Israel must put terrorist murderers to death

By Vic Rosenthal

This isn’t the first time I’ve written this, and it won’t be the last unless something changes.

Marwan Barghouti is in the news again, calling for a hunger strike to “resist” the “abuse” of Palestinians imprisoned in Israel. The New York Times also made news by publishing an op-ed by Barghouti with a note that he is a “Palestinian leader and parliamentarian,” but failing to include the fact that he was imprisoned after a conviction for five terrorist murders. He was accused of being involved in many more, but the state chose to prosecute him only for the ones for which the evidence was strongest. After all, five life sentences should be enough to keep him off the street, shouldn’t they?

Israelis can be excused for being skeptical. After all, 16 of them weren’t enough to keep Ahlam Tamimi, mastermind of the 2002 Sbarro Pizzaria bombing, behind bars (she was released in 2011 as part of the ransom for kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit). Tamimi has a flourishing career as a broadcaster in Jordan, which has refused her extradition to the US (some of her victims were US citizens). Yet again in 2013 Israel agreed to release 104 prisoners, most of whom were convicted of murder, “in order to move toward renewed peace negotiations.” Some 78 were released before the doomed negotiations fell apart.

Although the Knesset passed a law in 2014 establishing a life sentence without possibility of parole in less than 40 years and without eligibility for release for diplomatic purposes, the pressure that can be placed on Israeli officials when a person, especially a young soldier, is in the hands of the enemy can be immense. In any case, the law doesn’t apply to terrorists already in prison, nor to military courts where many cases which occur in Judea and Samaria must be tried. I am not aware of any terrorist that has yet received this kind of sentence.

Barghouti and Tamimi are popular Palestinian heroes, because nothing makes a bigger Palestinian hero than killing Jews. There is agitation from the Israeli Left and foreign circles to release Barghouti, who is considered a possible “moderate” Palestinian political leader and even (and this is insane) “the Palestinian Nelson Mandela.”

The only thing Barghouti shares with Mandela is the fact that he is in prison, something that could also be said of Charles Manson, and nobody calls him the American Mandela. But I could easily imagine circumstances under which Barghouti (unlike Manson) would be released.

There should be no question of releasing Barghouti and no need to try to extradite Tamimi. These options should have been foreclosed from the start. Both justice and our national interest demand that these murderers and others like them should be dead.

Let’s look at some of the reasons that Israel should implement a speedy and sure death penalty for terrorist murder.

  1. Fewer terrorists means less terror. As I’ve said above, life sentences are often cut short. Many of the prisoners who were released went back to terrorism, including some that murdered again. At least 6 Israelis have been killed since 2014 by prisoners who were released in the 2011 deal that freed Ahlam Tamimi. They would be alive today if their murderers had received the death penalty. Laws to limit prisoner exchanges are unlikely to be enforced when the next soldier or child is kidnapped.
  2. The presence of high-profile terrorists in prison encourages attempts to kidnap Israelis in order to free them.
  3. It is a deterrent. A terrorist knows that if he survives his attack, he will be imprisoned under good conditions with other security prisoners, he can earn academic degrees, and his family will be compensated. He might even be released early. Yes, some terrorists are suicidal but many are not. A death penalty, if it is swift and sure (as it is not, for example, in the US) does deter other potential terrorists.
  4. How can we ask soldiers and police to risk their lives trying to capture terrorists when they know they will receive de facto light sentences? And how can we punish them if, out of frustration, they kill a terrorist that they could have captured alive?
  5. Honor and deterrence demand that Israel kill terrorist murderers. This is possibly the most important consideration of all. In Arab cultures, a clan that does not retaliate for the killing of its members loses its honor and its power of deterrence. Even if the folks in North Tel Aviv think that we are too civilized to kill our enemies, the Palestinians are certain that it’s because we are too weak, as a culture, to do so. They take this as a sign that their struggle is succeeding and are encouraged to continue it.

There will be objections. What about mistakes? Death is so final. But in the case of terrorist murderers, the evidence is often very strong – they are often caught quite literally red-handed. So there is no reason we can’t insist on a very high standard of proof before imposing the death penalty.

Executions, it is objected, create martyrs. But an imprisoned Barghouti or Tamimi is a martyr already, a living one. In life they continue to work against us, probably more effectively than if they were only names on Palestinian schools, streets and soccer fields. Dead martyrs are no worse than living ones.

But, they say, most civilized countries don’t have death penalties. Yes, but most civilized countries haven’t faced (until recently, anyway) the sheer volume of terrorism that we have.

Israel actually has a death penalty on the books, which was applied in Adolf Eichmann’s case. When the Fogel family was brutally murdered in 2011, prosecutors said they would seek the death penalty, but in the end did not do so. A law requiring the death penalty for murder by terrorism was introduced after the last election by Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beytenu party, but it did not pass. It should have. Jewish law would probably approve of a death penalty for especially heinous terrorist acts, with a high standard of proof. For example, Barghouti, Tamimi and the Fogel murderers might qualify.

Why has Israel drawn back, even in cases of murder as horrible as the Fogel case, in which five members of a family, including a three-month old baby, were slaughtered by terrorists who were proud of their handiwork? I think the reason is that – as in so many other cases – Israelis feel the need to appease the non-Jewish world, to meet the (supposed) ethical standards of “enlightened,” post-Christian European society.

But that’s an attitude appropriate to a subject people living under foreign rule, not a sovereign state.

April 21, 2017 | Comments Off on Israel must put terrorist murderers to death | 84 views

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  1. @ Saul Goldman:

    I don’t know whether fortunately or unfortunately, but, except for “Who says” I cannot read your half line post. It is blotted out by the “Highlight and Quote slot. Yhis happens with most of the other posts as well of which The first line is devoid of meaning.

  2. First Rate rational argument. and now for the liberals who cloak their appeasement in religion — some of them even Orthodox — especially, One Ultra-Orthodox liberal who actually shouted at me, “Jews don’t kill.”
    Genesis 9:6
    “Whoever sheds human blood, by humans shall their blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made mankind.

  3. @ Sebastien Zorn:
    Now these rationalizations are just silly but it is what got us through thousands of years of foreign rule, hence the Talmud. But, we ain’t in Kansas no more, Dorothy; we should stop living like we are.

    look a this passage for example:

    “A few sentences further in Parshat Mishpatim, an even more glaring example of the discrepancy between theory and practice in the realm of punishment emerges. In this case, however, both variables are recorded in the written text itself. As the Torah discusses the laws of a habitually violent animal, two conflicting consequences appear in the text for the very same crime.

    The Torah states that, under normal circumstances, if an individual’s ox gores and kills another human being, the animal is put to death but the owner receives no further penalty. If, however, the animal has shown clear violent tendencies in the past – to the extent that the owner has been warned yet has failed to take appropriate precautions – the Torah emphatically proclaims, “…The ox shall be stoned and even its owner shall die.”

    The written text itself seems bewilderingly contradictory. On the one hand, the Torah clearly states that the owner of a violent animal “shall also die.” Then, however, the text offers the condemned man an opportunity to escape his dire fate through the payment of a financial penalty assessed by the court.
    Once again our question can be answered by considering the distinction between “deserved” and “actual” punishment.

    The Torah wants us to understand that, on a theoretical level, the owner of the ox deserves to die. His negligence has directly resulted in the loss of human life. On a practical level, however, this sentence cannot be carried out. Halacha only mandates capital or corporal punishment in cases of active crimes. Crimes of “uninvolvement,” consisting of the failure to do something right, cannot carry such penalties in an earthly court. The owner who fails to guard his dangerous animal can only be fully punished through heavenly means.

    Through carefully balancing the textual flow, the Torah manages to convey a complex, multilayered message of personal responsibility in a nuanced case of “uninvolvement.””

    Bull. No pun intended. The Torah is clearly distinguishing between an unpredictable accident — you can’t know your ox is going to go nuts out of the blue — and something that the owner knew was likely to happen because it had happened before making him culpable for allowing the ox free reign — which is the position the authorities who failed to execute and then released these murderers are morally in. They are in the equivalent position of the owner of the wild ox who kills who are themselves guilty of murder because they knew it had happened before and they let it happen again. Granted, it may be only criminal negligence, and the Torah does not demand death for accidental death. No, it demands EXILE to one of the seven cities of refuge for the life of the Chief High Priest. Well, that would be a good penalty for these Oslo accidental murderers in charge of the ship of state and the judiciary.

    Incidentally, the business about being kind to the stranger as you were strangers in egypt that liberals are always quoting, the Torah distinguishes among strangers.
    Deuteronomy 23
    “Exclusion From the Assembly
    23 [a]No one who has been emasculated by crushing or cutting may enter the assembly of the Lord.

    2 No one born of a forbidden marriage[b] nor any of their descendants may enter the assembly of the Lord, not even in the tenth generation.

    3 No Ammonite or Moabite or any of their descendants may enter the assembly of the Lord, not even in the tenth generation. 4 For they did not come to meet you with bread and water on your way when you came out of Egypt, and they hired Balaam son of Beor from Pethor in Aram Naharaim[c] to pronounce a curse on you. 5 However, the Lord your God would not listen to Balaam but turned the curse into a blessing for you, because the Lord your God loves you. 6 Do not seek a treaty of friendship with them as long as you live.

    7 Do not despise an Edomite, for the Edomites are related to you. Do not despise an Egyptian, because you resided as foreigners in their country. 8 The third generation of children born to them may enter the assembly of the Lord.

    Uncleanness in the Camp
    9 When you are encamped against your enemies, keep away from everything impure. 10 If one of your men is unclean because of a nocturnal emission, he is to go outside the camp and stay there. 11 But as evening approaches he is to wash himself, and at sunset he may return to the camp.

    12 Designate a place outside the camp where you can go to relieve yourself. 13 As part of your equipment have something to dig with, and when you relieve yourself, dig a hole and cover up your excrement. 14 For the Lord your God moves about in your camp to protect you and to deliver your enemies to you. Your camp must be holy, so that he will not see among you anything indecent and turn away from you.

    Miscellaneous Laws
    15 If a slave has taken refuge with you, do not hand them over to their master. 16 Let them live among you wherever they like and in whatever town they choose. Do not oppress them.

    17 No Israelite man or woman is to become a shrine prostitute. 18 You must not bring the earnings of a female prostitute or of a male prostitute[d] into the house of the Lord your God to pay any vow, because the Lord your God detests them both.

    19 Do not charge a fellow Israelite interest, whether on money or food or anything else that may earn interest. 20 You may charge a foreigner interest, but not a fellow Israelite, so that the Lord your God may bless you in everything you put your hand to in the land you are entering to possess.

    21 If you make a vow to the Lord your God, do not be slow to pay it, for the Lord your God will certainly demand it of you and you will be guilty of sin. 22 But if you refrain from making a vow, you will not be guilty. 23 Whatever your lips utter you must be sure to do, because you made your vow freely to the Lord your God with your own mouth.

    24 If you enter your neighbor’s vineyard, you may eat all the grapes you want, but do not put any in your basket. 25 If you enter your neighbor’s grainfield, you may pick kernels with your hands, but you must not put a sickle to their standing grain.


    Deuteronomy 23:1 In Hebrew texts 23:1-25 is numbered 23:2-26.
    Deuteronomy 23:2 Or one of illegitimate birth
    Deuteronomy 23:4 That is, Northwest Mesopotamia
    Deuteronomy 23:18 Hebrew of a dog
    New International Version (NIV)
    Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.”

  4. A blast from the past, the more things change, the more they stay the same:

    “From: The Course of Justice (From “So Sorry We Won – The Story of the Six Day War in Word And Cartoon ” by Ephraim Kishon and Dosh (Kariel Gardosh) Tel Aviv. 1967) (typed from the hardcover)

    “September: a member of the El Fatah murder gang named Mahmoud Hejazi is captured wounded on Israeli territory in possession of an automatic rifle, 12 pounds of explosives, three flame-throwers and a couple of howitzers. The examination of the infiltrator proceeds slowly as when captured, the man was in state of coma induced by fright and he is unable to utter coherent sentences. He cowers in a corner, crawls in the dust and keeps mumbling: “Mahmoud good boy…Have pity on me, great effendis…Pity…Poor Mahmoud…”

    ‘October : Hejazi is tried by a military court and sentenced to death. Upon hearing the sentence, the accused collapses and sobbingly pleads for his miserable life. The Minister of Justice remembers his European heritage and approves the appointment of an Arab lawyer to defend the murderer who appealed the sentence.

    ‘November : The lawyer arrives from Algeria and is handed a memorandum on what is expected of him in court:
    (1) That he should read the Declaration of Independence of the State of Israel to an organ accompaniment.
    (2) That he should express his gratitude and appreciation for the activities of the Government of Israel.
    (3) Hatikvah
    The lawyer refuses to co-operate, he happens to root for the Arabs. Out!

    ‘December : Hejazi stands up for his elementary rights: “I won’t budge without a foreign lawyer,” he announces. The authorities are somewhat perplexed. The Chief-of-Staff’s coaxing of Hejazi falls on deaf ears: “Leave me alone,” says the disappointed infiltrator; “There’s no-one I can talk to in this country.”

    January: The trial is resumed without Hejazi’s approval. “You’re a bunch of crooks, the lot of you!” Hejazi declares. “You’re abominable behavior is in complete contradiction to all the tenets of international law and is repugnant to all freedom-loving people.” The defense attorney asks Hejazi not to make superficial generalizations, whereupon he is fired by him. The lawyer lodges an appeal.

    February: Hejazi convokes a press conference and demands the resignation of the Government, which has entangled itself in its own web of perfidy. “I cannot negotiate with hooligans.” The infiltrator tells the press. “If my case is not settled within a week from today, I won’t answer for the consequences!” The President of the Court appeals to Hejazi’s nobler feelings in an effort to win his co-operation. Hejazi announces over Kol Israel that he is forced to dismiss the court.

    March : Mr. Mahmoud Hejazi’s claim for compensation from the Israeli Army is heard by Mr. Abie Nathan as sole arbitrator. In his defense brief, the Chief-of-Staff claims that the infiltrator’s arrest was carried out without malice. Nor is he willing to accept Hejazi as a war invalid entitled to assistance and a Ministry of Defense pension. A compromise seems to be in the offing. IL.15,000 in cash and a soft drink stand. “


  5. Technically speaking in Halakhah the penalty for premeditated murder is always death. Also, if a Jew sees a man about to rape a man or woman or murder another human being he is obligated to do everything in his or her power to stop, up to and including killing the potential rapist or murderer.

  6. @ Sebastien Zorn:
    Sebastien, since when did Jews follow Torah??? The last I heard, they follow their rabbis, who follow Gemara, which follows Mishnah, which follows Oral Torah (namely, “Tradition”).

    “According to the (Sanhedrin 1:4) the death penalty could only be inflicted, after trial, by a Sanhedrin composed of twenty-three judges and there were four types of death penalty (Sanhedrin 7:1): stoning, burning, slaying (by the sword), and strangling. A bare reading of these and the other accounts in the tractate would seem to suggest a vast proliferation of the death penalty. Yet, throughout the [Talmudic] literature, this whole subject is viewed with unease, so much so that according to the rules stated in that literature the death penalty could hardly ever have been imposed.

    “For instance, it is ruled that two witnesses are required to testify not only that they witnessed the act for which the criminal has been charged but that they had warned him beforehand that if he carried out the act he would be executed, and he had to accept the warning, stating his willingness to commit the act despite his awareness of its consequences. The criminal’s own confession is not accepted as evidence. Moreover, circumstantial evidence is not admitted.

    “A Sanhedrin that executed [more than] one person in a week is called a “murderous” [court]. Rabbi Elazar ben Azarya states: “[More than] one person in 70 years [would be denoted a murderous court].” Rabbi Tarfon and Rabbi Akiva state: “IF WE HAD BEEN MEMBERS OF THE SANHEDRIN, NO DEFENDANT WOULD EVER HAVE BEEN EXECUTED.””

    The problem is, that it’s hard to run a functioning state, when Jews aspire to be like Rabbi Akiva. Somehow, they’ve managed to muddle through in spite of this. I don’t see any chance for improvement of this situation, even if Ted Belman becomes Prime Minister of Israel.

  7. @ Michael S:
    Good points. All well-taken. I actually knew that. So it predates diaspora. Except for the Karaites who became a separate people — though I understand they fought alongside us in ’48. But, in any case. So, why do I have to constantly listen to all this indignant, pious, self-righteous, hypocritical, disingenuous blather about the Torah this and the Torah that, Torah values, which nobody believes in or follows anyway especially when it comes from the religious leftists who want to use the Jewish version of “Social Justice” as a noose with which to strangle our people, to render us defenseless before our unspeakable enemies? who have no such self-doubts. “Muddling along” as you put it is light-years from any kind of moral high ground that pulpit sitters claim. It’s more like Dustin Hoffman’s line in “Hero,” that there is no truth, just layers of bullshit and you have to find the layer that suits you and then that’s your bullshit.

    Hero (1992). “All there is, is bullshit.”

    * Ironic that the purists should get off, huh?

    “During the late 19th century, Russian authorities began to differentiate Karaite Jews from Rabbinite Jews, freeing them from various antisemitic laws that affected Rabbinic Jews.”

    Maybe I should become a Karaiite. It’s Friday, night, I’ll just type away on my laptop in the darkness. No candles, here, nosirree!

  8. @ Michael S:

    I have always had a problem with this particular outcome of a discussion in the Sanhedrin. We don’t know anything of the circumstances, whether, for instance a Roman or Greek ruler was sitting in, listening. Because it’s obvious that one 1s trying to outdo the other with hyperbole, and excessive expressions of pacifistic piety.

    Personally, I don’t believe a word of it, and it was likely written at a period when the Jews were already without a sovereign state, or self rule and reeling under the thumbs of cruel overlords..

    If one reads the definitive translation of The Nizzahon Vetus, of which I have a copy (From the Jewish Publication Society of Philadelphia, 1st ed.) , Translated by Rabbi David Berger, and his comments in the introduction and later in the body of the book are revealing. This was further entitled “The Jewish-Christian Debate In The High Middle Ages”….one will see a 180 degree different and more staunch Jew.

    To him, and no less to me, the strong attacks of the Jewish commentators against Christianity, in every manner and criticism of the Christian belief, shows that they were fearless, astonishingly so, in a period when Jews were regarded as little better than property as slaves.

    Some may have heard of this book and I suggest reading it strongly. I know that Sebastien will track it down, and will agree with my position at the beginning of this post.

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