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June 16, 2016 7:35 am

The Knesset’s New Counter-Terrorism Bill and Why the West Needs Brain Surgery

avatar by Ruthie Blum

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Joint (Arab) List Chairman MK Ayman Odeh. Photo: Wikipedia.

Joint (Arab) List Chairman MK Ayman Odeh. Photo: Wikipedia.

A counter-terrorism bill was passed by an overwhelming majority of the Knesset on Wednesday. Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, who completed the push for the legislation that her predecessor, Tzipi Livni, initiated, said, “There is no reason for terrorism; there are only excuses for it.”

Given Israel’s repeated victimization at the hands of terrorists – a reality that has led to several wars and territorial withdrawals — what is most striking about the statute is how banal and obvious it seems.

For example, it states that anyone heading a terrorist organization will be subject to a 25-year prison sentence; if heading an actual terrorist operation at the time of his arrest, he will received a mandatory life sentence. Anyone who perpetrates an act of terrorism using chemical, biological or radioactive weapons will also receive a life sentence, which will not be reduced for at least 15 years.

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Far smaller sentences will be imposed on those who train terrorists (nine years); recruiters of terrorists and those who issue threats to commit acts of terrorism (seven years); those who aid and abet terrorists, by driving them to the scene of their operations or providing them other services (five years); and on those who incite to terrorism, promote the slogan, flag or anthem of a terrorist organization or who do not prevent an act of terrorism (three years); and two years for those who provide services to those distributing material promoting terrorist organizations.

The new law also empowers the defense minister or the government to define an organization as “terrorist,” based on recommendations from the head of the Shin Bet internal security agency and the opinion of the attorney-general. The Security Cabinet will also be able to label an organization abroad as “terrorist” if an authoritative body or the UN Security Council declares it as such.

In the wake of the attack on the Sarona Market in Tel Aviv last week, which left four innocent Israelis dead and another six wounded – and following the massacre at the LGBT nightclub in Orlando over the weekend, in which 49 Americans were killed and an additional 53 wounded – the new Israeli law sounds mild. Almost pathetic, in fact, when one considers that it applies only to Israel, not the West Bank, and that most of the terrorists incarcerated after its final passing will still live to be released from jail. This is probably why it passed muster with most of the Knesset.

Lo and behold, however, it was attacked by the far-Left and Arab parties.

Meretz leader Zahava Gal-On said that the war against terrorism must be waged “effectively and morally,” by ending the “49-year occupation,” which she called “the fuel and motivation for terror.” She failed to explain how Israeli control over a mere three percent of Judea and Samaria, which the terrorists themselves have announced is only the beginning of the ultimate aim to eliminate Israel in its entirety, led to the bloodbath in Orlando – or similar occurrences elsewhere in America and Europe.

But never mind. If pressed, she could probably find a way to do so; for instance, by pointing to the fact that the wife of Omar Mateen, who gunned down scores of innocent club-goers in Florida early Sunday morning, is of Palestinian origin.

The Joint Arab List, at least, had the “decency” to blame not only Israel for global incidents of the phenomenon they did not name. MK Ahmad Tibi called the law “draconian and unacceptable,” while Joint List Chairman Ayman Odeh said, “When I read the bill, I see panic, the panic of the final stage of all colonialism worldwide. The panic of the French at the end of the occupation of Algeria. I see the panic of the Americans in the final phase of the occupation of Vietnam.”

Like Gal-On, Odeh also indicated that “the real terror is your occupation, which hasn’t ended yet. You can demolish houses, arrest people, deport people, kill them and shoot them when they’re on the ground bleeding. But you can’t suppress a nation’s desire to liberate itself from the occupation.” Yes, a Knesset member referred to his countrymen not as “we,” but “you.”

It was this attitude of simultaneously denying jihad and defending it, while opposing Israel’s existence, that Prime Minister Benjamin was warning about on Election Day last year, when he told voters that the “Arabs are going in droves to the polls.” Though he was issuing a political warning against having too large a bloc of terrorism-supporters in Israel’s legislative body, he was accused of being a racist for saying such a thing.

This cognitive dissonance highlights a problem that is far more insurmountable than terrorism itself. It is the political constraints of liberal democracies, coupled with a false and exaggerated definition of civil liberty that enables the phenomenon to fester and spread.

The very fact that the likes of Odeh are not only allowed, but welcome, to participate in the debate, while receiving a salary from the tax shekels of the state whose legitimacy he calls into question, illustrates the true danger faced by the West: applying the principles and standards of freedom to those whose goal is to wipe that concept off the face of the earth.

Though the new Israeli bill represents an assertion of good over evil, it is more like a shot of local anesthesia than a treatment for what is a worldwide plague. It is certainly nowhere near a cure. For that, the West requires brain surgery.

Ruthie Blum is the managing editor of The Algemeiner.

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  • Dr. Konrad Yona Riggenmann

    If an Arab lawmaker dares to say in Knesset: “The real terror is your occupation”, Ruthie Blum calls for his removal from the democratic parliament and recommends brain surgery for all those lunatic westerners who don’t agree with her: symptom of general lunacy (in German: allgemeiner Wahnsinn)?

  • Theodore Crawford

    “Almost pathetic, in fact, when one considers that it applies only to Israel, not the West Bank, and that most of the terrorists incarcerated after its final passing will still live to be released from jail.” The West Bank is Judea and Samaria, which is Israel… which the Israeli government is gradually ceding to the “Palestinian” Arabs.

  • Paul

    It is unbelievable that you are defending Bibi cynical election trick of stating the arabs are voting in droves. More cynical since Bibi KNEW it was not true, but they used it to manipulate their voters. Very successfully. YOU are still manipulated enough to support this – although NOBODY in Israel does support this dishonest, dishonorable manipulation of voters, who acted like startled sheep.
    Is is also naive on your part to ignore the fact that living under Israeli Military occupation for 50 years will not drive SOME Palestinians to violence. Naive, or lacking intellectual integrity ? If you were living under such military rule for 50 years – WOULD YOU NOT WANT TO FIGHT IT ???

    • A Zionist

      How do you know what is in the minds of Israelis? Do you live in Israel or do you “know” via some kind of magical powers from afar?

      Since Judea & Samaria is the Jewish homeland, the Jewish people are indigenous. Indeed, up to 1964, the word “Palestinian” was a derogatory term for Jew. In 1964, the former USSR, as part of their Cold War strategy, re-invented the arch-terrorist Yasser Arafat. Born in Cairo, Egypt, he suddenly became leader of the “Palestinians”. It was only in 1970 that a UN document makes reference to Palestine. This is because in 136, the Romans renamed Judea and Samaria to “Palestine” in order to erase Jewish history, which is what is happening now. Arabs come from Arabia and from the 7th century, conquered large areas of Europe and the Middle East.

      Murderous Arab attacks began in 1920. In 1929, the pro-Nazi Hajj Amin al-Husseini invented the al-Aksa libel resulting in the 1929 massacres of Jews in Hebron, Jerusalem and Safed. The Great Allied Powers met at San Remo, 1920 to redraw the map of the Middle East, granting the Arabs almost all the Middle East. The exception was the “RECONSTITUTION” of the Jewish National Home. This enraged the Arabs who denied Jewish self-determination. The Treaty of San Remo (1922) and the League of Nations Mandates created Iraq, Syria and Lebanon giving Britain the Mandate for Palestine. The British Colonial Secretary, Winston S Churchill took 78% of the land set aside for the Jewish National Home to create the Emirate of Trans-Jordan, later the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Jordan was created from Jewish land leaving the Jews with only 22% of what they had been given in international law.

      Riots continued between 1936-39; and between 1941-45 Husseini was a guest of Hitler in Berlin where he met Himmler & Eichmann & planned the extermination of Jews in the Middle East. The Arabs rejected the Peel Commission’s Partition Plan and the illegal UN GA 1947 Partition Plan. Instead, the Arab League promised, “a momentous massacre and a war of extermination.”

      Israel declared her Independence on 14 May, 1948. At midnight, 5 Arab countries and 7 Arab armies invaded and attacked the nascent state. 1 million Arabs against 600,000 Jews of which 400,000 were Holocaust survivors. Israel lost 1% of its population. Had the Arabs accepted Jewish self-determination, there would not have been the War of Independence in 1948.

      The Arabs tried to destroy Israel in 1956, 1967 and 1973 and failed causing more humiliation and rage. In 1967, it was Israel who sued for peace, but on 1 September, at Khartoum, the Arab League replied: NO recognition of the Jewish State. NO negotiations with Israel; and NO peace with Israel.

      The Arab calamity was self-authored and Arab rejectionism, antisemitism and rage governs the Arab-Israeli conflict which goes back 120 years. There is no such thing as “Palestinian Territories.” Between 1949-1967, Jordan illegally occupied Judea and Samaria and called it “West Bank.” They expelled the Jews, destroyed synagogues, desecrated the Mount of Olives, using Jewish headstones for roads and latrines. Jews have been buried on the Mount of Olives for 3,000 years. During this period neither Jordan nor Egypt (who illegally occupied Gaza) made any claims for another 23rd Arab state and the PLO (formed in 1964) never claimed the land as evidenced in the PLO Charter of 1964. It was only when Israel won a defensive war and reunified Jerusalem, which had never been divided) that the PLO wrote a second Charter in 1968 claiming Judea & Samaria.

      The only reason for the military “occupation” is because of Arab terrorism and antisemitism. Why does the PA keep their own people in refugee camps? Why cannot Hamas and the PA agree? It is you who is naïve and needs a good history lesson. Never again will the Jewish people be defenceless against those whose own words claim that their aim is the destruction of the Jewish State and to exterminate every Jew, not just in the Middle East, but wherever they may be.

  • Peter Joffe

    So I take it that terrorism is not “draconian and unacceptable”??

  • David Hoffman

    It is disturbing that the law apparently does not include a definition of terrorism, instead relying on various bodies to identify terrorist organisations on a case-by-case basis. I respectfully suggest the following: “Terrorism consists of committing, planning or threatening to commit an attack on the civilian population of a country, for political or ideological reasons, while concealed within the civilian population of that country or another country. An attack on the civilian population of a country is any act causing death or injury to an innocent civilian which, if committed by a member of an organised military force, would be a violation of the laws of war under international law.”
    The key elements of this definition are that
    (A) Anything which a military force is permitted to do is not terrorism.
    (B) The target must be innocent civilians. Any attack directed against a military force is not terrorism, though, depending on the circumstances, it may be a war crime.
    (C) The motivation must be political or ideological.
    (D) The unique element distinguishing terrorism from other violent acts not excluded by (A), (B) or (C) is that it is perpetrated while the perpetrator himself is enjoying the protections extended to the innocent civilian population, by pretending to be one of them or hiding among them.

  • ZG

    Agreed!!!

  • Ouote” There is no reason for terrorism, only excuses. MK Ayman Odeh.”. There are many reasons for terrorism. The most recent reason is expansionist Islam run by Mecca. They make it clear they want world domination. Western civilization is in the way. Western civilization has championed the rights of the individual and been a humanizing factor for hundreds of years excelling in the arts. ISIS destroys art. It is no wonder that the Museum just opened in Gaza is empty. In fact, the individual is at the heart of Western Civilization. The barbarians of ISIS are cruel sadists who cover their faces from shame from the sordid life they lead. This is why we will win.

  • Yaakov

    Netanyahu did not warn about Arabs supporting terrorism. He used the blanket term “the Arabs,” which is completely unacceptable.

    Counter-terrorism measures by themselves will not eliminate the problem. I doubt the measures in the proposed legislation will have any deterrent effect on potential terrorists. What they will do is keep terrorists from repeating their acts. But we need to look at the root causes of terrorism, and singling out Arabs as a whole contributes to those root causes.

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