An Eye For An Eye -
The Semantics Of War
By Reuven Schossen

"Kidnapped Soldiers" blared the Israeli headlines a few weeks ago, after a soldier was captured in Gaza and two in Southern Lebanon. I was surprised. Since when is a soldier "kidnapped?" What, were they watering their mothers' gardens at the time? No, they were participating in military events. Soldiers are never kidnapped; they are captured after which time they should be treated according to the international Geneva Convention. That one simple semantic deceit by the Israeli media kidnapped the nation's mind.
"I never thought of that in such a way, but you are right," an Israeli friend living in Tel Aviv told me after hearing my reasoning. The semantic bombardment of Israeli citizens by their own government-controlled media continued, despite my remarks, and a few days later, I emailed a couple of pictures to my friends there. The first showed young Israeli girls writing hateful messages on artillery shells destined for Lebanon. Before sending this photo, I carefully analyzed it.
The writing was done with a confident Hebrew hand and included typical spelling errors of Israeli children. As a former officer of the Israeli army, I can say with certainty that the military equipment in the picture belongs to the Israeli army. Next to this picture, I sent a second one of a dead Lebanese child. Not one of my friends questioned the authenticity of the pictures, but one of them - a major in the army - answered unapologetically: "They are criminals."
Hence, soldiers are kidnapped and dead children are criminals; this is the war's semantic world. I could cite many such examples, but the most illuminating one dates back to 1982. At that time, the Israeli government had baptized the Lebanon War as the War for the Peace of the Galilee. The Hebrew possessive could be literally translated as War-Peace-the Galilee: a perfect Orwellian oxymoron. The use of these types of semantic traps has only increased over time and they have become harder to spot by the confused Israeli public.
"Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot" says the Bible in Exodus 21:24. The Code of Hammurabi, dating back to 1728BC, makes a similar claim. It may seem a bit barbaric nowadays, but back then it established for the first time the idea of proportional punishment and - in a sense - a method of indemnification for crimes committed. But these days, if your neighbor breaks the window of your house - intentionally or not - you expect to get a new window and maybe some degree of compensation if the damage was intentional. No modern society would accept the retaliatory breaking of the neighbor's window - or demolishing his house, as the Israelis are doing in Lebanon - as a just response.
For a long time now, Israelis have been running amok in this manner. Having rejected their last Teacher, they are now forgetting even their first, and primitive, law and religious texts, receding dangerously back to lawless times. 3500 years ago, the Israelis had a more comprehensive and just legal system than they do today.
That is their choice and they will be judged for their deeds. However, it is the personal responsibility of each of us to shout as loud as possible that the Emperor has no Clothes.
If we won't defend the innocent Lebanese children of today, we will ignore the French children of tomorrow. And, then, when American children are forced to carry their own cross, then, it will be too late to save them.
Reuven Schossen is an Israeli political refugee, harassed by security services across several continents since he chose to leave his home country in disgust at the corrupt practises of Israel's leaders. The four articles below were published after he signed a contract with Publish America for his book, "Holygarchy," an account of his political and spiritual awakening in Israel and a revelation to the world of the racist, theocratic and "Big Brother" police state policies of the State of Israel. His efforts to secure political asylum and a new citizenship require the assistance of understanding individuals. Thorough research indicates that the San Francisco area would be the best place to apply for asylum in the US. Attorney fees will run to about $1,500. We are asking for financial assistance and sancutary in the San Francisco area so that Reuven can successfully secure political asylum here in the US. If you can help in any way, please contact Reuven at (505) 982-3609 or . His website is at and it is possible to donate via credit card or paypal from that site. During the Civil War, Americans of conscience created an "underground railway" to shelter African Americans who were brave enough to escape from slavery. Let's not betray the American tradition of helping those in need by letting Reuven's situation take a turn for the worse through our inaction. Even a brave reform rabbi has been willing to help Reuven, so let's not be frightened into paralysis by Israeli propaganda.
Leland Lehrman, Santa Fe, New Mexico



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