The guests receive three square meals per day and engage in physical recreation and sports from one to three hours each day.
They enjoy cable TV (including a choice of programming in various languages), ping pong, cooking activities for parties and occasions, full canteen privileges, and, until recently, high school and university tuition. This is how we treat the terrorist murderers we capture and this is what awaits the killers of our three kidnapped boys if they are caught alive.
There is no charge for all these amenities, and best of all, the prisoners are paid monthly salaries ranging between NIS 1,400 and NIS 6,000, depending on how vicious the crime. The more hateful the crime, the higher the salary. These salaries are paid by the Palestinian Authority from the aid money received from European donors (the US Congress saw to it that the US opted out).
When complaints were voiced about this absurdly perverse use of aid funds, the payments were transferred from the PA to the PLO. The PA just passes the funds to the PLO, which pays the salaries, so nothing has changed.
These salary figures may even be understated, because at the start of 2011 the PA announced that it was tripling its salary budgets for prisoners and for the families of suicide bombers. Prior to any such increase, the PA spent about NIS 44 million each month (six percent of its budget) on these salaries.
In theory, these killers are not allowed to have cellphones of any type, but they maintain up-to-date Facebook pages, upload Youtube entries, engage in video calls, share photos and give every indication that they possess smartphones with 3G access.
An Israeli who kills another Israeli does not enjoy these resort conditions, which are reserved for these cold-blooded terrorist murderers.
Except for meals and minimum exercise, each of these many and rich benefits is given out of some misguided self-image or perverted sense of liberal values – they are neither required by law nor remotely customary for captured terrorists in other countries.
A comparison of conditions with the US prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, would make fascinating reading.
Are we stupid or just demented? The answer is “yes.”
Some speculate that we give these benefits because our authority in the prisons is so weak that we need to buy off the prisoners. But surely, this cannot be the case.
It is less important to analyze how we got ourselves into this predicament than to resolve that we are getting out.
Personally, I do not think it inappropriate to execute cold-blooded terrorist murderers, if their guilt is beyond question. But if this contravenes some broadly held societal sensibility, let us at least treat these murderer as murderers, as vile and vicious enemies – not as privileged guests at a five-star resort.