The deterioration of Israel’s self-respect is disheartening. Soon after the state was formed, Israel was forced to deal with its first MIA situation. Sharon then kidnapped several Jordanian officers and exchanged them for Israeli MIAs. The Shalit debacle has gone on for years even though Dughmushes, Hamas ministers, and PIJ members are walking around at large, waiting to be taken hostage and be exchanged for Shalit. Common Gazans laud Hamas instead of crying as Israel destroys a dozen of their houses per hour to force his release.

When the terrorists hijacked an aircraft with Jewish passengers and landed it in Entebbe, they asked for a prisoner swap for only a few of their comrades, which seems laughable by current standards. Israel chose to attack the sovereign state of Uganda, losing a number of hostages and a commando, but refused to negotiate with the kidnappers. Both Rabin and opposition leader Menachem Begin agreed then: as long as even the slightest chance exists to release the hostages forcibly, they should not be exchanged.

Israel embarked on a policy course which is beyond even Kafkaesque, such as exchanging a thousand terrorists for a Jewish drug dealer or a top terrorist Kuntar for two decomposed corpses which used to be Jews. Now the government will trade any terrorists who did not pull the trigger, regardless of their role as accomplices to the mass murder of Jews. Israeli jails are filled with 11,000 “terrorists” of the stone-thrower variety, who should rather be flogged and dumped into Gaza.

In the 1970s, Israel successfully hunted down the terrorists who killed Jewish athletes during the German Olympics. Since the 1980s, Israel has only hunted down conservative Jews, murdering people like Kahane and the settler activists. Paying homage to the daring operations of the early state, Mossad and Shabak engage in targeted assassinations of terrorist leaders, but the effect is just the opposite. While the early assassinations of perpetrators made common terrorists nervous and caused them to make errors and be caught, leaders’ assassinations do not concern the common members, and are avenged terribly against soft Jewish targets abroad.

When PLFP-GC hijacked an El Al aircraft, the IDF blew up thirteen civilian airliners in Beirut airport. On the rare occasions when the PLO shelled Northern Israel from Lebanon, Israel responded with massive retaliatory raids, which drove masses of Shiites from South Lebanon, eventually leading to the civil war in Beirut. Who would have thought forty years ago that Israel would resort to theatrical raids on Gaza in retaliation for showers of rockets on her towns?

The problem is that the rulers of Israel believed their own rhetoric. Leftists such as Ben Gurion spoke about peace and tolerance but ruled the Arabs with an iron fist. The next generation took their pronouncements to heart. This generation of Israeli leaders who lack the firsthand experience of the pre-state war of survival with the Arabs, who expect the IDF to prevail and the US to intervene, who are concerned with foreign media more than with domestic opinion, will lead the country to death. Unless, of course, we deal with them reciprocally.

Palestinian kidnapping and Israeli self-respect