We educated them

We released and released again, and we educated all that releasing convicted murderers is the logical mode of operation.

Protest for Palestinian prisoners (photo credit: Mohammed Salem/Reuters)
Protest for Palestinian prisoners
(photo credit: Mohammed Salem/Reuters)
The UK's channel 4 prepared a few years ago a documentary film called “inside the mind of a suicide bomber.” The film was taken inside an Israeli prison. In it were interviewed both suicide bombers who had been captured before pressing the button, and “producers” of suicide bombings. The film is illustrative and frightening; to see the cold and uninhibited answers of those who went to murder tens of people is scary. The self-confidence those Palestinian terrorists show translates into danger for us and every peace-seeking free person.
One of the terrorists interviewed in the film is 25-years-old Majdi Amro, who received 17 life sentences for his role in a city bus bombing in Haifa on March 2003. Seventeen people were killed in the attack, nine of whom were children on their way home home from school.
In that film, Majdi Amro, the serial killer terrorist says: “I am not worried! I will not be in jail for long. I will be out shortly and will go back to killing Jews.”
Majdi Amro killed my son Asaf, almost 17 years old, an eleventh grader coming back from school that day on the city bus.
Majdi Amro was released two years ago after eight years in jail, in the prisoner swap for Gilad Schalit and went abroad. His prophecy was fulfilled by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in full.
I can imagine the Palestinian recruiting process looking for young people to join the terror groups. A young man is being approached. His brain is poisoned after years in a hate driven education system and public TV calling for the eradication of the Israeli state and programs glorifying suicide bombers. What will be the winning argument to get that young man on board and join the terror group? Will it be the importance of the struggle? Patriotism? Following the leadership? Palestinian State importance?
The winning argument will be “if you will be caught you will be released in few years.” An argument that will be strengthened by descriptions of the Israeli jail as bearing more semblance to a summer camp than prison, a place turning young terrorists into specialists educated in the “terrorism university.”
Who made this argument of “in few years you will be released” into a winning one? We did. The Israeli government did.
Our short sight and inability to understand how terror works help terrorism. Israeli governments were never good in long-term planning. Governments always deal with the highest fire and clean the desk from today’s urgent issues, while tomorrow and next year are pushed aside to deal with later. We have educated generations of terrorists and potential terrorists that punishment for terror is not so bad. We showed them that killing Israelis is being taken lightly. Palestinian authorities educated them that if they die, streets and squares will be named after them and their families will be supported, Israeli governments educated them that if they will be caught, they will spend a few years in Israeli jail and then will go back home. Win-win for the young terrorist.
How can we then complain to the Palestinian Authority that they have a “revolving door” in their jails? We don’t even have a door. It’s wide open for terrorists to be released.
Short-sighted governments, selfish politicians, ministers more worried about their status with the prime minister, all adopted the approach: “release today and worry tomorrow about tomorrow.”
Concurrently, an aggressive propaganda system educated the Israelis that there are no other options. Ever since the attempt to release the kidnapped soldier Nachshon Waxman in 1994 that resulted in the death of Waxman and one of the soldiers trying to release him, military options are rejected almost automatically and the release of terrorists is presented as the only option. Economic siege is being perceived as harmful in public opinion, especially foreign public opinion. And so the silent majority of Israelis was trained to think that the release of terrorists is the only option available.
Today, after many releases, no one is asking "Why?" On the contrary, they ask, Didn’t we always do it? Why not now? And there is also the laundering of words. After releasing thousands of terrorists who murdered hundreds of Israelis the government justified it with empty words: “Israel's security won’t be harmed,” “if they will return to terror we will know where to find them,” “we will respond where and when we chose.” There was never a shortage of clichés.
Now the government is recycling the cliché “they are old and sick, they can hardly do anything.” They forget to mention that those released are men aged 50-60, in their prime after years of relaxation in Israeli jail; eating the finest food supplied by Israel, being pampered by foreign organizations, enjoying Israel's excellent health system, all free of charge, paid by taxes of their victims, families whose dear ones were killed by those terrorists.
Maybe we should release them, let them go back to their villages where their lives will be harder than in Israeli jail.
There’s no one we can blame but ourselves. We created that monster, step after step since Operation Entebbe in 1976. We released and released again, and we educated all that releasing convicted murderers is the logical mode of operation.
In my head I understand that it may be too late to roll back this process, but in my heart I am furious about every such mass murderer, serial killer, convicted terrorist that is being released by my government.
I just hope that years from now we will not find ourselves without a “place among the nations,” the name of a book written in 1993 by Netanyahu, in which he explained why Israel cannot release terrorists.