Tuesday, July 25, 2006

What Value Life?

Death should never be trivialized. We must recognize that all human life is something that needs to be protected (in part from itself) and there isn’t anyone whose life is “worth more” than someone else. Having said that, I found the following article from the Canadian Press interesting.

A Canadian-born IDF pilot died in northern Israel after the Apache helicopter he was flying crashed. Why should this be newsworthy when so many others are dying? Perhaps to show the “Canadian connection”, which is something our press tries to do to add an extra bit of sympathy towards the story. There is a part of this story that does not make me feel sympathy for this “successful and handsome boy.”

Here we have an individual who made a choice to return to service instead of return to Canada: “Tom Farkash, 23, had planned to fly to Canada to meet with childhood friends, but put off his vacation due to the conflict with Hezbollah militants in Lebanon.” But why should the press be making anything more of this young man’s death than of those of these people in Gaza.

It is a truly dangerous game we play when we start weighing the lives of one against another. I have no doubt that Tom Farkash was a wonderful young man, and would have grown up to be an upstanding citizen, if he had the opportunity … as would the innocent civilians who are being murdered in Lebanon and Israel with impunity while the world sits on its hands doing nothing.


Anonymous said...

All lives are sacred. We are all the 'chosen people'.. homo sapien. No one is better.
Therefore any untimely death, especially a war casualty is a tragedy... no matter who the victim is.

Anonymous said...

your post is a little sick, crazy, because it just demonstrates the unrelenting close-mindedness of people who feel the need to pit one side against the other while pretending to do the opposite. yes tom was 'successful and handsome,' and he died in a fucking plane crash while on duty protecting his country. where, incidentally, innocent civilians are dying. innocent civilians who support their army because without it the number of casualties would be even higher.nobody can excuse the idf's attacks on civilians, and nobody can defend the hezbollah for crossing an internationally recognized border to kidnap two soldiers in a time of relative peace, in order to wage a war of attrition.

and nobody should be so heartless to dismiss tom's death because he died in a plane crash serving in the army of his country which was attacked.

Unknown said...

Wow, Davy, I’m quite impressed that my words moved you, even if it is towards such a vitriolic response as lacking in content as it is in maintaining the veil of unimpassioned detachment that you seem to want to maintain. Your opening is not worth addressing, as it is my policy (for the most part) to ignore ad hominem attacks. As soon as someone is unable to defend their own point of view they have a choice: stop, or resort to attacks against the person (as opposed to their ideas). Instead, you open with the personal attacks, which led me to suspect that there wouldn’t be much substance in your comment.

As usual, I was not disappointed.

The only part of the opening that I will address is your assertion that I am “closed minded” and my article was an example of “unrelenting close-mindedness of people who feel the need to pit one side against the other while pretending to do the opposite”. Here’s how closed minded I am, Davy (any relation to the anonymous poster on Desert Peace’s blog that I wiped the ether with?): first of all, any claims that I am standing for the status quo is insane. I am a Jew who does not support the POLICIES of the government of Israel. I am not ANTI-Israel.

My personal belief is that Israel is a land of many peoples, and must remain that way. If there is to be true and lasting peace in the middle east it can only come through people living together as brothers and sisters – true neighbours – rather than being pitted against each other by individuals with their own personal agendas.

You say that I have a “need to pit one side against the other while pretending to do the opposite”, yet my writings consistently call for the cessation of violence. How does that pit anyone against anyone? From my understanding, it is quite difficult to have a war if you lack two key things: an aggressor and a target for the aggression. I advocate an end to aggression, not a working out of the issues slowly, while countless civilians die at the hands of people “following orders”.

As for Tom, and your comments to the rest of my article, … well, I’m almost at a loss for where to begin (not because there is so much to say, rather that the ideas expressed are so poorly articulated that it makes it more difficult to see which approach is best to take [note, that wasn’t an ad hominem attack as it was a statement of fact regarding the quality of writing used in the message posted by the individual from which this comment traces its genesis]). First of all, Tom did not die in “a fucking plane crash”, he died in a “fucking helicopter” crash, an Apache to be precise. This is one of the premiere fighting machines devised, capable of firing the deadly Longbow Hellfire air-to-surface missiles as well as a number of other devastating weapons, including a 30mm M230 Chain Gun that can fire up to 625 rounds per minute. This is not a weapon designed to wage a war of attrition: it is a force-multiplier weapon, designed to remove the opposing forces from the field of operations, without taking any losses of your own (in theory at least).

My point about why the death of Tom Farkash should be newsworthy was one of irony; in a time when there are hundreds of people dying – on both sides of the border – a headline points out the “Canadian connection”. There have been many Canadians who returned from Lebanon on the news as well, and I find all of it equally disturbing for one simple reason: War is NOT a nice “human interest” story. Do I feel anything in particular because of the death of this helicopter pilot? Do I feel a loss over his death because he was a Jew, or that he was fighting for Israel? Is there a sense of loss over the waste, the loss of innocence, of youth and of hundreds of years – thousands of years – of potential: human potential snuffed out before it had a chance to flower. I did not say, “dismiss his death”, I merely said “There is a part of this story that does not make me feel sympathy for this “successful and handsome boy.”” That being his involvement as an active member of the IDF; at no time have I ever minimized a single death in this, or any other war.

Yes, Tom was doing his duty. That is why his death is wholly and utterly unremarkable: Israel is at war and a soldier (pilot) in that army died. I do not excuse any violence by anyone: Hezbollah is guilty of murder AS IS Israel (and the United States of America as complicit allies in this misguided venture). The soldiers “kidnapped” by Hezbollah … Davy, you shouldn’t have (but you did). Thank you for such a gift: War. Soldiers in a war; soldiers captured WHILE PERFORMING THEIR DUTIES. Prisoners of War: not kidnapping, by any stretch of the imagination.

As for this being a war of attrition: that is only the case because Israeli strategists are fools. They wanted to accomplish a particular goal in Lebanon (eliminate Hezbollah), yet they didn’t commit the forces necessary to execute their plans (I’m not saying this is what should happen, I’m giving you an analysis of what HAS happened, and why). Israel has now activated 30,000 reservists, an act that should have taken place before the initial attack against Hezbollah took place.

As an aside: we may have witnessed the death of humanity during the past two weeks. Imagine of one of the hundreds of dead children was a genius, just waiting to grow up so they could discover a cure for cancer or something equally impressive. Another child may have grown up to be a philosopher for a new millennium, espousing a philosophy born out of the violence in the middle east that produced their experiences.

We can never know, even after all the bodies have been counted and the damage has been assessed, what the true cost of any war is: how can we calculate the loss of potential? The loss of “what may have been” is something to be left for our dreams, but as this course of senseless violence continues, those dreams may swiftly turn to nightmares.

Anonymous said...

I dont know who you are but you really disgust me. How can you write something like that?
Apparently you seem to know nothing about the situation in Israel. How can you defend a country that is full of terrorists and who support terrorism. Israel is doing the worlds job. Just to remind you that two of the highjackers on 9/11 where from Lebanon. I knew Tom from school, how can you compare Tom's death to a death of a Lebenese, just remember that they support terrorism and the hizbolla, and Tom was hero, who fought for us, and for the worlds protection. You should retract everything you wrote, because apparently you know nothing.

Unknown said...

Once again, my words have been misunderstood and distorted. My words disgust you, but the killing of innocent civilians doesn’t, wow … that’s amazing. What an amazing stomach you must have. Please re-read: I do NOT defend either nation, nor do I accept your premise that Israel is doing the “world’s job” (heretofore something that the United States has taken on with their policy of Pax Americana).

Your mentioning that some of the 9/11 hijackers were Lebanese is meaningless, unless you condone the destruction of all civilians to pay for the crimes of two fanatics: then again, George W. Bush went to war with a nation that had nothing to do with 9/11 under the auspices of ridding the world of the evils that had produced the attack. Unless you subscribe to this ideology of judgement and the persecution of the innocent, I suspect you only brought up the issue of the Lebanese terrorists to strengthen the perceived moral point of Israel’s “right to protect” itself from the terrorism of Hezbollah.

Does Israel have a right to protect itself? Absolutely. However, that right does not extend to the wholesale slaughter of innocent civilians as they try to eradicate their enemy.

As for Tom Farkash, as I stated initially, the only reason his death made headlines here in Canada was because he was a Canadian – who also happened to have been an Israeli. We have a tendency to want to have “Canadian connections” to things, which can be annoying, and can cause stupid things to come up, like this: there is nothing more tragic than a life that has been wasted, and right now there are hundreds of lives being wasted. There are Canadians in Israel and there are (still) over 30,000 in Lebanon: more will die before this “conflict” ends.

Will their deaths be any different than the Palestinian family on the beach in Gaza that died during an artillery barrage several weeks ago? Their names are not imprinted here, but are their lives any less worthy of mourning than Tom’s? That he was your friend and you went to school together makes Tom’s death more tragic for you, and the people close to him, but remember this: every child has a parent, a loved one, a friend. All these people grieve just as much when their children are stolen from them.

In the end, it doesn’t matter if the body is draped with a Canadian, Israeli, Palestinian, or Lebanese flag: a coffin with an occupant that has been placed there due to the violence of war is a death that has no meaning, and can never be truly reconciled. They are not martyrs, they are not heroes; they are victims.