Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Why is setting murderers free likely to result in peace?

Wall St. Journal..
12 August '13..

South Africa has Nelson Mandela, Poland has John Paul II, and Burma has Aung San Suu Kyi: Though the measure isn't exact, one way to judge a nation is by looking at its heroes. So what does it say about a prospective state of Palestine that among its heroes is Salah Ibrahim Ahmad Mugdad?

Mugdad is among 104 prisoners Israel intends to release as part of a deal orchestrated by Secretary of State John Kerry to resume peace talks with the Palestinians. In 1993, Mugdad killed hotel security guard Israel Tenenbaum "by beating him in the head with a steel rod," according to the Times of Israel. Tenenbaum was 72 at the time of his murder.

Also being released is Salameh Abdallah Musleh, imprisoned for the murder of convenience-store owner Reuven David. "Abdallah, together with an accomplice, entered David's convenience store on May 20, 1991, bound David's arms and legs and beat him to death, before locking the store and fleeing the scene," the Times reports.

Ditto for other Palestinian prisoners. Every society has its criminals, psychotics and killers, and Israel is no exception. But it says something about the current Palestinian leadership that it has made the release of killers a condition of peace talks. It also says something about the moral values of too many Palestinians that they should treat the returning prisoners not as pariahs but as heroes.

The Israeli decision to release the prisoners was shortly followed by the approval of additional construction permits for housing in East Jerusalem and West Bank settlements. The move elicited howls of condemnation from the usual suspects, as if building houses is more objectionable than murdering people in cold blood. Perhaps the larger question is why anyone should expect that a peace process that begins by setting murderers free is likely to result in peace.

A version of this article appeared August 12, 2013, on page A16 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: Palestinian Heroes.

Link: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324769704579009192424814878.html

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