Every year we endure two yahrzeits for our daughter, Malki: Yom Hazikaron, and the day she was murdered. Even 14 years later, both are horrific.
There is a third day in the year that intensifies our grief: October 11th, the day of the Shalit Deal. The day my daughter was robbed of justice. The day her murderer enjoyed a hero’s welcome in her home, Amman, Jordan.
While there is no official day to mourn the loss of justice in this country, Remembrance Day can and should serve that purpose. As we honor those who fell both on battle-fields and the home front, it behooves us to also recall the travesties of justice many of their families suffered.
Those travesties, the Shalit Deal and the releases of murderers to “appease” the Palestinian Authority’s Mahmoud Abbas, have been virtually deleted from our consciousness. Mr. Netanyahu and his ministers have worked to achieve this mass amnesia.
Victims have been demeaned. Their public protests and personal letters have been ignored. They have even been lied to: despite Mr. Netanyahu’s assertion in October 2011 that he sent letters of apology to those families, for instance, none was ever received.
What has become of those released terrorists?
The activities of Malki’s murderer, Ahlam Tamimi who orchestrated the 2001 massacre at Jerusalem’s Sbarro pizzeria, are no mystery. Tamimi, who smiled chillingly upon learning that she had murdered more children than she’d presumed, is today a prominent Hamas operative. Via her weekly TV talk show, her frequent public appearances throughout the Arab world, her Facebook page and Twitter account, she relentlessly incites others to terrorism.
How do the other released prisoners spend their time?
Some have been re-arrested by Israel. My husband and I have inquired of our government and military about them. Mr. Netanyahu promised at the time that those released prisoners who returned to terrorism would serve out their original sentences. We were curious: has that promise been fulfilled?
After receiving a stony silence, we have turned to Israel’s legal system to achieve our right to that information. (The process is still underway.) But while those outrages are now mere historical footnotes, are they – as some suggest – irrelevant to Israel’s current situation?
As we are all aware, Mr. Netanyahu has sought long and hard to galvanize the major powers against a nuclear Iran.
There was his controversial speech to the U.S. Congress in which he warned that Iran and ISIS are competing for what he termed “the crown of militant Islam”.
“In this deadly game of thrones,” he said “there is no place for America or Israel.”
And in September 2014, after ISIS catapulted itself onto the world’s stage with its string of videotaped beheadings, Netanyahu asserted to the UN General Assembly that ISIS and Hamas “are branches of the same poisonous tree.”
When French Jews were massacred earlier this year, Netanyahu was quick to march against terrorism in the streets of Paris along with other world leaders. “They bomb churches in Iraq; they slaughter tourists in Bali; they rocket civilians from Gaza; and strive to build nuclear weapons in Iran… we have to fight these enemies of our common civilization,” he tweeted at the time.
In mid-December, when a self-styled Iranian sheikh held people hostage in a Sydney café for hours and killed three of them, Netanyahu said “Israel and Australia face the same scourge of ruthless Islamist terrorism which knows no geographic bounds and targets innocent civilians indiscriminately.”
Yet despite these efforts, upon the signing of a framework agreement between Iran and the P5+1, it became clear that Netanyahu’s travels, speeches, tweets and interviews had failed.
Quite possibly Mr. Netanyahu’s credibility is to blame.
He is, after all, the only world leader to have ever freed hundreds of convicted terrorists. This fact will forever blemish his record.
While he strove valiantly, despite it, to convince everyone of his commitment to fighting terrorism, he faced an uphill battle. On which planet does the “general” of the global war on terror present the enemy – as he did — with a huge cadre of devoted, experienced soldiers?
Coincidentally, in the week of our Remembrance Day, Americans are also reliving a terror attack on their soil, the Boston marathon bombing. On Monday, that city hosted its second marathon since the attack. Today, the penalty phase in the trial of one of the bombers will begin. Following his conviction on all 30 of the charges against him, the defendant faces either the death penalty or a life sentence. Several of the victims who oppose the death penalty are calling for life imprisonment without parole or appeals. “We must overcome the impulse for vengeance,” they explained.
My husband and I have never urged the execution of convicted terrorists; merely the enforcement of their sentences. For that we have been branded by some of our compatriots as “vengeful”.
Let us use this Remembrance Day to grieve and honor our precious fallen and to accord them all the right to justice.
As the American writer, Lois McMaster Bujold, said: The dead cannot cry out for justice. It is a duty of the living to do so for them.