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Why Doesn't Israel Have the Death Penalty for Murder by Terrorists?:

The farce plays itself out over and over. Israel captures terrorists, some of whom are guilty of horrific mass murders. Capturing the terrorists often requires the sacrifice of great human, financial, and intelligence resources. The terrorists' allies respond by planning various operations to obtain human "bargaining chips," dead or alive, to use in exchange for their captured allies. Israel then agrees to release anywhere from a handful to hundreds of terrorists in exchange for dead bodies or one or a handful of live captives. The released terrorists become heroes, and some go on to commit new murders.

The prisoner exchange taking place today is hardly the worst of them, but it illustrates the point. Israel is releasing Samir Kuntar, guilty of the horrific, cold-blooded murder of a child (and who is shamefully apparently a national hero in Lebanon) and two adults, in exchange for the bodies of two dead soldiers. The soldiers themselves were abducted in an attempt to gain Kuntar's release, an incident that provoked the 2006 Lebanon Hezbollah war, and led to the death of dozens of more Israelis.

I simply don't understand why Israel doesn't put an end to this madness and institute the death penalty for murder caused by terrorism. I have mixed emotions about the death penalty in general, but this is one circumstance in which I think the arguments in favor are overwhelming. The special absurdity is that Israel will institute the death penalty for "genocide", but applies this concept only to perpetrators of Nazi crimes (it was, for example, imposed, then overturned, on John Demjanjuk) who deserve it but are currently harmless, but not to, say, murderous members of Hamas or Hezbollah, organizations which would be all too happy to massacre the Jewish inhabitants of Israel if given the opportunity, and are presently deadly.

(Of course, the wisdom of the prisoner swaps is itself highly questionable, but if, for example, Kuntar had been executed in the late 1970s as he should have been, the issue wouldn't arise to begin with.)

UPDATE: I think it's worth recounting the actions of Lebanon's "national hero," via Wikipedia:

After drowning Danny [the father] in the sea in front of Einat (as Ahmed Al-Brass, Mhanna Salim Al-Muayed, and Abdel Majeed Asslan served as look outs and backup cover for Kuntar), Kuntar turned his attention towards the 4 year-old. He took his rifle and then swung it across the toddler's head, knocking her to the ground. Kuntar then dragged the toddler a couple of feet to the closest rock he could find and laid her head down on a rock, with the intention of crushing it with the butt of his rifle. Einat, instinctively covered her head with her arms, Kuntar struggled with the toddler until he finally managed to clear her arms out of the way. Once her arms were out of the way, Kuntar repeatedly beat her on the head with the butt of his rifle and stomping on her body, until blood rushed out of her ears and mouth. Then, to ensure she was dead, Kuntar continued beating her over the head until her skull was crushed and she was dead.

And Wikipedia also states that the hijacking of the Achillee Lauro cruise ship, which led to the murder of American Leon Klinghoffer, was part of an attempt to win the release of Kuntar and other prisoners.

And to compound the ironies, I've also read that Kuntar's original mission was to take hostages to exchange for other terrorists.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. What Is the Exchange Rate for Terrorist/Innocent Exchanges?
  2. Why Doesn't Israel Have the Death Penalty for Murder by Terrorists?:
Dennis Nolan (mail):
(1) No doubt many in Israel share the common opposition to the death penalty for any crimes.

(2) Trials and appeals would delay execution for a long time (even if not as long as in the US), during which time the same negotiating would be going on. The threat of execution might move the time frame up, but it wouldn't stop the hostage-taking and hostage-bartering.

(3) Executing terrorists would likely cause the terrorists to execute (even more) civilian and military hostages.
7.16.2008 9:26am
GMUSL '07 Alum (mail):
I guess him being injected with a slow-acting-but-lethal poison shortly before his release is too much to hope for...
7.16.2008 9:26am
DNL (mail):
Why does Israel need the death penalty? Why not a policy of "not trading murderers for dead bodies" and replace it with one of "blowing more stuff up if you try to make such an insulting offer"?
7.16.2008 9:27am
davidbernstein (mail):
"(1) No doubt many in Israel share the common opposition to the death penalty for any crimes."

If I remember the polling data correctly, even in Europe, it's the elites, not the public, that is opposed to the death penalty, and I suspect that's even more true in Israel.

(2) Why would trials and appeals for the death penalty inherently take any longer than trials and appeals for four consecutive life sentences, which is Kuntar's sentence?

(3) I don't see why you believe that Hamas, Hezbollah, Al Asqa need any additional incentive to kill anyone.
7.16.2008 9:30am
AntonK (mail):

"...Kuntar struggled with the toddler until he finally managed to clear her arms out of the way. Once her arms were out of the way, Kuntar repeatedly beat her on the head with the butt of his rifle and stomping on her body, until blood rushed out of her ears and mouth. Then, to ensure she was dead, Kuntar continued beating her over the head until her skull was crushed and she was dead."
How could anybody do that to a helpless child? No matter my attempts to imagine it, it remains unimaginable.
7.16.2008 9:31am
30yearProf:
I've never understood the unlimited opposition of the left to the death penalty. Some offenses against your fellow man, like this one, simply cry out for the ultimate penalty.
7.16.2008 9:32am
Modus Ponens:
Because thou shalt not kill.
7.16.2008 9:36am
stevesturm:
Israel needs to (re)grow a spine. And a great way of doing that is for them to start executing terrorists. An even better way is for Israel to kill the terrorists, to not let them surrender or be captured.
7.16.2008 9:38am
davidbernstein (mail):
MP, the Ten Commandments say, in Hebrew, "lo tirtzah," which, properly translated, means "thou shall not murder." It goes without saying that execution for a heinous crime after due judicial process is not "murder."
7.16.2008 9:40am
Sarcastro (www):
Why don't some countries want to kill others as much as I do?! I mean, it seems so clear that killing killers is the way to go! Some crimes just make ya want to KILL, eh? And a society that doesn't indulge that impulse is weak!

Everyone knows kiling always takes more courage than not killing.

Frikken spineless rest of the world!
7.16.2008 9:47am
ejo:
nope, murdering a child is simply a byproduct of lacking empathy and poverty. if elected, I will bring them out of hatred and into the promised land.
7.16.2008 9:48am
Modus Ponens:

MP, the Ten Commandments say, in Hebrew, "lo tirtzah," which, properly translated, means "thou shall not murder." It goes without saying that execution for a heinous crime after due judicial process is not "murder."

So confident.

Perhaps you could jump-start the execution movement by volunteering to pull the trigger, throw the switch, or plunge the needle.
7.16.2008 9:50am
davidbernstein (mail):
For Kuntar, I'd do it with pleasure.
7.16.2008 9:51am
davidbernstein (mail):
Which, of course, has nothing to do with the fact that you misconstrued the relevant Commandment.
7.16.2008 9:52am
JK:
I'm generally opposed to the death penalty for a combination of moral and practical reasons, but there is definitely a strong argument for the death penalty here.

First crimes like the one described are so inhuman in nature that they seem to make a mockery of the Kantian Categorical imperative that we should treat human beings as an end as well as a means (of course Kant himself was all for the death penalty, but that's a whole different issue). Is someone who beats a child to death with the butt of a rifle in cold blood really deserve to be treated as a moral entity?

I'm legitimately not sure where I'd come out on this independent of practical implications, but considering how the practice does appear to encourage additional violence and brutality, and create impossible dilemmas when later negotiating with the terrorists, the scales do seem to tip in favor of imposing the death penalty.
7.16.2008 9:56am
U.Va. 3L:
It goes without saying that execution for a heinous crime after due judicial process is not "murder."

It does?
7.16.2008 10:00am
ERH:
Because an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth leaves both parties blind and toothless.
7.16.2008 10:01am
JK:
Clarification: "the practice" = holding terrorists guilty of murder indefinitely rather than killing them, with a precedent of exchanging such individuals for enemy held combatants or bodies.
7.16.2008 10:01am
davidbernstein (mail):
In Jewish tradition it certainly does. The Torah itself provides the death penalty for various crimes, after all. (Though the fact that the Constitution provides for the death penalty hasn't stopped certain Justices from arguing that it's unconstitutional!) I would say that outside of Jewish tradition it does, too. Homicide, yes, by definition. Murder, no.
7.16.2008 10:04am
davidbernstein (mail):
"Because an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth leaves both parties blind and toothless."

But the justification here is not vengeance, it's to prevent further violence later.
7.16.2008 10:05am
pgepps (www):
...I'm amused to note "the scales do seem to tip" wrapped around a brief nod toward Kant...as though a Kantian would be amenable to pragmatic argumentation! LOL

And I join the swelling ranks of those who would cheerfully volunteer to join the firing squad.
7.16.2008 10:05am
M. Gross (mail):
I would suggest that the main problem is the prisoner exchanges themselves, not the fact that any given captured terrorist is still alive.

Few would argue we should execute US criminals simply to prevent our government from freeing them on a regular basis. The government's actions are the problem, not the terrorist's continued life.
7.16.2008 10:09am
anonymouseducator:
It's the "by terrorists" part that I find problematic, not the death penalty part. Does that mean murder by known members of Hamas and Hezbollah? Certain types of killings? Certain motives, in which case it starts to seem like you;d be creating a category of hate crime.
7.16.2008 10:10am
Richard Nieporent (mail):
Just what this blog needs, holier than thou Leftists.
7.16.2008 10:14am
Sarcastro (www):
Well, if all these Americans want to kill this guy, the state should indulge their impulse!

I would definately be confused if the Israelis might have a different point of view! Well, it could be the view of the elites I guess.

Because the Real Israelis are just like Texans.
7.16.2008 10:15am
davidbernstein (mail):
Sarcatro, if you want to regularly post on this board,you must learn to spell "definitely."
7.16.2008 10:17am
hawkins:
I just do not understand this particular prisoner exchange. I believed it was common knowledge that such practices were largely counter productive. I understand this giving way to pressure and desire when hostages are alive, but for dead bodies? It seems like an awful idea.
7.16.2008 10:18am
fudd (mail):
"Because an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth leaves both parties blind and toothless."

Thats bs, the party to act first would keep one eye.
7.16.2008 10:19am
cathyf:
Am I a really bad person for thinking that Samir Kuntar would have cut a more dashing figure had he arrived at the exchange dressed in a remote-controlled explosive vest?
7.16.2008 10:19am
Ben P (mail):

Israel needs to (re)grow a spine. And a great way of doing that is for them to start executing terrorists. An even better way is for Israel to kill the terrorists, to not let them surrender or be captured.


I have no problem with imposing the death penalty in theory, but the question always needs to be asked is what will it accomplish?

Are you executing terrorists just for the sake of executing them? Do you expect Israel "growing a spine" and actually executing people after they're captured to actually help the problem when people are already willing to blow themselves up just to kill Israelis?


I'm not saying someone who kills a child shoouldn't be executed, but it does seem to me that the reaction of "Grow a spine and start killing people" is merely an emotional reaction and may not actually help anything.
7.16.2008 10:21am
Sarcastro (www):
It's true, spelling is my true nemisis.
7.16.2008 10:27am
arthur (mail):
Perhaps because Israeli laws reflect the policy preferences and moral views of Israeli voters, not of right wing American law professors?

Also Israelis may conclude that the prevalence of suicide bombers indicates the death penalty wouldn't deter terrorists. And that after thirty yers in prison, this particular guy probably isn't much of a threat any more.
7.16.2008 10:36am
Dave N (mail):
It's the "by terrorists" part that I find problematic, not the death penalty part.
Israel has/had the death penalty for the perpetrators of the Holocaust, though the only person Israel ever executed was Adolf Eichmann. I don't see how identifying someone as committing murder to advance terrorism is any harder committing murder to advance the Holocaust--and remember Eichmann was a monster, but he also never personally killed anyone as far as we know.
7.16.2008 10:39am
CJColucci:
I don't have an opinion about whether Israel should execute terrorists. The Israelis, who, unlike us, have real experience on the subject and bear the risks of whatever policy they choose, don't seem to think it's a good idea. It would be presumptuous of me to advise them to start hanging people.
7.16.2008 10:43am
J. F. Thomas (mail):
Sarcasto, If you use Firefox, it has a built in spell checker. Yet again proving the superiority of open source non-profit cooperation over corporate software.
7.16.2008 10:43am
JK:

...I'm amused to note "the scales do seem to tip" wrapped around a brief nod toward Kant...as though a Kantian would be amenable to pragmatic argumentation! LOL

The irony is noted, but I only invoked Kant for the general idea that we should consider the individual to be killed as a moral entity, and not just as a pawn in public policy. I'll readily admit that in the end I'm much more of a utilitarian than a Kantian, despite my belief that Kantian moral reasoning does deserve contemplation.
7.16.2008 10:43am
Dave N (mail):
Arthur wrote:
that after thirty yers in prison, this particular guy probably isn't much of a threat any more
Frankly, I don't care. There are certain crimes that are so despicable that the perpetrator should NEVER breath free air. EVER. I don't care if they drool in their soup and don't remember what planet they live on.

For example, California recently refused to grant a "humanitarian release" to Susan Atkins, who, as a member of the Manson family, participated in the murder of Sharon Tate.

As repulsive of a human being as Atkins might be, Samir Kuntar is arguably ten times worse.
7.16.2008 10:47am
Sarcastro (www):
*sigh* but I work for a living, and Explorer is all they allow on these machines. I'll try to use Word to spell check.
7.16.2008 10:47am
Jim at FSU (mail):
Has Israel just been firing really inaccurate warning shots for the past 50 years? I was under the impression that Israel had the ability to distinguish between killing generally and murder specifically.

Also, I'm not the first person to note that Israel's policy of shooting missiles at suspected terrorists is a sort of de facto death penalty.
7.16.2008 10:51am
Mad Max:
Sarcatro, if you want to regularly post on this board,you must learn to spell "definitely."

He should also read the comment policy, especially the things one is asked to avoid. Value added of his comments remains zero. Troll, thy name is Sarcastro.
7.16.2008 10:53am
Jim at FSU (mail):
As the original poster noted, the point of the death penalty is to incapacitate terrorists so that other terrorists can't take hostages to secure their release. It is certainly a superior approach to the current revolving door policy.
7.16.2008 10:53am
wfjag:

(3) Executing terrorists would likely cause the terrorists to execute (even more) civilian and military hostages.


The problem with this argument is that it isn't supported by the facts. Israel will is exchanging 5 live terrorists and the bodies of 200 terrorists killed in Israel for the bodies of 2 Israeli soldiers who were captured, alive, 2 years ago, by Hezbollah. The Isreali soldiers were either executed or died after capture. US CID agent William Buckley was kidnapped by Hezbollah in Lebanon, and tortured over months, eventually dying. There's no reason to believe that Hezbollah will change its tactics and treatment of prisoners/hostages because Israel has or does not have the death penalty.

The counter-argument, which appears to have some factual support, is that by keeping terrorists imprisoned, Hezbollah is motivated to take more prisoners/hostages, so that they can trade bodies for Isreali held prisoners. Accordingly, the lack of a death penalty increases the risk of future terrorist attacks and kidnappings.
7.16.2008 10:55am
Stop Making Sense (mail):
The death penalty in support of an illegal, immoral occupation of another people's homeland is not a good thing. Israel's brutal occupation and utter selfishness has caused nothing but pain for the rest of the world.
7.16.2008 11:00am
Per Son:
David Bernstein:

I always laugh when Americans seem to know what is better for Israel than Israel. The exchange (which I am not sure I support) was approved by the Knesset - as we know the democraticaly elected assembly. There is certainly opposition in Israel, but given that Israel has been fighting terrorists quite effectively for over 50 years - my gut is they know what they are doing.

For example, many Americans have this "we don't talk/negotiate with bad guys attitude." Many senior Israeli intelligence and military officials are coming around on this issue and believe that direct engagement with Hezbollah and Hamas can be extremely beneficial to Israel.
7.16.2008 11:01am
Wallace:
While the death penalty for terrorists would deter some of the hostage taking aimed at prisoner exchanges, you could accomplish the same goal by adopting a "no refund, no exchange" policy.

Aside from moral issues, there are practical reasons why Israel might not adopt the death penalty for terrorists.

1) It could be seen as one more example of the disparate system of justice Israel has towards it's non-Jewish residents. While Jewish-Israeli murderers can commit crimes as heinous as terrorists (in the history of Israel there must be a brutal non-terorist murder somewhere), they won't get the death sentence. The world community would see Israel's death penalty for terrorists as a penalty applied only to Muslims.

2) Occasionally, exchanging terrorists for hostages might be necessary for the foreign policy efforts of the Israeli government. If that bargaining chip is taken away from Israel's prime minister by the criminal justice system, he has less power to negotiate peace or prosecute wars as he sees fit.

3) The death penalty is just unpopular in most of the world. Israel may not need to alienate it's few supporters by adopting an unpopular penalty.
7.16.2008 11:04am
Sarcastro (www):
[Mad Max methinks you should read my comments more closely.]
7.16.2008 11:06am
Dave N (mail):
The death penalty in support of an illegal, immoral occupation of another people's homeland is not a good thing. Israel's brutal occupation and utter selfishness has caused nothing but pain for the rest of the world.
Tell that to the family of the dead children in this case, troll. Now be gone.
7.16.2008 11:11am
Thales (mail) (www):
"In Jewish tradition it certainly does. The Torah itself provides the death penalty for various crimes, after all. (Though the fact that the Constitution provides for the death penalty hasn't stopped certain Justices from arguing that it's unconstitutional!) I would say that outside of Jewish tradition it does, too. Homicide, yes, by definition. Murder, no."

Is it really accurate to say the Constitution *provides for* the death penalty? I agree that it mentions it in the Fifth Amendment, but "provides" in legalese usually means authorizes or commands. One could argue with a straight face (though I would disagree for a number of reasons) that the Eighth Amendment, coming later or at the same point in time and providing that cruel and unusual punishments shall not be inflicted swallows the mere mention of capital crimes elsewhere, in other words that given the Eighth Amendment's provision, capital crimes is (or could become in the future) an empty set if infliction of the death penalty would be cruel and unusual.
7.16.2008 11:11am
davidbernstein (mail):
(2) strikes me as the only plausible reason. When (if) Israel ever successfully negotiates a lasting peace agreement with the Palestinians, the release of Palestinian "martyrs" will be one of the "victories" the leaders will use to sell the deal to their public. But there are plenty of Palestinian terrorist prisoners who are not guilty of murder who could serve that function.
7.16.2008 11:13am
David M (www):
The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the - Web Reconnaissance for 07/16/2008 A short recon of what's out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the day...so check back often.
7.16.2008 11:23am
Per Son:
Wallace:

You bring up an excellent point. That is, would the Jewish Settlers who have been harassing, jumping, and shooting at nearby Palestinians be considered terrorists.

Had Baruch Goldstein (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baruch_Goldstein) been executed for terroism had he not been beaten to death open firing on a crowd of Muslim worshipers? Note that his gravesite is a point of pilgrimage for some far-right wing Jews (Kach). To be fair, his grave site was bulldozed and most of Israel does not support what he did (indeed most of the terrorist group Kach's funds come from Americans).
7.16.2008 11:26am
Per Son:
Replace had with would for the first sentence of my second paragraph.
7.16.2008 11:31am
josh (www):
"I simply don't understand why Israel doesn't put an end to this madness and institute the death penalty for murder caused by terrorism."

Probably because it has decided it wants to be able to trade for the return of its citizens. Perhaps not important to you, but it does appear to be the choice the country has made.
7.16.2008 11:31am
PLR:
Why Doesn't Israel Have the Death Penalty for Murder by Terrorists?

At the risk of being labeled an elitist, maybe The Powers That Be believe that killing the defenseless is ... unethical?
7.16.2008 11:31am
SJon (mail):

There is certainly opposition in Israel, but given that Israel has been fighting terrorists quite effectively for over 50 years - my gut is they know what they are doing.

No, they do not know what they are doing. Israel used to have a policy of not negotiating with terrorists for the release of hostages. See: The Entebbe Raid. This exchange accomplishes absolutely nothing except to encourage Hamas and Hezballah to try to capture Israeli soldiers (doesn't even matter if they take them alive apparently) in the future and exchange them for terrorists. Given that Hezballah tried to secure the release of Kuntar when they initially kidnapped Goldwasser and Regez at the start of the 2006 war, there was no point in Israel fighting Hezballah to a stalemate, agreeing to a completely ineffectual UN resolution that has allowed Hezballah to complete rearm, and then release Kuntar anyway. And FYI, Olmert is currently being investigated for corruption and has lower public approval ratings that Bush. I just hope he doesn't give away the rest of the country before he gets kicked out of office.


Many senior Israeli intelligence and military officials are coming around on this issue and believe that direct engagement with Hezbollah and Hamas can be extremely beneficial to Israel.

I'm pretty sure the Israeli military establishment was against this deal. Given that Olmert just gave Hezballah a MAJOR victory, I would not be surprised if they are emboldened enough to attack Israel again because of this. Even the supposed Western leaning Lebanese PM Siniora is giving that child murderer Kuntar a hero's welcome when he gets back to Lebanon. Disgusting.
7.16.2008 11:31am
martinned (mail) (www):
Different angle: What about the problem of martyring terrorists? I would say executing them hands them a PR gold mine that they would never have if you simply lock them up and throw away the key. The wider goal has to be to undermine their credibility, and unfortunately not everyone has yet come to the point of realising that, just because someone died for an idea, doesn't make it any more true. (Nietzsche, The Antichrist, p. 53: "It is so little true that martyrs offer any support to the truth of a cause that I am inclined to deny that any martyr has ever had anything to do with the truth at all. In the very tone in which a martyr flings what he fancies to be true at the head of the world there appears so low a grade of intellectual honesty and such insensibility to the problem of "truth," that it is never necessary to refute him. Truth is not something that one man has and another man has not: at best, only peasants, or peasant-apostles like Luther, can think of truth in any such way.")
7.16.2008 11:32am
hawkins:
does anyone care about the "Thunder Run." Frankly, I grow tired of repeatedly seeing the same post
7.16.2008 11:35am
Per Son:
SJon:

So the combined wisdom of the Israeli Cabinet, Military, and Knesset is bunk, and instead, Israel should do what you say?

Maybe Israel should follow the US lead for airplane security too, so they would really be safe.
7.16.2008 11:45am
SJon (mail):

So the combined wisdom of the Israeli Cabinet, Military, and Knesset is bunk, and instead, Israel should do what you say?


Read the reactions coming out of Israel today. The only people in favor this exchange was Olmert, his cabinet (except for three of them), and the Regev and Goldwasser families. The Military was definitely not in favor of this "deal." Please tell me what benefit Israel receives from this exchange. Right now Hamas is salivating at the possibility of getting hundreds of prisoners released to free Gilad Schalit, who is alive right now, but after seeing Israel's willingness to release terrorists with blood on their hands in exchange for dead soldiers, what reason do they have for keeping him alive? Hezballah is not just going melt back into the background. If Israel is not attacked again by the end of the year by Hezballah, I will be surprised.
7.16.2008 11:53am
martinned (mail) (www):
[Somewhat off-topic]

The International Court of Justice has ordered a moratorium on the execution of five Mexican nationals scheduled for the death penalty in Texas, who were denied their right to contact their Embassy. This is the same case as the one ruled earlier this year by the Supreme Court in Medellin v Texas.

[/OT]
7.16.2008 11:54am
cathyf:
killing the defenseless is ... unethical?
Since Kuntar in prison proved to be the opposite of powerless, killing him would have been hunky-dory-a-ok, right?
7.16.2008 11:58am
ejo:
we can't point out the absurdity of the policy? is that a new rule? it would seem you want to punish behavior you do not want to occur again, not reward it or provide incentives for it-that doesn't require any degree of genius to figure out. the Olmert government, throwing common sense aside, just did the opposite by rewarding those who kidnapped and killed israelis with the release of the worst of the worst. lesson-kidnap and kill but save the corpses for the release of our live killers.
7.16.2008 12:01pm
neurodoc:
David Bernstein: It goes without saying that execution for a heinous crime after due judicial process is not "murder."
U.Va. 3L: It does?

U.Va. 3L, do you mean that some who are legally uninformed may not appreciate that "murder" only pertains to unlawful killing, which execution after due judicial process would not be? I think you must mean that, because it is unimaginable that a third-year University of Virginia law student wouldn't know that.
7.16.2008 12:06pm
Dave N (mail):
off-topic Martinned:

So what? The United States does not recognize the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice to tell it or its sovereign states what to do. If I were the Governor of Texas, my response would be, "Ignore it and strap them down."
7.16.2008 12:08pm
PLR:
Since Kuntar in prison proved to be the opposite of powerless, killing him would have been hunky-dory-a-ok, right?

Homicide by the jailer is a different issue from capital punishment, and no serious person would conflate the two.
7.16.2008 12:10pm
martinned (mail) (www):
@neurodoc: I suspect that that was not the point U.Va. 3L was looking to make. In Bernard Shaw's words: "It is the deed that teaches, not the name we give it. Murder and capital punishment are not opposites that cancel one another, but similars that breed their kind." Or, alternatively: "Criminals do not die by the hands of the law. They die by the hands of other men."

@Dave N: Actually, the argument of the US in this case is that it agrees completely with Mexico, and that that means that the court has no jurisdiction. Beautiful argument, especially since they might be right. FYI, under the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties (as opposed to the one on Consular Relations), a state cannot claim a rule of domestic law as an excuse why it is not meeting its obligations under international law.
7.16.2008 12:13pm
Dave N (mail):
Martinned:

My last post because I do not want to be accused of hijacking the thread, but the United States withdrew from the compulsary jurisdiction of the ICJ in 1986.
7.16.2008 12:21pm
neurodoc:
ERH: Because an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth leaves both parties blind and toothless.
David Bernstein: But the justification here is not vengeance, it's to prevent further violence later.

ERH, you echo Mahatma Gandhi, who said, "An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind." That is the person who urged Jews to submit to the massacre by Hitler that he fully anticipated. Is it all that surprising that Jews were not appreciative of Gandhi's advice 70 years ago, and still are not appreciative of it today? But if you wish to elect Satyagraha for yourself, you are free to do.
7.16.2008 12:25pm
Kent G. Budge (www):

FYI, under the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties (as opposed to the one on Consular Relations), a state cannot claim a rule of domestic law as an excuse why it is not meeting its obligations under international law.


I find that frightening. It implies that if the President signs a treaty agreeing to abridge freedom of speech in this country, and the Senate ratifies, then the First Amendment is out the window.

I don't think this is an outrageous hypothetical.
7.16.2008 12:27pm
ginsocal (mail):
A wise man once said, "Because some people just need killin'". I would have to agree, particularly in this instance.

The best ending to this story would be if the Israelis had implanted a small GIS chip in the mutt, and sent a Very Large Cruise Missile to his location in, oh, about three days.
7.16.2008 12:28pm
Wallace:
When (if) Israel ever successfully negotiates a lasting peace agreement with the Palestinians, the release of Palestinian "martyrs" will be one of the "victories" the leaders will use to sell the deal to their public. But there are plenty of Palestinian terrorist prisoners who are not guilty of murder who could serve that function.

I'd bet that just about every terrorist prisoner is guilty of murder under some conspiracy or accessory liability theory. The ones who aren't guilty probably aren't high profile enough to mean much to the average Palestinian. Even if the prisoner was only a treasurer for the PLO, he knew those funds were going to buy bombs or bullets and implicitly agreed to the murders committed.
7.16.2008 12:28pm
Dave N (mail):
I'd bet that just about every terrorist prisoner is guilty of murder under some conspiracy or accessory liability theory.
Sure, but not every terrorist personally bashed in the skull of a 4 year-old.
7.16.2008 12:34pm
hattio1:
I agree with others that the problem is the prisoner exchanges, not the lack of a death penalty. I also agree that killing the terrorists would risk greatly making them martyrs. So, why not do something else that would shame them. I don't know Palestinian culture well enough to know what would work, but how about every time an Israeli citizen or soldier is captured, taking a prisoner and putting them in a room waste deep in pig guts. Broadcast the pictures. I don't know...something.
7.16.2008 12:36pm
Should be bar studying:
I'm more confused why Israel would trade a prisoner in exchange for dead bodies. That seems utterly stupefying, which means it probably has some religious justification. Can anyone elaborate on this point?
7.16.2008 12:39pm
ak47pundit (www):
The swap is a terrible idea from an incentives standpoint, as Hizballah has no incentive to keep any captured Israeli alive given that israel will trade live terrorists for dead Israelis at the same ratio they will trade for live Israelis.

To restore the incentive, Kuntar should be returned in the same condition in which Regev and Goldwasser are received.
7.16.2008 12:45pm
Should be bar studying:
As for the Ten Commandments, which have been brought up, you cannot possibly read them literally to prevent all killing, because in the Old Testament God so often commanded the Jews to kill others (e.g, 'slaughter the Canaanites'). A logical and consistent God would not command his flock to violate his own commandments. Therefore, there must be something else implied in "thou shall not kill." It probably meant, thou shall not kill other Jews, unless otherwise directed by God (e.g., for picking up sticks on the sabbath).
7.16.2008 12:47pm
davidbernstein (mail):
It wasn't "only" for the dead bodies, it was to give the families "peace," because it wasn't 100% sure whether they were dead or alive. I'd hate to be in the position of these families, but I like the idea circulating currently in Israel, which is that members of combat units organize themselves and sign pledges in advance that they do not want the government negotiating for them on anything but a one to one (one live prisoner for one live prisoner, or corpse for corpse) basis, and to ignore any family pleas to the contrary.

Because military service is compulsory in Israel, the please of family members regarding POW's get much public sympathy, given that everyone can imagine themselves in the same situation. But everyone should also be able to imagine themselves being the future victims of the terrorists released in deals like this one, or their children being kidnapped in the future to facilitate a deal like this. It's often forgotten, but before the Entebbe raid the Israeli government almost caved to the terrorists' demands due to pressure from the hostages' families.

And of course, with the dead bodies, one can have a "proper" funeral.
7.16.2008 12:49pm
martinned (mail) (www):
@Kent G. Budge: Don't worry. The purpose of that rule is that states should not have to dig into each other's constitutional law, etc., in order to make sure no one's promising something they can't deliver. In the case you mention, there would be a lasting conflict between international law and domestic law, since no (US) court would let a treaty trump the constitution, and at some point the president and/or the senate would withdraw the US ratification, and all would be well.
7.16.2008 12:49pm
davidbernstein (mail):
Should be, as indicated before, the original Hebrew does not say anything about "kill," only "murder."
7.16.2008 12:50pm
Virginian:

UPDATE: I think it's worth recounting the actions of Lebanon's "national hero," via Wikipedia:

After drowning Danny [the father] in the sea in front of Einat (as Ahmed Al-Brass, Mhanna Salim Al-Muayed, and Abdel Majeed Asslan served as look outs and backup cover for Kuntar), Kuntar turned his attention towards the 4 year-old. He took his rifle and then swung it across the toddler's head, knocking her to the ground. Kuntar then dragged the toddler a couple of feet to the closest rock he could find and laid her head down on a rock, with the intention of crushing it with the butt of his rifle. Einat, instinctively covered her head with her arms, Kuntar struggled with the toddler until he finally managed to clear her arms out of the way. Once her arms were out of the way, Kuntar repeatedly beat her on the head with the butt of his rifle and stomping on her body, until blood rushed out of her ears and mouth. Then, to ensure she was dead, Kuntar continued beating her over the head until her skull was crushed and she was dead.


Also, the wife/mother accidentally smothered the 2-year old while hiding and attempting to keep the child quiet. That is about the saddest thing I have ever heard.

Kuntar should have been dispatched to hell decades ago.
7.16.2008 1:06pm
cathyf:
Homicide by the jailer is a different issue from capital punishment, and no serious person would conflate the two.
I am mystified by what could possibly be meant by the term "homicide by the jailer".

Perhaps you mean that Kuntar's jailer(s) are morally culpable for Leon Klinghoffer's murder because they failed to carry out the death penalty against Kuntar before the Achille Lauro hijacking? Of course it makes the jailers culpable for every killing carried out in the course of trying to spring Kuntar from jail. Not just Regev and Goldwasser, but every soldier (Israeli or Lebanese), every terrorist, every civilian bystander (Israeli, Palestinian, Lebanese) dead from the cascade of death that has flowed from the multiple actions (finally successful) which were aimed at freeing Kuntar.

An interesting theory, which I must say that I can't reject out of hand. But it does rather miss the point in that it absolves the terrorists from their responsibility in mounting the killing and hostage-taking operations that caused all of those homicides.
7.16.2008 1:13pm
Seamus (mail):

As repulsive of a human being as Atkins might be have been back in 1969, Samir Kuntar is arguably ten times worse.


There; fixed that for you.

But I agree that Kuntar richly needs killing. In fact, the exact problem that Prof. Bernstein identified is one that first occurred to me in the early 1970s, when Palestinian terrorists started grabbing hostages to secure release of their imprisoned buddies.

The only problem I see is coming up with a good legal definition of "terrorism." As I see it, that's probably even more difficult than defining "hate crime." What we really want is a way of permanently removing from the scene those perps who have friends and allies who are likely to commit further crimes (especially hostage taking) to secure the release of the perp. The category of people meeting that description isn't co-extensive with the category of what we might call "terrorists." (The Beltway Sniper was tried for capital murder in Virgnia on the ground that his actions were terroristic, but he was a loner with no buddies who are likely to seize hostages to try to get him sprung. On the other hand, I can imagine the possibility of a non-political organized crime gang becoming powerful enough to seize hostages with that end in mind.) On the other hand, if we want to hold that Kuntar's crimes are heinous enough on their own to justify the death penalty, independent of whether he did them to further some political cause, I really have no problem with that.
7.16.2008 1:14pm
PersonFromPorlock:
For dealing with terrorists, and not in Israel alone, how about 'life with the option': the option being that if the terrorist-serving-life's release is demanded by a hostage taker, the terrorist is immediately executed.
7.16.2008 1:16pm
Seamus (mail):
@neurodoc: I suspect that that was not the point U.Va. 3L was looking to make. In Bernard Shaw's words: "It is the deed that teaches, not the name we give it. Murder and capital punishment are not opposites that cancel one another, but similars that breed their kind."

By the same token, and just as accurately, "Kidnapping and imprisonment are not opposites that cancel one another, but similars that breed their kind."
7.16.2008 1:22pm
cathyf:
the option being that if the terrorist-serving-life's release is demanded by a hostage taker, the terrorist is immediately executed.
Interesting idea, PFP, but it might cause a rash of sham "hostage takings" designed to get executions that otherwise wouldn't happen...
7.16.2008 1:23pm
josh (www):
"Why Doesn't Israel Have the Death Penalty for Murder by Terrorists?"

A nice answer to DB's question here: http://www.slate.com/id/2195376/
7.16.2008 1:23pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
If history is any guide, governments who say that they will not exchange prisoners can't stick to that policy. For example, Margret Thatcher, gave in and released a terrorist in exchange for a kidnapped UK citizen. Even the Iron Lady could not resist the pressure from the family to release the terrorist to get their child back. This is a basic weakness common to democracies, and it makes them vulnerable to their adversaries.

The law has an important expressive aspect. If the penalty for a heinous crime is too light then the life of the victim has been deprecated. Is life in prison too light? Yes. First a life sentence hardly ever really applies as discussed in a previous thread. Second some crimes are so despicable (Adolf Eichmann) they beg for the ultimate penalty. Third the failure to employ capital punishment communicates weakness. Of course the liberals think that communicates strength, but terrorists don't see it that way. Finally the punishment should fit the crime. Kuntar should have been executed in a particularly painful manner. These highly clinical executions are almost self nullifying. Again it expresses weakness in the face of evil.
7.16.2008 1:25pm
Sarcastro (www):
Lord do I hate that Gandhi, or as I like to call him "Hindu Hitler"
7.16.2008 1:26pm
Virginian:

If history is any guide, governments who say that they will not exchange prisoners can't stick to that policy.


They can if the prisoner has already been executed.
7.16.2008 1:27pm
Abandon:
David Bernstein wrote:


If I remember the polling data correctly, even in Europe, it's the elites, not the public, that is opposed to the death penalty


This assertion is wrong. In order to be true, the population would have to be shiftly in favor of death penalty. About all available data on the issue are showing it is not the case. In France, only 42% of the population wishes to reestablish the death penalty, an all-time low. In UK, the population also has never has never had capital punishment in so lower esteem. 76% of the Italians are against death penalty. The trend is even stronger in Germany and, a bit surprisingly, in Russia... Shall I continue?

The elites show a much stronger opposition to death penalty then the population at large. True, I'm confident it can easily be demonstrated. But I don't believe, would your assertion be true, the "dictatorship of the majority" stands on higher moral grounds than the most educated portion of the society's wisdom. Call me elitist if you like...
7.16.2008 1:28pm
gasman (mail):
The only problem with citing Demjanjuk as a good example of needing the death penalty is that the Israeli supreme court overturned his conviction because of spoilation of evidence and reasonable doubt. Had he been hanged as originally sentenced then the court's ruling would have provided him with little solace or deserved liberty.
7.16.2008 1:29pm
martinned (mail) (www):
@Seamus: Two of the other "Maxims for Revolutionists" (just follow the link in my earlier commment), is "Imprisonment is as irrevocable as death." and "Whilst we have prisons it matters little which of us occupy the cells." So yes, Shaw was against prison sentences, too. Personally, I think that a) imprisonment is still slightly less irrevocable, b) another key difference is rehabilitation, c) a third key difference is that a prison sentence can be a proportionate punishment.
7.16.2008 1:32pm
ejo:
sarcy-educate yourself on the guy's stance in regard to what the jews should have done. then you wouldn't sound as stupid. then, keeping in an eastern vein, you can perhaps explain the overall good karma that surrounds releasing the murderer of a 4 year old to a welcome as a hero.
7.16.2008 1:33pm
wfjag:

I'm more confused why Israel would trade a prisoner in exchange for dead bodies.


According to a report on the exchange on NPR, this morning, until recently Israel thought that the 2 soldiers were still alive. So, until this was found to be not true, the swap would have been 5 prisoners from Israeli jails + 200 corpuses for 2 Israeli soldiers.

The closure for the families and proper burial justifications sound somewhat like post hoc rationalizations. It is possible that the negotiation process had gathered enough bureaucratic inertia to carry itself on, even after the soldiers' deaths were revealed, so that those involved felt that they had some sort of stake in concluding a deal despite the impossibility of its original goal of obtaining the safe return of the 2 soldiers. Then other "reasons" were then offered as justifications for the swap eventually made.
7.16.2008 1:45pm
stunned:
Since you also gleefully support the killing of human shields, it might be simpler if you simply told us which Lebanese people you don't want to personally kill.
7.16.2008 1:46pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
The International Court of Justice has ordered a moratorium on the execution of five Mexican nationals scheduled for the death penalty in Texas, who were denied their right to contact their Embassy. This is the same case as the one ruled earlier this year by the Supreme Court in Medellin v Texas.
Just to be clear, it is utterly false to say that they were "denied their right to contact their Embassy." They weren't "denied" anything.

They weren't specially informed of their right to do so -- a right which might be crucial in many countries, but not particularly in the U.S., given Miranda and Gideon.
7.16.2008 1:48pm
Dave N (mail):
Seamus wrote:
As repulsive of a human being as Atkins might be have been back in 1969, Samir Kuntar is arguably ten times worse.


Thank you for the attempt to fix my prior post but I stand by the original language. I know not what Atkins may have done to redeem her self in almost 40 years, but I still consider her to be a repulsive human being.
7.16.2008 1:49pm
martinned (mail) (www):
@David M. Nieporent: You're right, of course. My apologies. I simply tried to summarise the case as briefly as possible. However, given the occasional shortcomings of the public defender's system in the US, I'm not so eager to describe this omission as "not crucial". [/OT]
7.16.2008 1:53pm
wooga:

The elites show a much stronger opposition to death penalty then the population at large. True, I'm confident it can easily be demonstrated. But I don't believe, would your assertion be true, the "dictatorship of the majority" stands on higher moral grounds than the most educated portion of the society's wisdom. Call me elitist if you like...

Abandon,
Assuming a strong argument can be made to let the 'most educated portion' of society control all sorts of things (economics, military, etc), such an argument cannot be made for issues of morality.

How does receipt of a college degree make someone a more moral person? How does it provide someone with a better grasp of morality?

For all my philosophy and religion training, I certainly have a much better understanding than most people on issues of ancient textual interpretation, cosmology, and logic theory. But that does not make me any better a judge of what is morally right and wrong. Morality is a thing of common sense. Morality is the one thing that the common man is better suited at interpreting than the detached navel gazing intellectual.
7.16.2008 1:58pm
martinned (mail) (www):
@wooga: But that doesn't mean that it is a subject that should be decided by a 50%+1 vote.
7.16.2008 2:00pm
Mad Max:
The elites show a much stronger opposition to death penalty then the population at large.

So the liberal elites are leading us down the path to national suicide in this as in so many other issues. Yaay!
7.16.2008 2:05pm
davidbernstein (mail):
Stunned, when you graduate law school, you will find yourself subject to judicial sanction if you misrepresent source material that way.
7.16.2008 2:07pm
Seamus (mail):
a third key difference is that a prison sentence can be a proportionate punishment

That's a difference? In what way is the death penalty not a proportionate punishment for a heinous murder? (I suppose that simply letting Kuntar dance at the end of a rope is probably too lenient to be proportionate to his offenses, but I suspect that isn't what you meant.)
7.16.2008 2:21pm
ejo:
yet stunned's interpretation would probably be the norm on many law school and university campuses-after all, jews are the source of all evil, with all other middle easterners the victims of their depraved intentions.
7.16.2008 2:27pm
Abandon:
Wooga, you seem to assume the whole issue around death penalty - let alone the point I raised - solely evolves around morality. It is not the case. I do not claim that well educated masses are much better than lesser educated ones when it comes to morality, but they most probably have greater tools to exercize good judgment when complicated problems arrive, especially when a plurality of parameters are involved.

I trust you have, as you put it, a much better understanding than most people on issues of ancient textual interpretation, cosmology, and logic theory. In that case, wouldn't you find natural for me to value your opinion more than that of ten intellectually lacking citizens when such issues are at stake? Would I be a ruler, I would also poll a great deal of specialists from different areas to make sure my ruling sees not only the trees in the front row, but the forest as a whole.

Besides, not all intellectuals are "detached navel gazing" ones, as you certainly know. And degrees don't make one's education, they merely are the recognizance of specialized knowledge and/or mastery.
7.16.2008 2:27pm
Bill Poser (mail) (www):
The one good thing about Kumtar still being alive is that the publicity about him may serve to remind the idiots who claim moral equivalence between Israel and its enemies of the depravity of the latter. I agree that Kumtar should have been sent to hell long ago.
7.16.2008 2:33pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
What really needs justifying is not executing for heinous murders, but 'punishing' heinous murders with imprisonment that works out to minutes per murder, which is what was done to those few German (and friends) murderers of Jews (and gypsies, etc.).

By the accepted standard of Nuremberg, Kuntar was harshly punished at around a decade per death. Had he gone before a German court, he'd have been out in a week.
7.16.2008 3:38pm
Benjamin Davis (mail):
I am sure the Israelis and their government have thought long and hard about the death penalty. If they have decided that it is not something they want to have - who are we to second guess them?
Best,
Ben
7.16.2008 3:42pm
Ken Arromdee:
Since you also gleefully support the killing of human shields, it might be simpler if you simply told us which Lebanese people you don't want to personally kill.

I'd argue that a human shield is a type of draftee. You're permitted to kill innocent people who the enemy has drafted into his army.
7.16.2008 3:44pm
cathyf:
If an unlawful combatant hides behind civilians, and those civilians are in any way harmed, then it is the unlawful combatant who has personally harmed the civilian.

As far as I can tell, there is not a single Lebanese person whom Hezballah would not "personally kill". Pretty simple, yes?
7.16.2008 3:52pm
ejo:
who are we to second guess them-again, seeing the current results, decent human beings. as to the unlawful combatant being responsible for the deaths, it is a nice theory and certainly has support in the law-it just isn't applicable to Israel, or any western power for that matter. our enemies use the tactic consequence free and our reporters/lawyers/newspapers/bleeding hearts cast the brickbats at us, not those actually to blame.
7.16.2008 4:01pm
PLR:
If an unlawful combatant hides behind civilians, and those civilians are in any way harmed, then it is the unlawful combatant who has personally harmed the civilian.

Presto!

Wonder if that one's on the LSAT these days, it's been quite a while...
7.16.2008 4:07pm
PersonFromPorlock:
Cathyf:

Interesting idea, PFP, but it might cause a rash of sham "hostage takings" designed to get executions that otherwise wouldn't happen...

Maybe, maybe not. The perpetrators of the sham would be (or should be) liable to charges of felony murder in that case, though, which ought to keep things fairly honest.
7.16.2008 4:07pm
PersonFromPorlock:
...And to be honest, the odd terrorist executed 'by sham' wouldn't bother me all that much.
7.16.2008 4:10pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
The one good thing about Kumtar still being alive is that the publicity about him may serve to remind the idiots who claim moral equivalence between Israel and its enemies of the depravity of the latter.

An even more stunning example, from the Wikipedia entry on Kuntar:
During his imprisonment, Kuntar married an Israeli Arab woman who is an activist on behalf of militant prisoners, but divorced her. While they were married, she received a monthly stipend from the Israeli government, an entitlement due to her status as a wife of a prisoner.[3] Also during his imprisonment Kuntar graduated from the Open University of Israel in social and political science.
How... European.
7.16.2008 4:33pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
Thales writes:

Is it really accurate to say the Constitution *provides for* the death penalty? I agree that it mentions it in the Fifth Amendment, but "provides" in legalese usually means authorizes or commands.
And somehow or another, for almost 200 years after ratification of the Constitution, Congress passed laws that provided for capital punishment, and no one noticed that they were exceeding their authority on this! Wow! What are the odds of this?

I'm not a supporter of the death penalty, but this attempt to imagine that the Constitution doesn't authorize capital punishment is delusional. Consensual oral or anal sex were capital crimes in most states when the Constitution was adopted. (Now they are constitutionally protected behavior.) And you think that the Framers did not assume the authority of the federal government to execute criminals?
7.16.2008 4:34pm
cathyf:
ok, to be perfectly honest, me neither...
7.16.2008 4:34pm
ejo:
so, PLR, if a person takes a hostage and the hostage is killed in a crossfire with police, it's on the police and the hostage taker is clear-the concept is not all that difficult.
7.16.2008 4:38pm
rarango (mail):
Well--given the nature of his murder of the child, Kuntar deserves to be hung drawn and quartered in the nature of 14th Century English punishment and be wrapped in a pigs carcass and left out to rot. But thats just me.
7.16.2008 4:48pm
tvk:
Isn't your problem here that Israel is getting a pretty bad deal, in that it is exchanging a live terrorist for two dead bodies? Suppose the exchange was one live terrorist for ten live hostages, and if we execute the terrorist the hostages all die too. The moral calculus seems much more difficult then.
7.16.2008 5:00pm
Brian G (mail) (www):
Me too rarango.

Israel's biggest threat to its existence does not come from Iran or any other country. It comes from within their political classes and their joke of a Supreme Court.

If I were a member of Hezbollah, I would be laughing my ass of this morning at Israel's weakness.

I am sickened by this capitulation, and I am not even a Jew.
7.16.2008 5:01pm
Brian G (mail) (www):
Let me add this. Why couldn't one or me of these terrorists be the victim of an unfortunate jailyard incident?
7.16.2008 5:03pm
wfjag:

I am sure the Israelis and their government have thought long and hard about the death penalty. If they have decided that it is not something they want to have - who are we to second guess them?


Because, Ben, as both McCain and Obama have promised to close Gitmo, meaning that people held there will be moved to the US and held, and at least some of them are terrorists with supporters still at large, it is likely that the US will face the same issues in the near future. Maybe your mind is made up already and your opinion won't be swayed by facts, but maybe not. In my opinion, I'd rather consider the issues and various potential consequences in advance, rather than making a knee-jerk (liberal, conservative or other) response in reaction.

Israel has one approach. Other governments have used other approaches. It is wise to evaluate those different approaches.
7.16.2008 5:05pm
Kirk:
martinned,

GBS' words that you quote are a blow against the very core of civilization. Not that I'm surprised the Shaw would take such a posture...

And to hattio1 and others who worry about making martyrs, let's try this as a thought experiment: what about just disappearing them? No news, no trace of what happened to them, not even really necessary to kill them as long as the outside world can't answer the question, "Whatever happened to...?" The question is, would this be more or less ethical than the death penalty? Than trivializing their offense by trading them for something? I'm not advocating this, mind you, just curious.
7.16.2008 5:10pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
What Per Son said. Seriously, this is Israel's call, not David Bernstein's. Israel does tons of stuff I don't like either (as well as tons of stuff I do think are good ideas), but unless they are violating some principle of international law in a particular instance, it really is the Israeli public's call. If enough Israelis decide Israel needs the death penalty, they will authorize it.
7.16.2008 5:11pm
Mad Max:
I am sure the Israelis and their government have thought long and hard about the death penalty. If they have decided that it is not something they want to have - who are we to second guess them?

Hmmmm, if we're not allowed to second guess Israel when they do something as obviously stupid, morally repulsive, and counterproductive as to trade a vicious terrorist for two corpses, just when is criticism of Israel permissible? If they launch an airstrike on Iran, are we not allowed to second guess them on that, since we can be sure the Israelis and their government would think long and hard before doing such a thing?

Israel's biggest threat to its existence does not come from Iran or any other country. It comes from within their political classes and their joke of a Supreme Court.

If I were a member of Hezbollah, I would be laughing my ass of this morning at Israel's weakness.

I am sickened by this capitulation, and I am not even a Jew.


Exactly right!
7.16.2008 5:12pm
Mad Max:
Seriously, this is Israel's call, not David Bernstein's. Israel does tons of stuff I don't like either (as well as tons of stuff I do think are good ideas), but unless they are violating some principle of international law in a particular instance, it really is the Israeli public's call.

So hey, if other countries are mad because we drive our SUVs and eat as much as we want and keep our homes on 72 degrees at all times, we can tell them to get bent, right, because this is the American public's call, not theirs?

How gratifying to see such strong support for unilateralism and national sovereignty!

Bernstein understands as well as anyone that it is "Israel's call". Is there some reason he shouldn't say that Israel is making a stupid call in this case?
7.16.2008 5:19pm
Smokey:
J. F. Thomas:
Sarcasto, If you use Firefox, it has a built in spell checker. Yet again proving the superiority of open source non-profit cooperation over corporate software.
Wrong once again. Apple [corporation's] Safari browser has a great spell check, and it's quite a bit faster than the one Firefox uses.

Sarcastro:
*sigh* but I work for a living, and Explorer is all they allow on these machines. I'll try to use Word to spell check.
It appears that you only work part time. A significant part of the time you seem to be cheating your employer by constantly reading and inanely commenting here. Using Word to spell check will certainly waste even more of your employer's time and money.

What a stand up guy. /s
7.16.2008 5:19pm
Per Son:
I'll clarify my comments a little. I believe that we can always (and should always) be willing to criticize and critique our government and other governments - while we are both in the US or abroad. David Berstein gave a policy belief about what Israel should do in a specific case. My point was only that Israel knows how to handle terrorism pretty well, and I believe they would be in the best position to know exactly how executions would play out. I might not be willing to give Israel the benefit of the doubt in other areas.

It is always a little helpful to understand where I am coming from. Many American supporters of Israel are far to the right of the average Israeli for social, political, and national defense measures. That is a fact, and it always is a source of humor when armchair hawks in the US think they know what is best over there - as if this government gives a flying damn about finding and stopping Bin Laden - you know, the guy NOT in Iraq.

As for the specific case regarding the swap. That is another matter entirely - one I do not have an informed opinion on yet.
7.16.2008 5:24pm
cathyf:
I am sure the Israelis and their government have thought long and hard about the death penalty. If they have decided that it is not something they want to have - who are we to second guess them?
Well, first of all, it looks to me like the First Amendment guarantees Americans the right to express their opinions on almost any topic.

And given that their unwillingness to execute Kuntar got at least one American (Leon Klinghoffer) killed, yeah, that gives us, his countrymen, rights to be in the peanut gallery with or without the First Amendment.
7.16.2008 5:26pm
Smokey:
hawkins:
does anyone care about the "Thunder Run." Frankly, I grow tired of repeatedly seeing the same post
I second that motion. Neither the Thunder Run nor the Chinese spammer, who both regularly post their self-serving ads here, pay anything to the VC for their advertising, and they clutter up the site. Turning off their posting privileges would be a great service to this site and its legitimate users.
7.16.2008 5:34pm
ejo:
well, the israeli government launched a disastrous invasion of lebanon which accomplished nothing and further empowered terror-do we have the right to comment on that or is there some unknowable goal that was accomplished in that debacle? this one is a no brainer-trading live killers for dead bodies guarantees more of the latter and certainly won't deter the former-as to morality, the people killed by this psychopath now get the joy of seeing him be treated as a hero. do they count or, again, should we shut up?
7.16.2008 5:37pm
PLR:
so, PLR, if a person takes a hostage and the hostage is killed in a crossfire with police ...

That scenario is different from the broader principle stated in the post to which I was responding.
7.16.2008 5:56pm
Smokey:
Wallace:
It could be seen as one more example of the disparate system of justice Israel has towards it's non-Jewish residents. While Jewish-Israeli murderers can commit crimes as heinous as terrorists...
"One more example"?? As mentioned above, Adolf Eichmann was executed by Israel. Eichmann was the only person ever executed by Israel. So you're wrong. And please cite a case -- any case -- of an Israeli committing a crime like smashing in the head of a little girl.

IANAJ, but the anti-Semitism displayed by some folks is so thick you could cut it with a knife. And it's ugly.
7.16.2008 5:56pm
Benjamin Davis (mail):
We are all free to make comments. I think that every sentiment described here has probably traversed the spirits of Israelis - yet they decided not to have a death penalty. Given the eagerness in this space to have a death penalty there for these crimes, it just seems to me that the Israelis must be making a different calculus from the one being made by many of you on this website. Now, we might not capture well here the nuances of the situation in Israel that leads to this result. I would be grateful if someone who knows the history of the death penalty in Israle would explain to us how the Israelis got to this position with which a number of people here disagree.
Best,
Ben
7.16.2008 6:00pm
cathyf:
Well, Ben, some significant number of the people killed because of Israel's refusal to execute Kuntar are not Israelis. So I explicitly reject the principle that non-Israelis are not allowed to comment when Israeli policies get people killed.
7.16.2008 6:12pm
Federal Dog:
"I am sure the Israelis and their government have thought long and hard about the death penalty. If they have decided that it is not something they want to have - who are we to second guess them?"


This posits that the people agree with the government's policy, which reports state is emphatically false. This was the decision of Olmert and his cabinet. When Bush and his cabinet make a policy decision, does that logically mean that the American people agree with it?
7.16.2008 6:18pm
Per Son:
Smokey - I would say spraying a Mosque full of worshippers, killing 30-40 people and wounding over a hundred is pretty darn reprehensible. Look up Baruch Goldstein.
7.16.2008 6:25pm
ejo:
where is mr. goldstein? I would assume he is free right now, basking in the glow of his followers in Israel. what, did I get that wrong and he is sitting in prison, never to be released?
7.16.2008 6:32pm
PLR:
We are all free to make comments.

Well, Ben, ... I explicitly reject the principle that non-Israelis are not allowed to comment when Israeli policies get people killed.

And the plot thickens.
7.16.2008 6:35pm
Per Son:
Mr. Goldstein was beaten to death. Some people said there were no people Israelis who ever acted as reprehensible as terrorists. Well, here is an example of a Jewish terrorist, as are the terrorist sympathizers who view him as a martyr in Kach.
7.16.2008 6:35pm
Humble Law Student (mail) (www):
Question: Is this prohibition on executing terrorists judicially imposed? or a product of their legislature?
7.16.2008 6:47pm
cathyf:
Mr. Goldstein was beaten to death.
Ah, so apparently the prohibition on killing mass-murdering terrorists only applies to Palestinians.
7.16.2008 6:54pm
cathyf:
Mr. Goldstein was beaten to death. Some people said there were no people Israelis who ever acted as reprehensible as terrorists. Well, here is an example of a Jewish terrorist, as are the terrorist sympathizers who view him as a martyr in Kach.
Wait a minute Per son... I thought you said that the Palestinians traded a live Mr. Goldstein, 4 other live Israeli terrorists and the bodies of 200 dead Israeli terrorists for Mr. Kuntar's dead body, and that Goldstein returned to a hero's welcome in Kach while Kuntar got a quiet dignified funeral. Now you're telling me that Goldstein is dead and Kuntar alive?!?!
7.16.2008 7:04pm
Per Son:
cathyf:

I have some advice.

1) Learn to read.

I never said anything remotely similar to what you attributed my comment. I shall repeat, at least 2 posters stated that no Israeli has done something similiar to what Kuntar did. I gave an example stating otherwise. That is all. You are free to say and believe what you want, and you are also free to intentionally twist my posts but I don't appreciate you essentially lying and falsely attributing something to me. It is dishonest at best.

In the past on this board, I have been guilty of jumping to conclusions and for that I apologize. I am referring to a comment where I referred to Dangermouse as a troll. I do not believe he is a troll - only someone a strongly disagree with.

Will you apologize to me?

As for Mr. Goldstein's death - a mob descended on him and beat him to death, I believe, after he ran out of ammunition.

Is he worse than Kuntar - I do not think a comparison can be made as they are/were both horribly evil people. The question posed early on was the effect this would have on Israel if only Islamic terrorists were executed, but Jewish terrorists were not, and whether if Mr. Goldstein survived would he have been branded a terrorist.
7.16.2008 7:15pm
Per Son:
As for the source of the prohibition - I believe execution is outlawed by statute with several exceptions: treason during time of war, Nazis with involvement in the Holocaust, and maybe some others.

The legal system has no written Constitution and uses Jewish law as gap fillers where statutes and the common law are not sufficient.

If it was "judicially imposed" would that be good and/or bad? I do believe that judicial activism is enshrined in Israeli law, but I could be wrong.
7.16.2008 7:18pm
KillemAll (mail):
Can someone please Sar-castrate the retard who constantly uses the most feeble-minded of all rhetorical devices.
7.16.2008 7:19pm
KillemAll (mail):
Person:

1. The Israeli government condemned Mr. Goldstein's actions in the strongest possible way, including bulldozing his grave site (although personally speaking, if there were more Goldsteins around the area wouldn't be such a mess).

2. This is a complete aberration from Israeli behavior and I challenge you to find even a handful of incidents by an Israeli resembling this kind of action. Mind you, Israel's pedophile-worshiping neighbors have committed innumerable acts far more heinous than Goldstein ever imagined.

3. The governments of Israel's neighbors publicly support the murder and dismemberment of Israeli citizens and anyone who defends its right to exist. Israel has never, publicly or privately, supported the murder of innocent civilians.
7.16.2008 7:54pm
Ban him:
Someone ban Sarcastro please. It was funny at first, but it's now gotten really tedious as he does the same schtick in thread after thread after thread.
7.16.2008 8:09pm
SJon (mail):
The Lebanese government gave a full state welcome to Kuntar upon his return today and even declared it a public holiday.

The men are to be flown to Beirut later, where they are to be officially greeted by the three most senior politicians in Lebanon: President Michel Suleiman, Prime Minister Fouad Siniora and parliamentary speaker Nabih Berri.

That event is significant as these three leaders are from different Lebanese political factions, as well as different sects. Superficially, this is a moment of unity in a country that is deeply divided.

Good to see that Lebanon can unite over their worship of child murderers. What a despicable place.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7509992.stm
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1002659.html
7.16.2008 8:24pm
Dave N (mail):
Let me state that while I do not generally agree with Sacastro, and while I concur with the poster who noted that Gandhi advocated non-violent resistance even for Jews in the face of the Holocaust, Sarcastro's line:
Lord do I hate that Gandhi, or as I like to call him "Hindu Hitler"
was the funniest thing I read today.
7.16.2008 8:30pm
LM (mail):
Dave,

We may need a separate thread to critique the sarcastro oeuvre, but I think he made a mistake passing over the more obvious and I think funnier choice of "Mahatma Hitler."
7.16.2008 9:00pm
LM (mail):
... and as a fan of Gandhi who agrees his take on Hitler and the Jews was preposterously wrong, I think the lesson is even the best ideas aren't worth much if they're applied indiscriminately.
7.16.2008 9:08pm
Seamus (mail):
Let me add this. Why couldn't one or me of these terrorists be the victim of an unfortunate jailyard incident?

Well, because that kind of lawlessness leads to the end of civilization. Those of us who live in the DC area experiences something exactly like you are suggesting a couple of weeks ago. A Prince George's County (Maryland) cop was dragged to death by a perp driving a truck. A suspect was arrested a little while later and held in jail. A couple of days later, he was discovered murdered in his cell. Since all indications are that the suspect was indeed the killer, I yield to no one in my belief that he richly needed killing, but that doesn't lessen my horror that it appears to have been done illegally, with the connivance if not through the agency of those who had him in custody.
7.16.2008 9:40pm
49erDweet:
The reason Israel does not have the death penalty for terrorists today is because it is no longer the same Israel which settled there over a half a century ago. Today's Israel is a weak, emasculated caricature of its former self, in my view.

The death penalty is quite obviously an extremely serious matter. But I am alive today BECAUSE properly applied it works. So to lock-step oppose it simply because it is "troublesome" or sometimes improperly used is, imo, a coward's path. Real people will honestly deal with it. Those wishing to escape a citizen's responsibility merely call it "barbaric" and run pell-mell away from the topic.
7.16.2008 10:27pm
Uncle Creamy:
When Sarcastro comments, terror wins! Defeat the sarcastic menace before he defeats YOU!
7.16.2008 10:29pm
Porkchop:
MSNBC reports that Kantar was 16 years old when he committed his crimes. Does that affect anyone's opinion as to whether he should have been executed?
7.16.2008 10:56pm
LM (mail):
Stunned,

DB's response to your despicable smear may have been appropriate to the forum, but it was a lot more polite than your comment deserved.
7.16.2008 10:59pm
LM (mail):
BLEG: This thread contains a lot of unsupported, conflicting assertions about the views of Israelis. Can anyone point to actual polling of Israelis on this kind of prisoner exchange, generally, and/or this one in particular? Same question re: capital punishment, generally, and for additional crimes than those for which it's now available.
7.16.2008 11:24pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
"MSNBC reports that Kantar was 16 years old when he committed his crimes. Does that affect anyone's opinion as to whether he should have been executed?"

No. At least as far as I'm concerned. A 16 year old is fully capable of making moral choices. Moreover do you think he's changed or has any regrets?
7.16.2008 11:25pm
LM (mail):
Porkchop:

MSNBC reports that Kantar was 16 years old when he committed his crimes. Does that affect anyone's opinion as to whether he should have been executed?

It's a fair consideration, but in this case I think the heinousness of the crime mitigates more powerfully the opposite way. But the age is also relevant in another regard. After 30 years in prison, at 46 he's still plenty young enough to do more damage, one of the many reasons I can't fathom the thinking behind this deal.
7.16.2008 11:38pm
Gary Anderson (mail):
I have some honest questions:

How exactly do we know the rich minute-by-minute details of the father and child's deaths? Are we trusting the terrorist's accounts of what exactly happened, as they appear to be the only witnesses present?

How exactly did the 100 dead (presumably) Palestinian corpses that Israel traded their 2 dead for, get that way? Did Israel kill them, or just found them dead and collected their bodies where they lay? I know I had read about the 100 dead corpses on the other side, and was surprised that the original post and earlier comments seemed to play this as "1 of this alive" for "2 of this side dead" when the accounts I read was "1 alive/100 dead" traded for "2 dead".

To me as a Christian, (please no insults, and indeed, my questions are honest), it's all lunacy this trading in human life and counting as if it will somehow yield a victory. Still, I am curious about that 100 dead figure, even if they were fighters/soldiers as opposed to an innocent child in her home being taken in the night and killed alongside her father.

OT: Remember the last episode of MASH in the 80s with the mother accidently smothering her baby on the bus, hoping to quiet/protect them? If this occurred in 1979, I'm wondering if that's where the storyline originated. (like I said: OT)

Somehow, I don't think the solution to this tragic situation on all sides (to me, any dead child is a tragedy) is in counting and killing human lives. I count my blessing tonight that this is not my country, and my own ancestral homeland has moved past such reactionary violence. Good luck to all struggling to raise their families/protect their lives in the region.
7.16.2008 11:45pm
Gary Anderson (mail):
cop was dragged to death by a perp driving a truck. A suspect was arrested a little while later and held in jail. A couple of days later, he was discovered murdered in his cell. Since all indications are that the suspect was indeed the killer, I yield to no one in my belief that he richly needed killing, but that doesn't lessen my horror

Ditto my horror a few years back when the pedophilic old priest had his head bashed in by another inmate while in jail/protective custody of the State. Of course, I didn't think he "richly needed killing" so long as he was out of the way where he could no longer harm human lives.
7.16.2008 11:51pm
LM (mail):
A. Zarkov:

Moreover do you think he's changed or has any regrets?

Anecdotally, apparently not, but you can't use that to decide whether it would have been proper to execute him 30 years ago. The only question is whether a 16 year old murderer would have been more likely to eventually regret what he did than an older adult would have been. As I said, I don't find the age question persuasive, but it does have to be asked contemporaneously, not with the benefit of hindsight.
7.16.2008 11:52pm
LM (mail):
Gary Anderson:

How exactly do we know the rich minute-by-minute details of the father and child's deaths? Are we trusting the terrorist's accounts of what exactly happened, as they appear to be the only witnesses present?

There were eye and ear witnesses for what transpired inside the apartment house (the wife and neighbors), but I'm also curious about who witnessed what happened outside, including both killings. But I'm willing to speculate it wasn't the terrorists, since Kuntar denies having beaten the little girl to death. There must have been some other source(s) at trial for how she died.
7.17.2008 12:06am
cathyf:
Will you apologize to me?
Sure. I'm terribly sorry that you are so witless as to be unable to recognize mocking sarcasm.

Let me try it again. Goldstein is a single example, repudiated in strong words and actions by both the Israeli government and the vast majority of Israeli citizens. He was not protected from mob action -- that is why he is dead. Kuntar is but one of a vast mob of terrorists. He was not repudiated by Hezbollah, but rather Hezbollah has murdered hundreds of Israeli and Lebanese soldiers, Palestinian and Lebanese terrorists, and Israeli, Lebanese, American and Palestinian civilians during three decades of violence and war focused on gaining his release. And he has been greeted as a hero by Hezbollah, and with multiple large celebrations in Palestinian territory.

Israeli society rejects the notion that Goldstein represents them. Palestinians embrace Kuntar as their representative. When you claim that Goldstein is a representative of Israelis in the same way that Kuntar is a representative of Palestinians, you lie.
7.17.2008 12:59am
Ricardo (mail):
Different angle: What about the problem of martyring terrorists? I would say executing them hands them a PR gold mine that they would never have if you simply lock them up and throw away the key. The wider goal has to be to undermine their credibility, and unfortunately not everyone has yet come to the point of realising that, just because someone died for an idea, doesn't make it any more true.

To turn this around, does anyone really believe Nelson Mandela's status as the national hero of South Africa is in anyway diminished by the fact that he was released from prison alive rather than executed? Yes, by executing terrorists we may create martyrs, but better to have dead martyrs than live terrorists.

Some people are missing the point by saying the problem is the government's willingness to negotiate in prisoner exchanges rather than the refusal to impose the death penalty. When the government sentences a terrorist to death, it has no way of knowing whether future governments would negotiate a release of that terrorist. Imposing the death penalty both ties the hands of future governments and also reduces the incentive for Hamas and Hezbollah to capture Israelis to use as bargaining chips.

Finally, to the person who said Kuntar is probably not a threat after 30 years, who knows? 30 years isn't as long as you think. Just a little less than 30 years ago, a young twenty-something Saudi citizen by the name of Usama bin Laden joined the mujahideen to fight the Soviet occupation in Afghanistan. He hasn't exactly mellowed now that he is middle aged.
7.17.2008 1:00am
A. Zarkov (mail):
LM:

"As I said, I don't find the age question persuasive, but it does have to be asked contemporaneously, not with the benefit of hindsight."

We don't need hindsight. If a 16 year old commits that kind heinous act today, we should execute him. We do it to express our outrage, to make sure he can't ever do it again, and to serve as a deterrent. Being 16 is not a license to kill. Perhaps I'm missing something, but that's the way I see it.
7.17.2008 1:02am
LM (mail):
AZ,
<blockquote>
<i>We don't need hindsight.</i>
</blockquote>
I agree, so long as you don't ask,
<blockquote>
<i>Moreover do you think he's changed or has any regrets?</i>
</blockquote>
... which can <i><b>only</b></i> be asked in hindsight.
7.17.2008 1:23am
LM (mail):
Don't know why that happened, but sorry. AZ, I assume you can decipher which parts were your quotes and which were my replies. If not, let me know.
7.17.2008 1:26am
A. Zarkov (mail):
LM:

Since he currently has no regrets, we have one more piece of evidence to indicate that not executing him was a mistake. I see nothing wrong with looking back on the quality of decisions made in the past.
7.17.2008 2:09am
neurodoc:
Gary Anderson, you wanted to know something about the dead that Israel was to exchange for the bodies of their two soldiers. One of the bodies is that of Dalal Mughrabi, a Palestinian "heroine" for having lead a terrorist attack 30 years ago that killed 36 civilians and wounded twice as many. Abbas wants her reburied in Ramallah, next to the Palestinian George Washington, Arafat, so she may be properly honored for her deeds. Try Googling on her name for more details. (Unfortunately, the Jerusalem Post article is no longer available free online, but there are other articles about her.)
7.17.2008 2:37am
neurodoc:
The word "vengeance" was used earlier in this thread. Would someone explain to me exactly how "vengeance" differs from "retribution."

Aren't the purposes of punishment for crimes supposed to be one or more of the following: incapacitation (incarceration of those who might offend again if free to do so); deterence (of others who would commit crimes, or the individual who would do it all over again if there were no prospect of punishment); rehabilitation (of those who might be rehabitable); and retribution (just deserts).

"Retribution" is OK because it implies that the punishment has been decided upon dispassionately and is proportional to the crime committed? "Vengeance" is bad because it implies that the punishment was not decided upon dispassionately and is somehow excessive or otherwise improper? "Vengeance" is the Furies untamed, and that is an expression of primitive rather than enlightened justice? "Retribution" and "vengeance" are clearly separable?
7.17.2008 3:04am
Ricardo (mail):
Another absurdity is that Israel's armed forces and intelligence services have been more than willing in the past to engage in targeted killings (in other words, extrajudicial executions) against known terrorists outside Israel proper.

I suspect this disconnect is due to the fact that the criminal justice and judicial systems are influenced heavily by liberals while the military and intelligence services are more likely under the sway of conservatives. My impression is that Israel's military is tough as nails but its criminal justice system is softer than the U.S.'s. I think this is the reason for Israel's contradictory policies rather than the fact that it reflects some national consensus or expertise in dealing with terrorism.
7.17.2008 3:22am
Gary Anderson (mail):
neurodoc: Thanks for the response.

I am wondering if these 100 dead terrorists/fighters were killed in Israeli captivity, or if they simply died there in the prison system?

I am also wondering why there is no mention of the 1 alive/100 dead v. 2 dead soldiers tradeoff on this thread or in the original post, if indeed it was all part and parcel of the same negotiated deal. If you didn't read the outside news coverage and only went on what you read here, it's being presented as a 1 alive vs. 2 dead trade. Why?

If Israel didn't execute those 100, then how exactly did they die? Were they killed in combat, and their bodies collected by the Israeli side? Or did they just expire naturally in Israeli prisons? The details of what exactly they did to get there doesn't titillate me so much; I am assuming they were "bad guys" (and women apparently). The 100 dead is part of the same trade deal though, correct?
7.17.2008 8:36am
LtScooby (mail):
A. The bible as translated says "Thou Shalt Not Kill" while as written is truly believed to state "Thou Shalt Not Murder".
http://members.aol.com/cwiklinski/199.html

B. Would this be the death penalty for "Murder by Terrorist" or murder of a soldier? I would hope it be the earlier.

C. Bad precedent or as Law Professors like to put it, perverse incentive. If Israel kills those it catches, what makes you think others won't start killing even more Israelis? Shall we make an example of the maryter or of one's peacefulness and forgiveness?

D. What effect will these deaths make? Will it inflame the fires of radical Islam even more and, as an effect, kill many more israels and soldiers? The white flag would turn into a target reference point for mortars.
7.17.2008 9:30am
Milhouse (www):
The circumstances of Baruch Goldstein's actions and subsequent death are not at all clear. The official report is still classified. The notion that he fired without cause on innocent people engaged in worship rests on nothing but the word of the mob that killed him. I see no reason to believe them. Dr Goldstein had until that day been a physician with an excellent reputation; why would anyone take the word of a bunch of Arab thugs against him?

They didn't beat him to death - they hacked him to death with hatchets, of which they "just so happened" to have had a large supply in the room. Hatchets are not a normal item in Moslem worship. The previous night an Arab mob had been loudly calling for Jewish blood, and promising a repeat of the 1929 pogrom. There were reports, I don't know how true, that Dr Goldstein had been told by the army to prepare for an expected massacre. He had just a few days earlier seen first-hand the work of the Arab murderers, when one of his neighbours died in his arms after having been shot.

Given all this, I think it far more likely that he heroically prevented a massacre than that he perpetrated one. At the very least he's entitled to the presumption of innocence. And regardless of what actually happened, the people who hacked him to death after he was disarmed and no longer a threat should have been tried for murder, just as was the Israeli guard (Yoram someone, I think) who shot that bound terrorist on the bus, about 25 years ago.
7.17.2008 10:07am
iambatman:
Well I hate to break up the hyper-charged emotional rhetoric, but I see no reason to think that Prof. Bernstein's suggestion will bring the benefit he claims it does. Let's say Israel does institute the death penalty for murder by terrorist, at least in particularly extreme cases. True that the Kuntar would never be released, but if we accept that his sympathizers would kidnap Israelis to bargain for his release, I see no reason to think they wouldn't kill Israelis in retaliation for his execution.

Now, personally I think that killings and kidnappings will happen regardless of whether Specific Terrorist X is captured or killed. As long as the conflict persists we can expect similar acts; the terrorists will just pick a different rationale arising from the conflict.

But that's just me. Don't any of you let it get in the way of your posturing.
7.17.2008 10:47am
Mad Max:
Another absurdity is that Israel's armed forces and intelligence services have been more than willing in the past to engage in targeted killings (in other words, extrajudicial executions) against known terrorists outside Israel proper.

Too bad they were asleep at the switch the other day - they could have smoked Kuntar and the head of Hezbollah while they were on the same stage dancing with glee at their victory. Why, oh why, was the Israeli Air Force not standing by with laser-guided munitions at the ready?
7.17.2008 12:20pm
Ban him:
When Sarcastro comments, terror wins! Defeat the sarcastic menace before he defeats YOU!
When Sarcastro comments, douchebaggery wins! Ban the retarded douchebag before he posits an even higher opinion of HIMSELF!

Oh, too late.
7.17.2008 12:45pm
Per Son:
Oh Millhouse, how you tread Millhouse's name through the mud. He is a good kid, just abit goofy.

Seems like you follow the Kach line of thinking, which is fine. I tend not to follow the line of terror groups, but that is just me.

If you want to through the whole "some reports say" stuff, there are "some reports" that Goldstein refused to practice emergency medicine on non-Jews. He allegedly stated this when threatened with a court martial.

It is not verified, but it exists. I could not find any reports that talk about hatchets, while I am not contesting what you say - I could not even find Israeli sources for that only that he was subdued with a fire extinguisher then beaten to death. Not exactly surprising given he killed 29 men, women and children and wounded 150 others. He illegally wore his military uniform as if he was on active duty and did this act. My source is the Shamgar report.
7.17.2008 12:46pm
Per Son:
Had it gone my way, Goldstein would have received a fair trial, but sometimes mobs arise in the midst of a mass murder. I don't think that is unique to Israel or anywhere else in the world.
7.17.2008 12:48pm
autolykos:

Well, because that kind of lawlessness leads to the end of civilization. Those of us who live in the DC area experiences something exactly like you are suggesting a couple of weeks ago. A Prince George's County (Maryland) cop was dragged to death by a perp driving a truck. A suspect was arrested a little while later and held in jail. A couple of days later, he was discovered murdered in his cell. Since all indications are that the suspect was indeed the killer, I yield to no one in my belief that he richly needed killing, but that doesn't lessen my horror that it appears to have been done illegally, with the connivance if not through the agency of those who had him in custody.


If X leads to the end of civilization and you give an example of X occurring, perhaps you should run and quit your job right now and enjoy the few days you have left on this planet before civilization ends.

Or perhaps you should just stop using these over-dramatic rhetorical devices.
7.17.2008 12:48pm
PLR:
If X leads to the end of civilization and you give an example of X occurring, perhaps you should run and quit your job right now and enjoy the few days you have left on this planet before civilization ends. ...Or perhaps you should just stop using these over-dramatic rhetorical devices.

I suspect Seamus meant "civil society" rather than civilization.

OT, I don't see any reason to ban sarcastro from the site. He isn't posting bad facts or attacking other posters. And if the admins ban people for poor spelling or overused rhetorical devices, this will be a very quiet place. I'll support one exception: Anyone who types the word "hypocracy" should be banned for life.

Uh-oh.
7.17.2008 1:06pm
autolykos:

I suspect Seamus meant "civil society" rather than civilization.


Meh. It's equally baseless. I don't suppose you're redoubling your efforts to stockpile food because of the impending collapse of civil society.
7.17.2008 1:24pm
neurodoc:
Gary Anderson, it's not surprising that you should have all those unanswered questions, since the English-language reporting (I don't read other languages myself) has been so abysmally poor. Before the exchange took place this week, it was reported over and over again by NPR and other media that Israel was going to be getting back those two soldiers, it going unsaid that they would be getting back their dead bodies. Little has been said about when/how they died, that is whether they suffered mortal wounds at the time of their capture or they died sometime subsequently in captivity, and if so how/why. And how about UNFIL's decidedly unhelpful role, frustrating Israeli efforts to learn the soldiers' fate. Would you agree that those are not inconsequential details?

The Dalal Mughrabi story is a very telling one, that is if it would be fully reported. Here is the type of person that the Palestinians, speaking through their highest leadership, celebrate as a hero(ine), and would memorialize in such an extraordinary way. Try to read about the contest between Hezbollah and the PA over who will get her body, though. The Jerusalem Post reported on it, but that story is no longer available free online, and I don't know what other news media reported on it - not the NYT, Washington Post, Haaretz, our news networks, wire services, etc. Plenty newsworthy to Hezbollah and the Palestinians, but not it seems to Western media. Calling out one person, Kuntar, as a loathsome terrorist, seems to have been more than enough for them. Maybe it's because the unreported stuff doesn't comport with the general story line.
7.17.2008 2:04pm
Mad Max:
I don't see any reason to ban sarcastro from the site. He isn't posting bad facts or attacking other posters.

He is a classic troll! He is not here for substantive discussion but to provoke people. I enjoy that as much as anyone, if not more, but trollishness is certainly a valid reason to ban people.
7.17.2008 2:09pm
PLR:
He is a classic troll! He is not here for substantive discussion but to provoke people.

At least in this topic, his posts are directly on point. He had a gratuitous swipe at Texas, but many lawyers put Texas into a different category given the homicidal tendencies of its last few governors.
7.17.2008 2:49pm
Mad Max:
Why don't some countries want to kill others as much as I do?! I mean, it seems so clear that killing killers is the way to go! Some crimes just make ya want to KILL, eh? And a society that doesn't indulge that impulse is weak!

Everyone knows kiling always takes more courage than not killing.

Frikken spineless rest of the world!


This was "on point" and not intended as a provocation? Uh huh.
7.17.2008 3:49pm
Per Son:
Here is the comment on Sarcastro from the left. It was very funny in the beginning, but it got old.
7.17.2008 3:58pm
Tom952 (mail):
The IAF doesn't seem similarly inhibited from executing terrorists. They have carried out missle attacks on automobiles containing terrorists, an admirably deft feat.
7.17.2008 4:10pm
ejo:
by the way, it is reported that these heroes of the arab world are going to continue their attacks.
7.17.2008 4:52pm
Shalom Beck (mail) (www):
The short, excessively technical, answer to David Bernstein's question is that Israel does have the death penalty for (some) convicted terrorists tried under military law, but these sentence have never been carried out. Not being an actual lawyer I can't tell you why Kuntar wasn't given multiple death sentences, but even if he had been he would not have been executed under current policy.
7.18.2008 7:21am
Mad Max:
it is reported that these heroes of the arab world are going to continue their attacks.

Well then, Israel is certainly going to regret not executing these scum when it had the chance. As usual, the elites will not pay the price for their bad decisions, only Joe Citizen.
7.18.2008 9:50am
Julian S. (mail):
If Israel wants to permit guys like Kuntar to keep on processing air, at the very least they could put them to good use - like imprisoning them in a bus, cafe or pizza joint so their buddies will think twice about bombing one. That's a two-fer, the terrorist gets to be humiliated before Jews (surely a fate worse than death to an Islamo-fascist) and the Israelis are given a human shield in exchange.
7.18.2008 8:37pm
neurodoc:
Googling "vengeance vs retribution," I came up with an answer to my question about the difference between them:
"Modern retributive theory calls for punishments to be guided by considerations of proportionality, fairness, and equality. Vengeance-based punishments, on the other hand, are aimed at satisfying the victim's and society's desire for retaliation and are not limited by the retributive principle that punishment must be proportionate to the severity of the crime and the moral blameworthiness of the offender. ...decisions that allow the introduction of victim-impact evidence into capital sentencing proceedings and permit the death penalty to be imposed on 16-year-old offenders, mentally retarded defendants, and those who neither kill nor intend to kill. These decisions, it is argued, demonstrate that the contemporary Court has bestowed judicial approval on vengeance as an acceptable justification for capital punishment." [Kenneth Haas, U of Delaware]
That helps me, at least with concepts, if not always the practical application. And as for the subject of this thread, the death penalty for the likes of Kuntar - vengeance or retribution?
7.20.2008 9:30am