Assuming that Ronny Ron will be convicted of murdering his granddaughter, Rose Pizem, is this act more despicable than Rabin’s murder by Yigal Amir? Is it worse than the murder of taxi driver Derek Roth by teenagers in 2005? And what about Margarita Lautin, shot to death on the beach in Bat Yam earlier this year by a shooter aiming for another criminal?
This question emerges in the face of the declarations that have flooded us ever since Rose disappeared. For example, Rabbi Yisrael Lau wondering-lamenting “what happened to us,” or a senior police officer saying “this is not yet another murder case” to explain why the police were sending representatives to the funeral in France. The same is true in respect to the calls for imposing a death penalty on those who murder their offspring and even naming such death penalty after Rose Pizem.
Any attempt to define a “scale of wickedness” when it comes to murders is foolish and damaging; foolish, because a murder is always a murder. Any act where a person is murdered is a terrible matter that cannot be morally quantified; damaging, because defining one type of murder as more severe than another type cheapens the other type and grants it partial legitimacy.
Therefore, the proposal to take advantage of the latest tragedy in order to selectively impose a death penalty is wrong to begin it. Not only does experience of many years, as well as common sense, teach us that such punishment is not an effective means of deterrence – should it be adopted only against the killers of young children (or those who are able to, God forbid, murder senior politicians,) it will be a clear declaration that the blood of some people counts more than the blood of others. Who needs this horror?
Society’s responsibilityAnd yet, there are different kinds of murder that can be distinguished – not in terms of their monstrosity, but rather, in terms of society’s responsibility for their occurrence and its ability to prevent them.
When crime organizations run wild on our streets, murder each other, and while doing so also kill innocent civilians who happened to be on the scene, we can certainly feel collective guilt for this. First, those in charge of law enforcement should feel this way, and later, all of us, the citizens. We should blame ourselves because we failed to demand that our elected officials correct this twisted situation and because we didn’t condition our vote or our appreciation for politicians on an effective and comprehensive war against these agents of death. Therefore, it is hard for us to claim that we were not party to this bloodshed.
The same is true, to various extents, in other areas as well. For example, in cases where there is public encouragement for political terror and the security services deal with it clumsily, when violent men threaten their partners but these complaints are not handled properly, or when thugs pull out knives at schoolyards.
However, when it comes to the very rare cases where people lose the natural instinct of appreciation for the lives of their children or grandchildren and kill them secretly and surprisingly, there is no room for our self-lamentations. All we need to do is sharpen our sense and minimize human distress – demagoguery and kitsch won’t help solve a thing.