What is the connection between Donald Trump, the GOP elections and the story about the IDF soldier now on trial for executing a terrorist in Hebron?
It might seems weird to connect between these stories but I see a powerful (and very obvious) relationship between these seemingly unconnected issues: wanting to “win”.
Everyone wants to win. Who doesn’t? The question is what will you do to make that happen and what will you consider winning? Or, to put it another way, what will you have lost in the process?
Many of the people who support Trump explain that they do so because they want to win. Pointing out their candidate’s abhorrent behavior has little impact. It doesn’t matter how rude, obnoxious, misogynist or dictatorial he becomes. It doesn’t matter how incongruent his behavior is with the stated principles of his followers.
It seems that the wider the gap between behavior and principles becomes, the more vehemently his supporters respond: “Yes but I want to WIN!”
And it is possible for Trump to win the GOP elections. Such a win would be based not on principles or policy but on fear, anger and division enflamed by the candidate himself. He might “win” but what will be lost in the process?
And how is that connected to the IDF soldier who is now on trial for executing a terrorist in Hebron?
The connection is principles. The 10 Commandments. These are the first principles of both America and Israel, on these principles all other ideas of freedom, liberty and God-given rights are based.
It is not fashionable to discuss laws as something that developed out of God’s law. Modern society often mocks anyone who states God as a guiding factor in life. On the other hand, most will admit that Judeo-Christian society is based on the principles dictated by the 10 Commandments.
There is a reason the 10 Commandments were written in stone.
Groucho Marx famously said: “Those are my principles, and if you don’t like them… well, I have others”. The statement is funny because we know that although many do live this way, principles are supposed to remain unchanged.
Mark Twain said: “Principles have no real force except when one is well-fed.” In other words it is easy to declare principles but when these are tested by reality it is often difficult to uphold them.
The IDF solider in question will be tried in the military court system for manslaughter. His name has been withheld by the State of Israel for his own protection and in the same vein I will not name him in this article. The people advertising his name and image via social media are doing him no favor.
There has been an outcry from people in Israel and around the world: “But he killed a terrorist! A terrorist who was trying to kill Jews just one moment before! He should be given a medal, not put on trial! What is wrong with Israel?!”
The answer is: nothing.
The terrorist, along with an accomplice tried to kill Jews in Hebron. They attacked IDF soldiers there. One was shot and killed. The other was shot and wounded. Up to here there are no problems. Those soldiers reacted exactly as they should have.
The problem began when the soldier in question arrived at the scene and seeing that the terrorist was wounded but not dead, proceeded to shoot him in the head.
“He hurt my friend, he needs to die.” Boom.
Righteous self-defense became a street execution. This is called killing in a fit of rage which is legally defined as manslaughter. This is not an act of heroism. This not an act done to protect others. This is a very simple, straightforward revenge killing.
As this incident was documented on video, providing the public with what seemed to be a very straightforward picture of what happened. Even so, the charges filed against the soldier are not based solely on the video. They come after a full investigation of what happened, the perceived threat, the actual threat level, how the soldier behaved, the instructions he was given and how he explained his actions to his superiors directly following the event. The conclusions of the investigation are: there was no threat that justified the execution. This was an execution, not self-defense. The soldier acted against IDF guidelines, against the rules laid down by the State of Israel. He also acted against God’s law.
“Thou shall not murder.” is one of the most universally agreed on of the Ten Commandments. The Judeo-Christian societies around the world have all adopted this as one of their society’s first principles. The Commandment specifically declares that murder is wrong. Sometimes killing is justified or even necessary for example in the case of self-defense. If life is precious and it is forbidden to murder it is also wrong to allow yourself to be murdered – thus killing in self-defense, when it is necessary, becomes the right thing to do.
Murder is never right. It’s that simple.
“But we are talking about a terrorist! He deserves to die! He was trying to murder! He knew he might be killed in the process!” All of these are true statements however, it still does not change the first principle: “Thou shall not murder.”
For Israel this is a very difficult test of principles. We are talking about one of our own, a soldier. All of our soldiers are beloved. They have a special place in society because they protect the nation, allowing us to live and most of all because they are us: our sons, fathers, husbands, friends (and daughters). Any one soldier could be the child of any family in Israel and because of this, each soldier is treated like everyone’s child.
No one wants to put a soldier on trial. Everyone understands rage against a terrorist that tried to kill your friends moments before. On the other hand principles are not fluid. Right and wrong do not change because it is one of your own that commits the wrong.
The IDF is the most moral army in the world. There is a reason the army was named the “Israel Defense Forces”. Their job is to defend. Not attack. Not avenge. Their duty is not only to protect Israel it is also to protect life. To put it another way, protecting life is protecting Israel.
It’s not about what the terrorist was about to do. It’s about what our soldiers do. We cannot force terrorists to love life. They have chosen death. Israel on the other hand has chosen life and we do our utmost to live by that creed. All Lives Matter is not a slogan. It is a very demanding standard to live by.
The desire to “win” has brought many to object to any criticism or punishment for the soldier. He is ours and we want to be right, we want to win. This sentiment is understandable however we cannot excuse manslaughter because we want our side to “win”. If we do that, we lose.
The IDF is the most moral army in the world because we live by our principles. We demand that they be upheld, even when it is difficult. This means admitting when something was done wrong.
If we do not do so we will lose our moral superiority.
Many say that war is a dirty thing and sometimes harsh actions are needed in order to prevail. That is true. It is even more reason to be certain that we do not “win the battle just to lose the war”. Every day in Israel is a battle against terrorists that want to kill us. The war is for our survival and if we lose our soul in the process, our society will not survive.
There are things that are more important than “winning.”