Moreover, many of today's "terrorists" are children -- boys and girls who just pick up a knife in their mother's kitchen and, on the spur of the moment, run out and attack the nearest Israeli. Some of them are 13, 14 years old. Some of the girls wield scissors. All of them know that in all probability they will be shot dead on the spot by soldiers or passing armed civilians.
The preferred victims are soldiers or settlers. Lacking these, they attack any Israeli, man or woman, in sight.
The mighty Israeli security forces are admittedly helpless against this kind of "infantifada" (as my friend Reuven Wimmer calls it). In their distress, the security forces do what they always do in such situations: use methods that have already failed many times.
Apart from summary executions on the spot (justified or unjustified), these methods include the demolition of the family's home, to deter others, as well as the arrest of parents and other family members.
Frankly, I detest these measures. They remind me of a Nazi term I remember from my youth: "Sippenhaft" ("kin liability.") It is barbaric. It is also highly ineffective. A boy who has decided to sacrifice his life for his people is not deterred by such things. Not a single piece of contrary evidence has ever been produced. On the contrary, it stands to reason that such barbaric acts increase hatred and provide motivation for more attacks.
BUT THE most atrocious and stupid measure is the withholding of dead bodies. I am almost too ashamed to bring this up.
After almost any "terrorist" act, the body of the perpetrator -- adult or child -- is picked up by the security forces. Under Muslim law and usage, dead bodies must be buried the same day or the next one. Withholding them is a supreme act of cruelty. Our security services believe that this contributes to prevention. For Muslims, this is a supreme act of sacrilege.
This is the background of the latest scandal. The three Balad members of the Arab faction visited the families of the perpetrators of a "terrorist outrage," whose bodies had been withheld. Their version is that they came to discuss how to retrieve the bodies. The security forces insist that they also expressed their condolences and even stood in silence for a minute.
The Knesset, "from wall to wall," was outraged. How dare they? Extolling murderers? Showing sympathy for their families?
The Balad members of the Joint Faction are, apart from Zuabi and her smile, Bassal Gatas, and Gamal Zahalka. I have never met Gatas personally. He is 60 years old, a Christian Arab, a doctor of engineering and a businessman. He was for a long time a member of the Communist Party but was thrown out when he insisted on his right to criticize the Soviet Union. Azmi Bishara is his cousin. On TV, he makes a very sensible impression.
I consider Gamal Zahalka a personal friend. Once we both attended a conference in Italy and undertook some hikes together with our wives. I like him very much.
The three Balad members were banned from the Knesset for several months, except for the right to participate in Knesset votes (a right that cannot be denied). Now a new bill proposes that the Knesset can, by a majority of three fourths, expel members from the Knesset altogether.
This means that -- unless the Supreme Court declares this bill unconstitutional - the Knesset will soon be Araber-rein, free from Arabs. A purely Jewish Knesset for a purely Jewish state.
THIS WOULD be a disaster for Israel.
Every fifth Israeli is an Arab. The Arab minority in Israel is one of the largest national minorities, per capita, in the world. Pushing such a minority out of the political process will weaken the very structure of the state.
When the state came into being, we believed that after a generation or two the gulf between the two communities would close, or nearly so. The opposite has happened.