About those Palestinian “heroes” to be released for “peace”

Israeli victims of Palestinian terrorism

Israeli victims of Palestinian terrorism

I am so furious and so frustrated I could spit and scream. As reported last week, Bibi is indeed going through with the release of the worst, most violent and longest serving Palestinian murders doing time in Israel’s jails, all for the sake of cajoling a reluctant Mahmoud Abbas (aka Abu Mazen) to deign to come to talk about peace at the same table in the same room (gasp! shock! horror!) as the Israelis. And all this under intense pressure from the Americans, courtesy of Secretary of State John Kerry.

To brace the Israeli public for an extremely unpopular move (84% of the Israeli public are against a prisoner release) the Prime Minister has issued an open letter to the public:

At the present time, it seems to me that it is very important for the State of Israel to enter into a diplomatic process. This is important both in order to exhaust the chance of ending the conflict with the Palestinians and in order to establish Israel’s position in the complex international reality around us.

The major changes in our region – in Egypt, Syria and in Iran – not only place challenges before the State of Israel but they also create considerable opportunities for us.

For these reasons, I believe that it is important for the State of Israel to enter a diplomatic process that will continue for at least nine months – in order to check if it is possible to reach an agreement with the Palestinians during this time.

But even with all of the importance that I ascribe to the diplomatic process, I was not prepared to accept the Palestinians’ demands for withdrawals and freezes as preconditions for entering negotiations.

Neither was I prepared to accept their demand to release Palestinian prisoners before the start of negotiations. I did agree to release 104 Palestinians in stages after the start of the negotiations and in accordance with the circumstances of their progress.

This is an incomparably difficult decision, it is painful for the bereaved families and it is painful for the entire nation and it is also very painful for me.

It collides with the incomparably important value of justice.

It is a clear injustice when depraved people, even if most of them have sat in prison for over 20 years as in this case, are released before they have finished serving their sentences.

The decision is difficult for me seven-fold because my family and I personally know the price of bereavement stemming from terrorism. I know the pain very well. I have lived with it every day for the past 37 years.

He concludes with these stirring words:

The best answer we can give to those same base murderers that sought to defeat us through terrorism is that in the decades that they sat in prison, we built a glorious country and turned it into one of the most prosperous, advanced and strongest countries in the world.

However, colour me cynical about his promise of a referendum if the peace talks ever come to fruition and require a territorial withdrawal. We’ve been there, done that, with the Gush Katif “disengagement” (aka expulsion) where the negative results of a referendum were summarily ignored by Ariel Sharon, aided and abetted by one Binyamin Netanyahu. So much for democracy.

It’s is possible that the sentiments expressed by Bibi are genuine, yet I find it almost impossible to agree with this move. Interestingly, Prof. Jacobson from Legal Insurrection, currently on vacation in Israel, had this to say about the prisoner release:

I did gain some insight during a discussion I had last week with a government official in a position to know the details and flow of the negotiations. While discussing the peace negotiations, the official mentioned that he had children serving or about to serve in the army, and that when the time came that they might be called upon to fight, he wanted to know that the government had done everything it could to find peace.


By releasing prisoners in stages, Israel will be able to say that it did everything it could to see if there really was a peace partner on the other side.

That test, which few expect to succeed, is important in several additional respects.  It buys Israel time from multiple sources of pressure, including the Obama administration which perversely still views the Israeli-Palestinian dispute as the source of all problems in the Middle East and implicitly blames Israel; from the Palestinians U.N. lawfare; and from EU boycott pressure.

Buying time on multiple diplomatic fronts is important because Israel has its eye on the ultimate existential threat, the Iranian nuke program.

There’s something else in Netanyahu’s letter which jumped out at me, a point I was going to save for my post-trip writing, but I’ll address now. Here’s the paragraph:

The best answer we can give to those same base murderers that sought to defeat us through terrorism is that in the decades that they sat in prison, we built a glorious country and turned it into one of the most prosperous, advanced and strongest countries in the world.

The Israel of 2013 is not the Israel of 1980 when I worked on a kibbutz in the Galilee, or the Israel of 1983, when my wife and I toured the country.

Israel has grown tremendously in terms of economy, population, technology, military, and self-confidence.

Israel built while the Arab haters of Jews hated; their hatred now is consuming their own societies as Israel continues to build.

This may very well be true but it doesn’t seem to bother the Arabs that their own societies are self-immolating. As long as they can destroy Israel, that seems to be all that matters. Here are several commentators on the proposed prisoner release, which looks like it’s going to get shoved down the cabinet’s throat by hook or by crook (Crook is the most likely).

First and foremost is the post by Yaacov Lozowick, a former blogger and presently Israel’s State Archivist who gives us “The sickening list of Palestinian heroes“:

… a quick glance at the list should make any decent person blanche. Are these the heroes the Palestinians wish to celebrate? As a service to the public, I’m translating the list Y-net posted in Hebrew this evening (there’s a short English-language summary here).

Karim Younes, murdered Avraham Bromberg in 1981.
Maher Kadr Younis, same murder. They are both Israeli citizens.
Issa Adb Rabo, murdered Revital Serri and Ron Levy, a young couple walking in the hills to the south of Jerusalem.
Jounma Adam, firebombed a bus and burned to their deaths Rachel Weiss, her three sons (one an infant), and David Delarosa, a soldier who tried to extract them from the burning bus.
Mahmour Harbish, same murder.
Bilal Demara, murdered 70-year-old Holuocaust survivor Friedrich Rosenfeld.
Moustaffa Outhma, same murder.

Read the entire list there, which in itself is only a partial list. (I have is a full English-language list below).

Israellycool reminds us who it was who once objected vehemently to a proposed prisoner exchange:

Who wrote these words 18 years ago?

“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.”

The answer is the same guy who just agreed to release a bunch of murderous terrorists “for the good of the country.”

As Aussie Dave so accurately puts it:

The last time we released a bunch of dangerous terrorists, it was to secure the release of our kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit.

Here, the only kidnap victim seems to be Netanyahu’s backbone, which is MIA.

Israellycool has embedded the entire English-language list of prisoners, and I embed it here myself for your edification. Click below to enlarge:

Israellycool’s article also points us in the direction of the next article, by Rabbi Seth Mandell who writes that releasing prisoners is both unjust and dangerous:

The second time the Oslo Peace Process touched me personally was at the beginning of the second intifada when my 13-year-old son Koby Mandell and his friend Yosef Ishran were murdered by Palestinian terrorists near our home in Israel. In response, my wife Sherri and I started The Koby Mandell Foundation to offer emotional support programming to children and adults who lost immediate family members to acts of terror. As I write this 12 years later hundreds of bereaved children are receiving healing care and camaraderie at Camp Koby and Yosef.

And now as the Israeli government announces the release of 86 Palestinian terrorists who murdered Israeli civilians I am being personally affected a third time. Through our work I am in touch with hundreds, if not thousands of families who have lost a loved one to terror and tens of them are facing the prospect of watching the murderers of their loved ones walk free.

I am personally opposed to a prisoner release for many reasons but I’ve distilled them down to five basic points, all of them meaningful from a psychological and social perspective.

1. It is the Very Definition of Injustice: The Palestinian demand that Israel pardon terrorists convicted of murdering innocent Israeli civilians. […]
It means that the law, the trials and punishments were meaningless. Justice would not be served.

2. It’s Painful for Families of the Murdered: The Palestinian terrorists who murdered my son and his friend have not been apprehended. While I know what it feels like to have another human intentionally kill your child, I cannot fathom what it must feel like to have the murderer of your child captured, sentenced to life in prison, and then set free. The terrorist, Ahlam Tamimi, a 20-year-old woman sentenced to 16 life sentences for driving the suicide bomber to the Sbarro restaurant in Jerusalem where he massacred 15 innocent people, is now living in Jordan. When Tamimi was but released after 10 years in prison told a HAMAS TV station, “Why should I repent? All attempts to keep us in prison, and those who remain, will soon be forsaken.”


3. It Will Result In More People Killed And Maimed: Many released Palestinian terrorists return to terrorism. In April of this year, Israeli security forces were already warning that terrorists released in the Shalit prisoner exchange had returned to terror activities


4. It Encourages Terrorism: The release of those who kill innocent Israelis encourages others to follow suit.


5. It Legitimizes Terror Against Israelis: Terrorists and their supporters believe that attacks against Israeli civilians are a legitimate form of “self-defense.” In effect they believe that there are no innocent Israelis. Palestinian society treats released terrorists as military heroes, not murderers. A prisoner release for the purpose of making a gesture sends a message that the Israeli and American governments along with international backers of such peace negotiations are agree that terror is a legitimate form of dissent.


Benjamin Netanyahu may believe that releasing prisoners so that the Palestinian Authority will come to the negotiating table is in the strategic interest of his country but the human truth is that it is unjust and dangerous.

I cannot begin to imagine what families directly affected by terror must be going through. Rabbi Mandell gives us just an inkling.

Daniel Pipes also weighs in on the injustice and lack of wisdom and foresight in releasing terrorists:

there is nothing redeeming whatsoever in the exchange that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu proposed today, releasing 104 murderers as a good-will gesture to encourage the Palestinian Authority to negotiate. Netanyahu justified this decision on the basis that “sometimes prime ministers are forced to make decisions that go against public opinion – when the issue is important for the country.”

This is a specious argument. Much more persuasively, Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon argues that this gesture “is a prize for the Palestinians, just for their willingness to sit with us at the negotiating table. This defines future standards of far-reaching concessions by Israel, vis-à-vis ridiculous demands by the other side.” Danon rightly calls the release of dozens of terrorists who have the blood of hundreds of Israelis on their hands “lunacy.”

Lunacy, but also immorality. The exchange betrays the families of victims and it betrays Israel’s allies. It is a repugnant action.

Those above words from Daniel Pipes sum up the feeling of most Israelis at this undemocratic outrage.

Sarah Honig, in her inimitable manner, tells us that it is Deja Vu all over again in releasing terrorists for “peace”:

Our memories tend to be so short that all too often déjà vu looks brand new. This is the case with the looming release of 82 convicted terrorists to facilitate the opening of yet another round of negotiations with the Palestinian Authority. But we’ve been there and seen that.

Demanding “gestures of goodwill” and “confidence building measures” from Israel as a price for showing up for talks is a routine Palestinian tactic. It crops up with each attempt to resuscitate contacts and always takes the same shape.

Each time Ramallah portrays convicted terrorists as prisoners of conscience while Israel pays heftily for the privilege of parleying. Paying for the launch of negotiations is presented anew as a necessary evil, an unavoidable realpolitik tax. It seems more prudent to pay up than be stigmatized as intransigent.


As in Netanyahu’s current rerun of the scenario, the rationale underlying the 2007 unilateral “gestures of goodwill” was that the release of terrorists to Hamas’s competitor bolsters Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah faction.

Astoundingly, the same key assumptions are still made – as if no lessons were learned. The first is that it is to Israel’s advantage to bail out Fatah and intervene in intra-Palestinian struggles.

This, despite the fact that Fatah is hardly a friendly force.

Its claim of dedication to peace has been rendered exceedingly dubious by its massive and deadly terrorist onslaughts, particularly those post-Oslo, though its chiefs pro forma endorsed the accords and prodigiously benefited from them.

There is, of course, the school of thought that maintains Fatah ought to be boosted as the lesser of the evils facing Israel. Fatah, it is argued, is preferable to Hamas and may possibly – despite all the betrayals of its solemn undertakings – yet emerge as a trustworthy interlocutor and peace partner.

Not only has this not occurred, but the PA’s unilateral initiatives at the UN belie this premise.


Were there a realistic probability of changing minds on the other side, such risks might be quasi-tolerable.

The problem begins with how these risks are perceived by the other side. They are not seen as benevolent concessions by a society with a genuinely independent legal system, […] Overruling court verdicts undermines the validity of our judiciary.

The PA never owned up to the fact that these convicts were found guilty and deserved to be sentenced, as they would be in any democratic setting with a sense of self preservation.

What is the value of compromise without acceptance of the fundamental prohibition against attacking civilians?


The impression deliberately imparted by Palestinian spokesmen is that these prisoners were arbitrarily and unjustly incarcerated.

There is no PA appreciation for these releases. Each Israeli goodwill measure is greeted with ill-will and fiery rhetoric about how insufficient the concession is.

Such ingratitude undercuts the cost-benefit computation.

Whatever Israelis reckon, the grasp of reality in the PA is radically different and far from hope-inspiring. Each release is likely to do little more than erode what remains of already-diminished Israeli deterrence.

All of these wise words, all the expressions of injustice, anger and outrage – as we can see from the Open Letter at the beginning of this post, they are known to Bibi and experienced by him and the rest of the government. And yet they go plowing ahead like bulls in a china shop (to mangle a metaphor), full steam ahead to appease the Americans and the Palestinians despite the fact that we’ve seen it all come crashing down about ears time and time again.

As the mother of yet another terror victim says in simple words:

Who can guarantee that even if they are released, they will not kill any more Jews?

The words of Daniel Pipes sum up the whole sickening subject perfectly:

Lunacy, but also immorality.

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18 Responses to About those Palestinian “heroes” to be released for “peace”

  1. DavidinPT says:

    If this is going to go ahead, then Israel must insist on 2 caveats: that Pollard be released in parallel and that all Israelis jailed for terrorism against Arabs also be released. All the arguments that the US may make against releasing Pollard are identical to those raised by Israelis against this mass release, so they have no excuse. Their moral/ethical/legal issues are no different from ours. If they won’t release Pollard, we should refuse our release and if this stymies the so-called peace talks, then so be it, and let the Americans take the blame. As for Jewish terrorists, that particular ball is in our court. Let’s see if Bibi has any backbone at all, or is he simply a miserable ball of quivering jelly, able to be bullied and manipulated by anyone with one strand of moral fibre.

    • anneinpt says:

      I agree with every one of your points and in fact have made them myself in my various blog posts. Of course I’m not the only one. Almost every single commentator and journalist who is against this prisoner release has made the same points.

      But does Bibi care? He does not. For him, and every other PM before him besides Shamir, appeasing the Americans, not to mention the Palestinians, is paramount, and Israeli security and deterrence (not to mention public morale) be damned.

  2. NormanF says:

    Peace cannot be secured without justice!

    Every civilized society on earth depends on justice to secure peace. Israel is about to nullify this fundamental principle.

    And if releasing baby killers and mass murderers is really a prerequisite for making peace with the Arabs, then peace has lost all meaning!

    What the Prime Minister is about to do today will never lead to good and he did it for his own political self-advancement – not for the good of the State Of Israel. Its sickening, unjust, morally repugnant and depraved! Jews are more than pawns on a chess board to be moved around! He has forgotten they are human beings, too!

    Words fail me – and I too, am outraged beyond measure.

  3. Reality says:

    I feel so sick after reading this blog & watching the news interviewing one after another members of families whose lives were broken by these “peace loving “murderers. Another terrorist in the PA -Dahlan is (or was)the PA advisor to Abbas. He personally put the bomb on the bus which blew up children on their way to school in which 2 or 3 children of the Cohen family lost their legs-but he’s allowed to continue to be our”peace partner”. Why should WE have to give conciliatory gestures at all? Where are the Arabs gestures? Probably too rude to publish in any family paper!I heard that the terrorists may be deported. I hope the EU & USA will place them in thier countries with strict advisories from us that if they return here we will hold them personally responsible physically(ie we may arrest & jail their officials) & financially.If they all want us to “move forward ” with said”peace process” they have to take their share of responsibility together with the USA. And all Jews in Arab counties jails have to be released too with Pollard together with any Jewish “terrorists” here. Who will make sure that there are no arrests for the price tag hits that will probably start very quickly?

  4. ealha3 says:

    What is missing in all of the commentaries is an analysis of the US-Israeli-Iranian equation. Keep in mind, we have an Israeli-hostile US Whitehouse, a Muslim Brotherhood infected administration, a gutless, non-existent American foreign policy that, nevertheless remains, ostensibly willing to assist Israel (or at least remain non-interventionist) if it becomes necessary for Israel to attack Iran. To be clear on this, it is inconceivable this agreement to release prisoners or to make any concession would have occurred under a Bush administration. This is all Whitehouse directed and necessary to assuage Kerry’s vanity. What remains important is that there is no viable Palestinian government capable of enforcing any negotiation and therefore no reasonable likelihood of any “meaningful” territorial or security concessions from such talks. What is being gained by Israel in exchange for the prisoners is retaining US cooperation, especially regarding sharing intelligence, cyber technology and potential military assistance as needed. At the same time, Israel deflects criticism from the international community that remains ready to unleash its anti-Semitic programs at any time and for any excuse.

    • anneinpt says:

      What is being gained by Israel in exchange for the prisoners is retaining US cooperation, especially regarding sharing intelligence, cyber technology and potential military assistance as needed.

      Excuse me if I’m cynical about this. Yes, Israel ought to be retaining US cooperation on all kinds of things, but after Clinton’s denial of Bush’s letter of assurance to Israel, and various other kicks in the teeth from the Obama administration, why on earth should Israel trust America on anything?

      At the same time, Israel deflects criticism from the international community that remains ready to unleash its anti-Semitic programs at any time and for any excuse.

      Ditto, but substitute EU, UN or international community for White House. The int’l community has never missed an opportunity to blame Israel for anything and everything, whether true or not. They even invent opportunities where none have presented themselves.

      If Israel’s concessions consisted of intangibles, e.g. promises and pledges, I’d be all for it. But our concessions are very real and very dangerous. Until I see a similar quality of concession from the Palestinians I don’t see why we should be expected to give anything at all. It honestly is a mystery to me why Israel is pressured to come to the peace talks but not the Palestinians who have so much more to lose.

      I literally feel physically sick about this.

      • The diplomatic process is and always has been a front for one side or the other to avoid negative consequences for having to relinquish their sovereignty. Israel has no illusions about the negative consequences for their concessions – even in the face of none being required by the Palestinians. It is a given that the Obama administration is the least trustworthy ally for any country – not only Israel, in modern diplomatic history. It is also the most stupid and incompetent. This renders their action unpredictable as well as the affect of either their action or inaction. Add to this, Kerry’s history of disingenuousness and his vanity and the consequences of irritating the US by refusing to concede to its “negotiating” pressures can be irrationally explosive. Israel’s concessions have, at least, bought it sufficient time to prevent the US from outright refusing to cooperate with Israel and as the “talks” progress, the pressure on Abbas to walk away and refuse to negotiate will increase placing the Palestinians in a darker shadow with the US as well as the Int’l. Community. Israel must walk on this very difficult line to maintain as many allies as possible when it will inevitably be required to attack Iran

        • anneinpt says:

          as the “talks” progress, the pressure on Abbas to walk away and refuse to negotiate will increase placing the Palestinians in a darker shadow with the US as well as the Int’l. Community.

          I fear you are much too optimistic once again about the int’l community. They rarely, if ever, blame the Palestinians for anything. It is ALWAYS Israel’s fault, no matter what happens.

          Israel must walk on this very difficult line to maintain as many allies as possible when it will inevitably be required to attack Iran

          That’s the only reason I can possibly think of to explain this terrible move.

  5. Séamas says:

    I agree, this is astonishingly stupid, and so not like Netanyahu. Really disappointed in him. On behalf of much of my country, I appologize for John Kerry and the other jerk who sent him to push this nonsense on you.
    It will probably fall apart before too many go free. And if they attack again, hopefully they’ll be killed.

    • anneinpt says:

      You don’t need to apologize for your country. They’re doing what they see is in their own self-interest. I may not like it (I don’t!) but it’s America’s right. But Israel should be doing what is in their own self-interest, and I don’t see that releasing murderers is going to help.

  6. Andrea says:

    I understand it is not the right moment to say a word for Netanyahu – not now that family of victims are furious, not for Israeli people constantly under fire and – in a very negligible way -not for me miles away far from your premier. I am ready to stay quite in the corner hereafter but let me say that Netanyahu move has sense. It is the first time that Sunni Crescent ( Emirates, and their vassals ) is experincing strong difficulties after months : Muslim Brother leaders in jails, Egypt against Hamas, Hamas without serious military support, Syrian rebels on the way of defeat. On the other side the Shites radicals and Assad are maybe recovering field but strongly weakened. Never both strongest Israeli’s enemies were so close to loose their battle in the same time. In this frame Abu Ammar is of course mean as usual but surely the most uneffective enemy ever met from 1948. He sacked a quite capable Premier and can not rely on the majority of his own people.
    Talks with PLO or PA whatever is called now is the chepest currency and no loose game. Sorry for looking cynical, I do not want to direspect your sentment but….have you seen the prisoners captured by Americans fleeding out from Iraqi prisons some weeks ago ? Israel inflicted 20 or 25 years detention in jail to her enemies without having in return the discredit and shame accumulated by Americans in Iraq . 25 years are not enough if you have killed children I understand but everyone knows that Israeli jails are not properly the place where bastard terrorists can afford the risk to come back again and this time with direct access to hell.

    • Séamas says:

      Let’s hope you are right, and he’s smarter than we’re giving him credit for. But on the face of it, it looks like the same old song and dance.

    • anneinpt says:

      Thanks for your interesting point of view Andrea. When you frame our situation within the wider Middle East picture, Netanyahu’s moves begin to make a sort of sense.

      I’m still not convinced that freeing the prisoners was the correct tactical move, but I guess with the momentum of the Shia-Sunni civil war there was possibly a solid reason to at least enter the peace talks.

      But then we return to the question of why, if the peace talks are so urgent, do the Palestinians need a bribe to even sit down at the same table as the Israelis? This surely does not bode well for the future.

  7. Reality says:

    If we the Israeli public would be cohesive & strong enough(without our leftist detractors, of which there are too many) would dig in & say WE don’t want this type of peace then conciliatory gestures would be made to us. But this is wishful thinking.

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