Saturday, March 19, 2011

Criminal Justice

I regularly read (and link in the sidebar) an Israeli blog called Israel Matzav. The blogger, Carl in Jerusalem, is an Orthodox Jew who apparently lives over the "green line." He has been blogging a lot recently about the Fogel massacre, about which I've done a couple of posts here at Extra Thoughts.

The thing that as an American reader I find most frustrating about the coverage of this is the absence of any criminal justice approach to the evil. Carl has recently embedded a video, which I don't intend to watch and advise others to avoid, that contains and is headed by graphic pictures of the slain. (I'm deliberately not linking the blog from this particular post lest an unwary reader go, scroll down, and inadvertently see the picture heading the video.) Carl is trying to stir up appropriate outrage. With that I agree. But the proper response, the active and positive use of outrage, is to demand that evil men be brought to justice as individuals. Even though we in the rest of the world cannot personally do anything, we at least need to have something clearly appropriate, something a healthy mind rightly seeks, to say that others should do. Otherwise dwelling on horror becomes an end in itself, which is not healthy.

I've asked again and again at the site for confirmation of the report that two "Palestinians" have been arrested for the murder--no response. There is, in fact, no discussion of the topic of catching the murderers and of how that is going in any of the posts I have read at the site. It begins to look like the progress of the case and the facts about any arrest are secrets in Israel, even at a "right-wing" blog. In America, of course, whoever was in charge of the investigation would be hounded by the press and asked what progress he was making in catching the murderers. The arrest of the murderers could not possibly be a secret.

Actually, I have to admit that I don't even know how that works in Samaria (aka "the West Bank"), given the semi-independence of the "Palestinian Authority." Is it difficult or impossible for Israel even to make an arrest? But if so, why is there a report of arrests going around? Who would have made those arrests? Even just spelling that out for American readers would be helpful.

Perhaps someone will respond that one should not take a criminal justice approach to terrorism. I'm not sure what the point of such a response in this context would be. The right and natural next step after feeling due outrage is to want these evildoers arrested and punished.

But it's even more frustrating than that, because Israel does not have a death penalty. In fact, Israel has released even horrific Palestinian killers like Samir Kuntar, who also slaughtered an innocent Israeli child, in order to get back the dead bodies of Israeli soldiers. So the whole thing begins to look like a rather bitter game to an American eye. The murderers of the Fogel family will never get anything like justice. At the most they will be arrested and spend some time--almost certainly not the rest of their lives--in prison. And the world may or may not find out about that. It's terribly frustrating.

In that justice vacuum, if I may so call it, one begins to wonder about the point of harrowing readers with an embedded video headed with a graphic image that I, for one, did not want to see. Perhaps the idea is to get some on the left to start to see the darkness in the hearts of the Jew-hating "Palestinians" and the impossibility of making peace with them; I doubt if this tactic will succeed. In any event, the murder of real, concrete people should call forth first and foremost a cry for justice for them, the punishment, individually, of their killers.

I hope that this post will not enrage any Israeli readers and especially that it won't get me banned from commenting on a valuable site. I realize that there may be reasons for the news blackout on the criminal case, reasons that we in America simply do not know. But it may be useful for anyone on the Israeli right who happens to read this to know how these things play out in the minds of those already most sympathetic to "settlers" and most angered by the slaughter of the Fogels.


Veet Vivarto said...

No it is not a regular criminal act.
It is a act of war and a war crime at the same time.
Does not belong in the regular justice system.
Collective punishment is highly appropriate.

Lydia McGrew said...

Without making any sweeping statements about anything that might be called "collective punishment," I'll just say this:

The actual men who did this deserve to be killed as an act of just, governmental retribution for their evil. I would think it highly unsatisfactory if people who are _not_ murderers (whatever else they may be and however sympathetic they may be to the murderers) were to suffer for this and the real people who _are_ murderers were to get off scot free. It may be a paradoxical effect of the approach that treats this as an "act of war" as opposed to a "regular crime" that the actual perpetrators have nothing happen to them.

My own opinion is that they probably actually have been arrested. I'm trying to figure out why it's a secret.

One totally conjectural thought that has occurred to me is that perhaps it is a secret because they are being, shall we say, subjected to enhanced interrogation and in the meanwhile their whereabouts are supposed to be unknown.

This, however, is being made up out of the back of my head.

I would find it much more satisfactory for them to have been apprehended and publicly and solemnly hanged by the authorities after a short and decisive trial.

Yaacov said...

Hi Lydia, Yaacov Lozowick here.

I doubt the murderers have been arrested and we don't know. It would be concievable that some of them would be arrested and a gag order be in place until a hot pursuit is over, but that can go on for a day or three, no more. So the better assumption at this point is that they haven't yet been apprehended.

There are a number of possible tracks. First, the Israelis identify the perpetrators, arrest them, bring them to justice and they're eventually convicted. If that happens they'll be sentenced automatically to life in jail - there's no other option for murder - though they might someday be freed in a political context.

Second track: they're identified and resist arrest, and die while resisting. This happens from time to time. The usual suspects on the left then automatically claim they were simply executed, but I don't remember a court ever confirming this. The murderers being armed, they may well resist, and they may not survive the resisting.

Third track: the Palestinian Authority identifies and arrests them. They then might spend some time in a PA jail, but we all understand why this would be less justice than if they're in an Israeli jail.

4th track: they get away. But this outcome won't be because the Israelis didn't try and get them.

Lydia McGrew said...

Thanks very much, Yaacov, that's very useful! So if I understand this correctly, there's sort of a dual jurisdiction, here, with the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli authorities in that particular area, and what happens depends a lot on which group catches the murderers.

Thanks for the word on life in prison automatically on the Israeli side. I guess I shouldn't be so cynical and should remember that the odds of any given terrorist being freed "in a political context" are still not very high.

Can you help me understand why there doesn't seem to be more chatter about how the pursuit is going, about where the murderers might be hiding out and the like? Maybe I just don't get around enough, and that sort of talk _is_ going on. It just seems so odd to an American reader not to hear or see that.

I take it that you would guess that the WND report with the names and so forth is just mistaken.

Yaacov said...

Lydia -

There's no public discussion of the chase. From your question I get that in the States the airwaves would be full of such talk at this stage. Here, not - but it's a cultural thing, I guess. If criminals aren't apprehended almost immediately, it means the police (or in the case of the West Bank, the IDF and the FBI-like IGS) are going to need their intelligence capabilities to find the guys, and those, more or less by definition, happen in secrecy. So what could the media tell? Eventually, a week, month, or three years later, some security type will call a press conference and announce they've got their man; or there's a big firefight and they kill there man, and that gets reported almost live.

What doesn't happen is that the law forces forget, or grow bored, for lack of media attention. I assure you right now there are teams of professionals working quite hard on this case. So far, they don't seem to have succeeded.

Avigdor said...

Lydia, no "right wing Israeli site" would ever ban you for asking these questions :)

The reason you don't hear much about the process/investigation is that, well, it's an ongoing investigation. People trust the authorities to do everything possible to find the murderers.

You should understand how difficult this is. Two Palestinians jumped a fence in the middle of the night, killed a family and got away. Unless there's direct forensic evidence, like their fingerprints, there's only so much that can be done. They could be anyone, anywhere in the West Bank by now, and if they are part of a terror group, that group has probably put them in a safe location to avoid capture. You'd have to get to the group, arrest the small number of people who might know something, interrogate them properly to extract information they won't want to give you, etc. This will take time.

Silke said...

the odds of any given terrorist being freed "in a political context" are still not very high.

Sumar Kuntar is a free and celebrated man by now. And if there should ever be a chance of freeing Gilad Shalit I assume a lot more of his "profession" will go free.

I find the silence commendable not least because I imagine that every Palestinian who might have the decency to give a hint as to where to find the perpetrator(s) needs to be protected and any chatter might endanger him/her.

I imagine it as an investigation into an area dominated/controlled/infested by insurgents - I very much doubt that the US military would keep the public informed on such investigations in either Afghanistan or Iraq, but they sure must be going on.

On the other hand that silence is damaging to the memory - so many things are happening concurrently and it takes a conscious effort for an outsider like myself to keep the Fogel-family active in my mind, as it does for the killing of those 4 people in a car not long ago, one of them a 9 months' pregnant woman who was shot at again? by the perpetrator standing close to the car window thus seeing her belly while shooting ...

Lydia McGrew said...

Gentlemen, I apologize for not publishing your comments immediately. Inexplicably, I didn't receive notice of them. I must check my settings.

Thanks, all. I had suspected that it was a cultural difference, but I appreciate the info. and will look forward to hearing if these monsters are arrested later.

Victor, I'm sure there must a lot of forensic evidence at the scene. Fingerprints are pretty crude in the way of available forensic evidence nowadays. DNA evidence can be found in murder cases now if the perpetrator even touches the victim. I myself find this mind boggling and am still getting used to it, but it appears to be true. All of us murder mystery buffs (of which I'm one) must sadly give up our hopes of writing a mystery set in contemporary times until and unless we could get up to speed on the amazing new meanings of "forensic evidence."

Yaacov said...

Got them. @ teenagers from the neighboring town of Awarta.,7340,L-4057894,00.html

Lydia McGrew said...

Thanks much, Yaacov. Will be posting an update post above.