Killed a Jew? Free to Go
Posted Fri, May 7, 2010

The psychiatric evaluation, arguing that the Jewish terrorist Jack Teitel is insane and unfit to stand trial, stirred a furious reaction last week from Arab leadership in Israel. Teitel, who during 12 years carried out a series of terrorist attacks aimed at Palestinians and Jews identified with the left, may escape punishment if the Israeli court approves the psychiatric evaluation.

Sheik Ibrahim Abdallah Sarsour, member of the Israeli Parliament (Knesset), entirely rejected the psychiatric evaluation and asserted that, based on his deeds and statements, Teitel is fit to stand trial. “I’m hoping that the court will decline the psychiatric evaluation and clearly affirm that this terrorist will face justice,” said Sarsour. “The decision not to prosecute the terrorist Jack Teitel, while claiming that he is mentally unfit to stand trial, is a crime against humanity and a green light to continue the killing of Arabs.”

Member of the Knesset (MK) Hanin Zuabi takes a similar position. “This kind of psychiatric evaluation is a protection mechanism for those who commit crimes against Palestinians, meaning that there is no one criminal, but three: the perpetrator, the legitimizing political atmosphere and the legal system which absolves the criminals of punishment,” said Zuabi. “How can we trust this argument [the psychiatric evaluation] referring to murderers who plan, follow [the target] and prepare the improvised bombs. This has only one meaning – a licence to kill Palestinians.”

The Arab leadership also strongly denounced the increasing phenomena of violence and killing in Arab society in Israel. MK Jamal Zahalka blamed the police for negligence in not imposing law and order and of creating a state of no deterrence to the killers, as many of them are not arrested and or put behind bars.

The position of the Arab Leadership is unequivocal: murderers, Jews or Arabs, should be punished regardless of their political or criminal motives. However, there is a small reservation – only if the slain are Arabs. The Israeli Arab leadership, that identifies itself as Palestinian, regards the Arabs prisoners who murdered Jews while driven by nationalist motives as “Prisoners of Freedom” who should be released from jail. In the political agenda of the Arab Higher Monitoring Committee, these murderers, citizens of Israel, are called “political prisoners regardless of the severity of their crimes”. The Arab Higher Monitoring Committee utters its absolute support of the “Prisoners of Freedom” with no distinction and its objection to the Israeli establishment’s attempt to portray “any sympathy for the prisoners of freedom as support of terrorism”. Based on these positions, the committee calls for the release of all “Prisoners of Freedom” in any future prisoners swap deal with the Palestinians, arguing that the Arab Israeli prisoners are integral part of the Palestinian national struggle.

The cat is out of the bag once again. The Arab Israeli leadership maintains dubious moral standards. Using their own methodology and arguments may lead to the conclusion that they are not only adopting tolerant approach to murderers, but even giving legitimacy to the killing of Jews. By doing so, the Arab Israeli leadership places itself in the same position as the most extremist right wing organizations in Israel that are using similar arguments while calling for the release of Jewish terrorist prisoners. A murder is a murder is a murder. Any readiness to lessen the verdict against murderers because of their “nationalist motives” is a moral distortion, even if such a decision is taken as a gesture of “goodwill” to the Palestinian Authority or by accepting political parties’ demands to condition the release of Arab murderers with the release of Jewish murderers.

Jonathan Dahoh-Halevi
Fellow and senior researcher at the Jerusalem Centre for Public Affairs , head of research of the Orient Research Group Ltd., investigative journalist and an activist in the Jewish and Israeli communities.

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