Editorial: Justice in Jericho

One side was as determined to bring the murderers to justice as the other was to set them free.

rehavam zeevi 298.88 (photo credit: Rehavam Ze'evi memorial site)
rehavam zeevi 298.88
(photo credit: Rehavam Ze'evi memorial site)
'We call upon all American and British citizens to leave Palestinian territories immediately, otherwise they will be subject to kidnapping and other consequences," said Abu Qusai, a spokesman for the Aksa Martyrs Brigade. This laconic statement is an apt summary of the state of play in the global jihad against the West, four and a half years after 9/11. Following the recent "cartoon jihad," the latest excuse for Islamist violence and mayhem began yesterday, when the British government, on behalf of itself and the US, announced that monitors deployed by both nations in a Palestinian Authority prison to ensure that the killers of tourism minister Rehavam Ze'evi would not be released could no longer safeguard their own security, and had therefore left their posts earlier that morning. As British Foreign Minister Jack Straw explained: "The UK and the US have repeatedly raised our concerns over the security of our monitors with the Palestinian Authority and urged them to meet their obligations... The Palestinian Authority has consistently failed to meet its obligations under the Ramallah Agreement." Previously, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas had confirmed the intention of Hamas to release these prisoners - and his intention to do nothing about it - by stating that he should not be held responsible for the result. Faced with the imminent prospect of Ze'evi's killers' going free, Israel raided the prison with the goal of arresting them. After most of the prisoners exited the prison under IDF orders and Israeli forces began tearing down the prison room by room, Ze'evi's killers eventually handed themselves in to Israeli custody. The PA requirement to extradite terrorist suspects to Israel under the Oslo Accords was never implemented, so Israel never had an opportunity to try Ze'evi's killers. Now they will have their day in court, though the identity of the killers is not disputed. A photomontage of the killers, weapons brandished, standing over a coffin with Ze'evi's picture on it appears on the Web site of their organization, the PFLP (see http://www.pflp.net/index.php?action=ViewImage&id=38). Before the day was out, some Palestinians did, as usual, attempt to use violence to turn the world against Israeli behavior and to distract from their own crimes that necessitated Israeli action. We can only hope that this time, this tactic will not succeed in obscuring what the operation served to highlight in unusually distinct relief, namely the gap between Western and Arab concepts of justice. For Israelis, the idea of the Palestinian assassins on the loose was unacceptable. For the Palestinians, particularly the incoming Hamas government, the prospect of the killers, who for many of them are heroes, remaining behind bars was unthinkable. One side was as determined to bring the murderers to justice as the other was to set them free. This gap illustrates a similar one regarding conceptions of terrorism. Though the Arab world likes to pretend that it is part of the war against terrorism, it is clear that the Arab concept of terrorism often only includes attacks against Arabs, not Palestinian attacks against Israeli civilians. Though the attack on Ze'evi was not a typical terrorist attack, in that it did not target random civilians, the same pride in his murder is, even today, displayed with regard to the "martyrs" who blew themselves up in buses, cafes, malls and streets. Even under Abbas, who claimed to oppose terrorism, Palestinian streets, events, and summer camps continue to glorify suicide bombers. Abbas himself has was always disinclined to express moral, as opposed to tactical and temporary, opposition to the mass murder of civilians. The cult of terror has not lost its grip on Palestinian society, and the rise of Hamas portends, if anything, its comeback. But all this is not just Israel's problem, as the reaction to the IDF operation indicates. Even before the standoff ended, citizens from the US, Australia, Switzerland, South Korea and other countries were kidnapped in Gaza, and the EU and British Council headquarters were torched. So we return to the new Islamist formula: If you protest, ridicule or fight back against our violence, we will become more violent and accuse you of aggression. Not only does the cult of suicide bombings continue, but added to it is the use of rampant violence to intimidate the West.