Thursday, March 20, 2014

20-Mar-14: Questions to visiting politicians about what lies at the heart of a peace process

Ms Costello's website: Leaves little doubt about the direction
of her Middle East political predilections 
Sometimes, families like ours find it necessary to remind people that we are not pathetic, whining losers.

Though our child was murdered by zealots dispatched by one of the most hatred-driven terror-cult groups the world has ever known, our lives have continued. And for the most part, they are constructive and healthy.

Like most of Israel's other terror-victim families, we have avoided becoming twisted and crippled by feelings of hatred and vengeance. We have also managed to find ways to channel our grief into measures that bring some light into the world. Whether the world actually benefits or whether much light is created are fair questions. But for certain we do something that's important to us: we cause people to remember our Malki, and for us that's most of the reason why we do it.

But from endless conversations with individuals from outside Israel, and especially with political figures (both from within our country and from outside), we have come to understand that people like us - bereaved families grieving for lives destroyed and stolen by terrorists - are perceived, no matter what we do or say, as driven by vengeance and blood-lust by many. Enraging and depressing, yes; but we have learned to (mostly) just live with the smears and ignore them or at least not let them destroy us.

The truth, as we tried to explain here just a couple of days ago, is terror victims tend to be rarely afflicted with those passions, not only here in Israel but in many of the other places where the terrorist have exacted their toll. Quite the contrary, most of us have a desire for peace that burns more powerfully in our hearts because of our pain than it does for most others.

Here in Israel (in particular) where the release of convicted, unrepentant, imprisoned murderers has become a cheap and basic tool of the political class, many of us have grown deeply concerned with the ongoing damage to basic notions of justice and the trampling of our rights as victims.

Now comes a delegation of politicians from the European parliament. And, wonder of wonders, they come equipped with more lessons and advice for us.

AFP in a report published this evening ["EU team urges release of long-term Palestinian prisoners", AFP - March 20, 2014] says that from Ramallah this afternoon the touring group
urged Israel to release long-term Palestinian prisoners, saying it was crucial to move a fragile Middle East peace process forward. "We believe that the release of prisoners... is central to the peace process," said Emer Costello, who headed the EU delegation on a three-day fact-finding mission on Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails. "I think there is an acceptance on both sides, even with the members of the Knesset (Israeli parliament) that we met, (of the) importance of the prisoner issue," Costello said... "We would certainly hope that those prisoner releases would continue and would take place. It is important as well that there are people in custody who are actually pre-Oslo," Costello said, referring to inmates who were supposed to be released under the 1993 Oslo peace accords... Israel holds more than 5,000 Palestinians in its prisons, most of them on security grounds. Around 150 of these are held under administrative detention, without charge or trial, and another 150 are minors. The release of 78 long-term Palestinian prisoners since July has been welcomed by president Mahmud Abbas and by the public, especially jubilant families of the inmates, who saw their internment as political. But it has angered bereaved Israeli families, whose relatives were killed at the hands of some of those released...
It's striking the way language is manipulated by both the AFP editors and the Irish woman from Dublin who speaks for the EU parliamentary tourists. The men (they are all men) to whom she is referring when she calls their release "central to the peace process" are all convicted murderers. Every single one of them brought unspeakable pain and torment to the lives of ordinary Israeli families.

Good sense, common decency and basic respect for the principles of objective journalism ought to have dictated that the news organization and the politicians find a less opaque way to refer to them than as "prisoners", "long term prisoners" and "inmates".

These are convicted killers, all of them. Is there a rational basis for saying a person was imprisoned on "security grounds" when he was in fact tried, with the benefit of defense counsel, and convicted of murder? What sort of idoleogically-driven double-talk is this?

And as to what is central to the peace process, is it ever going to be clear to these politicized outsiders that only one thing is ever central to a peace processthe desire to make peace.

Ms Costello, you're in Ramallah tonight. We're asking you to take a deep, long look at the photographs below. Other examples abound all over the news media. They depict Mahmoud Abbas, now in the tenth year of his four year term as political leader of the Palestinian Authority (please ask him why) and an Arab who is physically unable to visit his own home in the Gaza Strip (please ask him why about this too). Three photos below are representative of many others. Each of them shows Abbas raising high the arms of killers who can't believe their good fortune at being sprung from life sentences and going back to the villages they were sure they would never see again. Was justice served? Did they repent? Did their smiles and those of the normally-taciturn Abbas mean that we took one more step towards peace when these savages and thugs walked out? Is that what you think?

Or do you understand what we understand: that it means the exact opposite?

The lionization of the killers of elderly Jews, of Israeli teenagers, of Holocaust survivors; placing them on pedestals; granting them incredibly fat cash prizes and government salaries; appointing them to high-ranking invented positions in the PA security forces - these are the clearest, surest signs you will ever see that over there in Ramallah they are fighting a war for victory.

You, Ms Costello and your fellow travelers, are the back-up forces they see as helping them get there.

And peace? If you think turning unrepentant killers into heroes brings it on, then you have learned pathetically little from the history of our country and of your own.

August 2013: Abbas rejoices in company of freshly freed convicted killers
[Image Source]
October 2013: Abbas rejoices in company of freshly freed convicted killers
[Image Source]
December 2013: Abbas rejoices in company of freshly freed convicted killers
[Image Source]

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