Israeli authorities had conceded that demolishing terrorists’ homes does not deter potential terrorists. Yet supposing there is evidence that these demolitions serve a constructive purpose, they should go ahead.
Nevertheless, a constructive purpose cannot be served by a sectarian and discriminatory application of justice. The ethics of a modern democracy demand that punishments be impartially applied. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is brazenly violating this principle by selectively punishing people based on their religion.
The question that cries to be asked is why is the home of Yosef Haim Ben-David, who this summer beat and burned alive 15-year old Muhammed Abu Khdeir, not slated for demolition?
For decades anti-Israel activists have claimed that Israel is an apartheid state. Meanwhile, Arab Israeli leaders have lambasted the Jewish state for being democratic towards Jews and Jewish towards Arabs. These accusations are mendacious, but time and time again there are episodes that lend credibility to these calumnies.
If Netanyahu were the Churchill-like statesman he sees himself as, he would have ordered that the home of Jewish terrorist Yosef Haim Ben-David in Geva Binyamin be demolished together with the homes of the Arab terrorists who have shed Jewish blood. This would have demonstrated to Jews and Arabs that the State of Israel is tough yet just. And it is precisely this message of just toughness that will deter the wicked and reconcile Arabs with the reality of a Jewish state.
At this point, I feel obliged to confess that I have not learnt the importance of impartial law enforcement from renegade leftist intellectuals. Justice is the premier value of Judaism and it is in the name of this value that the homes of Jewish terrorists should be razed together with the homes of Arab terrorists in the West Bank.
Netanyahu’s decision to demolish Arab homes in Jerusalem also deserves rebuke from those who care about the unity of Jerusalem. In the past, home demolitions took place in areas A, B and C of the West Bank. It was and remains unimaginable that the homes of Arab terrorists be demolished in Haifa or Jaffa.
However, Netanyahu, by ordering the demolition of terrorists’ homes in Jerusalem, is implicitly conceding that East Jerusalem is part of the West Bank rather than the indivisible and eternal capital of Israel.
The lesson we learn from this relatively minor, yet very unfortunate episode, is that Netanyahu does not possess the leadership that Israel needs, but is instead prone to knee-jerk reactions that pander to the most shortsighted segment of his electorate.
To those who believed that Netanyahu’s bravery as a soldier and gifts as an orator were matched by the vision and magnanimity of a genuine statesman, this is a sad and sobering week.