A six-man jury in Austria decided last week that words kill. And for that reason, it sentenced a Hamas member to life in prison for using the social media to urge people to kill Jews in Yerushalayim.
While the verdict may yet be reversed on appeal, it sends a message to terror groups that juries and courts around the world aren’t buying their shopping list of excuses for random violence against civilians, ranging from fighting the “occupation” to exercising freedom of expression or religion.
In another welcome move last week, the European Union’s top court ruled that Hamas should not be taken off the EU’s terror list, contrary to the ruling of a lower court. The EU originally listed Hamas as a terror group in 2001, a move that froze Hamas’ assets in the European Union.
The decision was annulled on procedural grounds by an EU court in 2014. The EU appealed and the EU Court of Justice last week agreed that the 2014 annulment was wrong and must now be reconsidered taking into account arguments not ruled upon in the original decision.
Meanwhile, Hamas funds will continue to be frozen pending the outcome of the reconsideration.
There are two ways to fight terrorism. One is to target the terrorists directly, the other is to deny them the oxygen they need in order to thrive. In denying terrorists the use of the social media as a platform for incitement and access to funds to pay for training, weapons and all the other “costs” of mass attacks, the courts in Europe are choking off terrorism at the source.
Ironically, Israel, which has been a world leader in the direct form of battling terror, has lagged behind in implementing the kind of laws and regulations that make it difficult for terrorists to operate. This is in part because of its High Court of Justice, which consistently places the rights of terrorists over the rights of their intended victims, and in part out of a fear of being perceived in the world as “undemocratic.”
(It is worth noting, in this regard, that the Israeli security services did not want to release the bodies of the terrorists who killed two Israeli policemen on Har HaBayis a few weeks ago, but were forced to do so by the High Court, responding to a petition by the terrorists’ families. The result was a nightmare scene last week in which some 10,000 Israeli Arabs took part in the funerals, hailing the terrorists as “martyrs” and “heroes.”)
But last week saw positive developments in this area, as well, when five U.S. Jewish, Christian and Muslim leaders of the BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) movement were barred from entering the country.
While BDS claims to be advocating Palestinian statehood, its true agenda is to destroy Israel and, as such, there is no reason for Israel to cooperate with this effort by allowing its leaders into the country.
Tzahi Gavrieli, an official at Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs, stressed that the entry ban does not apply to everyyone who agrees with BDS or attends its rallies. Rather, it is strictly meant for those who are “undertaking ongoing, consistent and significant actions to promote and advance a boycott of Israel.” He added that the ban is aimed at “individual activists who are major players, senior leadership in the BDS movement worldwide.”
Last week’s action, approved by Interior Minister Rabbi Aryeh Deri, was the first time the government implemented a policy that was approved in March. It sends a message to BDS leaders that Israel will not aid and abet them in working to undermine the country, and should become standard practice.
Another positive sign in this regard came from Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who announced last week that he would seek to close the Yerushalayim offices of Qatar-based Al-Jazeera , accusing the news network of inciting violence in the capital.
At a time when Yerushalayim was experiencing one of its most tense periods in years, over the government’s decision to install metal detectors, “the Al-Jazeera network continues to stir violence around Har Habayit,” Netanyahu wrote, adding: “I have spoken several times to law-enforcement authorities demanding to close Al-Jazeera ’s offices in Yerushalayim. If this does not happen because of legal interpretation, I will work to enact the required legislation to expel Al-Jazeera from Israel.”
There is a growing recognition, in Israel and the world, that it is legitimate and just to use the law and regulations to limit the freedom of terrorists. For years, the terrorists have taken advantage of democracy to curtail the freedom of their victims, including their most fundamental right to life. The time has come to curtail the rights of the terrorists, and bring safety and sanity back to the Western world.