I was seeking sanctuary from the scorching heat of an Aqaba July afternoon in my hotel room when I tuned in to the live footage of the arrival in south Lebanon of the freed prisoners from Israeli jails. Unshackled from their jailors by force, Hizbullah delivered what it promised to do two years ago and coerced Israel to release those whom its top politicians and generals declared will never be set free.
The other story in the news on the very same day was the gun attack at the Roman Amphitheatre in Amman, where a deranged Islamist opened fire at the audience of a musical concert. How the two stories are closely connected, I shall reveal after I share with you the totally new kind of emotion that enveloped me as I followed the parade of the liberated men on TV (alongside the coffins of the fallen fighters, inside one of which lay Dalal Mughrabi, whose corpse Ehud Barak personally mutilated in 1978 and invited the cameras to record his primeval act).
As I watched this historic event, I didn’t know how to define the overwhelming jolt of elation that swept my own sun-mutilated corpse. Why did it seem so unusual to belong to a nation that gave birth to a dedicated group of fighters who refused to abandon their captured comrades, I asked myself? Why was I so surprised to feel that way? Indeed, the extraordinary nobility of those who persevered and offered their lives to twist the arms of the captors of their brothers-in-arms was a manifestation of military valor and gallantry in combat that I have not witnessed in recent memory from my own nation folk. Then I realized what this sensation was like
The only people in this region who have always lit a candle of solidarity for their missing sons and daughters were not the Arab countries. Finally, I could feel as privileged as Jews do. For the first time in my life, and although I never wished for it, I felt like an Israeli. Indeed, one of the reasons the Israelis have always conquered their Arab adversaries was because their soldiers go into battle knowing that their leaders and their people shall never rest until they return them to their families, whether living or dead.
And now, this most honorable trait with its noblest values of gratitude to your fighting brethren combined with the solemn vow to leave no man or woman behind, is no longer monopolized by our enemies. The sweltering Aqaba sun became cooler all of a sudden as the refreshing breeze of redeemed dignity penetrated my soul. Read More