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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review July 3, 2006 / 7 Tamuz, 5766

Saving Private Shalit

By Diana West


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | However much I loathe Steven Spielberg — now, there's a hook — his "Saving Private Ryan" comes to mind on hearing that the Israeli army has launched a major offensive into Gaza to secure the release of 19-year-old Cpl. Gilad Shalit, recently seized by the Palestinian group Hamas.


"Private Ryan," of course, is only a movie and tells a very kind of different story. It's about a made-up mission, not to rescue a soldier from the all-too-likely savage depredations of Islamic jihadists, but to remove him from combat in Normandy. Viewers are supposed to buy the notion that the War Department, in the chaotic midst of the momentous Allied invasion of Europe, ordered up a platoon to save Private Ryan as an act of mercy for the soldier's mother, whose other sons have died as soldiers in battle. Which is a preposterous notion. Incidentally, most of the rescuers are killed in the course of the mercy mission. Clearly, saving Private Ryan is hell.


But there's more to it than a historical derring-do. For me, the 1998 epic lives on not for its famous 35-minute recreation of the landing at Omaha Beach, but for its odious message. As one GI puts it, saving Private Ryan may well be the only worthwhile thing to come out of this whole, awful "mess."


The "mess" in question, of course, is World War II. Defeating Hitler, for example, ending fascism in Europe, even liberating the remnant of European Jewry from Nazi death camps — all fail to garner for the U.S. Army the mega-director's cinematic approval. The fantasy rescue of a single GI from combat, however, becomes not just a cause celebre, but the Spielbergian causus belli.


Such '60s-infused revisionism in a movie that has been weirdly and wildly revered as The Real Thing drove my late father into what are quite accurately described as paroxysms of rage — the memory of which I cherish as a particularly vibrant part of his legacy. As a veteran of the Normandy campaign (D-Day plus two), he realized that, through Spielberg's lens, the climactic invasion of Europe had been sundered from its historical context, serving instead as an arbitrary backdrop for a panoply of behaviors and attitudes more common to the Vietnam generation than to the men with whom he fought across Europe. No wonder my Dad also rejected what he once acidly described in a letter as "the peculiar beam of celestial light suddenly conferred on Spielberg" for the "great service ... in revealing to the world that there was actually a real-life event called World War II."


But from Spielberg's ersatz vision of the past emerges a disturbing clarity about the present. In divorcing the climactic events of D-Day from their grand goals and significant accomplishments, Spielberg staged a fictional war story without a historical point — seemingly without any conception of military victory. In the context of World War II, such a vision of war is blind. But in our own time, this same vision of war, seemingly without any conception of military victory, has become a grim reality. Which is where Cpl. Shalit, unfortunately, comes back in.


Israeli soldiers (and also, given the beheading, mutilation and booby-trapping of two soldiers in Iraq, American soldiers) do not fare well in the hands of Islamic jihadists.


Who, for example, can forget the 2000 lynchings of two Israeli reservists — truck drivers, as it happened — who were beaten beyond recognition, their eyes gouged out and their bodies dismembered by a Ramallah mob? No wonder the Israeli army is on the march to try to save Cpl. Shalit from, yes, a fate worse than death that may well be followed by death. But this military mission, even with the destruction of Palestinian arms caches, has an extremely limited objective.


Just as the fictional story of saving Private Ryan had nothing to do with the effort to win the war for the Allies, the real-life invasion of Gaza to save Cpl. Shalit has nothing to do with the effort to win the war for the Israelis. Indeed, such an objective has long been out of the question. Having effectively rendered Total War beyond the pale, the Western world, of which Israel, by shared tradition, is a part, has also placed Total Victory beyond grasp. That means that even if, G-d willing, the Israelis save Cpl. Shalit, it doesn't augur a happy ending — or, indeed, any ending at all.

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JWR contributor Diana West is a columnist and editorial writer for the Washington Times. Comment by clicking here.

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© 2006, Diana West