Today, no punishment – not imprisonment or even the destruction of terrorists’
homes – can ever serve as deterrence to terrorism in the face of the current
attitudes in the Palestinian society, the Palestinian Authority, and
international forums The Library of Congress archives contains pictures of the
British mandatory army in Palestine dynamiting whole sections of Arab
neighborhoods in Jenin and Jaffa in 1938 in response to acts of terror during
the “Arab revolt” between 1936 and 1939. After Israel’s establishment, its
military and judicial establishments adopted the British emergency laws, and for
a period the IDF blew up houses of Palestinian terrorists as punishment and a
menacing act of deterrence to would-be terrorists. But the international
opprobrium was overwhelming, claiming that the act was an illegal collective
punishment. Israel put a halt to the practice.
A convicted Palestinian
terrorist – even guilty of the most heinous crimes – can be assured that he will
never face an Israeli death sentence (it doesn’t exist); will receive five-star
prison care, including an academic degree if he wishes; is comforted knowing
that his family will receive monthly stipends from the PA , often funded by
European governments; and will have his sentence abruptly canceled when he and
his colleagues are traded for an Israeli hostage or released due to extortionary
PA demands in return for showing up at peace talks.
terrorist knows going into prison that upon leaving he and his family will be
hailed by Palestinian society and the PA as a hero, and adulated by future
terrorists. And lest he fear being killed while committing an act of terror, he
can take comfort in the knowledge that he will receive the loving care of 72
heavenly virgins and have a playground named in his honor in a Palestinian
Palestinian terror, therefore, is a crime against humanity that
bears limited or no liability. No punishment.
No hard time. No lethal
injection. No societal disgrace.
But the Palestinians should not be
singled out. Over the decades of the Arab-Israeli conflict, this principle of
limited Arab liability for aggression, terrorism and incitement has repeatedly
held true. Ironically, this tolerance of Arab aggression, like the tolerance of
Arab family honor killings, smacks of a patronizing racism.
are held to a lower moral standard. They are not punished for their
Arab attacks on the Jewish Yishuv were rewarded by the British
government with White Papers limiting Jewish immigration into Eretz Yisrael as
the Nazis were closing in. Egyptian aggression was ignored when president
Eisenhower forced Israel to withdraw from the Sinai Peninsula in 1957
empty-handed. Nasser responded by calling for genocide against Israel and
closing the Straits of Tiran, and the fuse was lit for the 1967 war.
arch-terrorist Yasser Arafat was never hauled before an international tribunal
as a war criminal but was applauded in the United Nations, welcomed in the White
House and recognized as a head of a nascent state even as he continued planning
Attacks on Israel over the years simply went
unpunished – limited or no liability was imposed for these acts of war. Sinai in
its entirety was returned to Egypt – twice. Dating back to their 1964 Charter,
Palestinians refused to recognize the rights of a Jewish state, but received
international support for their demands for 100 percent of the West Bank and the
“right of return” to towns in pre-1967 Israel.
Today, as Secretary of
State Kerry conducts his peripatetic peace process, Palestinian leaders know
that they can continue their incitement against Israel with limited or no
liability. Acts of Palestinian terrorism are not condemned by PA President
Mahmoud Abbas. Ridiculous charges made by PA negotiator Saeb Erekat that Israel
may kill Abbas go unanswered by world leaders.
contributions to the PA continue to flow into leaky, corrupt
Tragically, the ambivalent and even tolerant responses to
Palestinian aggression reflect a general moral relativism endemic in the West
today, led by the United States. Bashar Assad’s war crimes go unanswered, and
Iran’s rejection of UN resolutions on nuclear weaponization are ignored and
rewarded with sanctions relief – Geneva “agreements” notwithstanding.The
author served as a senior Israeli diplomat in Washington. Today, he is a
public affairs consultant and publishes www.israeldailypicture.com.