The Jewish terrorists who on Friday burned alive the Palestinian baby, whose little brother and parents are struggling for their lives in the hospital, are no different from the Spanish Inquisition or the murderers of Islamic State.
They share the same religious fanatical zeal, are motivated by the same contempt for basic human values and have similar modi operandi. All of them claim they have a direct link to God, understand his intentions and execute his wishes.
If the government really wishes Israel to remain free, democratic and westernized, despite the deep divisions between Left and Right, secular and religious, between Israeli Jews and Israeli Arabs, and between Israelis and Palestinians, it has to immediately change its state of mind. Not tomorrow. Today.
Already for a few years, a Jewish terrorist movement has been flourishing here; Jewish terrorists in the last two years have set fire to 16 Palestinian homes, mosques and churches, including inside Israel. Fortunately, all these previous cases ended without injuries.
Only two incidents were solved by police and the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet); one was solved last week – the arson at the Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes in the Galilee, and earlier the burning of the bilingual, Arab-Jewish Max Rayne Hand in Hand School in Jerusalem. In the latter case, the convicted terrorists were sentenced to ridiculously light sentences of two and two-and-a-half years, respectively.
Jewish settlers have cut down olive trees, set fire to Palestinian fields and attacked innocent Palestinians with bare hands, knives, bats or even pistols. They usually got away unnoticed or unpunished by the authorities.
The list of excuses for the continued failure of the Shin Bet, police, IDF, the prosecution and courts is long: Insufficient budget and manpower; lack of coordination among the various law enforcements agencies; it is hard to transform raw intelligence to legal evidence; the judges are lenient and when suspects are convicted and sent to jail they are released early.
All this is true, and yet, they are all pretexts to justify the unacceptable failure.
It is incomprehensible that a state, which time and again has succeeded in defeating Arab and Palestinian terrorism, a state which has been a role model for how to fight terrorism and whose doctrines are copied by many security agencies around the globe, finds it difficult to deal with a few hundred terrorists and their helpers.
During my military service, I was taught that the words “I can’t” are just an excuse meaning “I don’t want to.”
If consecutive governments failed to defeat Jewish terrorism – a phenomenon that has raised its head occasionally over the past 35 years (remember the Jewish Underground that attacked Palestinian mayors in 1980) – it means they were not determined enough. The governments have lack determination because they have feared the Jewish settlers and their threats whenever a decision or policy that is not to their liking is adopted.
In decades of political negligence, a ritual has repeated itself – a vociferous, determined minority with strong farright convictions dictates the public agenda to the silent majority.
When, in 1980, the Palestinian mayors were bombed, Time magazine claimed that prime minister Menachem Begin was hesitant to order the Shin Bet to use all measures to solve the crime. A few years later, it was proved that Time was wrong. The Shin Bet arrested the Jewish terrorists.
They were sentenced and sent to jail, but soon, after a few years, they were released and became role models for the settlers and their public figures.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and even Naftali Bennett – all expressed shock at the auto-da-fé in the Palestinian village of Duma in the West Bank early Friday morning.
Words of sympathy and anger are not enough. They now have to show that they mean what they say. It’s time for action.
They must instruct the Shin Bet, police and other law enforcement agencies to act with the full arsenal of measures to protect Israeli democracy, including emergency decrees.
Anyone directly or indirectly involved in such acts, from the Hilltop Youth or any other group, must be declared a terrorist or a member of a terrorist group that has to be outlawed. His money and property are to be confiscated and his bank account frozen.
Administrative detention must be harshly employed if conviction in court is impossible due to lack of legal evidence if the charges are supported by good, precise intelligence. Certain suspects brought to interrogations have to be treated like “ticking bombs” – exactly as Palestinian suspects are dealt with – using against them the measures provided and sanctioned by law.
Courts must show no mercy. Whoever is found guilty, his room or house has to be sealed off or even demolished. Exactly as Israel is doing to Palestinian terrorists.
If the government doesn’t show it means business this time, Jewish terrorism will eventually undermine Israeli society as we know it with its democratic values of justice, equality before the law, liberty and freedom and pluralism.
By Yosi Melman