recently released 26 Palestinian prisoners,
which Mahmoud Abbas
demanded as a precondition for peace talks. These men were not political prisoners; they were in jail for murdering unarmed Israeli civilians (including women and children) without provocation.
Upon their release, these Palestinian murderers were hailed as heroes by Abbas and Palestinian media outlets. These prisoners never contested their guilt, nor showed any remorse. They were proud to have murdered Israelis, and many Palestinians are now proud that they are free.
How can anyone see this as a precondition for peace, and not a violation of every principle upon which countries like Israel and the United States were founded?
Mahmoud Abbas recently stated
that there will never be peace until all such Palestinian "heroes" (those who murdered women, children, and senior citizens) are released from Israeli jails. And President Obama
hailed the move as a positive step towards reaching a peace agreement. But how can Israel find peace with a country that celebrates the murder of innocent Israeli civilians (most of the victims were chosen simply because they were Israeli or Jewish)?
The problems are twofold.
First, this demonstrates that many Palestinians still see Israel as the "enemy." How else to explain that Palestinians who murdered Israelis are being celebrated as heroes?
Second, it speaks to the culture of violence embraced by the Palestinian leadership and a possible majority of Palestinians. What kind of culture embraces and celebrates people who kill innocent civilians – regardless of the victims’ religion or nationality?
Would America celebrate the release of American citizens who traveled to countries like North Korea and murdered innocent civilians? Of course not. In fact, when this happened in Vietnam, soldiers who committed such heinous acts were prosecuted and jailed. Can anyone imagine the United States welcoming such men back as heroes?
Shouldn’t the Palestinian people want cold-blooded murderers in jail – no matter who their victims were? How can Israel make peace with a people who see the murder of Israeli civilians as a matter of national pride?
And why are Palestinian leaders, media outlets, and the population at large allowed to call these men heroes without any foreign government or major media organization blinking an eye?
President Obama should be condemning the release of these murderers, not calling for Netanyahu to release even more of them. That the Israeli public has allowed its government to release these men is a sad day in Israeli history. That the world has remained silent is a sad reflection of the moral depravity of the 21st century.
David Meyers worked in the Bush White House from 2006 to 2009, and later in the Senate