Israel Defense Minister Yoav Galant on Sunday issued the kind of stern warning against Palestinian terrorism that makes Israelis and their Christian supporters flex in agreement.
It was short, to the point and unequivocal: “Every terrorist will either go to court or the cemetery.”
The problem is that it’s also entirely ineffective rhetoric.
Threatening the Palestinians with ending up either in court or the cemetery isn’t much of a deterrence when dealing with their brand of nationalistic Islamic terrorism.
Going to court transforms the killers into instant celebrities in Palestinian society, and most know they’ll be released sooner or later as part of a future Israeli “goodwill gesture.” And every Palestinian Muslim believes that he or she will be rewarded with paradise if they die while attacking Jews. And then of course there’s the nice financial benefits the Palestinian Authority offers the perpetrator in either case.
So while the threat issued by Galant made sense to Israeli and other Western ears, it at best meant little to the Palestinians, and at worst could encourage them further.
That’s one of the reasons that the Israelis behind the ill-fated Oslo Accord were adamant that education for peace be one of the primary Palestinian obligations. They knew that local Arabs had been raised on the milk of hatred and the belief that there was no higher calling, nationally or religiously, than to destroy Israel. They knew that mere threats and financial incentives–the proverbial carrot and stick–weren’t enough.
The problem is that those Israelis, and the international community, failed to hold the Palestinian Authority accountable, and so instead of educate for peace, Yasser Arafat and his successor Mahmoud Abbas institutionalized the venomous indoctrination that makes real peace impossible.
It’s not that Galant shouldn’t have said what he said. Many Israelis needed to hear it, needed to know that their new government is going to be tough on terror. And there’s really nothing else he could say that would make the Palestinians take pause. If they don’t want peace badly enough to educate their children toward that goal and to instill a healthy fear of the consequences of misbehavior, then Israel has no choice but to take matters into its own hands. What exactly that should mean differs on who you ask, but the underlying reality is that there is no Palestinian partner.
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