The granting of ‘limited liability’ to the Palestinians

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.

January 6, 2014 22:52
3 minute read.
Palestinian throwing stones at Israeli border police near Nablus, March 29, 2013.

Palestinian throwing stones at Israeli border police 370. (photo credit: REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman)


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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.

A Palestinian 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 town.

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.

Arab states are held to a lower moral standard. They are not punished for their crimes.

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.

The 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 terrorist attacks.

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.

Indeed, world contributions to the PA continue to flow into leaky, corrupt coffers.

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

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