What kind of inverted and perverted logic demands that murderers be released from prison in order to prove the peaceful intentions of the side that is more eager to achieve peace? Palestinian logic, that’s what.
For some reason the balance of power between Israel and the Palestinians when it comes to negotiations is never questioned. It is always, and I mean always, without fail, Israel which is required, if not demanded, to make concessions in order to persuade the “reluctant bride”, i.e. the Palestinians, to deign to come to the negotiating table. If it is not releasing deadly prisoners then it is a settlement freeze that is demanded, and “ideally”both.
This is the repeat performance that we are witnessing right now, with the news a couple of days ago that Israel is about to release 82 Palestinian prisoners with blood on their hands, as well as an informal settlement freeze.
The news of the murderers’ impending release has been met with outrage in Israel, not least obviously, amongst the families of the terror victims.
Rachel Weiss and her three small children were on their way to a family affair in Tiberias on October 30, 1988. As the bus the family was riding passed the northern outskirts of Jericho, it was ambushed and set ablaze with three Molotov cocktails. Rachel (26) and her three boys Netanel (3), Rephael (2) and Efraim (9 months) were killed in the attack, as was IDF soldier David Delarosa who attempted to rescue the family.
Jomaa Adam, the terrorist who perpetrated the attack, is reportedly among the 82 Palestinian prisoners jailed by Israel before the signing of 1993 Oslo Peace Accords who will released if newly announced peace talks make headway.
The Israeli cabinet will vote on the prisoner release as early as next Sunday, Israeli media reported, ahead of a scheduled first round of talks between Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat in Washington. Israel has reportedly refused to release an additional 21 pre-Oslo prisoners, either because they are Israeli citizens or for other security reasons.
“It’s all a ploy, there will never be peace with them,” the brother of yeshiva student Erez Shmuel, who was stabbed to death in Hebron by three Palestinians in May 1993, told The Times of Israel, trying to explain the futility of the move. “I would leave the prisoners to die in jail, just as my brother lies dead [in the military cemetery] on Mount Herzl.”
Parallels were drawn – and rejected – between this prisoner release and the case of Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange:
Osher, whose husband Avi was stabbed and killed by Sharif in a date plantation in the Jordan Valley in 1991, added: “In the case of the Shalit deal, when the list of prisoners to be freed was released I felt uncomfortable to interfere with it because when I saw Gilad’s parents’ eyes, it devastated me. Today this isn’t the case.”
“It’s very bad that people haven’t realized yet that the prisoners go back to their terrorist activities and will return on the next round,” Dolorosa said bitterly, and noted that two Palestinians jailed for their involvement in his brother’s death have already been released.
The mindset behind this Palestinians demand epitomises the futility of hoping that the release will induce the terrorists to turn to more peaceful ways, as demonstrated by the following (my emphasis):
Kadoura Fares, a Fatah official and head of the Palestinian Prisoner’s Club, a nongovernmental organization, told The Times of Israel in April that the release of pre-Oslo prisoners would be a condition the Palestinian leadership could hardly forego. He added that Palestinian society generally makes no distinction between prisoners who killed Israeli civilians and those who killed soldiers.
If the Palestinians see no difference between military and civilian targets, what makes anyone think these murderers will not return to their violent ways?
On the contrary, releasing these murderous prisoners will only encourage more terrorism and more violence against Israelis and Jews everywhere, no matter whether they are soldiers or civilians.
Dani Dayan is outspoken in his condemnation of the necessity of Israel having to make concessions in order to negotiate:
I will say this right off the bat: Whatever the price, it is unacceptable to begin with. The idea that the State of Israel needs to pay a fee for the so-called privilege of negotiating with the other side is ridiculous and detrimental. But it is hard to shake the feeling that this time, a fee was indeed paid, and it was high.
One price that Israel is willing to pay is already evident. Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz explicitly admitted it: Israel is planning to release Palestinian prisoners, some of them “heavyweights,” as Steinitz described them. The release of terrorists is morally, and diplomatically, wrong. The very fact that the Palestinians are demanding the release of these wholesale killers raises moral questions about their attitude toward the murder of Jews. But even worse is the fact that the Israeli government is agreeing to this demand; it suggests a lenient and forgiving attitude on behalf of the government toward these murderers’ actions.
It seems so obvious to us and it must be as evident to the governemnt. In which case what is the logic behind the government’s acquiescence to these outrageous demands time and time again? No adequate answer has yet been forthcoming.
Arnold and Frimet Roth, parents of Malki Roth HY’D who was murdered at age 15 in a terrorist bombing in Jerusalem, also comment inciselvely on this sore subject in their blog-post “In the debate about prisoner releases, one key argument is ignored“:
Since our daughter Malki was murdered in a Hamas attack on a Jerusalem restaurant in August 2001, the Israeli justice system has acted as if, in the literal sense of these words, we did not exist:
Among all the various arguments generated by the decision to hand the terrorists over to the PA – which will immediately set them free – one word, one key concept is strikingly absent: justice.
What has become of the fundamental entitlement of the victims to see justice done? What has happened to the fundamental entitlement of Israeli society to see justice done? Israel’s justice system ruled in the case of each and every one of the prisoners now to be freed. That system is serious and respected (at least in Israel). Why are its workings now being set aside in a wholesale fashion, for the second time in two years? Have we forgotten the central role played by notions of justice (the Hebrew word is doubled for emphasis when we encounter it in the Torah: Zedek zedek tirdof) in the value system that rightly brings so much pride to us Jews?
What appears to have happened is that the political echelon has taken upon itself to usurp decisions properly and constitutionally made by the judiciary – and not for the first time. Yet we are able to see no acknowledgement by any of the relevant sectors of society – not the media, not the opposition, not the NGO sector – that this is what has happened.
Why has such an extraordinary decision, one that brutally overturns basic notions of justice, met with such thundering silence? The answer cannot be that there is no other way. We are certain there is another way, and we have strong support from the acknowledged leading thinker in the field of how to deal with the terrorists.
“A government that seeks the defeat of the terrorists must refuse to release convicted terrorists from prisons… Releasing imprisoned terrorists emboldens them and their colleagues… By nurturing the belief that their demands are likely to be met in the future, you encourage terrorist blackmail of the very kind that you want to stop. Only the most unrelenting refusal to ever give in to such blackmail can prevent this.” [“Fighting Terrorism: How Democracies Can Defeat Domestic and International Terrorists” – Farrar Straus Giroux, New York 1995 at Page 144]The writer of those words is a younger Binyamin Netanyahu. Eighteen years later, and as prime minister, he is facing precisely the test about which he wrote in his best-selling book.But 18 years is a long time – actually a lifetime if you think about murdered fifteen year olds like our daughter Malki. And 18 years later, he is no longer the thinker, writer and strategist he was then. Today, he is a politician.A year ago, we called on Netanyahu to
honor the principles of justice and decency on which our nation is based and remember the innocent victims whose loved ones are – yet again – experiencing unfathomable pain as a result of your choices.The result, you already know. A year later it appears the victims of the terrorists are, again, being disgracefully disenfranchised by the politicians.
I don’t think there is any need to add to these painful words. The injustice shrieks to the heavens.
As a little coda to this shameful acquiescence to terrorists’ demands, PM Netanyahu tried to do a little prisoner-releasing of his own when he made a similar demand of the Americans – release Jonathan Pollard to persuade us to enter the peace talks:
Channel 2 News reported Monday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had asked for the American gesture as a way of garnering support from his right-wing Cabinet members for the resumption of talks, during a conversation with US Secretary of State John Kerry last week.
The Prime Minister’s Office confirmed the report, saying Netanyahu brought up the issue of releasing Pollard at every meeting with senior US officials.
The release of the Jewish American intelligence analyst — who was convicted of spying on Israel’s behalf and sent to prison 28 years ago — has become a rallying call for many Israelis in recent years. Some 200,000 Israelis have signed a petition for Pollard’s release.
Pollard, a naval intelligence officer, was arrested in 1985 and sentenced to life imprisonment in 1987 for passing on classified information to Israel. Since then he has been held in solitary confinement and is due for mandatory parole in November 2015.
In March, former US assistant secretary of defense Lawrence Korb joined the growing chorus of senior and former officials calling on US President Barack Obama to pardon Pollard.
After nearly three decades in prison, Pollard no longer poses a threat to the US or its military secrets, Korb said following a meeting with Netanyahu and Effie Lahav, a leading activist for Pollard’s release.
Unfortunately, and unustly, the Americans refused Israel’s request. Unluckily for Pollard, he only passed on information to an ally – Israel – that the Americans should have passed on but didn’t. He didn’t commit any murders or any other kind of violence. Had he done so, it might well have guaranteed his release.
That’s the perverted reality in which we live.