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Jewish World Review
August 18, 2004
/ 1 Elul, 5764
Making better prisoners
THEY SURE SHOWED 'EM WHO IS BOSS!
Jailed Arabs in Hadariam prison, north of Tel Aviv
flash the V-for-victory sign
It finally happened! Usually, I assume that the press coverage of Israel is going to be biased and unfair. Sometimes during my morning commute into the city I begin to display a knee-jerk reaction, angrily muttering to myself, just from reading headlines. But no more! Today an important lesson was learned. There are cases where the press can be right about its Middle-East coverage.
This morning as I sat alone on the 6:59 to Penn Station (getting the usual strange looks from the other passengers) I began to read the headlines describing the hunger strike being waged by Palestinian terrorists being held in Israeli jails. I began to fume as usual.
"Here we go again with the unbalanced coverage," I thought. "Terrorists go on a hunger strike and newspaper editors give it as much space as the disaster of Hurricane Charlie, the deadly showdown going on between U.S. troops and the troops loyal to Muqtada al-Sadr in Najaf Iraq, the Presidential elections or even the Olympic Games. These prisoners already receive a number of privileges including access to television (the Israeli government buys the tier with several channels from Arab countries), radio, newspapers, university education, additional special food (spices, types of meat, canteen goods), electronic games etc. They are even allowed to petition the Israeli courts (and win). How can the press take so much interest in 1,600 Palestinians refusing to eat, protesting what they feel are horrible conditions in Israeli jails?" With each headline, I got angrier.
Then it struck me, the media is right. This IS big news…it should be getting even MORE coverage. These Palestinians imprisoned for participating in acts of terrorist murder have had a change in heart, are all of a sudden they are turning into Mahatma Gandhi clones, staging a hunger strike. In addition, they are even participating in the Israeli national sport strikes. No wonder why this is a major story.
What these nouveau-pacifists want? Apparently, there is a list of 200 demands, including: public telephones, no more strip or cell searches, no partitions for visitors, facilities to cook their own food, access to cell-phones, computers, photo copiers, fruit knives, cell and karate classes.
Prison authorities say that the Palestinians want these goods so that they can participate in terrorist operations from jail. They point to examples of prisoners using smuggled cell phones or passing plans to visitors as reasons why many of these demand cannot be met. Israel is even thinking of setting up barbeques outside of the prison gates, hoping that the smell of burning knockwurst, and a few Kosher dills, will make the prisoners so hungry that they will give up their strike demands.
The Israeli government is wrong on this. It is obvious that the years of harsh prison life has caused these prisoners to reform. Watching Arab TV and playing video can make even the most thick-skinned terrorist atone. Look at the demands. Sure, they are asking for items that can be used for terrorist activity, but killing civilians is the only job they know. Of course, they want to become better terrorists.
Israel should be looking for a way to compromise before it is too late. Soon France will demand that each prisoner be allowed to take bomb-building classes or Kofi Annon will ask, "How is it possible for Israel to be right and 1,600 prisoners wrong?" The World Court may even soon rule that depriving prisoners the ability to become better terrorists is against International Law. Any day now, Britain's Lord Snow or France's Dominique de Villepin may begin a hunger strike in sympathy with the terrorist protesters, demanding that Israel give them the ability to reach the top of their profession.
There is a middle ground here, a way to give the prisoners a chance for more independence and self-fulfillment. For example, instead of giving prisoners their own kitchens, why not offer each prisoner free food and delivery from the Kosher Burger King in Jerusalem? Even let them order their happy meals super-sized. This is the essence of compromise; no kitchens no danger, and each prisoner will still have it their way with Burger King. No need for fruit knives…this is finger food!
Photocopiers and computers can be a bit expensive, and folks who run the prisons are afraid that they will be used to copy and transmit plans and ideas for new terrorist actions. Well instead of the heavy electronics, how about giving the terrorists some nice crayons and tracing paper?
Whenever I used to fight with my siblings, mom used to give us crayons and tracing paper. It always kept us calm for a while. Tracing paper will help the prisoners remain calm. To help this cause, I will call mom she must have some left.
The toughest demand is the Karate classes. Here the Palestinian terrorist must be looking for some physical and mental challenges. Ultimatel this is probably a good thing. I do however agree with the Israeli government, when they say that it is probably best not to train terrorists in the Martial Arts. Today at lunch, I stumbled upon the perfect solution.
Munching down a brisket sandwich, I overheard the conversation of two women who had flown to New York to escape the hurricanes in Florida. The two women, Toby and Sadie, were talking about a killer game of mahjong that they played in Boca last year. What a great idea, and who would appreciate a killer game of anything more than 1,600 Palestinian terrorists. The neat part is that Toby and Sadie are available. They have offered to go to Israel to help the prisoners become better killers. The killer mahjong classes start as soon as we can arrange airfare. Not only will this help defuse the situation but it will go a long way in improving Israel's world image. After all, everyone knows that helping the Palestinians become better killers will make France, the EU, and the World Court, very, very happy.
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© 2004, Jeff Dunetz