Friday, April 18, 2014
Time to draw new lines
In 1928 my grandfather, my namesake, wrote in an article that the "character of a person is not black and is not white; it is the result of the relation between appetite and ability. Man has appetites and he seeks to fill them by turning to the path of least resistance. If the resistance is too great, the person says to himself that the benefit is not worth the cost and he forgoes his desires. But because he sees a lack of resistance, he says to himself: 'Here I can…' The most poisonous venom capable of infecting the virtue of man is the phrase 'here I can.' Any place where this term is valid, virtue is noneffective."
He came to this insight from historical examples, such as the difference between the Belgians' behaviors in their own country as opposed to in the Congo. Ergo his conclusion that the idea of turning the other cheek should never be adopted, under any circumstances. Restraint and failing to respond in kind to acts of aggression was unacceptable in his view, because it not only falls short of instilling the attacker with shame and restraint, it actually does the opposite -- it encourages him to act more aggressively because he feels that "here he can." In his opinion, this was the reason behind the persecution and pogroms against the Jews in the Diaspora. It is according to this principle that we must conduct our stately affairs, if we want to stay alive.
The Palestinians have become accustomed to thinking "here we can," and murder peaceful civilians if they are Jewish, which is why such acts of slaughter are not seen by them as murder or crimes against humanity. They justify it with the whitewashed Arabic word "muqawama" (meaning resistance). The most recent incident occurred, to our sorrow, on Passover eve, when Israel Police Chief Superintendent Baruch Mizrahi was murdered by a terrorist.
It is impossible not to connect this murder with the release of the Palestinian prisoners (including of course those with "blood on their hands"). Therefore the responsibility for the murder falls on the perpetrators, but the creation of the climate among the Palestinians for such acts falls on the entire Israeli government, which agreed to turn the other cheek to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, so that he could do Israel the honor of sitting down for empty talks only to eventually spit in our face by implementing unilateral measures. All this in complete violation of an agreement with Israel he signed personally in Washington on September 13, 1993.
Israel now needs to declare to the Palestinians, and to the Americans, that it is halting everything and will turn back the clock on the prisoner release if Mizrahi's killer and his handlers are not turned over to Israeli custody within 48 hours; not with the intention of trying them for murder, but for crimes against humanity for intentionally targeting civilians and to serve justice to its fullest. We must not be mollified by Abbas' weak condemnations, which will not even be issued unless the current rules of the game are changed. At the conclusion of these 48 hours Israel must begin applying escalating pressure to find and arrest all those prisoners previously released due to whatever Israeli gestures, including those released in the latest phase.
Only a measure such as this will clarify to Abbas and his cohort that the rules of behavior have changed, that "here they absolutely cannot" make innocent civilians military targets, and that anyone involved in crimes against humanity -- will rot in prison until the end of their days. Only when the release of these murderers ceases to be discussed in any forum, will the deterrence against such acts against our civilians begin to be restored.
As this war proceeds to escalate, Israel must announce it is rescinding the Oslo Accords, which were already nullified by Abbas by going to the United Nations. If you recall, within the framework of the Oslo agreement, some 70,000 Fatah fighters and leaders were permitted to enter the Palestinian Authority; but this was a gesture of peace, which is why once the deal is rescinded and voided these people and their families will be required to go back from whence they came before Israel allowed them entry.
Because Israel's governments since the signing of the Oslo Accords have exhibited weakness in this regard, immense public pressure must be put on elected officials, on ministers and on the prime minister, under the motto: "Here this is forbidden!"