Monday, July 02, 2007

2-Jul-07: Murderers Belong in Prison

Frimet Roth (one of this site's co-bloggers) has an op-ed today on the YNet site. YNet is the electronic edition of Israel's Yediot Aharonot newspaper

Murderers Belong in Prison
Releasing terrorists not the only way to secure Gilad Shalit's release
Frimet Roth

I know the pain Gilad Shalit's parents are enduring. This is no empty platitude; my child was murdered by Hamas terrorists six years ago.

Obtaining Gilad's release must be a top priority for our government. Sadly, myriad other matters - political, personal and very trivial - have garnered far more attention from Olmert and his cabinet than the Shalits' ordeal has.

What might have been done? Rather than sit and wait for Hamas' latest prisoner release list to be deposited on his desk, Olmert could have spent the past year pro-actively laboring for Gilad's freedom. He could have created his own ultimatums for Hamas. Cutting off any one of the basic services that Israel has been providing Gaza and then conditioning its reconnection on Gilad's release is a tactic that many experts have suggested. Why hasn't it been tried?

Many advocates of a prisoner-release cave-in argue that all of the terrorists' demands must be met in order to return Gilad and Goldwasser and Regev. That no price is too high to pay for a soldier's freedom.

But do they mean what they say?

Imagine that Hamas announced its willingness to hand back Shalit with this condition: that Israel first execute one Israeli citizen, perhaps, a senile eighty-year-old or a person with a terminal illness. Would we comply? Would we weigh the value of the two lives at stake?

In releasing convicted Palestinian murderers, Israel is weighing the lives of the innocent victims of future attacks attacks by the terrorists to be released against Gilad's life. Nobody is worthy of making such determinations and nobody should presume to be.

2 questions for MK Levy

Fortunately, we are relieved of that moral burden. Israeli society is endowed with an impartial, respected judicial system. It tries murderers without regard for political considerations. When it sentences someone to several consecutive life sentences, clearly the equivalent of execution in some democratic countries, its decision must be respected by all citizens. Including by our prime minister.

Knesset member Yitzhak Levy is a bereaved parent whose daughter was murdered, like mine was, by Palestinian terrorists. In a letter to the prime minister last week, Levy said the only way to release Arab terrorists from prison was by expelling them from Israel entirely. His letter reminded the prime minister that "we have seen several times that prisoners who are released in various deals return to their evil ways and take active part in terrorist activity". He, therefore, urged the government to make humanitarian assistance to Gaza contingent upon Gilad's release. However, he concluded that a mass prisoner release "could be reasonable" with the abovementioned proviso of banishment.

I have two questions for Knesset Member Levy:

1. Who will guarantee that the prisoners remain in the countries that Levy would select as their homes? Hamas? The very same terror group committed in word and deed to wiping Israel off the map? The very same people who could not honor ceasefires signed with fellow Palestinians for more than several hours? Or Egypt? The neighbor that has been permitting the free flow of weapons into Gaza through the Rafah crossing ever since Israel left Gaza?

2. What will prevent these mass murderers from engaging in terrorism in any land other than Gaza or the West Bank?

I admire Levy's courage and sincerity. But the implication in his statements - both written and in interviews - is that he is resigned to a release that he actually opposes. Is surrender our only course? Isn't it time we voice our disgust with this government's handling of the Shalit affair?

'State under caution'

Our society is fraying at the edges. In a recent graduation address to Bar Ilan University law students, Attorney General Menachem Mazuz issued the following dire assessment of our state: We are being led by public figures under investigation, leaders prevented from carrying out their duties. This crisis is leading us to "national depression." There is "no king in Israel" he continued. "Every man does what he sees fit."

He referred to Israel as a "state under caution." Can a state with such precarious standing determine that convicted mass murderers be rewarded for their atrocities with a ticket to freedom and to a new life? How will the knowledge that court sentences are so easily dispensable influence potential murderers?

MK Levy's message concluded: "I am not driven by vengeance, and Gilad's return home is more important than holding any Palestinian prisoner." This suggests that a refusal to release prisoners with "blood on their hands" emanates from a lust for revenge. Which misses the point entirely. The trial, conviction and imprisonment of murderers has little if anything to do with vengeance. It serves to punish criminals, to deter those considering crimes and to protect the non-criminal public from victimization. Trampling those vital safeguards spells doom.

Prime Minister Olmert has fought tooth and nail to retain his office. It is time for him to demonstrate some prime ministerial initiative in winning Shalit's return home.

---
Frimet Roth is a freelance writer based in Jerusalem who frequently contributes articles dealing with terrorism and with special-needs children. She and her husband founded and run (as unpaid volunteers) the Malki Foundation (www.kerenmalki.org) in their daughter's memory. The foundation provides concrete support for Israeli families of all religions who care at home for a special-needs child.

7 comments:

gharqad-tree said...

I look at Gilad Shalit's picture frequently. It fills me with anger and despair. But if those who govern Israel give his kidnappers what they want, there will be another Gilad Shalit, and another, and another; and most of the prisoners released will return to murder more Israeli civilians.

I am from a catholic Northern Irish family on my mother's side. I know the media never mention this, they pretend it all happened through diplomacy and concessions, but the fact is that the conflict in Northern Ireland was not ended by giving the terrorists what they wanted. Starting with Margaret Thatcher, the government began to fight back. They shot to kill, they assassinated, they hit the terrorists hard (and for all that the liberal media claimed that this was illegal and would act as a recruiting aid for the terrorists, the bleating and outrage from the terrorist groups proved that they were feeling it where it hurt). And also, the community targeted by the terrorists, the protestants of Northern Ireland - who had their own terrorist groups - began to hit back, and began to murder far more people than the IRA did. In short, the IRA began to lose what was a vicious and obscene streetfight.

All of this led to the catholic community in Northern Ireland feeling the same pain that had been inflicted on the protestant community. Although the catholic community had never been as open in their support for the terror as the Palestinians have been, their passive support began to ebb away, and they eventually turned against the men ostensibly killing in their name.

And it was only then that the phonecalls started being made, and the diplomacy began. What led to the diplomacy was a declaration of quiet surrender that was forced upon the IRA by its own constituency, a community whose support for violence had been brought home to roost on its own doorstep.

Israel cannot and must not give these people what they demand, or even half of it. Israel will create more Gilad Shalits if it makes any concessions at all. The Palestinians must come to regret this kidnapping, and Israel must force that regret on them without caring a damn what the biased, blinkered, ignorant world thinks of its actions.

Peace can only be made when both sides want peace. The Palestinians have shown great resolve, they have endured much, and in a perverse way they deserve credit; but their cause is false and malicious, and their tactics obscene. If they are not yet ready to look for peace, Israel may have to force that willingness on them by actually defeating rather than merely containing them. I take no pleasure in violence, but containment and concessions have not brought peace at any point in Israeli-Palestinian history.

The simple question for Israeli politicians is: do we wish the Palestinians to see the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit as a success, or as a terrible mistake not to be repeated?

Anonymous said...

Gharqad,

You just don't get it do you? The Palestinians were dispossed from their land and have been trying since 1948 for some sort of compensation or justice; something Israel refuses to provide.

It is Israel that does not want peace (do defined borders, settlement policy, brutal occupation tactics etc.). It is Israel that is willing to have the conflict endure in the hopes of expanding its territory.

That portion of Israeli society (call them the "Settlers") who believe that a Greater Israel is possible have overwhelmed reasonable and moderate voices within Israeli society.

The "fundamentalists" exist on both sides. The difference is one side is fighting to regain what was stolen from it and the other side is fighting to increase what it has stolen.

gharqad tree said...

"You just don't get it do you?"

An arrogant and juvenile formulation. I DO "get it", anon, I just think you're wrong! What you mean is "You just don't agree with me do you?"

I take it that when Israel offered the Palestinians an enormous compensation package in 2000-01 plus a state of their own with East Jerusalem as a capital, an offer to which they said NO - that's not what you mean. What you mean would, then, be... what??? Israel has never offered to cease to exist? Israel has never voluntarily dismantled itself? The Palestinians were dispossessed because, as they have admitted, they left their homes in order to let Arab armies attempt to destroy Israel. Take the West Bank - previously Jordanian occupied, Israel begged Jordan not to enter the 1967 war, but when it attacked Israel, Israel hit back and took the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Fact.

You don't get it do you, you're historically wrong.

"It is Israel that does not want peace (do defined borders, settlement policy, brutal occupation tactics etc.)"

Yes, you're right again!!! Israel voted into power a party that left Gaza and wanted to leave the West Bank. The Palestinians voted into power a party who kill Jewish civilians in the name of Allah, who refuse to recognise Israel, who refuse to renounce terror tactics, and who refuse to abide by previous peace treaties and negotiations.

You see, you don't get it. You're not dealing with the facts.

"The difference is one side is fighting to regain what was stolen from it and the other side is fighting to increase what it has stolen."

Stolen? Why didn't they fight when the Jordanians and Egyptians "stole" this land from them? Is it only theft when Jews are in control?

I repeat - if Jordan and Egypt had not been prepared to attack Israel in 1967, the West Bank and Jordan would not have been under Israeli occupation. They would have been under the more acceptable Jordanian and Egyptian occupation. Historical fact.

Israel "fights to increase what it has stolen" by withdrawing from Gaza??? Do you have no grip on logic whatsoever? They fight to increase what they have stolen by withdrawing unilaterally from half the occupied territory?

You need a little crash-course in logic.

You really need to do better than this. You are, as usual, heavy on rhetoric, light on facts, and devoid of historical fact.

Please - think about it: Israel voted into power a party that had a plan to withdraw from the occupied territories, the Palestinians voted into power a hardline group that refuses to recognise or negotiate or compromise with Israel, and YOU SAY that extremists "have overwhelmed reasonable and moderate voices within *Israeli* society"!!!

The-View-From-Ramot said...

Gharqad, the sane and more thoughtful visitors to this blog owe you a debt of gratitude. Your patience and steady calmness in the face of the juvenile delinquency that characterizes some of the nameless comments posted here are inspirational. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

You say juvenile because you cannot deal with the simplicity of the concept.

NO JUSTICE, NO PEACE.

gharqad tree said...

Well, there we have it; an endorsement of ongoing Palestinian violence towards Jewish civilians until the Palestinians are *finally* given the State they've already refused three times in their history.

It's a great slogan! Catchy, easy to shout while you're on a protest march no doubt. It's like rational thought, but easier.

Instead of slogans, which we could train a monkey to write, after all, why don't you tell us what would constitute 'justice' in your eyes. I'd be genuinely interested to know whether there's any thought behind the sloganeering.

Would 'Justice' take the shape of a Palestinian State? Then why, on the three occasions when it has been offered, have they said no and instead resorted to violence? Why was a Palestinian State not built (or even demanded) in those decades when Jordan and Egypt had control of the West Bank and Gaza Strip? You must mean something else.

Would 'Justice' then be the non-existence of Israel? The unravelling of history? How many other nation states created in the course of the twentieth century would you like to see uncreated? Do you want Danzig returned to the Germans and the ethnic Germans returned to Poland? How many other forced movements, how many other artificial borders, how many other newly-created states do you want to see undone half a century later? Are you also campaigning for the unpartitioning of India and Pakistan? The reunification of Ireland? The uncolonisation of America and Australia? Heck, let's go the whole hog here - continental drift seems unfair to me, let's campaign for the reunification of all land back into its original supercontinent, Pangaea. I'm forming a Pangaeastinian terrorist movement here and now, using simple concepts: NO SUPERCONTINENT, NO PEACE.

Would 'Justice' simply mean killing *more* Israeli civilians? In that case, give us a figure; when will Arab honour be satisfied?

I've got it! 'Justice' might mean that those Arab countries who have refused to assimilate and normalise the lives of the Palestinians over the past 40 years finally drag them out of these bogus 'refugee' camps and give them and their children (and now grandchildren) the chance to live normal, peaceful lives, the same way that Israel assimilated and accommodated the hundreds of thousands of native Middle-Eastern Jews who were forced out of THEIR ancient homes in Arab countries, in a fit of racist pique!

Slogans are for those who find critical thought difficult; so tell us, what is this "Justice" that you're after? I can't think of much - barring of course the physical or demographic destruction of the only nation in the world that happens to be Jewish - that the Palestinians have not already been offered by Israel and the international community.

Anonymous said...

I see you won't publish comments that refute your sycophantic admirers.

How typical for bigots like you.