[FOUNTAIN]Where loyalties lie

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[FOUNTAIN]Where loyalties lie

A ship filled with many nationalities met a band of pirates and the passengers wound up being sold as slaves. When a Jewish passenger stood on the auction block, he was introduced as "a strong and diligent Jew." When that happened, many people made bids. After a fierce contest, a high bid was received. A little later, the slaveholder said to the slave, "Shalom," which is a Hebrew greeting.

That story exists in the Talmud. Its point is that Jews always rescued other Jews who were captured or became slaves. This tradition has continued. The 1976 raid on Entebbe, a legendary rescue operation, is a good example of Jews helping Jews. At that time, an Israeli commando unit flew 4,000 kilometers to Uganda to rescue countrymen being held hostage.

The theories of social contract by John Locke or Jean-Jacques Rousseau notwithstanding, a nation's responsibility is obvious. That responsibility is to protect the lives and belongings of its countrymen.

When a country safeguards its people because of beliefs, the countrymen become extremely loyal to their country. Whenever Israel was at war, Jews around the world volunteered to fight for Israel, and this is attributed to their trust in their country and to its people.

There has been little difference in a country protecting its people through the ages. It's been that way for Korea, too. Samyeong Daesa, a great Buddhist priest in the Joseon Dynasty, sailed to Japan, after the Japanese invasion in 1597, to strike a deal with Tokukawa Ieyasu in order to save 3,000 countrymen taken to Japan during the war.

The United States is second to none in protecting its own people. In 1995, when Scott O'Grady, a U.S. Air Force pilot, had his F-16 shot down by a missile in Bosnia, the United States Marines successfully rescued him in just six days.

After the World Cup fever ended, the United States and Europe clashed with each other because the United States insisted on immunity for U.S. peacekeepers from indictment by the International Criminal Court, and cast a veto against extending the UN peacekeeping mission in Bosnia.

Much controversy has surrounded the recent sea battle between North and South Korea. The president, the government and the military leadership are being criticized. Like the execution of Korean citizens in China last year, the government is typically negligent about its citizens. Leaders of this government seem to care about their families, but not much about their countrymen.



The writer is a Berlin correspondent of the JoongAng Ilbo.


by Yoo Jae-sik

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