Posted: 13 Jun 2013 11:31 PM PDT
Daoud Kattoub, the Palestinian Arab journalist and media ‘activist’ (also a professor of journalism at Princeton University at some point in the past) writes on the Al-Monitor website today [“Pre-OsloPrisoners Still Obstacle To Palestinian-Israeli Talks”] about the heart-tugging issue of convicted murderers outrageously forced to remain behind bars.
Wait. In some ways it’s not as mad as it sounds. But yes, it does sound quite insane if you’re not paying attention to the specific part of the world in which it’s being played out.
Kattoub writes of men who, having been sent on military missions by the leadership of Yasser Arafat’s PLO, are now “rotting in jail” (Kattoub’s exact words) while promises made by various Israeli politicians to set them free “have not been fulfilled”. These are the so-called pre-Oslo prisoners, sometimes referred to in the ideologically-addled media as political prisoners. There are a total of 118 of them inside Israel’s prisons today.
The issue reverberates, as Kattoub shows. The president of Palestine, Mahmoud Abbas,
A serious issue, it seems. Fifty is not enough. Only the entire 118 will satisfy whatever deep need Abbas is addressing. He can take this purportedly high road because
“prisoners held for a long time… are held in high esteem among Palestinians, as they have been paying such a high sacrifice for their nation.” [Al-Monitor]
Let's analyse this a little. The men whom Abbas has on his mind are from the group Kattoub calls the “more moderate Fatah faction”, who “feel that they have suffered because of their party affiliation”. Not Hamas. Fatah. Abbas' group - the terrorists who report to him today.
Now in case the point slipped you by, almost all these 118 men are murderers; all convicted, all sentenced to lengthy murder-appropriate terms in prison. We looked carefully through the table of names, crimes, victims and details. It’s a sordid and ugly tabulation (the first-rate researchers at CAMERA published an English version of it here), with a surprising number of the victims being Arabs.
But some people have. In an excellent overview on the CiF Watch site, published a week ago (see “What the Media Won’t Tell You About ‘Palestinian Prisoners’”), Adam Levick quotes Harriet Sherwood’s April 9, 2013 report in the Guardian (UK) in which she writes about the “political prisoners [Sherwood’s term] who have been in jail since before the Oslo accords were signed almost 20 years ago”.
Of course far fewer Guardian readers saw the editorial correction than read the original Harriet Sherwood outrage.
Now in a simpler age and in other parts of the world, getting prisoners out of jail traditional involves demonstrating that the price has been paid, the lesson has been learned, justice has been served and it is time to forgive and forget.
A series of incomprehensibly large, even vast, prisoner releases made by Israel between 1985 and 2011 irrevocably changed all of that in this part of the world.
Today, no serious observer even pretends that prisoners should be let loose because they said sorry and promised not to do it again. At least, not when we’re speaking of Palestinian Arab prisoners who were put away because of acts of terror they inflicted on the despised and reviled Israelis. The template has been created and the Palestinian Arabs and the Islamic world behind them fully understand the new rules: that the Israeli prison system is filled with sons and daughters of this transcendent thing called ‘resistance’ and Israel needs to be (a) persuaded, (b) forced or (c) extorted to let them go free.
No one comprehends this better than the head of the PA, Mahmoud Abbas. Often described as a moderate, he is the opposite to anyone paying attention. As an important analysis today by Khaled Abu Toameh on the Gatestone Institute website shows ["The Palestinian Authority's Reign of Terror"], he is a doctrinaire manipulator of naked power, chiefly directed at the citizens he purports to lead. Abbas is in the ninth year of a four year term as president of a political entity that has no functioning parliament, and that - while bankrupt, deeply in debt and perpetually penniless - finances a governmental ‘reward for terrorism’ scheme that pays imprisoned murderers three or four times what it pays its own civil servants. That’s not the whole of it, but merely the beginning. We will come back to this.
The Abbas regime, currently pressing so hard for its veteran murderer/prisoners to be let loose by the Israelis, does a cracker-jack job of telling its own people why, and what it stands for. Here’s an illustration from the past month that appears in today’s edition of the always-valuable Palestinian Media Watch Bulletin.
Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik, writing for PMW, report on how the Mahmoud Abbas PA regime chose two ways in the past month of expressing honour and respect for a prisoner called Abdullah Barghouti. His is a name we know well; he built the bomb-inside-a-guitar-case that exploded in Jerusalem’s Sbarro restaurant on August 9, 2001. Among the fifteen people killed instantly was our much-loved teenage daughter, Malki. 130 others were maimed and shattered, but survived. One young woman was left unconscious, and remains unconscious until today. We have written about this particular prisoner here in our blog repeatedly.
The despicable Abdullah Barghouti, convicted on 67 separate counts of murder, was honoured first by means of an official “solidarity” visit to his family’s home. The PA Minister of Prisoners' Affairs, Issa Karake, led the honour parade, accompanied the District Governor of Ramallah, Laila Ghannam. Then the PA’s tightly controlled official television channel arrived and recorded a video homage to Barghouti, including interviews with proud family members.
This follows the well-documented but largely ignored PA policy of glorifying terrorists and turning them into role models; Palestinian Media Watch has been in the forefront of documenting this for years.
The program host stated that Barghouti, who prepared the bombs that killed 66 people, is "certainly a hero", and wished for the fulfillment of "the purpose for which [the prisoners] are in fact in the occupation's prisons." [PMW]
Stop for a moment; where else but in the society being constructed by the Palestinian Arabs, would a man who deliberately murdered 67 innocent civilians get this kind of lavish media attention? And be met with silence and utter indifference by the media professionals who know about it - and keep it out of their reports?
We say this: In the name of everything decent and sane, the demands for cold-blooded, unrepentant killers to be let loose again must be answered with: that would be massively unjust and we refuse in the names of our families and of the children who continue to be your targets and theirs.