years of secret efforts to free Shalit since he was captured in 2006, has no direct bearing on Middle East peace negotiations.

You read that right. Israel gives up "hundreds of Palestinian prisoners" in return for the freedom of one Israeli, presumably Jewish. Hamas obviously demanded hundreds of Palestinians; Israel probably wouldn't give up a bargaining chip just for the heck of it.

This is not the first time a deal so apparently tilted toward one side has been made by Israel with forces out to destroy it. And there may in the future be another Israeli held prisoner by Hamas, for which Israel better have hundreds of Palestinians to give up in return.

If you ask me, one Christian life= one Jewish life= one Muslim life. For that matter, the life of an agnostic or an atheist (many of whom are Christians, Jews, or Muslims) is worth exactly 100% as much as that of the others.

But the Netanyahu government didn't ask me- or you. It asked Hamas. And it got its answer.

1 comment:

Roger Mavis said...

Look at it another way. . .

The Israelis have a lot more Palestinian prisoners than Palestinians have Israeli prisoners.

Is it simply because the Palestinians are so much more intransigent?

Or . . . If you collect baseball cards and you have 100 Clete Boyers, might they be worth a trade for 1 Willie Mays?

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