Israel’s Chronic Amnesia

Article Summary
Is the deal with the Palestinian hunger-strikers going to help revive the peace process? Lilach Sigan says those who discuss prisoners’ rights forget that they are actually talking about "brutal murderers," and this short-sightedness will only delay any sort of peace process.    

Great, so the hunger strike of the Palestinian prisoners is over. I’m not saying this cynically, but seriously. In general this is good news, right? On one hand, we’re talking about murderers or types who planned on being murderers. And between us, if they were locked up by the Palestinian Authority — they wouldn’t dream of receiving a tenth of the privileges they receive here. They could starve themselves to death and no one would even know about it. On the other hand, the fact that others choose to behave like animals doesn’t mean that we should choose to act in kind.

The problem is not with the deal that we closed with the Palestinian prisoners, but with our proportions. It seems that we must constantly remind ourselves what kind of world we live in, who are the ones playing the good guys and who are the bad guys — and what the plot is all about. The media of the world, and our media too, is so concerned with preaching on behalf of the rights of murderers that they forget to mention that we’re talking about brutal murderers.

The media operates the same way regarding other issues. After all, the reason for this agreement is not our blind faith in relying on the promises of terrorists not to engage in terror from within the prison walls. The real reason is that we are disinclined to set a sensitive region on fire on a sensitive date, should a prisoner suddenly die of hunger and lead to public agitation and disturbances that will not take into account the reason for his incarceration to begin with.

But let’s not forget the additional reason for the agreement: it is a good-will gesture that will, perhaps, promote a chance for a joint meeting with the Palestinian leadership for any kind of talks, even about the weather. True, this entire good-will gesture is probably nothing more than another small spin from Netanyahu’s “spin collection.” Still we accept Abu Mazen’s ongoing refusal for any kind of dialog with total apathy. It has become self-evident to us, we don’t criticize it at all and don’t even discuss if it’s justified or not. Why, in fact, have we stopped criticizing the intransigence of the Palestinian leadership? Do we have a good reason, have we given up or just simply forgotten, since it has become a routine fact of life?

But perhaps precisely now that we have such a broad coalition [government], perhaps important processes can be promoted much more easily; perhaps it is time to click the “Refresh” button. Let’s start by asking ourselves the simple, basic question: Does negotiation mean to entrench ourselves [in our positions] or to compromise? We do not expect that all of Abu Mazen’s pre-conditions for negotiations will ever be fulfilled. Netanyahu will have to become more flexible, but simultaneously Abu Mazen also needs to be more flexible. So long as we do not criticize his intransigence, we are actually encouraging him to dig in, rather than compromise. Unintentionally, our lack of criticism and mental fatigue only contribute to the continued collapse of the peace process. 

Found in: prisoner strike, peace process, peace, palestine, netanyahu, israel, compromise, benjamin netanyahu, abu mazen

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