Monday, June 20, 2005

The Punishment Must Fit the Crime

The Punishment Must Fit the Crime

June 20, 2005

Well, it happened again. The inevitable. No, not really. The thirty-five year old man killed this morning by terrorists did not have to be the inevitable next victim. By all rights he should still be alive. When he left the northern Shomron community of Hermesh this morning, together with a fifteen year old passenger, he didn't have to die at the hands of Arab terrorists who shot into his car, hitting him and the gas tank, causing it to explode. However, when it was decided yesterday to 'ease-up' on restrictions to Arab transportation in the Shomron, with IDF roadblocks being removed, making it 'easier' for the innocent Arab population to move around, this morning's killing became inevitable.
This too, isn't really true. It didn’t start yesterday. It didn’t even start with the expulsion plan. It began with Ariel Sharon's vile corruption, going back to the 1990s, when, according to the Jerusalem Post "In the bribery case, dubbed 'the Greek Island affair,' (businessman David) Appel is alleged to have paid (Sharon's son) Gilad Sharon nearly $700,000 in the late 1990s for his work as part of a consulting team in developing a vast tourism project in the Greek islands at a time when his father was foreign minister.  The indictment states that the 53-year-old Appel's real aim in employing the premier's son was to gain influence with his father to lobby Greece to approve the project.  Appel himself has said that the prime minister was not involved in the lucrative deal… Based on two previous Supreme Court rulings, if Sharon were to be indicted, he would likely be obliged to suspend himself from office pending the outcome of the trial, although the actual law on such a matter is obscure."
According to the book "Boomerang," written by journalists Raviv Drucker from Channel 10 news and Ofer Shelach from the Yedioth Achronot newspaper, Sharon's fear of indictment, loss of office and jail, directly led to the decision to unilaterally flee from Gush Katif and the northern Shomron. This accusation, backed up by interviews with people 'very close to the Prime Minister' is identical to charges leveled at Sharon months ago by MK Tzvi Hendel, who virtually swore that Sharon realized he had two choices: public disgrace or abandonment of Gush Katif. He choose the latter, preferring double appeasement to a court-of-law. The double whammy he inflicted on his land and his people: submission to the Israeli left, certain that they would not dare touch a prime minister implementing their life-long craving, the beginning of eviction of Israelis from Yesha; and acquiescence to the Arab enemy: terror pays off. Kill Jews and get what you want.
Interestingly enough, Hendel's accusations were ignored by the Israeli media. That's not surprising. After all, Hendel lives in Gush Katif; what would anyone expect him to say. But "Boomerang" too is being blacklisted. Excepting Channel Two's Nissim Mishal, who introduced the book and it's authors on his weekly T.V. program, the book is a non-event. The daily radio talk shows, the 'bread-and-butter' of Israeli scandal-talk' have scrupulously avoided the subject. The talk-show hosts, realizing the explosive potential of such revelations, are keeping their hands off.
But not the terrorists. When Israelis shut up, when their actions speak louder than words, when they relinquish their homeland and abandon their people, this is a language the enemy understands. Loud and clear, a signal: Israeli blood is 'hefker' valueless, worth less than a grain of sand. Spilt blood is a ready commodity. Turn on the faucet, let it run – until it runs out – until there's none left – until Eretz Yisrael is Judenrein.
In a couple of hours a Beer Sheva court judge will pass judgment on Rabbi Moshe Levinger. The prosecution has demanded that Rabbi Levinger be placed either under house arrest or in jail until conclusion of all proceedings against him. These demands stem from the first national road-blocking protest a few weeks ago. Rabbi Levinger made it clear that he has no intentions of remaining 'free' with restrictions and would prefer jail to house arrest. I was present at the first court hearing; when the judge called the case he referred to 'Moshe Levinger' and never used the word Rabbi. So much for judicial respect. I wonder how the judge would have referred to a surgeon or perhaps a colleague, accused of a crime?
At about the same time that the judge in Beer Sheva is decreeing Rabbi Levinger's fate, five young girls, one twelve and a half, will be freed from jail, after spending thirty five days in prison. They too were arrested for 'illegally blocking roads.' When the prosecution demanded that their release be conditional on their agreement not to leave their communities until conclusion of all legal proceedings against them, the girls refused to sign. As a result they spent over a month in jail. In very difficult conditions. Finally the prosecution relented, a little bit, and agreed to lower the 'restriction level,' forbidding the girls from participating in protests, or from being present in Tel Aviv or the 'central part' of Israel, pending legal action against them.  The girl's parents agreed, and today they are going home. One of the girls' fathers said this morning on Israel radio, 'this goes to show the evil of 'disengagement.' "The prosection  prefers that a twelve year old sit for over a month in jail, rather than imprison (Sharon's son) Omri."

Next Shabbat the weekly Torah portion we read deals with the first rejection of Eretz Yisrael, first by ten of the premier leaders of the fledgling Jewish people. According to important Jewish sources, the primary reason for the spy's denunciation of  the Land was, simply, power. They knew that while still in the desert they would be leaders, princes of the people. However, once in the Land of Israel, they would be replaced by a new generation of leaders, and they would only be simple folk, just like everyone else. They preferred power in the desert to simplicity in the Land.
Using emotional, articulate and seemingly logical expressions of persuasion, these men convinced a majority of the people of their legitimacy, resulting in massive mourning: Why should we go to Israel, a land that devours its occupants?
Of course, we all know the end of the story. The spies died horrible deaths at the hand of G-d, all  men between the ages 20 to 60 died in the desert and were not privileged to reach Eretz Yisrael, and, unfortunately, those Jews spent the next forty years wandering around the desert, rather than immediately entering the Land. And the Divine One decreed, that day, the day of mourning because of Eretz Yisrael, would become a day of mourning for eternity; later known as the ninth day of Av – Tisha b'Av, the date of the destruction of the First and Second Temples, leading to Israel's galut, expulsion from the land.
This year, G-d forbid, the next galut, expulsion, is due to begin the day after Tisha b'Av. It seems that history repeats itself and we have yet to learn.

There are two kinds of fighters: those courageous and those cowards. The courageous, like a seventy year old Rabbi, or a twelve year old, both willing to face incarceration rather than abandon their land – these are true warriors. Yet there are others, so-called leaders, who are no different than the spies. No, that's not true. Sharon is worse. The spies didn't yet know the end of the story. Sharon does.
Sharon's manifold acts of cowardice deserve suitable punishment. He is a traitor to his land, abandoning it to our enemies, simply to stay in power, so as not to be disgraced. He is assisting the enemy to pull the trigger, allowing Jews to be killed, not for reasons of national security, rather, for his own personal gain. As Prime Minister, he is as a solder fleeing in battle. Any commander knows what to do with a solder who turns and runs in the midst of combat.
Ariel Sharon should be tried by a legal Israeli court of law on both counts – as an elected leader who has betrayed his land and his people, and also as military commander, turning and running from the enemy in the middle of war. Following his demise his body should be burned and his ashes scattered over Gush Katif and the Northern Shomron.
The punishment must fit the crime.

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