Commentary: Secretary Rice's Double Standard and the Pollard Solution
Dr. Aaron Lerner - IMRA - February 10, 2005
While the release of Palestinian terrorist murderers under any circumstances is a painful move, returning these murderers to the streets before a mutually acceptable final status agreement is reached is a dangerous step.
It is dangerous because the Palestinians, from Mahmud Abbas on down, continue to consider terror as an acceptable and appropriate "tool" when alternatives fail to yield the desired results.
Consider the case of Ahmed Jbarra, the veteran Palestinian prisoner who was released by Israel on the eve of the Aqaba summit in Jordan in the summer of 2003. Jbarra served 28 years of a life sentence for murdering 14 people when he planted a booby-trapped refrigerator in Jerusalem's Zion Square in 1975. Before his release he was considered an elderly peace loving model prisoner.
Jbarra talked the talk about peaceful coexistence, but a month after his release this peacenik called on Palestinians to kidnap Israeli soldiers in order to exchange them for Palestinian prisoners held by Israel.
Jbarra also praised the Palestinians at a rally for killing one Jew for every three Palestinians killed during the current intifada, noting that in the previous intifada, the figure stood at one Jew for every 28 Palestinians killed in clashes with the IDF.
The other old Palestinian murderers still sitting in Israeli jails may not have the physical ability to lead an attack, but that doesn't mean they can't direct them. After all, Sheikh Yassin couldn't run the marathon from his wheelchair but that didn't stop him from being responsible for numerous murders.
These two considerations: justice and security, weigh heavily against the release of terrorist murderers.
And yet, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who "would not presume to try and tell the parties which prisoners should be released" says a moment later that she thinks Israel should "make progress" on the "very difficult issue "of releasing murderers if the Palestinians actually finally start to honor their obligations to fight terror.
Israel's marching orders are clear.
Does Rice hold America to the same standard?
While Israel is expected to release Palestinians who murdered Israelis, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice insisted that the Palestinian Authority assured her that the PA will "bring justice to those who murdered three American personnel in the Gaza in 2003."
Rice argues that this move is necessary so that America can feel comfortable sending personnel into the Gaza Strip but the point remains: by insisting that those who murdered American personnel should be punished Rice has forfeited the right to tell Israel that other terrorists should be freed.
There is, however, a fairly straightforward way to restore the balance. A gesture to show just how important it really is to America that the murderers of Israelis be released. A move that would show that America is also willing to make "difficult choices."
Free Jonathan Pollard.
Dr. Aaron Lerner, Director IMRA (Independent Media Review & Analysis)
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