Saturday, July 07, 2007

7-Jul-07: A Palestinian Terrorist

Under the heading "A Palestinian Terrorist", the New York Times carries a letter in today's edition written by Frimet Roth.

Frimet's comments relate to a film review described in an earlier blog entry on this site, entitled "About sweet-faced women".
To the Editor:

Re “An Odd Understanding Reached in Israeli Prisons,” by Neil Genzlinger (Television review, June 27):

I wonder when the photo of Ahlam Tamimi was taken. Perhaps when she learned that the bombing of Jerusalem’s Sbarro restaurant had killed 15 and not 8, as she had presumed. She helped execute that massacre and actually smiled upon hearing that.

Ms. Tamimi decimated one family — a mother, a father and three of their eight children; robbed another American couple of their only child, pregnant with their first grandchild; and ended the life of my beautiful, kind 15-year-old daughter, Malki.

The photo reinforced Mr. Genzlinger’s message: There is no black or white here. Just intransigents playing at “cat and mouse.” But he did not mention this: Hundreds of Israeli children have been targeted and murdered in playgrounds, on school buses and in pizza shops.

Their murderers were not freedom fighters or militants or attractive young women. They were simply evil people who, like Ms. Tamimi, enjoy murdering children and babies.

Frimet Roth
Jerusalem
July 6, 2007
To illustrate this note, we decided to publish a somewhat less glamorous picture of Ahlam Tamimi's work than the one chosen by HBO and the NY Times. (See above.)

For more about what she and her co-conspirators did, please refer to "A Life of Beauty" (describing our daughter) and "An Act of Barbarism".

Thursday, July 05, 2007

5-Jul-07: A Balance of Views?

Many loyal New York Times readers were as incensed as we were by Neil Gelzinger's July 27th review of HBO's film "Hot House".

We publicized our reaction to the piece and to its prominent, glamorous photo of a convicted terrorist featured in the film. The woman, Ahlam Tamimi, happens to be our daughter's murderer.

Quite a few of those readers told us that they had complained to the paper. Some also posted our comments on their own blogs and urged others to write their own letters to the editors of the NYT expressing their disgust. Needless to say, we sent one too.

So it would be a fair estimate that a significant number of letters regarding this item reached the letters editors at the New York Times.

Yet here we are, more than a week later, and not a single response has appeared on the NY Times website.

How does this jibe with New York Times' posturing as an impartial source of news? In a 2004 essay describing the operation of the Letters Page, its editor, Thomas Feyer, wrote: "In selecting letters, I try to present a fair sampling of reader opinion, as well as a balance of views, pro and con."

Feyer might have added this proviso: Letters that label terrorists as evil will be discarded.

UPDATE (6-Jul-07): The Letters department of the New York Times have been in touch. They say a letter from Frimet Roth is under consideration for publication.

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.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

30-Jun-07: Britain at war

The attacks in central London yesterday and Glasgow airport today are headline news tonight. These are not the first terror attacks on British soil in recent times - far from it. When another British airport came under attack last summer, we made a few observations that it would be impolite to repeat. (But re-reading what we wrote then may be interesting to some.)

Sadly, there are some messages here which, somehow, the British are failing to understand. We don't claim to be more knowledgeable about terror than others, but having experienced the murder of our child at the hands of hate-driven terrorists, and endured agenda-driven media reportage of the most superficial and inane kind, we have a passion for helping others understand.

This is why we offer the following advice.
  • To the BBC - bravo for using the right word in tonight's headlines: "UK terror threat now critical". Your absurd and self-serving guidelines have for years provided you with cover for distorted and dishonest coverage of what we Israelis endure at the hands of the haters. Those guidelines say: "The word "terrorist" itself can be a barrier rather than an aid to understanding. We should try to avoid the term, without attribution. We should let other people characterise while we report the facts as we know them."
    This is rubbish - something with which you plainly agree, at least when it comes to attacks on your homes. And rightly so. Please do stick with the use of the word "terrror" and "terrorists" when the facts support it and you will be doing your compatriots and tax-paying owners a large favour.
    This is not about militants in London or activists in Glasgow. War has been declared on you by the agents of terror. They know it and you know it. Terror is the right word - over there in the UK, over here in Israel, and everywhere else that the terrorists and their protagonists (a very, very large class) are to be found.
  • To our British friends: We ended our August 2006 blog entry with these words which we believe are as important and true now as then: "The war against the terrorists is a real war, as real as the Battle of Britain was, as real as the Hezbollah War is, as real as the Arafat War (some call it the Second Intifadeh) is. In war, you do what you need to do to win. When it is not happening to you, you can engage in silly rhetoric and superficial phraseology. When it is happening to you, your children, your home, your society, you do what you need to do. The terrorists understand that better than the rest of us."
We wrote that these are not the first terror attacks on British soil in recent times. The sad reality is they will not be the last. These attacks were neither foiled nor thwarted, as the media like to claim. They failed because of factors entirely unrelated to preventative measures. The largest of those factors seems at this time to have been luck. But luck is fickle and the war of civilized societies against terror is not being won. It's likely to get much, much worse before it gets better. There are absolutely no reasons to think otherwise.

This is the raw reality of living through an ongoing war.