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Dear Friend:

The latest news on the latest peace process, in what newscasters call the Middle East and normal people call Israel, is that Palestinian prisoners must be released. The Israelis, in policing Palestinian terrorists, have taken about eight thousand prisoners, two thousand of whom are facing life sentences. They vary, just like prisoners anywhere, in the gravity of their crimes. But the Palestinian Authority prefers to have the real murderers released.

Can you think why?

This article ran in a recent Jerusalem Post. It was called “Slow Release.”

Samira Barghouti was 18 years old and a mother of two when her husband, Fakhri, was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1978 for murdering an Israeli citizen. The Palestinian Authority is now demanding that Israel release Fakhri, who is 52, along with several other prisoners who have been in jail for more than 20 years. His name was included in a list of prisoners presented to Israel a week ago by former security minister Muhammad Dahlan.

As in the past, Israel said it won’t release Barghouti because he has “Jewish blood on his hands.” The Israeli argument has enraged Barghouti’s wife and senior Palestinian officials.

“The Israelis are talking about blood as if they are innocent,” the wife complained last week. “If the prisoners’ hands are stained with blood, the Israelis’ hands and legs have Arab blood on them. They are killing every day and demolishing houses.”

Palestinians say the use of blood “excuse” is tantamount to imposing the death penalty on the prisoners by keeping them in prison until their last day.

“These Israeli criteria are unprecedented,” says Issa Qaraqie, head of the Bethlehem-based Palestinian Prisoners’ Club. “Prisoner swaps conducted throughout history never distinguished between one prisoner and another according to such criteria.”

Qaraqie says that there are about 1,000 prisoners serving life sentences in various Israeli prisons. An additional 1,000 are awaiting trial and also face life imprisonment.

“This means that Israel is planning to keep these people in prison forever,” he said. “How can we ever talk about achieving real peace when Palestinians continue to sit in Israeli jails? In every war, people are arrested who have blood on their hands. And in the end they are released.”

The Palestinian minister in charge of prisoners’ affairs, Hisham Abdei Razek, also rejected the Israeli criteria for releasing prisoners as unacceptable.

“This position will not allow [PA Prime Minister] Abu Mazen to succeed in declaring a cease-fire,” he said.

Even in Israel, there are security personnel who say that the long-time prisoners should be released. “[To say otherwise] is a racist differentiation; we’re in a conflict, not on a soccer field, and there were sacrifices on both sides,” says one. “No Palestinian leader can talk about a final settlement without solving this issue.”

— K.A.T.

I’ll try to deal with the Palestinian duplicity depicted throughout this article. First of all, the Israelis are just like us — they really don’t want to release cop-killers. Nor does any nation in its right mind turn mass-murderers loose on the streets. Obviously, the Israelis prefer to return lesser criminals and thus have lesser crimes to cope with as the newest “peace process” drags on. To the Israelis these are common criminals, but the Palestinians insist on calling them “prisoners of war.” The latter would comprise a much more honorable group, typically fighting against enemy soldiers rather than innocent civilians, children, and the like. Soldiers normally attack military targets, while terrorists attack such civilian objectives as Passover services, intentionally seeking unwary civilians.

The idea that “the Israeli argument has enraged Barghouti’s wife and senior Palestinian officials” is not exactly news. Everything “enrages” Muslims. We are supposed to be impressed and sympathetic with their rage, but it is an all-day, everyday event. How many fully-programmed screaming mobs have we had to look at in Israel, Iraq, etc.?

But rage aside, the Palestinians are being very dishonest about this whole subject. True, some Israeli soldiers have blood on their hands, but they are an army having to police terrorists just as the US Army does in Iraq. (Some Palestinian prisoners have Palestinian blood on their hands since they murdered their own people for “collaborating” with Israel.) Few accuse our soldiers of out-and-out murder, and in both cases — with Israel and with the US Army — not a shot would be fired if the terrorists would just give up. Their hopeless suicide bombings, shooting of rockets, car bombs, and so forth, are a pathetic attempt to achieve a sort of manhood (or womanhood) and have no real effect on either situation. As far as demolishing houses goes, the Israelis are trying to find a method of publicly marking out those terrorists who force them to respond to terrorism. No one is ever hurt when a house is demolished, but how many families have dropped the idea of sending a child out with a bomb in order to preserve their home?

Palestinians accuse Israel of “imposing the death penalty,” but Israel has no death penalty. Only in the case of the notorious Nazi Adolf Eichmann did Israel perform an execution. I dare say if some of the Palestinian terrorists were caught in the US, they would see real death penalties, and there would be no talk of release.

Next in the article, a Palestinian spokesman tries to describe the releases as “prisoner swaps.” That’s almost funny. The Palestinians have no Israeli prisoners at all and are not swapping anything except empty promises of peace. Israelis caught by Palestinians are not tried and jailed; they are torn to pieces and disemboweled, like the innocent Israelis who accidentally drove into Ramallah.

When Sandra and I drove into Ramallah, it was with a Palestinian TV crew at our side, but we were nervous all the same. We hope you enjoyed the programs Whose Land Is It? with Hanan Ashrawi that we taped there.

The spokesman then raises the argument, “How can we ever talk about achieving real peace when Palestinians continue to sit in Israeli jails?” Well, usually peace can be achieved more easily without setting convicted murderers free. I believe the whole world knows that. Then the spokesman goes on to characterize the situation as a “war.” There is no war in Israel. The Palestinians have no army and no navy. (The only one to appear in uniform was Arafat, causing a lady reporter from The Jerusalem Post to remark, “That’s a smart uniform; what army is he with?”) They only sneak up and kill innocent civilians — women and children in schools and synagogues and unwary passengers on public buses. Those crimes do not rise to the level of war. They are just murders.

And finally, we come to the usual Palestinian conclusion: “This position will not allow Abu Mazen to succeed in declaring a cease-fire.” Well, what else in the world will keep him from declaring a cease-fire? It doesn’t really take an argument over prisoners to stop them from declaring a cease-fire. Any excuse will do. And anyway, anytime they have declared one, they have immediately broken it — usually on the same day, as happened with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s recent visit to Cairo.

The final paragraph indicates that there are left-wing liberals in Israel just as in America, but I honestly don’t think any Israeli could sincerely believe that these terrorists should be set free to kill again.

So much for that story. But please understand, it’s only symbolic of the entire Palestinian and even the general Islamic attitude. No less successful people have ever thumped their chests in righteous indignation at those who, in reality, reach out to them in helpful friendship. I don’t believe any reasonable person could contradict the idea that both Israel and the United States have bent over backwards to accommodate these Johnny-come-latelies to the Holy Land. If President Bush has his way, a new nation will be established — probably the first in world history exclusively for illegal aliens.

Bible readers know that every inch of land in Israel was given to the Jews and that they are to inhabit it from this time through the thousand-year Kingdom and throughout eternity in a New Jerusalem. All of these peace processes, all of these smiling handshakes, and all the rest of this posturing about “our Muslim friends” with their “religion of peace” is pure nonsense. It not only insults the intelligence of men, but it contradicts the very will of God.

Come see the situation for yourself. Our Kibbutz Tour offers the opportunity to enjoy a taste of Israel’s countryside living, along with the added feature of an archaeological dig. Summer is the time for vacations, so why not join us for this unique experience in Israel, June 14–24? Call Tony at (214) 696-9760 during business hours or 1-800-WONDERS (1-800-966-3377) anytime.

This summer, Sandra and I will start our speaking tour in the Midwest, east of the Missouri/Kansas line, the week after July 4th. We’ll drive through Missouri, Illinois and Indiana, and possibly to Chicago and Milwaukee, depending on what churches ask us to speak. We’ll also serve California by air in August. Please contact Claudia at or 817-417-0059 to arrange for a speaking date as soon as possible. Unfortunately, because of arrangements we have to make with parking our trailer and so forth, we need to plan well ahead. Thanks!

And please remember to pray for the peace of Jerusalem.

Your messenger,

Zola

P.S. We are post-producing our new, eight-program television series “Age of Terror.” It features my interviews with converted Palestinian terrorist Walid Shoebat. How better to wake up the Church to the realities of the era we approach! Please help us make ends meet as we invest in creating this series that will enlighten Christian and secular viewers alike. Thanks.

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