Sunday, October 25, 2020 -
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Not only to lose a son, but not to bury him

For six years Hamas has held Hadar Goldin’s body. For six years, his family has lived in hell.

This is an editorial that should not have to be written, because no dead person should have to wait six years to be buried, and the family of no dead person should have to spent six years begging the indecent and the decent alike to facilitate the burial of their son.

Yet, this is the situation of Hadar Goldin, killed by Hamas in 2014, and of his family, still tortured in 2020 for knowing their son’s dead body is deliberately, cruelly held by Hamas.

How did this happen? Don’t cite the Geneva Convention or any other law of war, including agreements signed by Hamas itself. Hamas does not abide by them. Don’t cite common decency. It will not be found in Hamas. Don’t even cite the Israeli government, which, it seems, has not exercised its full strength to get Hadar Goldin’s body returned.

Imagine. First, hearing of the terrible death of your son. Then: learning that your’s son’s dead body will not be returned to Israel for burial. Then: Six years. Running to the Israeli generals and civilians leaders. Running to the Israeli ambassadors to and the Secretary General of the UN. Running to the White House. Running to whomever else in Washington who might seem to be able to help. Running to Knesset members. And that is the barest summary.

A few facts: On Aug. 1, 2014, Hadar Goldin was killed during Operation Protective Edge in Gaza. A humanitarian ceasefire was brokered by the UN and the US Secretary of State, John Kerry. It was when Hamas violated that ceasefire that Hadar Goldin was killed by Hamas soldiers emerging from a terror tunnel. (The military tunnel was built with so-called humanitarian funds directed to Gaza but exploited by Hamas for non-humanitarian ends). Hamas not only killed Goldin, but took his body. A brave attempt by IDF soldiers, for which they later received commendations, failed.

It was discovered after his death that Hadar Goldin had written an extensive commentary on the classic ethical work, Path of the Just (Mesillat Yesharim) in the margins of his copy. It has been published to high praise by top scholars. This was the quality of the person who was killed.

Goldin was engaged when he was killed. The mourning and the suffering after his death extends not only to his family but to what was to be his future family.

Return to this matter of the “humanitarian ceasefire” during which Hadar Goldin was killed. The UN, which helped broker the ceasefire, agrees that it bears some responsibility for Goldin’s death and Hamas’ refusal to return his body. UN Resolution 2474 says so. Humanitarian aid is understood to be conditioned on the return of the bodies of the war victims. Yet, Gaza still receives “humanitarian” aid.

Is Israel doing all it can to secure the return of Goldin’s body? Here is where the ugly realities of Israel’s international position become blatant. If Israel goes to war against Hamas to stop its terrorist rockets on Israeli civilians and arson against Israeli farms — during which Israel could extricate Goldin’s body — Israel would face severe condemnation in the West. If Israel holds its fire and suffers these periodic, attacks, which are far less destructive than all out war, then Israel radically reduces the pressure it can exert against Hamas. For Hamas will never submit to moral pressure, only military pressure. Israel ties its own hands in its military posture vis-a-vis Hamas for the sake of stability and relative peace.

This is the kind interpretation of Israel’s failure to get Goldin’s body back. The unkind interpretation is that Israel just doesn’t focus on Hadar Goldin. If true, this is a very dangerous tactic in a country whose survival depends on the morale of it current and future citizen soldiers.

In excruciating agony, Hadar Goldin’s father is a professor whose speciality is Jewish heroism under persecution. For example, Jewish martyrdom during the Middle Ages — the refusal of countless Jews to accept the Christian offer to spare their lives on condition of conversion to Christianity. We call this kiddush Hashem — Jews who chose to be burned at the stake by Catholic clergy rather than convert.

Professor Goldin, an expert in all this, and his family are undergoing a form of this ultimate suffering themselves. They are living the history that Professor Goldin researches. May all of this suffering end soon!

Copyright © 2020 by the Intermountain Jewish News

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