Thursday, December 05, 2013

5-Dec-13: Welcome to Jerusalem, Mr Kerry. A moment of your time please.

Secretary Kerry with PA's Mahmoud Abbas, July 2013 [Image Source]
Dear Secretary of State Kerry, 

We know you are working to a tight schedule on your briefest-of-brief visits to Jerusalem todayWe wanted very much to speak directly with you today. For the third time in five months, we reached out to your staff ahead of your arrival and requested that you meet with us and with several other Israelis whose close family members were murdered by Palestinian Arab terrorists. 

We felt this would be an opportunity you would grab, assuming circumstances permitted of course. We laid out our reasons several times. Your memory can be refreshed by clicking here: "Memo to Secretary of State Kerry: Your staff need some urgent guidance" which we wrote to you on September 14, 2013.

Unfortunately, our request was politely rebuffed earlier this week - just as it was on each previous occasion. Too little time, too much to do etc. We understand how it is. Believe me, we understand.

Now a few words (once again) about what's behind our request. 

There's a wall-to-wall viewpoint here in Israel that you and your State Department colleagues are behind the pressure that has brought Israel's government to free more than a hundred convicted murderers in four tranches of 26 each time, starting in the summer. The process is half-way through and the next release is approaching fast.

It's thought by pretty much everyone we know that you see this mass release of lawfully arrested, lawfully tried, lawfully convicted and lawfully sentenced felons as a way to drag the unwilling Palestinian Authority leadership to the peace-negotiation table. 

Now in the name of fairness, we point out that that is a view your office has officially denied over and again. Your spokesperson said back in August that ["14-Aug-13: Making 'peace' by celebrating the murders of children and of Holocaust survivors"] the US respects "the exclusive right of the Israeli government to make these decisions”. She then doubled down on this ["19-Aug-13: Is the US State Department breaching its own policy on Palestinian Arab terrorists?"], saying the decision to let these creepy miscreants loose, even though quite a number of them were sentenced to spend the rest of their lives in prison, is an Israeli decision, taken entirely by Israel and essentially not a matter on which the State Department has a view. 

To be candid, we have our personal doubts about that view of things. The doubts are fortified by the strange ongoing matter [here's our source] of what those murderers stand for, in American eyes. It comes down to this: are those 104 killers of elderly pensioners, of Holocaust survivors, of US citizens, of women, of children and of fellow Arabs (a) freedom fighters, (b) political prisoners or (c) terrorists? 

A simple-enough question for most people, right? But as we wrote here just a few days ago, your office says it has no position, no answer, doesn't know at this time etc etc. 

That has been your team's position since August. (Are you reading this, Marie Harf?) We're beyond being astounded by this. We're puzzled, too, by the almost total absence of any mainstream media enquiry into how such a thing could possibly be. Do people realize how confused your advisers are about those murdering Palestinian Arab terrorists? They ought to be.

But today we are writing about something quite separate. It does concern those killers once again - the ones who murdered unarmed civilians and who are now hailed as great heroes of the Palestinian Arab people by the president of the Palestinian Authority. You know about this, of course; it's been all over the news, including the phenomenal salaries they are now being paid for life by the perennially-bankrupt PA government ["Abbas gives every freed prisoner $50,000 and a top job"].

Palestinian Media Watch, which monitors the Abbas regime's Arabic-language broadcasts and alerts non-Arabic speakers to some of what is going on there, published something yesterday that we think you ought to know about. Given how little your people seem to understand about convicted Palestinian Arab murderers, there's some concrete information here for your staff to take into account. 

It seems that Palestinian Authority TV interviewed one of the 104, a killer by the name of Asrar Samrin. Just a few weeks ago, he walked free, thanks to (i) pressure from you or (ii) a totally-Israeli decision (take your pick), from a life sentence behind Israeli bars for the murder of Zvi Klein in December 1991. Mahmoud Abbas, the PA president, called him a hero and a fighter

Samrin was in prison for life because he shot an anonymous driver traveling from Jerusalem to Ofra, hitting him in the head. Nothing personal; the two had never met. Mr. Klein, the driver, was a man of 44, a mathematician and an educator. One of the passengers was injured; another one, Klein's daughter, was unharmed. Klein left behind a widow and three orphaned children. The killer, this Samrin person, was sentenced to life imprisonment.

Now fast forward. Samrin is on PA television. They ask him: "Do you regret what you did or not?" The murderer rather pompously says:
"Through the great PA TV, I say to the Israelis: There is no Palestinian who did something for the homeland and his nation who will regret it. We don't regret what we did and we will not regret what we did."
It's captured on a YouTube video here. If we have translated him wrongly, we're sure you will let us know. But to be frank with you, Mr Secretary, we have learned to trust the professional work of Palestinian Media Watch. 

We have also learned that while the words themselves can be shocking, actually seeing them come out of the mouth of a man who intends every syllable, who wanted to murder, who wants to murder, who will try to do it again and will encourage others to emulate him, is more shocking still. Please, Mr Kerry: go ahead and watch. It runs for a couple of minutes, and it has English subtitles.

That same PMW report, by the way, provides a truly startling, first-hand report of how Palestinian Arab prisoners suffer, suffer, suffer, at the hands of the Israelis.
"In the morning we'd exercise from 7:00 until 8:00... Then the guys would get together in the prison yard and we'd chat, talk, eat, drink, joke and play, etc., throughout the day... Noon roll-call is from 11:00 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. Roll-call time is time for resting in the rooms... Nap time, reading time, study time... At 1:30 or 12:30 p.m. they'd take us out to the yard again. We'd spend [time] with the guys walking, laughing, playing, joking, etc., until dark."
Horrible, we know. Check it out here. English subtitles make it painless. Please - go ahead.

On September 14, 2013, under the title "Memo to Secretary of State Kerry: Your staff need some urgent guidance", here on this blog we published an open letter addressed to you, timed to reach you on one of the previous visits you made to Jerusalem that week. We wrote it in the name of Bereaved Families for Peace and Justice, a group in which we are active. It talked about matters that were laid out in an earlier letter delivered to you two months before that [that earlier letter, from August, is here].

When you come back to Jerusalem, we would like to spend just a few minutes with you, discussing the immorality of the US government pressing Israel to breach the most basic of its obligations to its citizens - the right to justice, the right to know that justice is a sacrosanct value. What you have pressed Israel to do is something you would never dream of tolerating were it to be done in the United States. This is what we want to discuss with you.

We hope you will have a little more time on your next visit.

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