Thursday, October 10, 2013

10-Oct-13: Terrorists heading back into circulation as terror increases. Must we be politicians to understand why?

This blog is our megaphone. As ordinary citizens, we badly want our voices to be heard because we see foolish things being done in the face of an onslaught of terrorism directed at the society in which we have made our home and are building our family's future.

Of course, it's not only our society that is in the crosshairs. And it's not only because we ourselves have paid an unbearably high price for the mistakes of public officials and politicians that we write and speak and try to organize. But having been terribly hurt, and having had time to think these issues through, we realize that unless we raise our own voices in an effort to be heard, the prevailing apathy is going to cause others to ignore the very serious problems and (Heaven forbid) to wake up only when it may be too late to undo the harm already on its way.

Scores more unrepentant terrorists who killed people and were convicted and sentenced are shortly to be set free. Again. There are surely some carefully calculated political considerations that lie behind this decision by the authorities in Jerusalem. But there are other considerations at work too, some of which we believe do very little credit to the people behind them.

Evelyn Gordon, whose regular writings we very much appreciate, has an excellent essay in Commentary Magazine today entitled "Destabilizing the Last Stable Area in the Middle East". In it, she addresses a current aspect of US foreign policy that is beyond the scope we have set for this blog. But along the way, she shares some sharp observations about the recent direction in the war the terrorists are waging against the rest of us. She reminds us of what it can mean to be wrong about how we deal with the terrorists and those who stand with them. That happens to be a theme that resonates very strongly with us.

Some quotes from Ms Gordon's column:
  • According to the Shin Bet security service, the number of actual and attempted Palestinian terror attacks almost doubled over the space of just one month, from 68 in August to 133 in September. 
  • September’s attacks also resulted in two Israeli fatalities–a low number by historical standards, but still double the total for the entire preceding eight months. 
  • And October opened grimly, with terrorists shooting a 9-year-old Israeli girl in the chest as she stood on her balcony.
  • But if a new poll is accurate, worse is yet to come: According to a survey published by the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion last week, 58 percent of Palestinians expect a third intifada to erupt if the current negotiations fail to produce an agreement. 
  • Given that 70 percent of Palestinians and 80 percent of Israelis expect the talks to fail, the chances of a new intifada are looking good.
  • This is especially true because, under the U.S.-brokered deal that restarted the negotiations, Israel must release 104 veteran Palestinian terrorists over the course of the talks, all of whom are serving lengthy jail terms for involvement in deadly attacks. History shows that large-scale terrorist releases are an excellent predictor of future violence.
  • The 1,150 terrorists Israel released in a 1985 prisoner exchange, for instance, played a major role in starting the first intifada two years later, while the thousands of terrorists released under the 1993 Oslo Accord played a major role in launching the second intifada in 2000. 
  • Thus these new releases, coming on top of the 1,027 terrorists Israel released in a 2011 swap for kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit, will provide Palestinians with plenty of experienced leadership to organize a new wave of deadly terror.
  • Former Labor MK Einat Wilf – not exactly a hawk – wrote in August that she dreaded the resumed talks, because “For more than 20 years, peace talks meant more terrorism and more death,” whereas “During the last few years without negotiations, the number of Israelis and Palestinians killed as a result of violent conflict between them has been the lowest in decades.” 
  • If a final-status agreement were actually achievable, the risk would be justified. But it’s irresponsible to endanger this fragile state of non-war by launching talks that almost nobody on either side thinks will succeed, she argued, because on this issue, trying and failing is much worse than not trying at all.
  • Many people on both sides told U.S. officials the same thing. But the Obama administration, in its hubris, was determined to end a conflict that it claimed had been “a major source of instability for far too long.” And it has thereby destabilized the Middle East’s last oasis of stability with its own two hands.
For reasons that perplex us, the Obama administration has managed to recruit Israel's prime minister and a majority of his inner cabinet to this appalling folly. (That Israel is bending to US pressure on the matter of setting unrepentant convicted killers free was never in real doubt, though both governments have denied it at all stages. Haaretz, however, set the record straight yesterday, as we noted here yesterday.)

Coverage of the latest releases in August 2013
American pressure has made barely the smallest dent in Israeli public opinion on this issue of freeing the terrorist convicts. As we wrote some weeks ago ["28-Jul-13: Releasing unrepentant killers: a massive 9.4% of Israelis are in favor"], the one, and still the only, opinion poll published on the matter of freeing the "pre-Oslo" killers has the support of fewer than one in ten of our fellow Israeli citizens. Few issues in this fractious society of ours manage to achieve such a high degree of unanimity.

In the face of that sort of massive rejection, you would need to have a considerable degree of hubris, not to mention arrogance and dishonesty, to push ahead with it. Or else, be a politician.

You would probably also want to suppress public discussion of it. That would mean pointedly ignoring the representations made to you by individual citizens affected (and infuriated) by the decision and its trampling of basic principles of justice. That's a group to which we belong.

On this aspect, let no one accuse our country's political leadership of inconsistency. Turning a deaf ear has been a central plank in the government of Israel's strategy in its dealings with the nation's thousands of angry and demoralized terror-victim families since the earliest stages of the Shalit Transaction and beyond it. We have ourselves also been part of a notably unsuccessful effort to have the US State Department hear what Israeli victims like us think, lest any readers are under a misapprehension about how this sort of matter gets dealt with in Washington.

We plan to get together with like-minded friends in the coming days and review again how best to oppose the deadly silliness of the three latest rounds of felon releases now planned. [A sincere request: please be in touch if you care to contribute to the effort:]

Most of us victims of the terrorists have more than enough challenges in our lives, many of them stemming directly from the loss of a loved one, and would prefer not to have to engage in public campaigns. But, as we have learned, some things in life are just too important to be left to the politicians.

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