Preempting an opponent’s objection with an objection – thereby turning an argument on its head – is the bread-and-butter of polemics. The tactic is common everywhere – from ordinary conversation to the halls of academe and courtroom litigation. When used cunningly, counterarguments can become the demagogue’s most invaluable of tools, used to sway the intellectually indolent and apply populist pressure.
Much as it’s politically incorrect by our society’s kitschified codes to cast Miki Goldwasser – mother of Ehud, who was ambushed, slain and nabbed by Hizbullah two years ago – as a skilled manipulator, her cleverness cannot but be acknowledged.
Her meticulously crafted June 18 letter to the prime minister testifies to that. Striving to rebut the contention that “if [Samir] Kuntar is swapped, more people would be kidnapped,” she faults the very fact that Kuntar was held behind bars: “Had Kuntar been exchanged in the Tannenbaum deal, you wouldn’t be reading my letter today. Contrariwise, were Kuntar not to be exchanged today, there would be more abductions and this time perhaps also of Israeli citizens pleasurably touring abroad. Nasrallah is determined to get Kuntar back no matter what. His next attempt could be lots worse. It could end up in kidnapping a family, juveniles, expectant mothers or anyone else.”
It may have been her prerogative to shout to all and sundry that she doesn’t give a hoot about why Kuntar was convicted in the first place, nor does she care about the consequences of his release. It’s legitimate for a distraught mother to focus only on her personal pain. But it’s illegitimate to cynically contrive to mess with the minds of the rest of the nation, from whose ranks emboldened Hizbullah’s next victims will surely come.
Her pro-forma premise was that Kuntar’s liberation was Nasrallah’s ultimate objective. But was it? Kuntar perpetrated his horrific crime before Hizbullah’s inception. He’s not a Shi’ite nor a member of Nasrallah’s militia.
IN 1979 Kuntar led the invasion of the Haran family’s Nahariya apartment. He caused the mother, Smadar, to hide in the ceiling crawl space and inadvertently smother her toddler daughter Yael to death, lest her cries betray them. He took the father Danny and four-year-old Einat at gunpoint to the beach, where he executed Danny and where Einat was swung hard by her ankles to callously bash her head against the rocks. Kuntar then repeatedly slammed his rifle butt into Einat’s skull. Remnants of her brain tissue adhered to his weapon. There are conflicting versions about who witnessed whose horrifying death. Did Danny see Einat’s brains spill out or was her father’s bloodied body the last thing Einat saw?
Such barbarity is the stuff of which heroes are made in the Arab world, and his savagery is precisely why Kuntar is adulated. Setting him loose constitutes a matchless prestige booster for Nasrallah. That’s his sole stake in Kuntar, and it won’t cause Hizbullah to close all accounts with Israel. Far from it. Having coerced Israel to capitulate, Nasrallah will home in on the next lucrative prestige booster. Pretexts aren’t scarce and can, moreover, be quickly manufactured.
Just as offensive is Goldwasser’s resort to scare tactics, like her warning that if Kuntar weren’t let out, the next hostages may be families and youngsters. Do such scenarios hinge only on Kuntar’s fate? Does his release obviate the danger? Does the bloodlust genuinely depend on the Kuntar excuse? Haven’t we already seen the indiscriminate slaughter of whole families, women and children before Kuntar was seized? What on earth does Miki Goldwasser think Kuntar’s initial nighttime attack on the pajama-clad Harans was?
But worst of all is her insinuation that Nasrallah’s will must be done because he is “determined.” Woe to us collectively if the Jewish state calculates its moves according to the determination of its worst genocidal enemies. Logically, this path inevitably leads to Israel’s eradication, just as Nasrallah, Ahmadinejad and assorted Hamas lynchpins openly preach. If we accept their determination to achieve a given goal as a foregone conclusion that mustn’t be resisted, then we’re goners.
TO SURVIVE in our hostile environment we must consistently frustrate everything about which Nasrallah is determined – not acquiesce to his insistence and subserviently abet his purposes. We must do the opposite of what he demands, not give in to his diktats. Whatever aggrandizes him endangers us.
Moreover, Nasrallah’s determination is inextricably linked to Ahmadinejad’s determination. By giving in to Teheran’s Lebanese hand puppet, we encourage the puppet master to persevere in his genocidal aims. Kuntar was nothing but Nasrallah’s pretext for extortion.
The best we can do is remove as many such facile pretexts from our prisons as possible. It’s remarkably easy to fabricate new rationales for bloodshed, but convicted murderers sentenced to life behind bars mustn’t be allowed out alive. The enemy must have nobody to free. This may mean conditional death penalties – to become mandatory in case attempts are made to spring convicts via hostage-taking.
The flaw here is that Israel’s exceedingly milksop system, whose life sentences are in any case worthless, will lack the gumption to execute villains when it comes to the crunch. It’s way too much to expect resolve under pressure from a leadership which brainwashes its people to take pride in weakness, portraying it as the hallmark of humanitarianism.
The best alternative is not to wait till hostages are taken, but put to death every Kuntar-type right after sentencing. This may not directly save lives, but it would ensure that unspeakable homicide won’t go unpunished, that those who gleefully spill the blood of Jewish children won’t live to be feted for their bestiality, and won’t be accorded heroes’ welcomes.
That too is some consolation, even if minor. It’s important – six decades after the Holocaust – to trust that the Jewish state won’t countenance the callous massacre of Jews merely because they are Jews. It’s at least slight solace to know that the most heinous of butchers won’t get the last laugh on us and won’t in the interim enjoy our hospitality, be well fed by Israeli taxpayers, will further their education, pursue hobbies, receive conjugal visits, procreate and even commission and coordinate more terror onslaughts.
The only way to quit being suckers is to quit being suckers.
Many in our midst will of course regurgitate the questionable claim that by imposing capital punishment we might imperil captured Israelis, whom vengeful unbridled enemies will readily kill. But the greater likelihood is that by contracting the sort of deal whereby living Kuntars are swapped for corpses, we eliminate the last enemy incentive to keep abductees alive.
Hizbullah, it would pay us to remember, had never returned any living Israeli – except for over-the-hill drug-dealer Tannenbaum, another wry Nasrallah joke at our expense. That’s something to remain mindful of before expediently trying to turn common sense on its head. By having won her argument, Miki Goldwasser pushed us another step closer to losing our existential war.