Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has a bank of excuses aimed at torpedoing any effort to renew the negotiations with the Palestinians
Odeh Bisharat for Haaretz
Did Israel pay child benefits to the family of Yigal Amir, the man who murdered Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin? Will Ehud Yatom, who killed the two Bus 300 hijackers with his own hands, get an old-age allowance? Does the state pay old-age benefits to Moshe Zar, who was the driver for the Jewish underground cell that in 1980 planted a bomb that led to the amputation of the legs of Nablus Mayor Bassam Shaka?
These are just some examples of Jews who were involved in acts of terror and the killing of prisoners. There are more. The answers to the questions, of course, are clear; these and others who committed acts of terror are getting social benefits. And that’s fine, because a properly run state makes a distinction between rights and duties.
Lawbreakers must be punished, but not deprived of their social rights; otherwise, it would be a jungle here. Even criminals have the right to live in dignity, not to mention their families, who are entitled to social benefits no matter what their relatives have done.
U.S. President Donald Trump violates this fundamental principle. He claims to want to achieve peace in the Middle East, while at the same time demanding that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas halt stipends to the families of Palestinian prisoners, thus sentencing tens of thousands of people, including many children, to poverty or even starvation, which sooner or later will fuel another outburst of violence.
Defense officials, who are familiar with developments in the occupied territories, should be the first to protest this catastrophic folly. They must tell the Americans that this is not the way to make peace; this is the way to create the next explosion. People turn to violence when they are suffering, not when things are going well for them. It’s axiomatic. “They threw him bound into the sea and warned him not to get wet,” goes a line in an Arab poem. The occupation is the sea, or more accurately, the swamp, that begets despair, depression and violence. If the sea/swamp of occupation did not exist, there would be no security prisoners.
After all, what can anyone expect from a child who is born between fences and behind checkpoints, who is also prevented from earning a living? For such a child the occupation sketches out a miserable future, whose gloom threatens both the occupiers and Israeli civilians. And then they roll their eyes and wonder why the Palestinians incite against Jews. Really, now! Has such a child ever met a Jew like author David Grossman? Do you expect a child whose room is being raided in the dead of night to sing “Heveinu Shalom Aleikhem?”
On the other hand, we must say that the Palestinians are required to fight all signs of disseminating racist hatred that attacks Jews just for being Jews. After all, that’s also a guarantee of a healthy society, since racist incitement sooner or later boomerangs, targeting the society from which the racism emerges. That’s why I would certainly be pleased if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would demand from Abbas to confiscate a book called “The Jewish Minority in Israel: Open and Hidden Processes,” written by some disturbed Palestinian professor, in which he calls Jews “parasites” and calls for them to be rounded up and placed in detention camps. How low can the Palestinians go? Not only is Abbas silent, but news reports say that 400 members of the Fatah Central Committee attended the book launch, along with senior Palestinian Authority and Fatah officials.
But let’s go back to where we began. It’s clear to anyone who is keeping track of the rabbits that Netanyahu keeps pulling out of his hat when facing any chance of renewed negotiations with the Palestinians that he’s imitating the military, where they prepare a bank of targets to be pulled out when necessary. Netanyahu has a bank of excuses aimed at torpedoing any political effort. Sometimes it’s Palestinian incitement, sometimes it’s a demand to recognize the Jewish state and sometimes it’s a claim that evacuating settlements is ethnic cleansing. When the stipend rabbit fades, be prepared for the next rabbit.
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