Monday, June 30, 2008

Moral equivalence

Israel has released Samir Kuntar in exchange for the bodies of the two soldiers Hezbollah had kidnapped just before the Israeli assault on Lebanon.
Mr. Kuntar was part of a cell that in 1979 raided the northern Israeli town of Nahariya, fatally shooting a civilian, Danny Haran, while his daughter Einat, 4, watched, then smashing the girl’s head, killing her as well. Mr. Haran’s wife, Smadar, hid with their 2-year-old daughter, accidentally suffocating her in an effort to stop her from crying out.

Mr. Kuntar has said he regrets nothing, and he will receive a hero’s welcome when he returns, part of the cause for hesitation in Israel’s security establishment, with many of its members recommending the deal’s rejection.
I've got nothing to say about the value of the swap (my condolences to the Goldwasser and Regev families), but this certainly makes me want to get engaged in the "moral equivalence" debates I usually avoid. Or, better stated, it makes me want to say something about the failure of moral equivalence debates. Yes, Israel does things wrong, and specific Israelis can be awful people (like in any country). But to even talk about moral equivalence erases the specifics and degrades everyone. Kuntar is happy to be a vicious and sadistic murderer. There is nothing equivalent to that.

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