Wednesday, August 28, 2013

27-Aug-13: Justice devalued, lives demeaned, principles cheapened: the high price of freeing murderers

Abbas: Prisoner release by the Israelis
was "unrelated to the launching of the peace talks"
People who have experienced the death of a child by violence or murder - there are thousands of us in this tiny country - are often astonished at how public figures, particularly politicians, can tally up the options facing them, coolly do some sort of risk-to-reward ratio calculation and proceed to make a decision that affects people's lives, futures, well-being, rights and so on. Happens all the time. But how they manage to do it leaves at least some of us astounded.

People argue that running a government calls for a certain number of people with these skills. Whether or not true, it's hard to say that this is always done wisely, effectively or morally (especially morally.) That's perhaps why we we feel distant from politicians.

Evelyn Gordon, writing another of her very sharp and perceptive columns in Commentary Magazine today, says better than we can what's wrong with the latest round of decisions of this sort taken by Israel's leadership. Here's a brief extract. It's called "Why the World Thinks Jewish Blood Is Cheap" | Evelyn Gordon | Commentary Magazine | August 27, 2013, 9:30 AM
Israel has also freed thousands of prisoners over the years as “goodwill gestures” toward the Palestinian Authority, and though most weren’t actually murderers, they generally were involved in anti-Israel terror. Other countries free terrorists only under formal peace agreements, not as mere “goodwill gestures” to facilitate talks; thus again, this teaches the world that Israeli governments don’t consider anti-Israel terror so terrible. But the nadir was Netanyahu’s agreement to release 104 Palestinians, almost all of them vicious killers, in four stages (the 26 freed this month were the first), solely to get Palestinian negotiators to talk with their Israeli counterparts. What other country would free murderers who killed hundreds of its citizens just to bribe another party into talks whose sole aim is to give them the land and sovereignty they claim to want? Norway assuredly wouldn’t release Breivik under such circumstances. And that’s precisely why Norwegians view any comparison of Breivik to Palestinian killers as ridiculous: If Israelis really considered the freed Palestinians’ crimes on a par with Breivik’s, they think, then Israel wouldn’t release them, either. Thus while there are many reasons to oppose Netanyahu’s decision, this may be the weightiest of all: By freeing those killers, Israel has once again taught the world to view Jewish blood as cheap.
The essay in full is here.

It's a devastating case that Ms Gordon builds. Still, we want to point out that while she says Israel agreed to release 104 killers and terrorists "just to bribe another party into talks", Mahmoud Abbas who heads the Palestinian Authority and is that other party, refutes this. Just how he characterizes things is pretty clearly the way the Palestinian "street" will view them.

As we wrote here two days ago [see "25-Aug-13: Wake up call for those who thought the terrorists are walking free for peace"], Abbas, the very politician for whom those convicted and unrepentant murderers were set free two weeks ago says - for those who care to listen - that their release "was unrelated to the launching of the peace talks".

That Abbas denial powerfully confirms Evelyn Gordon's point: Jewish blood is cheapened through misguided Israeli political decisions. So what, Abbas could be saying, if the Israelis release old, tired, harmless convicts? It's no great gesture. A small price. Among others, the Norwegians say just that, as we noted last week, and as Evelyn Gordon mentions.

Israel's prime minister, in deciding to let the mis-named Pre-Oslo prisoners loose and thereby lifting Abbas's stocks among the Palestinian Arabs, did his calculations the way politicians do. He had a small number of options; no need to detail them here. The one he chose - freedom for 104 convicted terrorists - must have seemed to him and others in the cabinet as the least bad of several undesirable alternatives. And if this meant the victims of the terrorists would feel betrayed (we can imagine them saying in the cabinet room), so be it. Regretfully, a greater good is served.

But speaking as victims of Palestinian Arab terrorists ourselves, we see it this way: justice was trampled, lives and sacrifices were demeaned, public opposition was ignored. In turning a deaf ear to the protests of the victims, our politicians threw down onto the negotiating table the cheapest, most disposable, of the cards in their hand. Not for the first time, we find ourselves saying that decisions like this one will be the cause of much long-term regret.

Today's barrage of hypocritical condemnation of Israeli forces for the deaths of three Palestinian Arabs during a massive rock-hurling riot/attack on the IDF in Qalandiya yesterday illustrates how this works only too well.

1 comment:

NormanF said...

Israel is a country that's lost its moral compass. This is the slippery slope!

You and Evelyn both make excellent points, that I fully agree with.

There is one more thing that needs to be considered. A country that has no respect for its own dead is not a country that is going to protect living Jews when the need arises.

This is why Israel needs to find its way back! Or this may be the latest in a series of bad decisions Israel will come to regret. Jewish life is sacred! And if Israel's present politicians do not understand the importance of this principle, they need to be replaced by those who do!