Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Difference Between Us and Them

This appeared in YNET. It gets to the heart of one of the key differences between the Israelis and the Palestinian Arabs:

Israeli terrorists - of whom there are extremely few - go to jail.

Palestinian Arab terrorists - of whom their are many - get soccer tournaments named in their honor.

Uri Orbach explains why he does not intend to support calls to pardon Jews who murdered Arabs

Uri Orbach

Our 60th Independence Day is right around the corner, and some rabbis and council heads from Judea and Samaria communities are already calling for the release of Jewish security prisoners. After all, the celebrations are a time of forgiveness, and if we free Arab terrorists with blood on their hands, why don't we also free Jewish ones etc.

Even Rabbi Ovadia Yosef and Shas joined the calls. After all, our prisoners have families and pregnant wives, and we know from past experience that Jews who are freed do not murder again - and just between us, in light of the events going on at the time, we can certainly understand what they did, even if we don't agree with it, etc.

I apologize for my attempt to ruin the party. After all, how can one speak out against the release of a Jew who already paid his debt to society (some will say he even paid it twice - first when he murdered, and the second time when he sat in prison.) Yet on this not-so-festive occasion, it would be good to clarify one bothersome issue.

Amongst us, within the religious public, we are very angry about murderers who are "one of us," especially when those murderers are being associated with us. After all, he didn't act in our name, and certainly not on our orders. In fact, we explain, he even caused great damage to the settlement enterprise, to National-Religious Judaism, and to the religious public in general. Yet 15 minutes after we completely disassociate ourselves from him, and the prisoner finds himself in jail, feelings of pity awaken within us.

Have some mercy, Jews - because he has a family or suffers from back pains, and especially because we know him, and he's actually a really good guy. So ahead of Passover or Independence Day we start working on their behalf. They may indeed not represent us, but we need to represent them. Every semi-psycho who attempted to kill Arabs is suddenly the entire religious public's problem. Anyone who didn't think for a moment before he proceeded to hurt Arabs suddenly takes up whole days in the schedule of Knesset members and rabbis dealing with his urgent matter. As if he was a Prisoner of Zion.

It's one thing for whole communities to assist the prisoners' families. The families are not at fault after all for the father's display of radical irresponsibility. The support offered to the families is a nice act of solidarity by the religious community, just as it would be in the case of any family facing a difficult situation.

But why, for God's sake, do we need to make an effort to secure the release of serious terrorist-criminals? Only because they're "one of us?" Only because they mere tried or managed to kill Arabs?

After all, we are not talking about helping someone who found himself in a situation where he was forced to shoot, or someone who became mixed up with a leftist and vengeful legal system. Rather, those are people who actively and deliberately initiated an attack on Arabs.

They should be seeking the support of those who they sought out for a permit to do the deed.

We don't work for you

So I'm taking this opportunity to turn to the next religious terrorist. I won't bother to explain to you the "thou shalt not murder" ban. It seems insulting that we even need to discuss such things. I will even not try to convince you of the future damage to be caused to you, your family, to your community, and to the entire nation - I won't even try. I also won't amuse you with the importance of adhering to the law. I may be naÔve, but after the Jewish underground that operated almost 30 years ago, and after a few more acts of violence by our people, I at least expect that the lesson was learned.

Yet if after all those cases, Ami Popper, and Ben Shimol, and Goldstein, and Yigal Amir, you still fail to understand the significance and heavy price of this act - don't be asking for pardons. At least don't expect that rabbis and Knesset members and just regular people on the street who disassociated themselves from you when you were nabbed will make an effort in the future to secure your early release. We don't work for you.

Please pay attention, the next terrorist. If you commit an act of grave violence, and if you are caught, you will not be released for the holidays or for a brit celebration or for a relaxed weekend. Our automatic sense of solidarity with people of your type is going on vacation. The solidarity resources of the National-Religious community are limited, and you're certainly not worth it to have us wasting our empathy on you.

It is better to invest our public and personal energies in a thousands more important goals. And if you decide, after everything that has already happened; to go wild with a gun, don't ask us to arrange a pardon for you. This is your problem.

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