Holding a soldier captive and not allowing the Red Cross to visit him is a crime. Showering missiles and rockets on a civilian population is a whole other war crime.
Therefore those Israelis who decided to testify this week in Geneva, ignoring the boycott imposed by Jerusalem against the United Nations commission investigating the recent war in Gaza, did the right thing. The moral power of the witnesses on our behalf is greater than that of our government, even greater than that of the Israel Defense Forces, which is "the most moral army in the world," as everyone knows.
If only the world would hear the voices of human beings more often, rather than the voices of their leaders. Normal people want normal lives, until their leaders come and drive them crazy.
There is no way of knowing what will be written in the Goldstone commission's report (not be confused with the Goldstone Commission on southern Africa in the early '90s), but even it will not be able to erase the impression of Noam Shalit's appearance. When two successive governments betray their responsibility and leave wounded troops in the field, Noam, father of captive soldier Gilad Shalit, fulfilled his responsibility toward his son, toward all the sons.
The reason for the boycott of the commission is clear: Even the government is aware that one crime does not whitewash another, and every crime in itself turns scarlet as a scarlet-worm. If a mitzvah - a good deed - done by means of a sin is invalid, how much more so a sin done by means of a sin.
Israel will not be absolved when it justifies its crimes by pointing to the crimes of others, and Israel is still a country that is supposed to be different from the gangs of the world and to abstain from the argument about "who started."
Former prime minister Moshe Sharett, the 44th anniversary of whose death is being modestly commemorated this week, had to remind his colleagues during the discussion about reparations from Germany: "There is one more thing that I want to bring to the attention of the members of the cabinet: We are a state." And sovereignty carries obligations, if you are interested in belonging to the family of nations rather than the family of tribes.
Too often Israel wants to have the best of both worlds - it wants to be both a state and a gang. Thus it dismissively rejected Amnesty International's recent report, although it is an evenhanded document. This organization is also boycotted in Jerusalem, because the entire world is against us.
Amnesty observes the behavior of all countries, regardless of who is running them. It shines a light on evil deeds that are perpetrated in the dark. Anyone living in the illuminated part of the planet would not want to live in a world without Amnesty, thanks to which even the darkest parts of the globe will be lit up some day.
Not only governments are dragged into the regions of darkness, people of good will are also sometimes pulled in. Just two weeks ago several hundred people gathered on the outskirts of the Gaza Strip, most of them from the kibbutz movement, and insisted on blocking the border crossings into Gaza with their bodies: Even 1.5 million inhabitants of the Strip will not have basic goods as long as our soldier is not released.
This op-ed has already expressed its opinion in favor of redeeming Gilad "at any cost" - that is, the price that was not paid at the time for downed pilot Ron Arad.
But not at the cost of an eye for an eye - God will protect us and let us watch over our souls. And not at the cost of "we should have been as Hamas, we should have been like unto Jihad" and losing our humanity.
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