Pollard and The Palestinian Jailbreak

Jewish Week (NY) - July 11, 2002

Like the old joke about an oral agreement that's not worth the paper it's written on, the Palestinians have a talent for reinventing the peace agenda, regardless of what Israel ever agreed to. Inevitably, Israel is then scolded for non-compliance to non-existing clauses. For example, the Oslo Accords never said that Jews are forbidden to live on the West Bank; yet, settlements became the whipping boy for Oslo's failure. The American-engineered road map never mentioned a jailbreak as its prerequisite, yet Israel is contemplating Palestinian "demands" that hundreds, perhaps thousands, of terrorist soldiers be released from prison or the cease-fire dies.

Once "demands" are made, no matter how surreal, they are accepted as valid, with perhaps some negotiating about Israel keeping murderers locked up, but we'll free killers if they killed more than two years ago. Just last month, Ahmad Jabara who killed 14 Jews in 1975 was released as a goodwill gesture. Jews are unforgiving of Nazis, even when they're infirm and gray, but if you kill Jews in Jerusalem, rather than Poland, should bygones be bygones?

Adding insult, Jabara told Palestinian TV, in June, that "more than 200 of us [Palestinian prisoners] have been accepted into the Hebrew University and the Ben-Gurion University," even as Jewish families are still saying Kaddish for Jews killed at Hebrew University last summer.

If peace is not just a euphemism for Israeli surrender, then fairness demands that Israelis in Arab prisons, the bodies of Israelis missing for years and believed dead, and imprisoned spy Jonathan Pollard get the same consideration.

This week, Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz suggested Pollard's release from a U.S. prison, but he should have done so as a quid pro quo for Israel's mass pardon. If no one "with blood on their hands" is the standard for whom Israel proposes to release, well, Pollard never killed anyone either.

Mofaz suggested that a defeat of Hezbollah someday might lead to a return of Israel's missing-in-action. But why wait for Hezbollah? If the road map is the result of region-wide changes, let Israel demand that there be freedom, or at least a decent burial, for Ron Arad and a half-dozen other Jewish soldiers lost across the region.

We keep hearing about confidence-building, but no one seems to consider that Israelis and tourists are lacking confidence, too, and for good reason. Tourist and citizen alike deserve more respect than to be asked to ride the same buses and walk the same streets as newly freed Palestinian thugs and Jew-haters.

Logic suggests that peace is most possible when the bad guys are locked up, not let out.

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