Tuesday, June 2, 2020 -
Print Edition

Goodwill gesture, Animal Farm style

What painful news. Bibi, along with the vote and agreement of many other government ministers, has agreed to release 104 Palestinian terrorist prisoners in exchange for . . . for what? For nothing. For absolutely nothing.

Many of us will disagree on principle about using Palestinian terrorist prisoners as bargaining chips in Israeli -Palestinian political negotiations. But at least, as lopsided or caricatured as an exchange might be, at least there is something tangible being exchanged.

Not this time. The deal was struck as yet another gesture of goodwill on the part of Israel to get the Palestinians to come to the negotiating table in the first place.

Really? I mean, isn’t it pretty obvious that you don’t release murderers simply to bring the other side to the negotiation? If this is the dynamic, then the negotiation is over in advance and you have already lost.

Various people, at the very least confused, are writing, speculating, trying to make sense of it.

Perhaps Obama is breathing down Israel’s neck pressuring or threatening Bibi to a point where he had no choice?

Perhaps this is blackmail by the US so as not to lose US support for Israel executing a preemptive attack on Iran?

Perhaps Bibi is morphing into the Bibi of the Wye agreements when he conceded Hebron, so he can go down in history as the Prime Minister who brought peace?

And here is the argument most often presented: This is realpolitik, and will help the situation move forward when the world and the US will see how much Israel is willing to sacrifice for peace.

Do people actually still believe this last explanation?

Did all the nations of the world line up to give Israel a congratulatory yasher koach for its deep desire for peace after its settlement freeze in 2010 — its last gesture of goodwill to get the Palestinians to come to the negotiating table?

What Israel views as her concession or gesture of goodwill is perceived to be the weak act of appeasement that it is. The perception is: “Israelis are suckers” (“frayerim,” as the Israeli saying goes). All these concessions do is to set the stage yet again for blaming Israel when the negotiation process collapses. Because, make no mistake about it, this one most likely will too.

For how can it not?

No fundamental change in education or mentality has been reached internally by the Palestinian people regarding their demands of Israel. No “gestures of goodwill” have been made by the Palestinians toward Israel. No Palestinian equivalent to Israel’s Peace Now has come forth. No acknowledgement of the reality of the existence of the Jewish state of Israel has yet been asserted.

In other words, nothing has changed.

It almost feels like a waste to even respond to a Palestinian demand for a “gesture of goodwill” — to a script we have all read before. Like in the movie Groundhog Day, this is the Middle East version.

It’s like pressing the re-play button yet again, because unlike in the movie, in which changes were ultimately made, we all know that this prisoner release and this round of negotiations will not likely end too well.

With the Middle East roiling in conflicts and wars, relative to all the current bloodshed and slaughter, Israel has actually, thank G-d, been quiet. It’s almost like this bothers the world, because why else would the focus even be on Israel now when some 90,000 civilians have been slaughtered in Syria? This situation would be laughable if it weren’t so sad.

That “quiet” reigns in Israel now. That elusive state of no peace-no war. Maybe this is the best Israel will ever get.

But with the news of the release of the 104 Palestinians terrorist prisoners we are all shaking, knowing in our gut this state of no peace-no war is going to come to an abrupt and blood-soaked halt. In a freaky moment your mind does a quick sweep picturing your friends and family you know there. You throw up a silent prayer that you hope they will all be OK.

Because those slotted to be released — Palestinian terrorist prisoners — are not, as Erekat calls them, “political prisoners.” These are vicious, depraved, barbaric murderers and childkillers. The blood is on their hands.

Over the last few days, so many personal stories have been shared. Civilians, victims of Palestinian terrorist attacks, are sharing their pain and suffering — sharing their stories again. Merely this conversation about these terrorists being released has reopened deep, painful wounds.

Wounds sort of closed, yet always close to the surface, about to crack open.

This week, they have cracked open as a response to the news.

One by one, different stories profiling past victims at the hands of these terrorists, emerge.

Be it the story of the Moses family, traveling in a car when hit by a molotov cocktail and learning of a father immediately rolling his on fire eight-year-old daughter in the sand to extinguish her flames — and, as she is being rolled, seeing her mother being burned alive still in the car. The daughter and her little brother survive, only to have her little brother die three months later from his burns, while she survives and endures a lifetime of agony and shame as a living, walking, burned and scarred human being.

Be it the gracious and holy ritual bath attendant who was blown up on the (one of many) Number 18 bus bombings.

Be it the murder of an Israel Prize laureate.

Be it, in the Jordan Valley, a young mother and her three little children, along with a soldier and another civilian who tried to save them.

Be it Alisa Flatow, an American citizen, a teenager, blown to smithereens.

Be it a 70-year old Holocaust survivor murdered in Petach Tikva in cold blood.

All this is just barely a glimpse.

In this current round of release of terrorists are 104 murderous monsters, who, as Israel’s latest gesture of goodwill, will be celebrated by Palestinians upon their release — celebrated like the celebrities they are are in their culture. Think street namings. Think theatre namings.

This decision seems to be a gross abuse of justice and makes a total mockery of the word and concept. This ought to offend any person of conscience, Israeli or Palestinian.

Not to mention the psychological pain inflicted on survivors and victims’ relatives.

That’s before we even get to the very real and terrifying safety threat it exposes Israelis to.

With this obscene decision, Israel has broken her promises to survivors of attacks and relatives of victims. It feels like a disgrace. A slap in the face.

Meanwhile, as Israel is busy making her gestures of goodwill, Abbas, the Palestinian leader, is busy making his gestures, stating: “In a final resolution (to the negotiations), we would not see the presence of a single Israeli — civilian or soldier — on our land.”

These words. Sound familiar?

Copyright © 2013 by the Intermountain Jewish News

Tehilla R. Goldberg

IJN columnist | View from Central Park

Leave a Reply


Dear valued reader,

During these very difficult times that we’re all experiencing, why does the Intermountain Jewish News matter more than ever?

  • It connects us when we feel separated and surrounded by chaos. With the IJN, we are not alone. We are all in this together as a community.
  • It is our trusted, distinctive news source. The IJN works hard to provide facts, not sensationalism.
  • It brings you the impact of COVID-19 on the Colorado Jewish community.

Like other small businesses and media companies, the IJN is also being impacted in an unprecedented way by effects of the coronavirus.

That’s Why Your Help Is Needed Today.

Please subscribe today or purchase a gift subscription — an online gift is social distancing.

If you’re already a subscriber, you can also donate to the IJN to support our mission of providing quality and comprehensive journalism to the Colorado Jewish community.


Rabbi Hillel Goldberg
Editor & Publisher

Shana R. Goldberg
Assistant Publisher