Monday, April 02, 2012

2-Apr-12: When you march for the rights of prisoners, what does it mean for the rights of their past and future victims?

Source: PMW
A friend has alerted us to the fact that political rallies are being organized in Europe (including Paris) and elsewhere this week in support of yet another UN-sponsored conference about the“plight” of the Palestinian Arabs being held in Israeli prisons.

We want those who march for them and against administrative detention and imprisonment to ask themselves and the organizers some tough and perhaps unpleasant questions - about these prisoners, about what brought them there - before they turn to good, liberal-minded people for support.

When they march, are they marching for the young cousins Amjad and Hakim Awad?

These boys are mere teenagers. And in the world in which most Europeans and Americans live, we know that boys in their teenage years are prone to getting into mischief. As an enlightened society, we treat them a little more gently so that we can encourage them to grow to mature manhood and become constructive members of our societies.

But this is not Europe or America. Yes, the Awad cousins are young. Amjad Mahmad Awad is 19, and was a student at Al-Quds Open University. Hakim Mazen Awad is 18. The Awad clan makes up about half of the population of Awarta, the village to which they fled after they carried out the crime for which they were convicted in an Israeli court. Last year, when they were arrested, Hakim Mazen Awad was a high school student whose father, Mazen, is active in the PFLP terrorist organization and had served a five-year prison sentence, imposed by the Palestinian National Authority, for murdering his female cousin and cremating her body.

It’s a family with some history. The boys had an uncle Jibril, also a PFLP terrorist. This Awad uncle participated in an earlier attack on the neighbouring community of Itamar back in 2002. A mother called Rachel Shabo and three of her children, Neria (16), Zvi (13), and Avishai (5) were shot to death inside their home, and the head of the neighborhood preparedness team, Yosef Twito (31), was also shot to death. Uncle Jibril’s career in terrorism came to a premature and fatal end in a 2003 clash with Israeli forces.

It is perhaps not surprising that the Awad clan had elaborate and quite complete arguments why their beautiful young sons had nothing to do with the horrible crime of which they were convicted last year. (Note also that several early media reports said the perpetrator might have been a Thai agricultural worker, though their services are generally not used in that part of Israel.) The crime was cold-blooded and horrifying even to observers who are hardened by the difficult acts of terror that happen in Israel with sickening frequency. Wikipedia’s report [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Itamar_attack] says:

After crossing the fence, Amjad and Hakim walked 400 meters into the settlement. The perpetrators first broke into a house of the Chai family who were on vacation, searching all the rooms. They stole an M-16 assault rifle, ammunition, a helmet, and a kevlar vest. They waited an hour and entered the Fogels' house at around 10:30 pm. According to the indictment, the two entered the children's room, told eleven year old Yoav, who had been awakened by their entry, not to be afraid, then took him to a nearby room, slashed his throat, and stabbed him in the chest. Hakim Awad then strangled four-year-old Elad with Amjad Awad stabbing him twice in the chest. The two next entered the parents' room, and turned on the light, waking them up. The parents then struggled with the attackers. Ehud Fogel was repeatedly stabbed in the neck, and Ruth Fogel was stabbed in the neck and back and then shot when the suspects saw that she was not dead. The suspects then left the house… The two then argued over whether to withdraw or carry out attacks in other homes, with Hakim insisting that they return immediately to Awarta, and Amjad arguing that they should return to the home and steal another weapon. Amjad then re-entered the Fogel home. When 3-month old Hadas began crying, Amjad stabbed her… According to several accounts, the infant was decapitated, though one source says that although her throat was deeply slit, she was only "nearly decapitated". The attackers did not notice two other children asleep in the house at the time. In their confessions they said that they would not have hesitated to kill them if they had noticed them.

Hakim Awad's mother, Nawef, claimed that her son was at home the night of the murder and never left the house, claiming that "five months ago Hakim underwent a surgery in his stomach and I'm sure he was tortured and forced into confessing."  Amjad's family also claimed that he was in the village at the time of the event. One relative said that Hakim and Amjad did not know each other, as "one went to university, the other is in high school". He also claimed that if they had been guilty, they would have been captured within days, as "the whole world knows about Israel's advanced investigation abilities and its use of sophisticated means". 

What the whole world knows is actually something else. The Awads, who confessed and recreated the killings for the police, are now being claimed as heroes in the perverted world of the Palestinian Arab media and its friends and supporters. They are praised on government-owned television which played a song containing this revealing line: “That is what the homeland asked of me”.

Click to view the English-sub-titled PMW video clip
Here is where the story becomes decidedly un-American and non-European. We Israelis are confronted with an enemy that believes its very highest values are served by encouraging its young men to become heroes in the very specific sense of slicing the throats of sleeping Jewish children because “that is what the homeland asked” of them.

One of the most notorious of the killers created by the terrorism-adoring Islamist Arab society is Ahlam Tamimi. She planned the 2001 massacre in which fifteen Israelis, most of them children, were blown apart in a pizza restaurant. She planted the bomb – who happens to have been a human being – and then fled for her own safety. Later that day, she personally, herself, read the evening news report on PA Television about the successful killings in central Jerusalem without so much as a cynical smile to acknowledge that this horrifying crime was in fact hers. (Is there a historical precedent for this? Could Hollywood invent a credible scenario that includes such a scene?)

Tamimi, explicitly unrepentant, was released in October 2011 as part of the Shalit Transaction and has become a genuine media star with herown weekly program on the Al-Quds satellite television channel that is broadcast throughout the Arabic speaking world. Her presence as a fiery religious speaker, finger pointing  heavenwards, encouraging copycat acts of terror against Jews, has become ubiquitous in Islamist rallies in Jordan, Tunisia and parts in between.

Tamimi, speaking to an Islamist rally in Amman a month ago [Arabic source here], revealed that hunger strikes by Palestinian Arabs in Israeli prisons are what she called a “tactical move” that will continue for at least the next two months. And on April 17th, which is termed "Palestinian Prisoners' Day," something is going to happen. As the most well-known spokesperson for the claims of the imprisoned Islamists, she – perhaps more than anyone else on earth – exemplifies the cynical manipulation by the Islamists of liberal sympathy for the victims of alleged human rights offences. And more than anyone else’s actions, hers exemplify where that manipulation leads.

To those planning to take to the streets tomorrow in Paris and elsewhere, we ask: Are you for Tamimi or against the lethal hatred and the pathological racism which she embodies. Are you for the teenage perpetrators of last year’s Itamar massacre, or do you insist that something even worse is done when we hold them behind bars.

It may seem to you that getting this right or wrong does not matter so much because the killers are far away and not threatening your children. But what if you are wrong about that?

It might be interesting to ask the people of Toulouse for their opinion.

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