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Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Israel's Hobbesian choice: Terror victims v. Kidnap victims

In this past weekend's Jerusalem Post, Barbara Sofer did a brief column about David Raab, who was held hostage for three weeks by 'Palestinian' terrorists in the Jordanian desert in 1970. Raab was 17-years old at the time, and was one of ten 'men' selected from a TWA jet that was highjacked in Europe and flown to Jordan by 'Palestinian' terrorists:
After four stifling days on the plane, Raab was ordered off. His mother's pleas were useless. "We looked at each other, and we condensed the hours of being together that we deserved to have throughout our lifetimes, as mother and child, into a short moment," Raab said. He was shaking so hard he nearly fell from the wooden ladder propped at the plane's exit. Ten men had been selected. Raab thought they would be shot, but instead a van took them to a refugee camp near Amman where they were locked in a small room.

They huddled on the floor. Any time they raised their voices, the guards threatened. Friday night came. Ten men, nearly a minyan. One turned out to be Christian. Quietly, in their crowded cell, they recited Shabbat prayers to themselves, welcoming what they assumed could be their last Sabbath ever. The special psalm for the month of Elul consoled him: "If an enemy camps around me I shall not be afraid... believe in God and your heart will become strong..."

No wine for Kiddush. But when you have no wine, says the Talmud, make Kiddush on bread. The terrorists had given them pita.

On Shabbat, we dip our bread in salt to remind us of the sacrifices of old.

Suddenly Raab remembered the saltshaker in his shorts pocket.

Joy and hope coursed through him. The others cheered. He'd never understood just how much tradition could lend comfort and strength.

AFTER 21 days in captivity, David Raab was released. His mother and siblings had been freed earlier and had returned to the US. The terrorists blew up the empty planes in the desert. They were never punished. Laila Khaled, incredibly was released by the British, and currently is a schoolteacher in Jordan. But in the midst of the crisis, the furious King Hussein began the internal war that Palestinians call "Black September" and many Jordanians call "White September" because they forced the terrorists out of their country.
Just for the small world department: Raab's brother lives around the block from me, his niece is in one daughter's class in school and another niece (not from this neighborhood) was in the same degree program in university with another of my daughters (and they are actually close friends). But that's a digression.

In 1970, Israel had a very simple policy for dealing with terrorists: No negotiations. While the terrorists of the 1970's were tame compared with the terrorists of today, there were fewer kidnappings and they ended more quickly and generally more favorably than they do today.

In the mid-1980's, Israel began negotiating with terrorists, principally to release soldiers from captivity. The ratios were ridiculous - hundreds of terrorists for each soldier released. But what's worse is that it's been proven that terrorists released by Israel go right back to their former occupation - murdering Jews:
The proof is in a study released in September 2006 by the Almagor Terror Victims Association (which does not have a web site as far as I can tell), headed by Meir Indor, which was recently updated. The study reveals that 177 innocent people have been murdered in 30 terror attacks perpetrated by 'released prisoners' over the last several years. Most of those murdered were Jewish Israelis. When released, the 'released prisoners' did not 'have blood on their hands.' As the report states:
It should be emphasized that the term 'without blood on their hands' portrays these terrorists as less dangerous - but in fact they are 'without blood on their hands' only because the Israeli security services managed to arrest them before they could murder, or because they were indirectly involved in murder, or the like. In actuality, they would be quite happy to be 'with blood on their hands.'
The names of the terrorists and the terror attacks that they carried out after their release reads like a who's who of terror attacks in Israel over the last several years. The terror attacks included:
* the lynching of two soldiers in Ramallah (Oct. 2000)
* shooting deaths of Binyamin and Talia Kahane (Dec. 2000)
* suicide explosions in Netanya, 8 dead (March and May, 2001)
* Sea Food Market suicide blast, 3 dead (March 2002)
* shooting in Atzmona yeshiva, 5 youths dead (March 2002)
* Park Hotel suicide bomber during Passover Seder, 30 dead (March 2002)
* bus blasts at Megiddo, Karkur, Jerusalem, 55 dead (June 2002 - June 2003)
* suicide bombing outside Jerusalem's Cafe Hillel, 7 dead including Dr. David Yaakov Appelbaum and his daughter Nava – on the eve of her wedding. [Nava Applebaum HY"D was a classmate of my eldest daughter. CiJ] (September 2003)
* double suicide attacks in Be'er Sheva, 16 dead (August 2004)
The released terrorists included the following:
Marwan Barghouti - originally arrested in 1976; released; a leader of the first intifada; arrested and expelled to Jordan; allowed to return in 1994; became Tanzim terrorist leader in 2000, overseeing many terrorist attacks involving the murder of some 35 Israelis; arrested in 2002, sentenced to five life sentences; PA demands his release - Shabak objects.

Sheikh Ahmed Yassin - originally arrested in 1983; released a year later in the Jibril exchange; founded Hamas in 1987; arrested for ordering the kidnapping and killing of two soldiers and sentenced to life in prison; released in 1997, after the botched assassination of Khaled Mashaal; continued to organize terrorist attacks; killed by Israeli rockets in 2004.

Saleh Shehade - released from prison in 2000; headed the Hamas military wing; oversaw many attacks, including the infiltration into an IDF outpost in which four soldiers were murdered and the Atzmonah murder of five youths; killed in IDF air attack in 2002.

Abdullah Abdel Kader Kawasme - first arrested in 1988; expelled to Lebanon in 1992; after his return, imprisoned again for Hamas membership and terrorist activity; released in 1994; oversaw many terror attacks, including over 40 deaths, and became known as "Father of the Ticking Time Bombs; killed by Israeli forces while trying to escape arrest in June 2003.

Karim Yunis Awis - sentenced to life in 1991 for killing informant; released several years later as part of the "gestures" to Palestinian Authority; dispatched two terrorists to murder two Israelis in Afula bus station in November 2001; dispatched terrorists to murder three Israelis in Jerusalem in March 2002; later that year, an IDF Military Court ruled that "the gesture [of his release] was not justified, and the heavy price was paid by many Israeli families."

Nasser Abu Hameid - arrested several times, sentenced to life in prison in 1990 for murdering informants; released in 1999 in the framework of the Sharm a-Sheikh agreement; Dec. 2000 - murdered Eli Cohen near Givat Ze'ev and the Kahane couple near Ofrah; Feb. 2002 - initiated two murderous attacks in Jerusalem area; Dec. 2002 -sentenced to seven life sentences.

Nasser Abu Hamiyad – released as part of the Oslo Accords; took part in Ramallah lynch, mutilating bodies of IDF reservists Vadim Norzitz and Yossi Avrahami; February 25, 2002: Initiated attack on Jerusalem’s Neve Yaakov neighborhood, murdering a female police officers and wounding 10; March 5, 2002: Responsible for attack on Seafood Market in Tel Aviv, murdering Israelis Eliyahu Dahan and Yossi Havi, wounding 31.

Abbas ibn Muhammad Alsayd – released in 1996; had a part in three Netanya attacks: March 4, 2001: Dispatched Herzl street suicide bombing, murdering Naftali Din, Shlomit Ziv, Yvgeni Malkin and wounding 56; May 18, 2001: Responsible for suicide bombing of HaSharon Mall in Netanya, murdering Miriam Wachsman, Yulia Tartiakov, David (Moti) Yarkoni, Vladislov Sorokin and Tirza Tishbi, and wounding 86; Helped plan and carry out Park Hotel Passover massacre, murdering 29 and wounding 155.

Ramez Sali Abu Salim – released February 20, 2003; just seven months after release, on September 9: Blew himself up at Jerusalem’s Cafי Hillel, murdering David Shimon Avizdris, Yehiel Emil Toubol, Shafik Karem, Alon Mizrachi, Gila Moshe, Dr. David Yaakov Appelbaum and his daughter Nava – on the eve of her wedding. [Nava Applebaum HY"D was a classmate of my eldest daughter. CiJ]

Jihad Alamrin – released as part of the Jibril deal in 1985: Founded the Al Aksa Brigades terror group in Gaza; planted explosives that killed IDF soldiers Cpl. Asher Zagori, Cpl. Moshe Peled, Cpl. Ron Lavi, Cpl. Matan Biderman and others.
It is important to note that the original study only covered the 6912 terrorists released between 1993 (when the Oslo Declaration of Principles was signed) and 1999 and only covered terror attacks perpetrated through August 2003. If anything, the actual current numbers are even higher.
It's also important to note that the 'prisoners' involved in the study above did not have 'blood on their hands' at the time of their release. But as I reported earlier this week, there's a ministerial committee which is meeting for the second - and possibly decisive - time tomorrow that is considering changing the definition of 'blood on their hands' to allow 'Palestinians' who participated in terror attacks in which Jews were murdered but who did not actually pull the trigger or blow up the bomb to be deemed as if they do not have 'blood on their hands.' As I pointed out earlier, one prominent example of a prisoner in this category is Ahlam Tamimi, the woman who arranged the notorious Sbarro suicide bombing, drove the terrorist to the restaurant and then went back to broadcast the story on 'Palestinian' television.

As I suspected, the vote in the committee is apparently 3-2 to loosen the criteria. The reason: The possibility of gaining the release of kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, whose family has - knowing that he is alive - been pressuring the Israeli government to do anything to win his release. But I was wrong about who is opposed, because I thought Avi Dichter would be opposed.

Ynet has learned Monday that three of the five ministers on the committee support changing prisoner release policies.
The committee met for the first time Monday evening, but failed to reach an agreement on the subject. It is scheduled to convene again Wednesday.

Notably, the special committee has no authority to decide on the matter, but was assigned with advising Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on the complex ethical question. Olmert is expected to bring the committee's recommendation before the committee on the release of prisoners.

The ministers supporting the change are Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter, who believes that relaxing the criteria would provide the PM with more leverage to advance Gilad Shalit's release; Minister Ami Ayalon; and Vice Premier Haim Ramon.

The three believe that the release of an Israeli captive, namely Shalit, was worth paying the price of freeing Palestinian murderers.

Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann is expected to oppose the move to relax the prisoner release policy. It is unclear whether he will be joined by Foreign Minsiter Tzipi Livni since her final position on the matter remains somewhat vague.
I guess she's waiting to see which way the wind is blowing.

Today, Miki Goldwasser, the mother of kidnapped IDF soldier Ehud Goldwasser, who is being held (or whose body is being held) by Hezbullah in Lebanon, lashed out at politicians for "seeking clout off our sons' backs."
Goldwasser said that she "wants to scream out loud: return our soldiers who have been taken hostage by no fault of their own. Someone was responsible for their abduction. They don't need to bear the consequences. They bear indescribable suffering by groups of cruel people. Who knows what they're going through every second of every day, for a year and a half already."

Goldwasser also addressed efforts to free IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, who was abducted on the Gaza border three weeks before her son was kidnapped in the north. Regarding opposition to relaxing criteria for freeing prisoners, she said, "I ask, how would they react if their child was the one who was abducted, and not my child? It's very easy to reap political profit off of someone else's back."
I can't help but pity Mrs. Goldwasser, but as MK Yisrael Hasson of Yisrael Beiteinu points out, there's a bigger issue here:
"The question is not just what you tell the families of the kidnapped soldiers, but what you tell the families of the dead," says MK Yisrael Hasson (Yisrael Beiteinu), a former deputy chief of the Shin Bet security service.

Hasson was referring to the potential casualties who will die as a result of actions initiated by senior members of terror organizations released in the expected deals to free the hostages.

"It's true that these dead are still anonymous, and nor will the public know that they died because of the prisoner exchange deal," Hasson says. "But you must also look the families of the dead straight in the eye."
The 'going rate' for terror exchanges these days: 400 terrorists for each Israeli. Can anyone really believe that releasing terrorists is not going to spurn more kidnappings and more terrorism even if we do get the current prisoners back?
Two traumas lie buried in the subconscious of any discussion of a deal to release soldiers taken prisoner or kidnapped: the Jibril deal of 1985, in which 1,150 prisoners and detainees, including murderers, were exchanged for three Israeli soldiers; and the Tannenbaum deal, in which 430 prisoners and detainees, including those considered important bargaining chips, were exchanged for the abducted Israeli civilian and three bodies. You might say the established rate is 400 detainees per Israeli.

"Look how many people returned for life sentences from the Jibril deal," Hasson says. "More than 30 people were killed as a results of the release of Islamic Jihad people in the Jenin region in the Tannenbaum deal. A hundred and something were wounded. It is a terrible thing."

Hasson thinks that instead of negotiating for the kidnapped soldiers' release, Israel must create a balance of deterrence - create a situation in which no senior Hamas member would be able to walk on the street in Gaza until Gilad Shalit has been freed, or kidnap a Hezbollah member every month. "It can't be that the only option is negotiations," he says.
MK's seem divided on the issue, with most of the divisions surprisingly falling in parties viewed as being in the center and not just being a simple right-left division:
"If we didn't release them, we wouldn't pay with casualties? Where's the proof?" asks Kadima MK and retired IDF general Prof. Yitzhak Ben Yisrael, who is a strategic security expert.

"Nobody can say what might have happened if the Tannenbaum deal had not taken place," concurs retired general and former Mossad chief Dani Yatom, a Labor MK. "What is clear is that the terrorists' motivation never declines. We hit them hard and they shoot; kill them and they shoot. I don't see that their motivation has gone up or down as a result of their succeeding or not to release prisoners."

Prof. Shlomo Breznitz, a University of Haifa psychologist and world-class expert on stressful situations, was until recently an MK from Kadima. He says he does not accept the claim that the source of Israelis' strength is their sensitivity to the individual.

"That is one of our main weak points - we are fighting a cruel enemy and tie our own hands," Breznitz says, adding: "In the Second Lebanon War a division's assault came to a halt because of two wounded soldiers. It is totally absurd."

Breznitz, known to be close to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, says that Olmert must tell the families of the kidnapped soldiers that Israel cannot afford the mammoth deals, that this is impossible under the present circumstances. "The prime minister finds himself a victim of decades-old policy. You cannot expect him to drop it just like that. He is helpless."
Hasson and Breznitz come closest to being correct among the politicians. Israel cannot and should not be releasing hundreds of terrorists for each Israeli the terror groups manage to kidnap. There is no way that doing so does not encourage them to kidnap more Israelis and it has been proven empirically that released terrorists go back to being terrorists. On a macro level, Israel cannot keep feeding that terrorist frenzy.

While I have tremendous sympathy for the families of the kidnap victims, and admiration for the way in which - for the most part - they have coped with their tragedy, they have one thing that my daughter's friend Nava Appelbaum's family and that my friend Arnold Roth (father of Malki HY"D who was murdered in the Sbarro terror attack) do not have: Hope of ever seeing their loved ones alive again. I'd rather leave the Shalit, Goldwasser and Regev families' hopes unfulfilled than encourage - God forbid - more young people ending up like Nava and Malki. And I believe that responsible leadership ought to agree that my position is what's best for the country as a whole even if it is clearly the worst for those three families.

5 Comments:

At 12:32 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

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At 12:33 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

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At 12:34 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

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At 12:37 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

Is it me or does any one find it ironic Israel ends up applying the death penalty post facto when the IDF liquidates the terrorists who are released? I would say its better to kill them first than to see them end up in Israeli prison. The deterrent power of a dead terrorist is its own argument. He can never return to murder Jews again.

 
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