Earlier this week, Israel freed 26 terrorist murderers – all convicted in public trials under full due process of law – as part of Barack Obama’s way of bribing Palestinian leaders to sit down and talk to Israel about the peace that the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) does not really want or seek.
Thus proceeds President Obama’s Mideast gambling binge – betting someone else’s blood on the success of lousy, corrupt, unpopular, anti-U.S., and anti-Israel Arab leaders: Assad the bloody butcher in Syria, the fanatic Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, and now the incompetent and hateful successors of Arafat at the helm of the PLO.
There was once a nice American folk song called “Please Release Me.” It was a romantic song, with nice music and harmless words:
“Please release me, let me go
Release me, and let me love again.”
But now the Obama Administration has pushed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu into a new version of “Please Release Me” that has deadly lyrics:
“Please Release Me, let me go,
Release me, and let me kill again.”
President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry have agreed to the PLO demand that Israel release convicted terrorist murderers from jail in order to – wait for the cliché -“jump-start talks between the parties.”
The sad truth, in Jerusalem and Jenin as in Guantanamo and elsewhere, is this: convicted and released Arab-Islamic terrorists return to commit murder.
In 2004, Israel released 400 Palestinian convicts and five other prisoners in return for an Israeli (Elhanan Tennenbaum) captured by Hezbollah, and also for the bodies of three soldiers kidnapped on the border. Thirty-five Israelis were murdered by those released, according to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.
“Fifty-two percent of those released [in that deal] have returned to terrorism,” observed The Jerusalem Post in a 2010 article reviewing the results of the terrorists’ release. And there have been more than half a dozen such terror releases.
The United States has had similar results.
A U.S. Senate study on the subject two years ago said at least 27 percent of those suspected terrorists released from Guantanamo returned to an active role in terror.
“Facing domestic political pressures, the Bush and Obama administrations released or transferred 600 terror suspects deemed an acceptable threat from the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, only to find that 27 percent re-engaged in terrorist or insurgent activities,” reported the AP and The Washington Post in 2012.
Israel has made the same mistake several times, sometimes bowing to domestic pressure to release convicted murderers in order to ransom kidnapped Israeli soldiers and civilians. Such was the case when Israel released hundreds of Palestinian killers and their accomplices in order to gain the release of Gilad Shalit.
Sometimes, Israel has bowed to pressure from tough U.S. administrations. For example, the Nixon Administration once asked Israel to free some terrorists in order to help free Americans kidnapped in Lebanon. These releases were a strategic and moral error. They probably endangered more lives than they saved, and they undercut the legal process. But at least they saved some lives.
But now the Obama Administration has forced Israel to accept a completely politically motivated release of murderers just to create phony momentum for a Palestinian-Israeli peace process that the Palestinians killed and Obama helped bury.
When Obama entered office, he struck an anti-Israeli settlement position beyond that of late PLO leader Yasser Arafat, who talked to Israel even when Israel built housing for Jews in Jerusalem or the so-called West Bank. Obama said Israel would have to stop all construction, if there were going to be talks.
Like Frankenstein’s monster, “The Palestinian-Israeli process” can be brought back to life temporarily and artificially, but it will not bring peace, only monstrous damage. Eventually, the PLO will find a reason to go back to war.
The PLO/Palestinian Authority has lost all power and all legitimacy. Mahmoud Abbas’ term as PA leader expired years ago, and he has less power in Ramallah and Jenin than a dog catcher, but whatever power he possesses has been used to attack Israel and violate the very accords Abbas co-signed alongside Arafat.
Abbas is known to many Westerners and Israelis by the endearing kunya (nickname in Arabic) “Abu-Mazen,” but Abbas has hardly endeared himself. He stopped talks with Israel, and he made an end-run around talks by trying to get the UN to impose a Palestinian state. Abbas has also used vile propaganda honoring terrorists.
In a January 2005 Fatah Day speech, he actually called on Hamas to join his Fatah organization in turning all their guns on Israel. In addition, Abbas has encouraged international boycotts of the Jewish state – all clear treaty violations as well as violations of several American side-letters to the treaty.
Above all, Abbas and the PLO have no interest in peace or working with Israel. However, the PLO’s greatest failing is failing its own people.
Abbas, Hamas, and the other successors of Arafat have brought no success to the Palestinians. They are divided and bitter, and they vie with each other not in building schools, sewers, or a Palestinian state, but in building bunkers and devising stratagems for isolating Israel rather than working with it.
One is sad to see Benjamin Netanyahu making concessions under pressure from the Obama team that claims it is Israel’s best friend. But real friends do not act this way.
Dr. Michael Widlanski is the author of Battle for Our Minds: Western Elites and the Terror Threat published by Threshold/Simon and Schuster. He was Strategic Affairs Advisor in Israel’s Ministry of Public Security, and he will be a visiting professor at University of California, Irvine.