Even for an electorate that has grown accustomed to profound political
hypocrisy, the Israeli government’s release of Palestinian prisoners this week
proved to be breathtakingly scandalous and disturbing.
following: among the 26 Palestinian thugs, murderers and terrorists set free was
Kassem Hazem Shabir, who picked up an axe and struck Yitzhak Rotenberg, a
67-yearold Holocaust survivor, in the back of the head, smashing his skull and
killing him together with an accomplice in March 1994.
Polish Jew, had survived the horrors of the Sobibor death camp where most of his
family was murdered before escaping to join the anti-Nazi resistance. After the
war, he was interred by the British for attempting to move to the Land of
Israel, but later managed to join the Israeli army and take part in the 1948 War
And that is what makes this story so bitterly and
After all, Rotenberg heroically survived the
persecution of the German SS, the anti-Semitism of his fellow partisans, the
cruelty of the British Mandatory authorities and even the battle against
invading Arab armies.
But once Kassem Hazem Shabir chose to end
Rotenberg’s life prematurely, the government of the Jewish state that he had
fought so valiantly to defend could not even muster the courage to lock his
killer up and throw away the key.
And just why, exactly, has Rotenberg’s
killer been let go? So that Justice Minister Tzipi Livni can continue to sip
coffee with Saeb Erekat and try to convince him to take parts of the Land of
Israel away from us.
Let’s be clear: the crass immorality of this
prisoner release and the brazen disregard for justice that it represents should
evoke repugnance and revulsion among us all.
Adding to the anguish is the
audacious temerity of the premier in deciding to let these 26 fiends go
Just six years ago, he was singing a very different tune when
then-prime minister Ehud Olmert met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud
Abbas in Sharm e-Sheikh in June 2007. During a joint press conference, Olmert
announced that “as a gesture of goodwill to the Palestinians” he had agreed to
release 250 Fatah prisoners “without blood on their hands.”
Binyamin Netanyahu, then head of the opposition, had this to say: “Releasing
their prisoners is a big mistake... for us, releasing prisoners would be
crossing a red line. We must remember there are prices we can pay and prices we
cannot afford to pay” (Jerusalem Post, June 25, 2007).
later, on November 20, 2007, the Olmert government voted to approve the release
of 411 Palestinian prisoners prior to the start of the ill-fated Annapolis peace
Once again, Netanyahu reacted with scorn, saying that, “The
release of prisoners before the conference is not the path to peace, it is the
path to terror.”
“The Olmert government,” he declared, “is repeating the
mistakes of the Barak government at Camp David – then they gave everything, and
all we received in return was terrorism.”
Furthermore, he added, “The
government decided today to free more terrorists without even getting
recognition of Israel as a Jewish state. The Israeli public wants a sane peace
not a hallucinatory peace” (cited by Ynet, July 22, 2013).
And then, in
August 2008, after still another cabinet decision to free 199 Palestinian
prisoners, the Knesset called a special summer session to discuss “the release
of terrorists and murderers.” Addressing the plenum, Netanyahu made statements
that in retrospect one can only wish that he himself would heed.
government has decided to release prisoners, and I ask why? For what? What did
we receive? This crossing of a line, this release of murderers, is a dangerous
move in the war on terror,” he said.
“This weakens Israel,” Netanyahu
insisted, “and strengthens the terror elements. Most of the public – a huge part
of the public – understands that this is faulty and reflects weakness and loss
of way” (Ynet, August 20, 2008).
If everything Netanyahu said five and
six years ago on this subject was true, and I believe it was, then why on earth
is he now pursuing the very same policy that he previously decried with such
forcefulness? This is not strategy or diplomacy at work. It is perfidy and
iniquity, plain and simple.
Setting Palestinian terrorists free is a
betrayal of common sense, a trampling of Jewish values and an abhorrent display
of moral infirmity.
Shame on every government minister who approved of
And shame on us for tolerating it.