It’s About Time To Discuss The Death Penalty.

With right wing Yisrael Beytenu’s inclusion, under the leadership of Avigdor Lieberman, into the government block, the question of capital punishment for terrorism has come to the forefront of the Israeli political consciousness.

Leftists are already preemptively crowing over the trampling of civil rights in the name of security, the way this will further undermine Israel’s standing in the international community and the sacrifices being made due to the sudden shift to a right wing government before they even wait to see what unfolds from this new situation.

At the same time, many of the same exact individuals as well as those from both right and left wing have been expressing displeasure with the prisoner exchanges and the leniency shown by the Israeli government when dealing with terrorists.

There is a fear of the increased harshness in the punishments the new government coalition may impose, much of it revolving around the suggested death penalty for acts of terrorism.

Capital punishment has always been a controversial topic. The very existence of a death penalty in society raises the major ethical question: Have we established our justice systems out of a desire for rehabilitation, or out of a desire for retribution?

Time and time again we have seen that rehabilitation in the current normal Israeli manner is not an option, again and again we see released individuals returning to a life of terror, the choice to introduce a capital punishment is at this point an attempt at rehabilitation, final rehabilitation for those not yet caught up in this cycle.

Right now as we speak the current system involves a terrorist getting caught, being put in jail where he has 3 hot meals a day with free access to education, Internet and television. In many ways, a convicted terrorist has access to more free benefits and better accommodations than at least a third of the population in Israel.

Prison sentences are almost always shortened for political reason’s as we’ve seen during any of the multitude of prisoner exchanges over the past twenty years. In essence the Israeli government is providing a slap on the wrist followed by a gift basket.

I do not believe that the introduction of Lieberman will cause many changes in Israel’s general policy.

We’ve had Centrist governments for ages, they’ve accomplished nothing in pursuing the cause of peace, no concessions or improvements to our security have been made in any but the most rudimentary of senses, we’ve had left wing governments, they’ve made things worse  by handing out rewards and benefits for trifling accommodations from the PLO thus inciting further violence.

It’s time to stop wondering and it’s time to stop pretending that we have an equal partner in the peace process, it’s time to stop following endless repetitive cycles that lead only to the worsening of the situation, leading to a cycle of endless horror.

We need a change of procedure and that is what the new government block is giving us, a change in the current state of affairs.

For decades we’ve been rewarding murderers and wondering why our stern lectures about the sanctity of human life to the communities supporting the terrorism haven’t had any effect on curbing the quantity of attacks.

Now, a political party comes along with a leader who proposes a change, albeit a drastic and controversial one, in which he outlines a plan to stop the madness of rewarding bad behavior. Lieberman’s recommendation on the surface is an introduction of the death penalty but there is more to it.

Yes, I accept the entire issue of capital punishment is a slippery slope but at this point, what isn’t? We’ve gone down so many political rabbit-holes and fallen down so many wells I think we’ve lost sight of what a sane people do to defend themselves.

We’re not fighting the entire Muslim world here, we’re fighting a group of extremists, and as such we face the problems resulting from dealing with extremists. I include the PLO in this classification due to its incessant insistence that it continue being lead by Hamas, a known terrorist organization.

I do believe a peaceful reconciliation is possible, provided that the Palestinian side put down their knives and actually show up to the conversation.

We need to stop living under the assumption that we are dealing with rational people, we’re dealing with madmen, extremists who don’t mind contradicting their own peoples set of values.


Death is not something that our enemies want to avoid; it’s something they rejoice in the receiving of so long as they can take a Jew with them. They celebrate our deaths as well as their own.

We’re not talking about a little cultural misunderstanding here, we are talking about two completely different value systems, one that abhors the taking of life and one that worships it.

Do I think the death penalty is the correct solution to the problem currently posed by terrorists?

No, I think that harsher prison conditions are one of the many things that need to be incorporated to help curb the growing wave of terrorism. I think in drafting a law involving the death sentence in a form that is racially specific is a terrible idea, simply lending credence to those who call Israel an Apartheid state. But at the same time do I lament that a strong right wing group has joined the government and is calling for reform?

No, not for one instant.

I see this as the lesser of a far greater evil, that evil being the continued allowance of Hamas terrorists to kill Israeli citizens without trial or punishment.

This is not revenge though many see it as such an act. This is not a faulty choice based purely on the desire for retribution. This system is being introduced to help protect us. To stop the terrorists who have and could be released from harming us ever again as we have seen happen countless times before.

It’s an ugly choice, an ugly solution and an ugly change.

We’ve been accepting that our lives are worth less than “The Peace Initiative” and accepting that those who die by the blade or by being run down are merely an unfortunate consequence on the way to peace.

The bald truth is that they aren’t.

We’ve tried the center, we’ve tried the left, neither have worked, it’s time we tried something else, even if it may be distasteful.

There will never be peace so long as Arab extremists want our deaths more than they want themselves to live. I also think that by providing a deterrent, in the form of a death penalty we reduce the interest of individuals becoming more extreme.

Whenever arguing the death penalty, the idea of “Moral equivalency” comes up. That is to say, the concept that by stooping to committing to “moral relativism“, in which in foreign policy appears to involve only a situation-based application of widely held ethical standards. Yes, these arguments do have merit, when dealing with an enemy that has the same belief in moral relativism, if those terrorists don’t, being the better man will only get you stabbed in the back.

I’m not saying that the inclusion of right wing policies is the only way to stop the jihad against Israel, nor that these jihadists make up a majority of the religious Muslim world.  Islam forbids both Suicide and Murder. The problem is that these texts have become ignored and forgotten by the extremists.

It’s time we accept a simple fact:

“They don’t care”.

They don’t care about our values, they use them against us and they mock their very existence.

The Muslim extremists and the Mad Mullahs don’t care about the actual words of their holy text or the value of human life.

Which makes one ask “How will killing them change anything?” What we need to do is make them care again, and if that means choosing the path of lesser evil as I see it, I think we should embrace it.

And here we run into the point I believe will force caring on the part of the terrorists and create an actual deterrent. That is the critical point in this entire situation, not the execution itself but the procedures surrounding the legal process of carrying out of the death penalty.

To enact a death penalty, an individual would first need to be found guilty in a court of law, a trial which may take hours or days or weeks or months. Then would come the appeals, the appeal to the court followed by an appeal to the Supreme Court. By the time the actual sentence is passed years may have gone by and that is the punishment I see working in this case.

Uncertainty is one of the greatest causes of fear and anxiety in adults, the constant pull and push of a trial is sheer torture. This, as described in “I Shall Not Die” by Billy Neal Moore, a man released from death row after serving 16 years.

It is this argument more than any other that reinforces the idea that a truly suitable punishment is not the quick resolution of death but the dragged out process of trial and appeal. “It is the uncertainty, the constant shifting in the fate of ones life” writes Moore “That truly punishes a man more than anything any judge or jury could inflict”

It is this uncertainty that I propose is the true punishment introduced.

For an individual intent on a quick death, followed by fame and martyrdom, what worse way to go then with fading glory, with a court case dragging on and with the uncertainty of your fate hanging over you, dealing with the fear that someone else will commit an act more heinous and become the Palestinian publics darling, leaving you to fade into obscurity.

It is the uncertainty caused by the introduction of the death penalty I see as the true deterrent here.

As for the many complaints about a loss of democracy and heinous actions that may be taken, the last I checked, Israel was a democracy, protests of almost any sort can be held, legal measures taken and even calling for a vote of “No confidence” in the government if necessary. But for now why don’t we wait until we see what the new regime will bring us before we set our eyes on bringing it down.

We can still engage in open dialogue about anything we feel needs to be said and we should continue to do so. In fact, I urge you to do so, take as long as you need to argue the point because the longer these criminals have to sit with this uncertainty the better.

I think it’s time to remember that values are different in different cultures. Sometimes we must use methods we would otherwise choose not to for the sake of preserving life.

About the Author
Yochanan Brody, 23, was born and raised in Israel to immigrant parents. He is a collector of antiques and oddities, a massive bibliophile and an amateur historian.
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