Right of Reply: Seal the evil

By failing to act forcefully against terrorists the government abandons law-abiding Jerusalem Arabs.

mercaz harav funeral 224 (photo credit: )
mercaz harav funeral 224
(photo credit: )
As the latest act of brutal Jerusalem terror was yet again perpetrated by an east Jerusalem Arab, the question of punishment and possible deterrence is again being raised: Should terrorists' homes be destroyed? David Forman recently disparaged the razing or sealing of terrorists' families homes in an opinion piece in this paper ("An exercise in practical stupidity and moral idiocy"). Unfortunately, his essay is as full of factual mistakes as it is of misguided moral thinking. Forman could not even get the terrorists' Jerusalem neighborhoods right. He mistakenly wrote that both the Mercaz Harav murderer and the first bulldozer terrorist came from Sur Bahir. Actually, only the latter did; the former lived in Jebl Mukaber - a fact reported in scores of newspapers, The Jerusalem Post included. Forman also claimed that the prime minister and defense minister had already decided to seal their homes - yet after Tuesday's assault no such operative decision had been made by either the government or the Knesset - although many have expressed support of such deterrent action being taken and various legal options are still being considered. As of this writing (Thursday), both homes stand untouched. While the first mistake indicates sheer laziness (or worse), the second is the type found in many anti-Israel writings - playing loose with facts so as to highlight alleged Israeli cruelty. BEYOND THESE relatively simple errors lay ones even more insidious. Space does not permit me to disassemble all the fallacious points - so I will focus on one alone. Forman derides "administrative demolitions" of east Jerusalem dwellings in general as giving in to "emotion" and the "rule of the street" - that is, capitulation to Jewish public outrage at terror. However, the opposite is true. Administrative demolitions are exactly that, administrative actions taken to enforce building codes and the like. East Jerusalem is full of illegally built dwellings, dangerous homes with no permits. Their demolition upholds the rule of law, flouted by those like the Mercaz Harav murderer's family who have illegally expanded their residences without any of the proper municipal permits. And here lies the emptiness of Forman's actual main point - that the destruction of terrorists' homes is immoral. What Forman misses in his misplaced empathy for "the victim" is that abandoning the strict enforcement of the law - as in winking at east Jerusalem's building infractions - places its residents at the mercy of the most vicious of its elements and strips from them any hope of the very normal life which he claims (and I hope) the majority desire. When criminals have no fear of justice, the just themselves live in fear. IF THE government does not act with the utmost force against terrorists - those who incite to murder and, yes, even those who house them - it offers those east Jerusalem Arabs who wish us no harm no hope of living peacefully under the rule of law. Intimidated by criminals and villains, they themselves shudder at Israel's hesitance to enforce the law. If one's neighbors can build dangerous structures with no zoning control and redress is not to be had, to where can they turn for protection from terrorists' plots and plans if the state abandons them to lawlessness? Deterring terror is part of defeating terror. Despite Forman's citation of an outdated IDF report, just yesterday Yuval Diskin, head of the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and Israel's top antiterror agent, argued that home demolitions can and should be a part of our war against terror. If the government does not take action to dismantle the Palestinian incitement machine that preaches murder to tots and does not focus on law enforcement even in the Arab sector from whence these terrorists come, it abandons all of those who need the law's protection. Terror against civilians must be rooted out. The war against terror needs to be prosecuted to the utmost. Let those who contemplate the most heinous of crimes against us know that their deeds will bring swift punishment upon them and those who have supported them. Let them think of the price that their families will pay for their terror. Let their neighbors know that they are not alone - we will protect them too from thugs who would destroy their lives. Yesterday's victims of terror do not seek revenge - only to spare other innocents from our horror. Only diligent deterrence, not misguided empathy, will ensure this. The writer is the father of Avraham David Moses, who was killed in the Mercaz Harav massacre.