Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Don’t massacre the truth

Benny Teitlboim

In order to end the deadlock in negotiations to free abducted IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert proposed that we make the definition of “terrorists with blood on their hands” less strict, so that Israel would be able to comply with Hamas’ demand to free security prisoners, in the hopes that such deal would bring the kidnapped soldiers back.
However, we are not talking about security prisoners here, but rather, despicable and contemptible terrorists. Olmert wants to tell us in other words that “blood on their hands” is not a holy science and that if the government only presents it in a pleasant way, it would be able to create an appearance of proper conduct on all fronts: On the one hand it won’t be freeing murderers who planned to kill us, on the other hand it won’t outrage Israeli public opinion, and on top of it we would be able to secure Shalit’s release.

The classification suggests here is only a recommendation at this time: According to the softer definition, a murderer is only someone who actually committed the murder. In other words, the person who stabbed the victim, pulled the trigger, or chocked a Jew with his own hands. Terrorists who blew themselves up in the middle of a crowded shopping mall or coffee shop will also be considered as terrorists with blood on their hands – in those cases, even if we find mitigating circumstances, there would be a technical problem to release them from prison…

So who is not a terrorist with blood on their hands? Anyone who only planned, designed, initiated, encouraged, motivated, financed, or dispatched the terrorists, or someone who drove the terrorists to the shopping mall. Those who built the explosive belt, gave the terrorists a place to sleep en route to the attack, equipped them with explosives, gave them food and drink, or photographed them before they embarked on their mission – all of those people would indeed not be placed in the category of righteous gentiles, but based on the new approach they also do not belong to the “blood on their hands” group.

Best lie is the truth
Even those who fired, but only wounded their victims gravely rather than killing them, or planned a terror attack that failed, or chocked someone but did not have enough time to kill him, would be shifted from the “blood on their hands” drawer to the “vile monster” wing where a release from prison is possible. Based on this logic, terrorists who launch Qassam rockets are not really terrorists with “blood on their hands” – maybe just on their feet. They fired the rocket into the skies, and it happened to land on a school in Sderot only because of gravity. It wasn’t because of their active efforts.

According to the new terms, who is jailed Tanzim leader Marwan Barghouti? A moderate popular leader; a lovely peace-loving man. Blood on his hands? Maybe a little.

A government can decide that it wants to release terrorists who murdered and massacred Israelis in exchange for Gilad Shalit. It’s a difficult yet legitimate decision. But please, do not resort to double talk and softer language and do not talk about “making the definition of blood on their hands more flexible.” Stand up, face the public, and say that you decided to release murdered in exchange for Shalit. The best lie is the truth, and the truth is always better than verbal acrobatics.

The writer is an editor and correspondent on Kol Israel Radio


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