Wednesday, November 18, 2015

To the Minister of Justice: Punish those who Support Terrorism and Who Interfere with Those who want to Block It

By Rabbi Yisrael Rosen
Dean of the Zomet Institute

Outcasts from the World
I am writing this article after Shabbat has finished, with reports in the background of deathly attacks in our land - in the Chevron Hills, where Rabbi Yaacov Litman and his son Netanal were murdered - and in Paris, where hundreds of people were shot to death after falling prey to the jaws of Islamic terrorism. The "world leaders" and all the analysts and interviewees are competing with each other to find some appropriate hollow response: "This is a universal war to the end... The world must be united against terrorism... Destroy the nests of the vipers... Tighten all border control ..." and so on. But not one of them has any dramatic proposal of something practical to do. Is there any way to prevent suicidal people infused with motivation and insane faith to carry out their plans? 
The only p-o-s-s-i-b-l-e way is to motivate those around the terrorists to inform about their plans, to expose them, or at the very least to try to convince them to disband their plans 
Two weeks ago, I wrote about the weapon of destroying homes of terrorists as deterrence, and I criticized the Israeli Supreme Court for forcing a delay in this tactic. Meanwhile, thank heaven, the court allowed the process to go on, but the decision includes a demand for "proportionality." That is, only the personal living quarters of the terrorist can be destroyed, without any harm allowed to the evil one's neighbors. The Supreme Court ruled that "if any damage is caused, the state is required to fix it or to compensate the injured parties who are not family members of the terrorist." The only exception is if there are reasons to release the state of this obligation "under special circumstances." I foresee a spate of demands for injunctions by the Supreme Court on this matter... In any case, it is clear that destroying houses is not enough, and in addition there are some who doubt the assumption that this punishment is effective at all. It is certainly not a viable idea with respect to a terrorist in Paris, Mumbai, or Buenos Aires, since they do not typically live in a home belonging to their extended family but rather in a temporary apartment, or they might even appear as a terrorist-tourist and live in a hotel. 
Punishing One who did not Prevent a Crime
In my columns here, I have called more than once for us to be a "light to the nations" by teaching the world how to respond to terrorism. I suggest passing emergency legislation which mandates confiscation of property and expulsion of anybody who knew in advance about a terrorist act and did not report on it, and/or did not try to stop the terrorist, or supported the act by giving encouragement or by incitement. Any suicide operation, even if it failed in its objective, will be followed by a comprehensive investigation of the entire surroundings of the terrorist, including family and friends. A military court will determine what steps to take from among the above list, depending on the level of support and concealment, and mainly the failure to prevent the act. (There will be a heavy cost to implement such a solution: A massive increase in the need for skilled intelligence and investigative staff.) 
Perhaps such laws are contrary to international treaties which prohibit punishing "innocent bystanders," but the treaties were signed by nations and governments, not by monsters which are fighting all of humanity.The legal rationale behind this proposal stems from the Torah of Yisrael and our traditions, and it can be summarized in a few words: "Because the person did not object."
In my column two weeks ago I discussed the events in Sedom – the destruction of "... young and old, the entire people from end to end" [Bereishit 19:4], and that Rashi explains that "not a single person objected to the acts." The following are additional sources by our sages that call for punishing anybody who "did not object" and who did not block the acts of the evil ones. The responsibility lies not only on relatives and friends but also, and mainly, on the leaders and respected people of the community.
(1) "Anybody who can voice an objection to the people of his household and did not do so – is caught up in the punishment of the people in the house. If this is true of the people of his city, then he is caught up in the punishment of the city... 'G-d will judge the elders of His nation and the ministers' [Yeshayahu 3:14]. If the ministers sinned, what did the elders do [that is, the leaders]? They did not protest." [Shabbat 54b]. 
(2) "'Take all the heads of the nation, and hang them' [Bamidbar 25:4]. The leaders are included because they did not protest." [Bamidbar Rabba 20]. 
(3) "'And I will set My face against that man and his family' [Vayikra 20:5]. Rashi notes (based on Shavuot 39a): 'If he sinned, what is the sin of his family? ... It is that they protect him.'" 
(4) In Shabbat (55a) we are taught that the only case when the trait of law overpowers the Holy One, Blessed be He, is in order to punish "perfectly righteous people" who did not sin, but "because they did not protest" – even if their protest would not have been accepted! "A promise of good never came from the mouth of the Holy One, Blessed be He, and was then transformed into evil except for this... The Holy One, Blessed be He, said to Gavriel: Go and draw a sign of ink on the foreheads of the righteous people, so that the angels of injury will not control them. And on the foreheads of the evil people put a sign of blood, so that the angels of injury will control them. And the trait of law said to the Holy One, Blessed be He: Master of the World, what is the difference between the two? He replied, They are perfectly righteous, while the others are totally evil. And the trait of law said: Master of the World, They would have been able to object but they did not do so! He replied, it is perfectly clear to me that if they had objected their objections would not have been accepted. And the trait of law replied: Even if this is clear to You, was it clear to them? Rashi explains, "The Holy One, Blessed be He, agreed with the trait of law, and changed His mind..."

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