Photo Credit: Hadas Parush/Flash90
PA Chairman Abbas proudly celebrating with released terrorists.

{Originally posted to the authors’ website, This Ongoing War}

How people with power deal with terrorism gets our attention to an extent that some might find surprising. It should not be hard to see why. We have learned that being wrong on how to deal with terror has serious life-and-death consequences. Terrorism has become very personal to us.


Something happened here in Jerusalem last night that has again triggered our need to be heard on the subject.

A young Israeli was stabbed. He is in hospital as we write this, getting treated for knife injuries as a result of an attack on Wednesday evening. That’s when:

a Palestinian man attempted to attack a group of border guards near Damascus Gate in Jerusalem. The guards managed to overpower the Palestinian, who stabbed one of them in the leg, wounding him lightly. The suspect was arrested. The wounded policeman was taken by ambulance to Hadassah Medical Center. The suspect in the attack is a 56-year-old resident of Hebron, who does not have a permit to enter Israel… [Ynet, today]

No ordinary “Palestinian”, this Hebronite has a stunning back-story. Times of Israel says his name is Muammar Ata Mahmoud, and that he

was released in 2013 as part of an ultimately unsuccessful round of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority… [Times of Israel, today]

Peace talks? No, not exactly. As The Daily Beast pointed out in August 2013:

The prisoners were freed as an inducement for the president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, to participate in the peace talks. Since 2009, Abbas has said he would participate in negotiations only if Israel stopped settlement activity after President Obama imposed the condition on Israel in the first year of his first term. But Abbas has moderated his position at the behest of Secretary of State John Kerry… Some families of victims of prisoners who have been released in the past are now seeking a meeting with Kerry to explain to him what they see as the dangers of pressuring Israel to release to release Palestinians from prison… [The Daily Beast, August 14, 2013]

So was Abbas induced? Not exactly. In fact, Abbas himself explained that the freeing of 104 convicted terrorists, absurdly described as Pre-Oslo prisoners, all of whom were serving unfinished prison terms for involvement in acts of terrorism-related murder, mostly against Jews and Israelis, actually had nothing to do with that:

…Mahmoud Abbas told a visiting group of (Israeli) Meretz MKs in Ramallah on Thursday… that the release of Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails was unrelated to the launching of the peace talks. [“25-Aug-13: Wake up call for those who thought the terrorists are walking free for peace“]

Don’t blame Times of Israel’s writers and editors for being wrong on this. Almost everyone was during those dark days of 2013. Over and again, the freeing from Israeli prison cells at the urgent and insistent behest of the US government and Secretary of State John Kerry (though his staff denied this from start to finish) of convicted, unrepentant murderers was said to be for peace – to jump start the peace talks, to show compromise in the name of peace, to trigger a peace eruption.

But not us:

“We don’t see this as a step towards peace,” Arnold Roth, one of the Israelis who helped organize a letter to the secretary of state, told The Daily Beast. “The objection is to the madness of positing the peace process on the prior release of murderers. We support a peace process.” Roth has some experience with the pain of seeing the killer of a loved one go free. His daughter, Malki, was killed in Aug. 9, 2001, in the bombing of a Sbarro pizzeria in downtown Jerusalem. One of the planners of that attack, Ahlam Tamimi, who also broadcast the bombing for Palestinian television from Ramallah, walked free from multiple life sentences in 2011… [The Daily Beast, August 14, 2013]

Two weeks after that, reflecting on how those convicted, unrepentant killers of Jews were received as heroes in Ramallah, their arms held high by Mahmoud Abbas, we wrote here:

Israel’s prime minister, in deciding to let the mis-named Pre-Oslo prisoners loose and thereby lifting Abbas’s stocks among the Palestinian Arabs, did his calculations the way politicians do. He had a small number of options… The one he chose – freedom for 104 convicted terrorists – must have seemed to him and others in the cabinet as the least bad of several undesirable alternatives. And if this meant the victims of the terrorists would feel betrayed (we can imagine them saying in the cabinet room), so be it. Regretfully, a greater good is served. But speaking as victims of Palestinian Arab terrorists ourselves, we see it this way: justice was trampled, lives and sacrifices were demeaned, public opposition was ignored. In turning a deaf ear to the protests of the victims, our politicians threw down onto the negotiating table the cheapest, most disposable, of the cards in their hand. Not for the first time, we find ourselves saying that decisions like this one will be the cause of much long-term regret. [“27-Aug-13: Justice devalued, lives demeaned, principles cheapened: the high price of freeing murderers“]

It would be nice to think that there are political leaders with backbone, moral fibre and some conscience who might be thinking about regret at this moment. A politician willing to admit to having regrets could become someone worth knowing.


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Frimet and Arnold Roth began writing and speaking publicly soon after the murder of their fifteen year-old daughter Malki Z"L in the Jerusalem Sbarro massacre, August 9, 2001 (Chaf Av, 5761). They have both been, and are, frequently interviewed for radio, television and the print media, including CNN, BBC, New York Times, Washington Post, Al-Jazeera, and others. Their blog This Ongoing War deals with the under-appreciated price of living in a society afflicted by terrorism which, they contend, means the entire world. Frimet is a native of Queens, NY while her husband was born and raised in Melbourne, Australia. They brought their family to settle in Jerusalem in 1988. They co-founded the Malki Foundation in 2001 and are deeply involved in its work as volunteers. They can be reached at .
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