26 July 2008

Cold dish for a hot head

"Revenge is a dish which people of taste prefer to eat cold". There are several variations of this very true saying, I prefer this one. I would modify even this version a bit, replacing "people of taste" by "people of sense". And the reason I am turning to this subject is a story overheard today on the radio - about a new law proposed by MK Limor Livnat. The law is supposed to prevent a possibility that jailed terrorists will be getting education sponsored by the State of Israel (I haven't been able to find an article on the subject so far).

The proposal was without doubt inspired by the example of Samir Kuntar, the child murderer and the new friend of Sheik Nasrallah of Hezballa. During his 29 years in jail Kuntar graduated from the Open University of Israel in social and political science. By the way, the OUI, while being a high level school, is quite an expensive one, so Kuntar's degree cost quite a few shekels to the prison authority.

On purely emotional level, I share Livnat's feelings toward the scum in question. I can even say more: the whole story of Kuntar's imprisonment, subsequent jail time and eventually the swap hurt me as much as the next Israeli. Frankly, the decision of the then commander of the team that attacked and eventually got Kuntar, to spare his life, has been unfortunate, as it appears now. Lawful or not... but it's spilled milk. And on the face of it, the indignation displayed by Ms Livnat is easy to understand.

However, one quality our ex-Minister of education has not displayed in this case is common sense, especially the ability to think one step further than the immediate display of emotion. Once a terrorist is imprisoned, he/she is not left to stew in isolation. The inmates embrace the newcomer and draw him/her into well established network of terrorist education and training. Unless an alternative occupation is offered, a young terrorist novice leaves the jail much better prepared to the next step on the way to eventual martyrdom. Precisely as it happens with criminals, but in a different field of activity.

This is why the prison authority offers the option of education and why security experts (at least the ones I happened to hear being interviewed) were against the Livnat's law proposal. And this is another why our lawmakers would be better off if they thought more about their brilliant ideas. Before these ideas become another stupid law.