Sunday, November 27, 2011

Rontzki - Child murderers deserve to die

Rabbi Avichai Rontzki
Israel Hayom
27 November '11

"Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed" says the Book of Genesis. This is not a trivial statement. Our ancient ancestors, at the very beginning of human history, demanded measure for measure where murderers were concerned.

The ancients' healthy instincts, not yet warped by the ideas of subsequent intellectuals, told them that the only way to stop evildoers was to remove them from this earth.

Not every transgression justifies an eye for an eye punishment. But this kind of punishment does apply to cruel evildoers, particularly child murderers like the killers of Udi and Ruti Fogel and their three children Yoav, Elad and Hadas.

One of the two perpetrators of these painful and horrific murders, the mastermind Amjad Awad, is scheduled to be sentenced on Monday in the Samaria Military Court. The other culprit was sentenced last week to five consecutive life sentences. This was a mistake, in my view. The only rightful punishment in such cases is the death penalty.

One must recall that the murderers wiped out almost an entire family. And we have not yet discussed the shocking method used to commit the murders: through close-range physical contact, by slitting throats, including the throat of a three-month-old baby.

Justice and humanity would be served if such murderers, perversions of human society, not continue to exist among us.

The punishment would also serve as a deterrent, particularly in light of the possibility of future prisoner swaps. I am familiar with the claim that even a death sentence will not deter such murderers, because they are often willing to sacrifice their lives in the process of committing their atrocities. But my familiarity with the subject leads me to assert that the death penalty does in fact serve as a deterrent, and in a big way.

Those murderers who infiltrated our village did their utmost to stay alive. They could have entered more homes or even attacked passers-by, but instead they ran for their lives back to their village after committing their despicable act. They were not suicidal. They were murderers pure and simple, and the death penalty would deter their kind in the future.

As a resident of [the West Bank settlement of] Itamar, it is important for me to clarify that we are not seeking revenge – we do not concern ourselves with those things. Our sorrow is immense, and we are growing more and more anxious about our security. When I walk past the family's home, still empty, the horrific images of that Friday night come back to my mind, images of slaughter and horror.

Having said all that, we have chosen not to let fear triumph. Instead, we cleave to life, just as the Torah says in Deuteronomy: "I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life."

Since we lost the Fogel family last March, additional families have joined our settlement. Many new students have joined our yeshiva. The Ehud Residence, our yeshiva's new permanent building, which we named after Udi Fogel, is being built near the site of the murder and in direct sight of the village houses from which the murderers emerged. This is our revenge: the ability to continue living, if anything with greater intensity, here in Itamar.

The writer is the chief rabbi of Itamar and former chief rabbi of the IDF.

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