The Value of Human Life

The Value of Human Life

Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.

The apprehension of the three young teenagers in Israel apparently by Hamas operatives signifies again a fundamental problem in resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Israel and its neighbors have totally different appreciation of human lives. These were not combat soldiers but teenage students. When Gilad Shalit was kidnapped eight years ago and 20 years ago when Nachshon Wachsman was kidnapped they were Israeli soldiers in uniform. Shalit was returned in exchange for over 1000 Palestinian prisoners, Wachsman died during the course of an Israeli rescue attempt. These were teenagers apparently hitch-hiking. It makes no sense.

The kidnapping of these students is as heinous an act of terror as suicide bombers blowing up buses during rush hour in urban centers or pizza shops during lunch. These are the acts of terrorists or suicide bombers. These actions represent a mind set about the value of life that is largely incomprehensible to most of the West.  This is what made the Japanese Kamikazes more understandable because it was foreign to the West than the behavior of German Nazis. It is what makes the Muslim Shahada understandable yet incomprehensible. .

As a result Jews and the State of Israel struggle with trying to make peace on the one hand and be safe and secure on the other. It is why Israel evacuated Gaza on the one hand and built a separation wall on the other. It is also why there is a clear rationale behind U.S. desires to leave Afghanistan and not to return to Iraq. The West cannot impose its values on people who fundamentally do not accept our premises. The Taliban, Al-Qaeda, ISIS, Islamic Jihad, Hamas, etc., at the end of the day do not respect those who do not accept their norms.

The West cannot fix their conflicts; we cannot solve their problems or internecine rivalries. For Israel it means it must secure the country within safe and secure borders. This is the underlying problem that Israel faces as it tries to find the kidnappers

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