Late Sunday night, the world learned the names of the 26 terrorists to be released “pursuant to the Government’s 28 July 2013 decision to resume the diplomatic negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.” The list of the terrorists’ names reads like Hell’s phone book.
ALL of the terrorists to be released this Tuesday were convicted of murdering Jews; many have multiple murders to their credit. Their names will not be listed here to sully this page. I fear, regrettably, that their names will not be lost to history and will reappear in the not-too-distant future, as they will almost certainly resume their lives of terror. As noted by the Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security agency, in a statement released prior to the first terrorist release which preceded the opening of the peace talks, “Recently, there has been a considerable rise in activity by those released in the Shalit Deal.”
There is no rehabilitation for these killers. They do not see what they did as murder; they see it as a “holy” mission.
When you think about it, why should the terrorists change their ways? Parties, awards ceremonies, national adulation, and a guaranteed lifetime income far above the Palestinian per capita in a shaky economic environment — what’s not to like? And if they want to get back to work, there is a job waiting in the incitement industry or in a return to the boom market of terrorism.
It is appalling to see these murderers honored as heroes and feted as returning champions of the Palestinian cause. Scenes of the holiday-like celebrations that greet returned terrorists in the past bring a national nausea to Israel; images of the terrorists in surprisingly robust health when contrasted with the image of the emaciated Gilad Shalit bring the nation to tears.
These 26 killers are to be released to two locations; five to Gaza and 21 to Yehudah/Shomron, making the latter group neighbors of mine. I cannot express adequately my feelings knowing this. One possible response I have thought of was inspired by, of all sources, our dog. It is law in Israel that all dogs have a micro-chip embedded in them. The benefit of this non-painful process is that they can be tracked and, if necessary, all their relevant information can be accessed. Why not similarly tag the released terrorists? We would be offering them the choice: take this opportunity to begin and maintain a law-abiding life, or be tracked and hunted down like a rabid dog. I wonder what the impact would be on their post-prison lives.
According to many news outlets, it’s not like we in Yehudah/Shomron got nothing out of the release other than 21 new neighbors. Supposedly, the compensation we in Yehudah/Shomron will receive is 1,500 or so new housing units to be built. This claimed quid pro quo is faulty and offensive. Making any association between what is the natural right of a nation to expand on its sovereign land (there is no thought of taking Palestinian land for the building projects) and the addition of the 21 killers to the region is morally offensive. It is a cynical abuse or ignorance of Jewish history by politicians and media pundits to imply that Jews only have the right to build on our historic homeland when it is in exchange for the release of murderers. The entire peace process conflates the issues and breeds this sort of moral equivocation. The nation of Israel has the right to build homes in Israel and also to protect Jews in Israel and throughout the world without releasing convicted murderers as “confidence-building measures” for the right to sit across the negotiating table with people who will honor and celebrate the cold-blooded murderers of Jews whom Knesset Speaker MK Yuli Edelstein, of the ruling Likud Party, described as “the best of our sons and citizens — soldiers, teachers, and even a Holocaust survivor.”
The release of these terrorists was meant as a “confidence-building measure,” and it appears that President Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority are quick learners. A representative of the Palestinian Authority negotiations team leaked items from the Palestinian list of demands in the peace talks. Most of the items are absolute non-starters with Israel, making the built “confidence” of the Palestinians more like hubris. The two major Palestinian demands are full right of return for the supposed Palestinian diaspora, and land swaps not to exceed 1.9 % of the so-called “West Bank,” less than half of the land necessary to incorporate the lion’s share of settlers. There is no way Israel will accept these demands. Without a radical revision of the Palestinian demands, a trait they are not known for, there is no chance that the peace talks will succeed. Recognizing this reality and applying it to the issue of the prisoner release, the freed terrorists are simply the luckiest men in the world. They got their get-out-of-jail-free card without the Palestinian Authority acting in good faith in the negotiations.
Even the Associated Press, not known for sympathetic reporting on Israel, acknowledged that “this week’s release appeared especially charged because Israel is receiving little in return except for the opportunity to conduct negotiations.” The decision is also controversial because recently three Israelis have been killed and another, a child, was severely wounded. Also, in the weeks following the first release, Israel experienced an upsurge in Palestinian terror incitement and activity in Yehudah and Shomron from the two top Palestinian factions, the Fatah faction that controls the PA and its rival, Hamas. Underscoring the point of the immorality of releasing terrorists is that the Hamas campaign is led from abroad by a previously released terrorist.
The number of terrorists released on Tuesday is 26. Ironically, when considered in terms of gematria it is, l’havdil, the same value as the unutterable name of Hashem. To ensure that all things retain balance, I suggest that with the release of this evil 26 we, the Jewish people, release a countervailing “26” into the world with a greater recognition of Hashem in the world.
Meir Solomon is a writer, analyst and commentator living in Alon Shvut, Israel, with his wife and two children. He can be contacted at msolomon@Hamodia.com