By RON JAGER—
Realizing that Israel cannot be defeated in the battlefield, the Palestinian Arabs have employed terror as a preferred method of destroying Israel from within. Terror has emerged as a strategic threat on Israel and should be responded to with the same perseverance and gravity that existential threats warrant. The release of 1,027 convicted terrorists in exchange for the kidnapped soldier Gilead Schalit last year arose from a misguided moral dilemma that puts a premium on one life yet endangers the lives of many others; the tragic ending to the kidnapping and murder of our three boys Eyal Yifrah, 19, Gil-Ad Shayer, 16, and Naftali Frenkel, 16, who were cold-bloodedly murdered by terrorists released in exchange for Gilead Schalit, places the implications of this enormous moral dilemma into focus. The only rational conclusion from this latest barbaric act of meaningless terror should be that the Israeli public demand of our leaders that in cases of terrorists committing premeditated murder, capital punishment should be invoked, or in street language, the death penalty.
The internal Jewish debate raging in Israel since last night just after all of Israel heard that the bodies of the kidnapped boys were discovered just outside of Halhoul, a small Palestinian Arab village north of the town of Hebron boils down to this; should Israel respond forcibly by eliminating whoever has any connection to the kidnapping or respond with restraint. This debate has tended to overshadow the more important story of how the Arabs living among us continue to use “Palestinian culture” as a calling card in which the shedding of Jewish blood is a prerequisite for both heroism and political credibility. The Arab celebration of the kidnapping and murder of our three boys by the Palestinian Arabs throughout Judea and Samaria has made it all too apparent that those who murder innocent children in the name of Allah, are not partners to any kind rational dialogue, let along restraint. Moreover, the strengthening of Hamas by their “achievement” in successfully reaping the benefits of the kidnapping has further strengthened the appeal of violence for all Arabs against Israel. By invoking the death penalty, we can lessen the perceived benefits and sense of “victory” from the shedding of Jewish blood.
Reports emanating from the White House, the State Department, and from European capitals have all called for Israel to respond with “maximum restraint”. The world, it seems, as Gil Troy has written wants Israel to be a defenseless Jewish state. A defenseless Jewish state would not incarcerate those responsible for mass murderers at a Sbarro pizzeria or a Passover Seder at the Park Hotel. A defenseless Jewish state would not risk the lives of Egyptian soldiers, even if it meant not firing at Palestinian terrorist attackers. A defenseless Jewish state would not retaliate against the Hamas terrorists ruling Gaza. A defenseless Jewish state would not object to Mahmoud Abbas paying the salaries and benefits of terrorists incarcerated in Israeli jails for the murder of innocent Israeli’s or for glorifying terrorists killed by the I.D.F.. A defenseless Jewish state would not inconvenience the Arab world’s liberal leftist appeasers and useful idiots. Instituting the death penalty would provide the most effective deterrence and reject the demand of Israel being singled out by the world to refrain from executing convicted terrorists and murderers. By invoking the death penalty, Israel would ensure that Arab terrorists be held accountable for their murderous behavior making any future trade-offs and early release impossible.
By refraining from enforcing the death penalty, which by the way is allowable under Israeli law and does not require new legislation, we are sending the wrong message to our enemies. Paving the way for a future clemency to Arab murderers will result in an additional loss of public faith in the justice system, which is a pillar of any democratic society. Without popular confidence in the justice system, future terror and the ensuing response by vigilantism will become viable alternatives. One of the central purposes of the criminal justice system is for the state to wrest responsibility for serving justice out of the hands of the injured party. But if the state repeatedly demonstrates that it cannot be trusted to mete out justice, individuals are liable to begin to do so themselves. Instituting the death penalty would circumvent this intervention and leave the decisions handed down by the courts in response to wanton acts of terror and murder as final and impervious to political intervention.
As noted by Stewart Weiss, director of the Jewish Outreach Center of Ra’anana, Judaism, and Jewish history, is an amalgam of glory and grief, celebration and sadness. Remembrance Day and Independence Day are rolled into one. Yizkor memorial prayers are recited on Simchat Torah. The breaking of a glass punctuates a joyous wedding celebration; bitter herbs and salt water are a part of our Passover Seder. Blessing and bitterness, it appears, always seems to operate in tandem. So it is with the tragedy of the kidnapping and cold-blooded murder of our three boys. The Achdut Ha’am that we witnessed and how we all felt as if these three boys where the sons of all of us, the inspiring and righteous behavior of the families of the three boys; this watershed event has evoked for all to see the strength and unity of Am Israel.
The writer, a 25-year veteran of the I.D.F., served as a field mental health officer and Commander of the Central Psychiatric Military Clinic for Reserve Soldiers at Tel-Hashomer. Since retiring from active duty, he provides consultancy services to NGO’s implementing Psycho trauma and Psychoeducation programs to communities in the North and South of Israel and is a strategic advisor to the Chief Foreign Envoy of Judea and Samaria. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org