Remembering where terrorists belong
By FRIMET AND ARNOLD ROTH
On Remembrance Day, we Israeli families who have experienced terror at first hand are traditionally accorded national commiseration. Though our pain is constant, we are dutifully restrained throughout the year. But today, society, friends, community and nation encourage us to release our grief.
That concession is appreciated this year more than usual. It comes at an especially trying period for terror victims. The Israeli news media are waging a high-intensity campaign to agitate for the release of terrorist murderers in order to secure the release of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit.
To help win our hearts and minds, journalists and politicians have focused their efforts on minimizing the pain of terror victims and questioning the motives that bring them to oppose the release of murderers.
Just a day ago, the eve of this year’s Remembrance Day, we learned that negotiations with Hamas over the release of terrorist-prisoners in return for Shalit may have progressed after months of stalemate.
Should we credit the six former high-level officials of the Shin Bet, the Mossad and the defence establishment who held a press conference two weeks ago? Their public demand that our government release every last prisoner on the Hamas list has been accorded much media attention, as has their blanket assurance:
"The State of Israel is strong enough... to deal with these murderers with blood on their hands in case they revert to their evil ways". [Source]
A careful reader might notice that all six had left their security posts more than a decade ago, before the start of the Second Intifada. No journalist or editor has pointed out that none of these "experts" ever had to contend with the sort of terrorism that has plagued Israelis throughout this past decade. Most had left the security arena for the political playing field. For instance, Alik Ron, one of the six, was Northern District Police Commander during the Arab riots of October 2000. In their wake, the Or Commission (see "Alik Ron found unfit for command duty") recommended he be barred from holding senior administrative or command roles in the security services.
With no referendum to rely on, one of quoted ex-officials even asserted that "most Israeli citizens support the release of murderers in return for Gilad Shalit." It is doubtful they do.
Are these men equipped to guide the country as it grapples with the Shalit dilemma? Are they in a position to promise security to a threatened people?
The media have been harsh in reporting the views of those who question surrendering to the Hamas demand for a mass terrorist release. We ask them to consider the convicted murderer, Ahlam Tamimi. She stole our child from us ten years ago, and is eager to murder again. In a filmed interview some years ago, she smiled into the camera when told that among the fifteen people killed in the bomb she brought to the Sbarro restaurant in Jerusalem, there were more children than she had realized. She expressed an undying allegiance to Hamas doctrine. If she is released, there is no room for doubt that the Palestinian public will receive Tamimi as a heroine.
A week before the brutal murders of five members (mother, father, two little boys and a baby girl) of the Fogel family in Itamar, a PA television crew visited Tamimi’s family home and interviewed her relatives. They focused on a certificate awarded to her by Fatah, the main PA faction headed by the allegedly moderate Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas. The document, decorated with photographs of a smiling Yasser Arafat and Abu Jihad, reads:
“A gift of the Fatah Palestinian National Liberation Movement… to the heroic prisoner Ahlam Tamimi as a token of esteem for your sacrifices and your acts of heroism.”
Palestinian Arab adulation of the murderers of Jews did not abate after the Itamar atrocity. And yet many defenders of Palestinian virtue have echoed the baseless claim of Allegra Pacheco, a lawyer who represents Palestinian terrorists. In her op-ed in Haaretz, she wrote:
"All the Palestinian people I have spoken with here in the West Bank who heard of the murders shake their heads and say how terrible they were... and in the next breath they add, 'and I'm sure it wasn't a Palestinian who did this ". No Palestinian condones such acts."
It would be comforting to think Palestinian society is characterized by such sensitivities. But the signs are the opposite. A week after the Fogel family killings, fully a third of Palestinian Arabs surveyed supported the act. The poll was one of those examples of co-operation between Israelis and Arabs: Prof. Yaacov Shamir from the Harry S. Truman Research Institute for the Advancement of Peace and Khalil Shikaki of the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research.
The poll confirms that keeping Tamimi – and others like her – behind bars is the only sane, reasonable and logical strategy. This has nothing to do with vengeance or paranoia. One does not need to be bereaved to see the flaw in a strategy based on placing killers and terrorists back in the heart of the society that nurtured them.
Hopefully the collective pain of Remembrance Day will galvanize the nation to campaign for Shalit's release by other, more rational, means.