Harpo Jaeger dot com

Soldiers and terrorists

It’s commendable that Israel cares about its soldiers so much that it’s willing to trade over 1000 prisoners for one of them. I wish that were true of our country we’ve stopped noticing the bodies coming home from Afghanistan, much less the injured or captured. But a friend of mine made a good point yesterday: the simple math here implies that soldiers, perhaps by virtue of being uniformed, rather than non-uniformed, combatants, are inherently more valuable. Armies are certainly not the same as terrorists, but at the end of the day, they’re both trying to kill people. I’m troubled by the implication that soldiers inherently deserve freedom while combatants do not especially given most armies’ historical lack of internal accountability.

I’m not trying to claim that Gilad Shalit is complicit in some unspecified war crime. But if I had a reason to believe he might be, he’d still be elevated to hero status because of his uniform. Palestinian prisoners aren’t afforded that privilege. Domestically, yes, but internationally, no. So in a way, this exchange further entrenches the narrative of the peace-loving Israeli and the revenge-driven Palestinian.

I’m overjoyed that a young man who’s been held in cruel conditions for an unspeakable amount of time is returned to his family. I hope that we’ll come to recognize Palestinians as deserving the same dignity we instinctively afford to Israeli soldiers.