Commentary by Sarah N. Stern, Founder and President of EMET, the Endowment for Middle East Truth, an unabashedly pro-Israel and pro-American think tank and policy shop in Washington, D.C.
Israel has just released its third group of Palestinian prisoners. These are not freedom fighters who were convicted for wanting to ride in the front of the bus in Selma, Ala. during the heart of the African-American Civil Rights Movement, but people who have been responsible for some of the most heinous crimes imaginable.
Among them are the murderers of Professor Menachem Stern, a historian who won the prestigious Israel prize for his work. On June 22, 1989, as Professor Stern was walking to Hebrew University, he was stabbed to death by Muammar Ata Mahmoud and Salah Kalif Ahmad Ibraham.
Then there were the murderers of Steven Frederick Rosenfeld, 48, a former U.S. Marine, who had gone for a hike in the Judean Hills, when Damara Ibrahim Mustafa Bilal, along with several others, engaged him in a conversation, and ended up stabbing him to death with his own pocketknife.
And of Rachel Weiss who was nine months pregnant, and murdered while riding a bus from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, together with her three children, by Juma Ibrahim Juma Adam, and Mahmoud Salam Saliman Abu Karbish.
Each story in the list of crimes is as gruesome as the last.
[sharequote align="center"]This is like the release of 104 Osama Bin Laden’s.[/sharequote]
It is extremely difficult for me to understand what is motivating this release. Particularly since we know that on the very day that the list was published Saeb Erekat said that the peace talks are over. If all of this is being done as a good will gesture to the Palestinians, where is the good will on their part? And why should the release continue now?
Israel is always ready to do whatever it takes to prove to the world how willing it is to make painful sacrifices for peace, but at what point does one say, “Enough?” Those who have engaged in these horrible acts of terrorism have received a hero’s welcome. Earlier last month, the Palestinian Authority glorified those who had committed similar gruesome acts, who had been freed in an earlier prisoner release, as the PA Minister of Culture presented them with a plaque showing all of Israel as “Palestine” in a prestigious ceremony.
And we know what sort of future awaits some of these released terrorists. They will be treated as returning, conquering heroes. Take for example Ahlam Tamimi. Tamimi was responsible for the planning and execution of the Sbarro Pizza bombing in Jerusalem on Aug. 9, 2001, in which 15 civilians were killed, including eight children, and leaving at least 130 injured.
Tamimi had been released in an earlier prisoner exchange. She has been interviewed several times, boasting about her role in the attack, overtly claiming her lack of remorse. She now lives in Jordan, where she has her own television show sponsored by Hamas, and is treated like a celebrity.
Ahlam Tamimi in a Palestinian television interview. Photo Credit: www.breitbart.com
The real question that has been plaguing me for 20 years now is, what is preventing Israel from telling the truth? Oslo, Hebron, Wye, The Road Map to Peace in the Middle East and all subsequent agreements have been predicated upon one simple concept: Israel is to trade something valuable and tangible, land, and all the Palestinians have to do in return is stop terrorism and the incitement towards violence.
Yet not a day goes by, in which there is not some reminder of the Palestinian Authority’s true intentions, which emanates from the very top down, be it an official ceremony deifying the “martyrs,” or a poem inciting children to become future “shahids,” or a song broadcast on Palestinian National Television of “my beautiful Palestine,” showing a bird flying in “Palestine” (pre-1967 Israel), from the port of Haifa to Beer Sheba, or media programs vilifying Jews, often depicting them with classic anti-Semitic stereotypes.
This hatred has only been reinforced by the prisoner releases. They are feeling like they are on the winning side of history. Why does Israel insist on playing along with this charade? How does that serve to prevent more terrorism? We know the statistics of the high rates of recidivism of those who have committed acts of terrorism. We know that article 51 of the United Nations Charter says that every nation should protect the civilian lives of its own people.
And what about my country, the United States? Why is Secretary of State John Kerry pressuring Israel to release these monsters when we applaud the capture and murder of Osama Bin Laden. This is like the release of 104 Osama Bin Laden’s.
Tamam Masoud, 70, mother of Omar, 40, who was arrested in May 1993 for killing an Israeli lawyer, greets her neighbors while holding a banner in front of her family house at Shati Refugee Camp in Gaza City, Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013. Masoud is one of 26 Palestinian prisoners Israel approved to release, in the second batch to be freed since August under the terms of renewed US-brokered peace talks. It is the second of four planned releases of the longest-serving Palestinian prisoners held by Israel in the coming months. The Arabic on the banner reads, "On the 20th anniversary of his arrest, PFLP (the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine) salute comrade prisoner Omar Masoud, Freedom for prisoners." (AP Photo/Adel Hana)
We know that those who have been released probably would applaud the recent terror attacks in Volgograd, Nigeria, Kenya, Algeria, Mumbai, the Philippines, France, London, Boston and New York. We know that the Palestinians have always championed the enemies of the United States and that on September 11th, some were cheering as our Twin Towers were destroyed, murdering almost 3,000 American citizens.
All of those despise Israel, which they refer to as “the Little (or Minor) Satan,” despise the United States, “the Great Satan,” equally. This release will not win any love for the United States, at Israel’s expense, but will only empower our enemies.
It is about time Israel stops making itself into a doormat, and tells the simple truth about the Palestinian Authority’s constant diet of lies and incitement. Or else I am afraid all of us will have to face even more dire consequences.
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