Friday, July 25, 2008

Rewarding Terror

Steven Plaut | 7/25/2008

On July 2, 2008 an Arab terrorist seized a bulldozer in Jerusalem, rammed it into people and vehicles, and ended up murdering three people (including the mother of an infant) and injuring dozens. The home of the murderer was not demolished. Because the murderer held Israeli citizenship, as an East Jerusalem resident, his family members collected "survivor benefits" from Israel's National Insurance Institute (like social security). They probably also collected payoffs from the Palestinian terrorist groups or their bankrollers in Arab countries who reward families of murderers. Terrorist family members were not expelled or deported. All in all, engaging in murder paid off handsomely. No subprime financial distress for them!

The failure to penalize the family of the mass murderer had its effect this past week. Taking his cue, yet another terrorist seized a bulldozer in Jerusalem and rammed it into vehicles and people, injuring dozens.

Both attacks could likely have been prevented if Israel were to get serious about fighting terrorism and defeating it, as opposed to its existing policy of seeking to end terrorism through appeasement. Israel treats terrorists as ordinary criminals, entitled to Miranda warnings, due process, legal representation, and longwinded trials. But terrorists are neither combatants nor common criminals and should be treated as neither.

Terrorists are not summarily executed in Israel when caught, nor given the death penalty afterwards. Once captured, they are held under resort conditions, with DVDs and air conditioning. The baby murderer Samir Kuntar, released recently by Israel as a payoff to the Hezbollah for recovering the corpses of two IDF soldiers murdered by terrorists, was allowed to do a BA while in prison at an Israeli university and to marry.

Israel is at war, but its leaders are too pusillanimous to declare so. Israel refuses to take any action at all against the families of suicide bombers, regarding them as "innocents" entitled to "rights," rather than as de facto accomplices in murder. Israel's only way for dealing with terror is to ask the terrorist squad leaders who send out the mass murderers in the first place kindly to take action and arrest the terrorist foot soldiers.

While treating terrorists as enemy combatants is better than allowing them to enjoy civilian due process, rules, and protections, it is also an erroneous way of dealing with them. Terrorists must NOT be granted Geneva Convention privileges and POW rights. They must NOT be held under humane conditions, with Red Cross visits.

Terrorists must be treated under a third unique paradigm, neither as POWs nor as criminals. Terrorists must be treated inhumanely. They should be denied human dignities, for behaving without human dignity is the very basis for their behavior and agenda. People who murder groups of children are not entitled to any privileges or exhibitions of compassion. They are beyond the pale. They are garbage. Treating them as such makes a huge powerful statement to the world. We honor those whose values we cherish in myriad ways; let us also exhibit our contempt for those deserving of it.

Moreover, the latest attempts to mollify the Hezbollah terrorists by releasing the baby murderer Kuntar contain even worse unprecedented dangers. One of the unique features of Nazism was the insistence that Jews were "Untermenschen" or an inferior species, and so killing Jewish civilians was not only a legitimate instrument for social policy but downright just. Since Jews were inferior to other humans, there could be nothing wrong with exterminating them like vermin. Jewish lives did not count.

For decades the position of the Arab world has been largely the same. Arabs not only tried to make the point that killing Jewish children and civilians is legitimate, but attempted to coerce Israel into publicly and officially acquiescing in accepting this definition of Jewish inferiority. They did so by equating murderers of Jewish children with soldiers, and demanding that Israel do the same. The vast majority of media organizations largely acquiesced, as manifested in their insistence on referring to suicide bombers as "activists" and "militants," and counting the suicide bombers among the "victims" of any terror atrocity.

Israel's leaders, even the most cowardly, refused to accept this equation. Until now.

When the Israeli cabinet under Ehud Olmert approved a "hostage deal" that traded a baby murderer for the corpses of two murdered IDF soldiers, it for all intents and purposes acquiesced in accepting the axiom of Jewish inferiority and the legitimacy of murdering Jewish children.
Ehud Olmert has made me ashamed to be an Israeli. Steven Plaut is a professor at the Graduate School of the Business Administration at the University of Haifa and is a columnist for the Jewish Press. A collection of his commentaries on the current events in Israel can be found on his "blog" at

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