Smuggling life

The question boils down to whether our society should allow those who have taken life to beget life.

July 31, 2016 00:13
3 minute read.
Prisoners exchange deal

Palestinian prisoners who were released from Israeli prisons as part of a prisoners exchange deal between Israel and Hamas wave from a bus . (photo credit: REUTERS)


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After months of terrorist violence by the usual suspects, mostly suicidal attacks by brainwashed Palestinian youth, a report surfaced last week of an alleged new, nonviolent direction in Palestinian opposition to Israel: in vitro fertilization.

According to the Los Angeles Times, about 50 Palestinian children have been born over more than a decade via IVF, made possible by their terrorist fathers smuggling sperm from prison. IVF doctors report that sperm samples have arrived in eye-dropper bottles, candy wrappers, potato chip bags, and other improvised containers.

The Prisons Service notes that, while technically such smuggling is a crime, it is virtually impossible to interdict and for that reason the phenomenon has been ignored since first appearing in 2003. That year, according to Dr.

Salem Abu Khaizaran, director of the Razan Medical Center, which has clinics in Ramallah and Nablus, prisoners’ wives first applied for treatments in the West Bank.

The Razan Center provides the IVF treatments for free as a patriotic gesture to the wives of prisoners, whose childbearing years might pass before their spouses are released, said Abu Khaizaran. The center does not receive outside financing, he said.

“It’s considered a national mission and a national achievement,” said Zaid Nasser, a doctor at the clinic. “This is helping the prisoners. They get hope from the fact that they’ll have a family waiting for them” when they get out of prison.

There are some 6,000 Palestinians in Israeli prisons, many of them sentenced for crimes of violence against Israelis ranging from stone throwing to firebombings to vehicle ramming, to stabbing attacks. While they lack the enjoyment of conjugal visits, many prisoners use their incarceration to earn academic degrees by correspondence, in anticipation of a more peaceful life upon their release.

Palestinian politicians laud the prisoners’ smuggling as an important contribution to the Palestinian “resistance.”

“We support the centers offering IVF to prisoners’ wives, helping them fulfill their natural right to continue their husband’s name, which is denied by the Israeli occupation,” said Abeer Abu Kishek, an adviser to the Palestinian Authority’s social affairs minister.

The situation raises important issues with regard to crime and punishment in Israel. For example, while Israeli prisoners are allowed conjugal visits in which to procreate – even prime minister’s assassin Yigal Amir – they are not permitted for Palestinian security prisoners.

One might think that fathering children is not normally part of being a prisoner, particular for one who has murdered in acts of terrorism. Assuming that such prisoners are responsible for their crimes, then procreation is one of life’s facets that is lost when going to prison; it’s an automatic forfeit when a terrorist chooses to commit a crime.

Different countries treat the question of conjugal visits in different ways. The United States Supreme Court, for example, has ruled that there is no constitutional right for a prisoner to have a conjugal visit. Only four US states allow conjugal visits – also known as “extended family visits” – and even there they exist only in state prisons, not in the federal prison system. The states are California, Connecticut, New York and Washington.

Great Britain and Northern Ireland do not allow conjugal visits, while Germany permits them only after rigorous screening.

In the absence of the right to conjugal visits, a California prisoner sued the California Department of Corrections in 1999 for the right to send his wife a sperm sample for artificial insemination. William Reno Gerber won his case, but was reversed on appeal. In a bizarre instance of US justice, Gerber was denied conjugal rights because of his third conviction and sentence of 111 years in prison.

His three crimes: firing a gun into his television set in a fit of rage, illegally firing a gun and making terrorist threats.

He was sentenced under California’s “three strikes law,” which limits mandates lengthy sentences. The Supreme Court is reviewing the law’s constitutionality.

Allowing Palestinian security prisoners the right to conjugal visits or access to IVF procedures is a different matter.

The question boils down to whether our society should allow those who have taken life to beget life.

While one can sense the joy of new IVF mother Lydia Rimawi of the West Bank, does one feel the same for her sperm-smuggling husband, Abdel Karim, serving 25 years for the 2001 murder of tourism minister Rehavam Ze’evi?

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