Is Anyone Listening?

For a very long time I have been speaking of and publishing articles on the need for collective punishment as a deterrent to terrorist attacks. Frustratingly, it seemed that no one was listening. Until today. Two of Israel’s leading daily newspapers came to my “rescue”, commenting on issues which I had previously advocated.

The Hebrew daily YISRAEL HAYOM today reported remarks of Nissan Slomiansky, head of the Knesset’s committee on Constitution, Law and Justice. In it, he recommended stripping citizenship and residency rights from families of Palestinian terrorists in addition to deporting them from Israel and the territories.

His remarks were supported by Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ya’alon who backed deportation as an effective deterrent.
Slomiansky remarked that “when potential terrorists realize that not only their homes will be demolished if they commit an act of terrorism, but their family will be deported as well, it could deter them from acting on their impulses”.

I have been shouting this for a very long time. These actions were effective under the British Mandate and served as an effective tool in deterring Arab terrorism. No terrorist enjoys seeing the demolition of his home and the deportation of his family to distant places.

I am pleased that someone was finally listening. And while Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ya’alon are strong supporters of the Slomiansky proposal, the Attorney General needs to examine it carefully to determine its legality because it could be deemed collective punishment which is now prohibited under international law.

Why? If the punishment was effective under British rule, why is it less effective under Israeli rule? If it aids effectively in reducing murderous terrorist activities against our population, why should it not be positively considered? Why not indeed?

I am a citizen of Israel, very much in love with my country. It pains me deeply to read daily and to listen to television news nightly of another stabbing, another attack, another unnecessary death. Our government must overcome its hesitation and its fears of world criticism. It must act firmly, swiftly, even using unorthodox methods to destroy the enemy and the tools of terrorism.

When Arab teen-age knife stabbers and car rammers realize that their homes will no longer be standing and their parents will be deported to Gaza or elsewhere, it may give them an opportunity to think wisely and carefully before committing a dastardly terrorist attack.

Every measure of precaution should be employed, including collective punishment if our government determines it to be a necessary, if unpleasant, effective act in reducing or eliminating terrorism.

The English-language JERUSALEM POST commented on Netanyahu’s alleged plan to hand over some West Bank territory to the Palestinians as a gesture to quell the violence. The paper quoted an Arutz 2 television report which was vehemently denied by our Prime Minister who responded that “there won’t be any transfer of territory to the Palestinians…. Not 40,000 dunams, not 10,000 dunams, and not even one meter”. Not a single inch of land will be relinquished and there will be no talk of territory until the terrorist activities cease permanently.

It appears that our government is taking stronger actions to stem the tide of two months of almost daily murders and attacks, not only in Jerusalem and Hebron, but in cities in central Israel as well. Kol ha kavod lahem. More power (honor) to them !

We have tried all measures, military and political, to reduce this terrorist activity but without much visible success. Perhaps it is time to give Knesset member Slomiansky’s proposal a chance to work.

As Chanukah, the season of miracles approaches, let there be a new miracle in our land… the unity of all the Zionist parties in government to this proposal. Let us, for once, be a united Jewish country.

Hopefully our Attorney General will find legal loopholes to overcome the accusation of collective punishment. “Temporary vacation” might be a better term when deporting families. When quiet returns, so may they.

About the Author
Esor Ben-Sorek is a retired professor of Hebrew, Biblical literature & history of Israel. Conversant in 8 languages: Hebrew, Yiddish, English, French, German, Spanish, Polish & Dutch. Very proud of being an Israeli citizen. A follower of Trumpeldor & Jabotinsky & Begin.
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