Friday, February 20, 2009

Left? Right? A Clarification

Inspired by an article by Yehudit Desberg, published in Makor Rishon, 20.02.2009

In my old age I no longer have the energy or the patience to philosophize for hours at a time, searching for the essence of a concept or in a futile attempt to identify the differences between two opposing views.  Today I'm much more likely to read or hear someone else's moment of clarity and tap into it for the tools I need to make sense of the insanity I call reality.  In this week's Makor Rishon I read one such insight that I'd like to preserve in this monologue with myself.  What distinguishes some one or some idea or movement identified with Israel's political 'Left' from a person, movement or idea identified with Israel's political 'Right'?

Although it initially seemed superficial, after thinking through Ms. Desberg's arguments, I believe she has something to contribute to this particular question.  Her work was actually accomplished for her by one of the most iconic of Israel's political movements, my intention is 'Peace Now!'.

Ms. Desberg sums up her analysis of the arguments for and against the release of Gilad Shalit as expressed by Israel's 'Left and 'Right'.  The 'Left' argue - "release at any price!"  It does not matter how many hundreds or thousands of captured, tried and convicted terrorists you release, it is "impossible to stand in the face of a mother's tears."  They see the issue as one of the centrality of the individual.  The single individual and their immediate gratification are the paramount value in their world view.  Nothing else is important, or is as important as this primary overriding value.  It supersedes and determines all else.

The 'Right' don't lack sensitivity and don't feel the grieving mother's anguish.  What they have that the 'Left' doesn't have, is perspective.  They see the tears of one mother, Aviva Shalit, and they also see the tears of the countless other mothers who would eventually cry once hardened terrorists are released to return to their bloody campaign to kill Jews and destroy Israel.  Instead of releasing convicted terrorists, the 'Right' demand that every diplomatic, economic and military pressure be brought to bear upon the Hamas leadership in Gaza until they return Gilad, much like the Philistines returned the Ark of the Covenant.

The 'Left' has no eternity.  Their only interest is in the 'here and now'.  The collective, the "People of Israel", the "Nation" play a role in their public pronouncements, but in truth these concepts play no role in their value system on a day-to-day decision making basis.

The 'Right' sees the present as just one link in a chain of existence.  What we do with our "link", our moment, can positively or detrimentally affect the entire future of the chain.  Therefore our decisions must take into consideration not just the mother standing in front of us, but all the mothers yet to come.

One final aside:  Israel has a great deal of experience with the exchange of prisoners for the release of our soldiers and citizens.  Statistically more than 50% of the terrorists release return to terror.  More importantly.  The higher their rank in the various terrorist organizations, the more likely they'll return to kill, maim and destroy Jewish lives.  This is not an academic debate.  Our lives and the lives of our children are affected by it's outcome.