If a European country released murderers of Jews, it would be widely condemned as capitulation to terrorism with anti-Semitic implications. When the Israeli government does so, however, it’s a “gesture.”
Yet again the government plans to free numerous terrorists, and Israel’s alienation increases from the justice central to Judaism. Let these bereaved voices in the context of terrorist releases be heard:
- “We have been betrayed. To pardon terrorists mocks our love and our pain… And as a result of prisoner exchanges, the Israeli justice system can only be seen as a joke, a mockery…” (Sherri Mandell, whose son Koby and friend Yosef Ish Ran were murdered in 2001)
- “Israel is turning into the only country in the world where [terrorists] can murder civilians and escape punishment under the auspices of the government.” (Yossi Tzur, whose son Assaf was murdered in 2003)
- “It opened the old wounds again, and we have a terrible sense of abandonment.” (David Libman, whose brother Shlomo was murdered in 1998)
- “The murderer [Ahlam Tamimi] has this evening been handed a life to live—the life of a hero, an inspiration. And the government that prosecuted this monstrous woman has agreed to the satanic transaction.” (Frimet Roth, whose daughter Malki was murdered in 2001)
- “This [Shalit] deal will lead to the loss of hundreds of lives, and will create more bereaved families and add to the pain and loss suffered by thousands of Israelis. The deal sends the message that it is possible to deal with Israel through kidnapping and murder of Israeli citizens.” (Hovev Nuriel, whose father Sasson was murdered in 2005)
One such murderer has recently been appointed to an oversight role at the Cave of the Patriarchs. But what’s this desecration of one of our holiest sites compared with big high-tech deals in the start-up nation?
In addition to trampling on justice and national self-respect, freeing murderers displays monstrous coarseness toward bereaved families. Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch zt”l conversely writes in Horeb about the role of compassion in Jewish life, “It is the warning voice of duty, which points out to you your brother in every sufferer…[S]ee in it the admonition of God that you are to have no joy so long as a brother suffers by your side.”
Psalm 12 describes a society where people speak falsehoods with smooth talk and insincere hearts. Commenting on these verses, Rabbi Hirsch refers to “the most indispensable instrument in all human relationships—namely the sacredness of the human word.” How healthy does Israel look by that measure? Just hear the voices of people like Sherri Mandell and Frimet Roth.