Text, Lies and Videotape


The moral repugnance exhibited by the characters in Steven Soderbergh’s stunning indie film sex, lies and videotape is reflected in recent events affecting Israel. The baseless charges that Israel is guilty of war crimes and the often promoted myth of “moral equivalency” between Israel and the Palestinian terrorist factions are Orwellian in nature.


Text: The recent report issued by Richard Goldstone, chair of a United Nations commission which investigated the January war in Gaza, indicated that “both Israel and Hamas” might have been guilty of “war crimes” in the Gaza conflict. Despite the sheer absurdity of this assertion, it must be refuted since it is now part of the record of the United Nations and can be used as a basis to brand Israel as a pariah state or even to bring criminal charges against Israeli officials. Indeed, just last week in London, a group of radicals in Great Britain who were seeking to have Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak arrested as a “war criminal” were thankfully thwarted by a judge. And there was at one point a standing order in Belgium for the arrest of former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on similarly outrageous charges.

Lies: It is a gross deceit for Goldstone, the UN or anyone to assert moral equivalency between those who defend their own citizens and those who launch Kassem, Katyusha and other rockets at innocent civilians. Thousands of such rockets were fired indiscriminately for years by Hamas terrorists into Israeli towns and cities such as Sderot and Ashkelon, causing families to have to sleep in bomb shelters. Over 100 Israelis and some Arabs living in Israel were killed by these attacks and scores more wounded.

Normal life was disrupted for nearly seven years, and Sderot lost nearly one-fourth of its resident population as residents moved away rather raise their children under constant threat of attack. Most of the rockets were fired into Israel by Hamas after Israel had withdrawn all 8,500 Jewish settlers from all 21 Jewish settlements in Gaza, giving the Palestinians complete control over that portion of the Israel/Palestine region. Instead of setting up the infrastructure of an independent state, the Hamas terrorists chose to fire rockets into civilian towns. And yet Israel — whose soliders went so far as to send text messages, drop leaflets and call cell phones to alert civilians prior to their missions, an almost unheard-of step — is accused of “war crimes” in a United Nations report because its leaders saw fit to use military force to stop the rocket attacks. It is sad that Richard Goldstone, a respected lay leader of the South African Jewish community would lend his name to such a poorly reasoned and politically charged report.

Were there Israeli soldiers who overstepped their bounds and acted inappropriately? Of course. But “war crime” is a term reserved for an intentional and deliberate ignorance of civilian life. The utterly stark contrast between the Palestinian tactics of hiding soliders amidst civilians in mosques, hospitals and schools and Israel’s intentionality in warning Palestinians of impending fire, demonstrates the fallacy of any allegation of moral equivalency.

Videotape: The “videotape” in our editorial’s title refers to the incredible news that Israel released 20 female Palestinian prisoners in exchange for a “proof-of-life” videotape of captured Israeli soldier Cpl. Gilad Shalit (see related story on page 8). Nothing more starkly illustrates the value Israel places on a single human life than its willingness to release 20 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for a one-minute videotape of questionable authenticity. The released tape does seem to show that Shalit is alive and apparently well.

“He who saves a single life is as though he saved the entire world” is an often-quoted wisdom in the Sanhedrin section of the Talmud. The release of the 20 Palestinian prisoners is only the most recent example of Israel releasing large numbers of Palestinian priosoners in exchange for either living or dead Israeli soldiers. Last year Israel released scores of Hezbollah fighters in exchange for the bodies of two Israeli soldiers killed by Hezbollah in the 2006 Lebanon War. Previously, Israel released over 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in a similar exchange. Among the released terrorists was Kozo Okamoto, the Japanese Red Army member who was part of a Palestinian terrorist attack on Ben-Gurion Airport at Lod in 1972, which took the lives of 21 Israeli and other passengers.

It is a shame that the lofty ideals of the United Nations, which was created in the aftermath of World War II and the genocide of the Holocaust, can be perverted in this inexcusable manner.