The Valueblity\Vulnerablity of Human Rights

This week I find myself struggling with the post.  Why do I find it so difficult to handle? Because I’m a citizen of a country in an endless war, and in a war, I think the rules are a little bit different. I struggle because I want to be a good ambassador of my country but in the other hand I want to be true to my beliefs. I end up with a post that raises more questions than answers.

Do I believe that some lives are more valuable than others? My first answer is definitely no, every life worth living and who am I to decide one life are more valuable than others. But…

Is the life of one Israeli soldier worth 1027 Palestinian prisoners?

Gilad Shalit is a former Israeli soldier who was kidnapped/captured by the Hamas on the border between Israel and Gaza Strip on June 25th 2006. He was held up in Gaza for 5 years until a deal had been made to release 1027 Palestinian prisoners from the Israeli jail in exchange for his return (most of them terrorists and some had killed innocent people) in 18TH of October 2011 Shalit returned to Israel. During those 5 years there was a debate in Israel whether the Israeli government should release terrorists who might return to “practise” terror and  kill more people. So the question is even more complicated whether the life of one Israeli soldier worth risking many others?In the Tractate Sanhedrin (an important Jewish source) there is a proverb “who saves one life, raise  like he saved the whole world”, which mean all are equal and deserve to be saved. Later on (around 3th century PC) in the Babalian Mishnah (another important Jewish source) the proverb was changed to “who saves one life of an Israeli, raise like he saved the whole world”. Suprisngly the debate on the wording is still going on. So does the life of people from my tribe and family (or for that matter your tribe\family) are more valuable to me?. In the IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) the answer is yes. Soldiers are taught to kill as many enemy soldiers as needed in order to save one solider from their party. (As I claimed before in a war the rules are a little bit different). In biology, the view of the selfish gene (as suggested by Richard Dawkins) saving someone from your family mean saving a big part of your genetic load, thus resulting in increasing the

 spreading of your genes. Perhaps, we don’t like to think of ourselves as animals but basically the rules of nature still apply to us (the book “The human instinct“ is highly recommended).


Is torture O.K?

What do we mean when we say torture? Is  only physical torture consider torture or is mental torture is torture as well?

Basically, it’s not OK to torture, but what about situations like
Wendy raises in her post, is it OK to torture a man in order to try  saving the life of many others? Is it effective? Will it really solve the problem? In  the movies  soldiers and terrorists  are trained to resist torture and never tell their secrets. However, in reallife we have no clowe on how the  secret services works, what are there methods and if torture is effective and nessecary for them to perform their job. I do think all people no matter what they do and who they are, deserve human rights but I also feel I’m lacking the knowledge and not in a place to judge torture that meant to prevent wars. Remember, we trust the secret servises to protect us and we blaim them when something go wrong, thus, we also need to trust them to use the lowest torture needed in order to preforme their job. The questoin is who supervise them to do so?  

 To conclude, life is never black or white, the gray scale is very wide. There is one soldier who got to go back home after 5 long years in capture while in exchange 1027 prisoners came back to their families in the other side. Does it mean he worth more than they do? or  just that his government was willing to pay a high price for his life and for his freedom?  Al Qaeda is  a global militant Islamist organization who threatens the life of many people all over the world, if the only way to stop them is torture, then maybe torture is ok in these particular situation, but is torture really going to end the Islamic war against the western world? And who is responsibale to set the limit between situation that it is right or wrong to use torture? 

I wish we could live happily ever after but life is more complicated than that, Thus until utopia will raise, sometimes there is a need for radical action in order to prevent radical action.


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9 responses to “The Valueblity\Vulnerablity of Human Rights

  1. Michael Rowe

    Thanks for a great post. Your context really does make this a difficult one for you. I can’t even imagine what it must be like in that situation. You make an important distinction when you say that in war the rules are different, and you’re right. Killing an enemy on the battlefield is not murder, for example. However, there are still the Geneva Conventions ( that describe a *humanitarian* approach to warfare. Torture is specifically prohibited.

    You make two good points that I think are worth noting: it’s about making a value judgment about human life; and that the lives of those in my “group” are worth more than those outside of it. I think that every one is going to have their own opinion here but my own is that a few thousand years ago, the members of your “group” were probably the people in your village. As we became less nomadic and developed towns, cities and countries, our allegiances were to larger and larger groups. The difficulty is that many people can’t seem to move beyond their national groups in order to place equal value on the lives of every other human being.

    I think that in answer to your question about the effectiveness of torture and it’s relationship to Al Qaeda, Chantelle opens with a quote from one of the readings ( “The argument cannot be that we should not torture because it does not work. The argument must be that we should not torture because it is wrong.”

    • Thank you for your comments Michael. My base point was that torture is wrong, I just wanted to raise the point that sometimes border between right and wrong are less obvious. About the second point about group, again I’m not saying a group have to be nationality. Is my Chinese friend which I love with all my heart is not part of my so called group?? As I say I feel this subject is more complicated then we would like to think. Thanks for making me think outside the box

  2. Wow, Noam, that’s a very powerful post and you raise lots of really good questions which I’m still pondering! As I researched this topic, I was aware that I thought of it in very abstract terms, figuring that it didn’t really impact on my life at all; but I can see that for you the circumstances are different and it has a personal impact which I find hard to imagine. I can see that in times of war the differences between right and wrong are not as clear cut…

    • Wendy, thank you for reading my post and comments. For some reason this week’s subject raises a lot of un solves issues for me concerning my country and I feel like I even had an emotional reaction to that subject. Reading your comments I feel like you understand exactly what I wanted to say in my post, Life is more complicated than simple right and wrong. Thank,

  3. Hi,
    just wanted to point out that although war circumstances might be different and we don’t call killing in war “murder”, it is still killing and can’t be justified. Especially when we look at the nature of modern warfare and the rising numbers of civilian casualties. What do you think?

    • Hi Liina, thank you for reading my post and comment. I agree with you that killing is killing no matter what and can not be justified. My point was that sometimes life is more complicated then just simple right or wrong. It is easier to judge other people actions when you feel it it doesn’t involve you and your love ones but when it is part of your reality you know it is not that simple.

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