IN DEFENSE OF 'COLLABORATORS'
by Gabriel Danzig
The "Gaza-Bethlehem first" ceased-fire has yielded its first fruits, and the Palestinian Authority has finally decided to take strong action in the war against terrorism.  As reported in The Jerusalem Post, the Palestinians are planning to execute up to 200 Palestinians for crimes they have committed in the Arab-Israeli conflict.  The alleged crime is "collaborating" with Israel. 

The PA is not executing terrorists who killed civilians; it is not executing the planners and organizers of these actions; instead it
is executing those it claims aided Israel in the war against terror.  In doing so, the Palestinian leadership sends a clear message about whose side it is on in the battle between terror and those who seek to end it.


The timing of this action is surely significant.  The so-called collaborators are being held in Gaza, a stone's throw from Israeli armed forces.  If any of them has really helped in the war on terror, the PA must be worried that Israel would try to prevent the executions either by demanding a halt,  or if necessary mounting a rescue operation.  By coming to agreement on a temporary truce, then, the PA has not only won badly needed time to rebuild its infrastructure, but has also provided itself with apparent immunity from Israeli action.  If Israel rescues these prisoners, it will be condemned in many quarters for destroying the "hope
for peace" that these cease-fire agreements supposedly represent.  One can only hope that Israel will not allow public relations
to take precedence over humanitarian concerns, or to allow the Palestinians to claim the lives of yet more innocent human beings.

What did these collaborators really do?  Given the nature of the Palestinian judicial system, one cannot assume that they necessarily did anything at all.
"Collaboration" is a broad term that the PA uses to justify the execution of its civilians while reinforcing the message that cooperation with Israel is a crime. It is odd that at a time when many people of good will encourage Israel to enhance cooperation between Jews and Arabs, the PA should go ahead with executing those who do cooperate in the most vital way possible. 

But what about those who really have provided information to Israel about potential  acts of terror and who have thereby saved the lives of innocent Israeli civilians?  It is understandable that the PA wants to kill them, but the only reason that is understandable is because we have already come to realize that the PA is a sponsor and not an opponent of terror.  But that does not mean that they deserve it. 

For the rest of us, these collaborators are heroes.  It is they who enable the IDF to pinpoint terrorists and avoid killing civilians.  Without accurate information, Israel could not prevent terrorist attacks, could not uncover terrorist rings, and could not avoid inflicting unnecessary and tragic damage to Palestinian civilians.  By eliminating rather than aiding those who provide such information, the PA makes it even harder to do that, and thereby makes it likely that more civilian lives will be lost unnessarily. 

But for Israelis these men and women (a woman accused of "collaborating" was executed only two days ago) are not just heroes, these are also our allies.  They have saved our lives and the lives of our children.  Yes, they have been paid for the vital
information they have provided, and they deserve every penny of it.  They deserve more than that:  they deserve our protection
in their moment of need.

The IDF has enormous capabilities for fighting terrorists and destroying them.  But these same capabilities can and should be
used to save human lives.  Among the endangered prisoners there may be some friends of ours.  Few there are who would be willing or able to undertake the task of saving them.  Aside from Israel, probably no one.  The moral responsibility lies with the PA, but it is still our duty to do everything we can to save them.  And if while taking control of the prisons in Gaza, we also destroy part of the Palestinian terrorist infrastructure, that will also be a step towards preventing further loss of life.

Cease-fires, peace agreements, and all forms of negotiations with those who have proven themselves unworthy of trust are counter-productive.  They are manipulated by such parties in order to gain additional opportunities for wickedness.  We should
not allow the recent cease-fire to be used as a pretext for murdering Palestinians.  Even if we should be condemned for doing so,
we have a moral obligation to do what we can to help them.

The only way to reach peace, as Professor Sharon of Hebrew University has reminded us recently in an interview on Israel Radio, is by winning the war.  The hope for peace depends on a complete unconditional surrender of the PA, without which the aim of destroying Israel will remain in force.
The writer is a classicist at Bar-IIan University, specializing in political thought.
(c) 2002 The Jerusalem Post
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