Miriam Weiss Lane

Avoiding Misplaced Mercy

When I read that Adele Biton’s, HYD, killer was denied parole, I heaved a sigh of relief. That’s not because there aren’t any other terrorists at large. There are. The important takeaway is that evil behavior has consequences. Often, it feels as though there is no gravitas to terrorist or criminal acts, as the perpetrators have been set free through parole or prisoner exchanges. This is particularly significant, when the criminal has an ideological basis for his acts and rather than feeling remorse, actually exults in the accomplishment of his nefarious deeds.  Obviously, such a person will continue to commit more acts of terror, as soon as he can. Rather than expressing opprobrium, his community will hail him as a hero.

This doesn’t mean we can never have compassion or mercy on a convict who has truly been rehabilitated, depending upon the nature of the crime. Our Jewish tradition teaches us that those who have compassion on the cruel, end up being cruel to those who should merit compassion. A murderer convicted by a Beit Din (a rare and difficult occurrence) was executed, even if he was remorseful. He acquired absolution through death. There is no death penalty for murder in the State of Israel, due to certain political and social considerations (a discussion for a different time) and possibly the difficulty in preventing erroneous executions of the innocent. This doesn’t mean that we should have mercy on terrorists and criminals who have been duly convicted of horrendously violent crimes to release them early or shorten their sentences. We must endeavor to protect the public and demonstrate consequences for bad acts. I’m so glad Adele’s murderer will remain in jail.

About the Author
I am a US and Israeli attorney. I studied law at Hebrew University and Benjamin Cardozo School of Law. I moved to Israel with my family in 2004.Living in Israel was always my dream. I grew up in a very, educated family who were always discussing and debating topics in current events, history and philosophy. I have a keen interest in the search for truth and justice. To contact me:
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