In the real world, a man who bashed in the head of an elderly security guard in cold blood would receive far more punishment than reward.
He would spend years in prison, but might get a university degree or learn a trade. In a Canadian federal prison, he would be paid an average of $3 a day.
Given that his prison wage would have to cover such extras as stamps, stationery, soap, deodorant and other toiletries, his savings upon release from prison would be paltry at best.
Depending on his level of remorse and his behaviour during his sentence, he would eventually be paroled. But, upon release, he would likely have a hard time getting hired, starting a new relationship or finding a productive and valued place in society.
Now consider the world of Muqdad Salah, a Palestinian terrorist – or “freedom fighter,” according to friends and family in his native village near Nablus – who was released from an Israeli prison last summer as part of the U.S.-brokered peace talks.
He’s the subject of a creepy New York Times article, “Remaking a Life, After Years in an Israeli Prison (www.tinyurl.com/pj2z6ca)” in which reporter Jodi Rudoren bends over backwards to generate sympathy for Salah and his fellow released murderers.
In June 1993, Salah and a friend went to the Hotel Sironit in Netanya, where 72-year-old Holocaust survivor Israel Tenenbaum worked nights as a security guard.
They failed to find their original target, an alleged Palestinian collaborator with Israel, so decided to kill the sleeping Tenenbaum “as a protest against the occupation.”
Salah’s original life sentence for murder was reduced to 32 years, and he served 20 years before his release as part of the peace talks.
But, unlike his fellow murderers in the real world, Salah faces neither poverty nor stigma. He received $100,000 U.S. upon his release, thanks to the monthly salary his family received from the Palestinian Authority (PA) on his behalf during his incarceration and a release bonus of $50,000 U.S.
Now 47, Salah has been welcomed as a hero, started a business, found a younger bride – who is soon to start fertility treatments, also paid by the PA – and was given the honorary rank of brigadier general.
Surprisingly, Tenenbaum’s daughter, Esti Harris, supports such prisoner releases if they advance the peace process.
Not so Frimet Roth, whose 15-year-old daughter Malki was murdered along with her best friend in the 2001 Sbarro Restaurant bombing in Jerusalem. The female terrorist, who drove the suicide bomber to the restaurant, showed him where to sit for maximum carnage and later rejoiced at the number of children killed in the attack was released in October 2011 as part of the exchange to release captive Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit.
“There is really only one constant, immutable, irrefutable flaw in these releases,” Roth wrote in Front Page magazine (www.tinyurl.com/lu7oztr) earlier this month.
“They are unjust. Plain and simple: undeniably unjust. They isolate one category of murders from the rest and declare them less significant, less tragic, less criminal, less intolerable.”
What of the society that not only glorifies these killers, but pays them salaries 38 per cent higher than the minimum wage and calculates their release bonuses based on the length of sentence?
According to Palestinian Media Watch (www.tinyurl.com/kmcwqxc), the PA announced in February that it was allocating an additional $46 million U.S. to released prisoners.
Ordinary car thieves or burglars receive no benefits. Under Palestinian Authority law, the big bucks go only to “anyone imprisoned in the occupation’s [Israel’s] prisons as a result of his participation in the struggle against the occupation” (www.tinyurl.com/n9p55n2).
Given that the PA economy is not exactly booming, these salary increases for terrorist murderers are subsidized by foreign aid. And many of the released terrorists actually went on strike last fall because they felt they deserved higher salaries and better prospects for advancement within the PA bureaucracy.
What kind of “partner for peace” saves its highest honours for the murderers of children and Holocaust survivors? What kind of society ignores the poverty of its ordinary citizens to reward killers?
Unlike Ahlam Tamimi, the released terrorist behind the Sbarro murders, Salah claims to regret his actions. But he’s chafing at the restrictions of his new life.
“I want to travel,” he told the New York Times. “I want to see people. I want to breathe the air, I want to walk.”
So did Israel Tenenbaum – before Salah snuffed out his life for the crime of being an Israeli Jew.