By Bennett M. Epstein, a criminal defense lawyer practicing in New York City.
He is a former prosecutor and professor of criminal justice.
May 15, 2002
Now that the last thirteen Palestinian gunmen have left the Church of the
Nativity for the island of Cyprus, it will be interesting to see where they turn up
next. Israel wanted to put these terrorists, mainly members of the notorious
Abayat clan, on trial for multiple murders of Israeli citizens, including the
lynching of Avi Boaz, a 71-year-old architect who also happened to be an
Under tremendous world pressure not to take any steps that would risk
harm to the church, Israeli negotiators agreed to have the thirteen turned over
to the EU to be sent into exile as a way to resolve the crisis.
“Exile” means Elba, right? Or at least enough security to insure that these
criminals will never again terrorize Israel?
Well, apparently no. According to the latest from the EU, these most
wanted criminals are “free.” And we thought Arafat had a revolving door.
Given Europe’s record when it comes to supporting Israel’s fight against terror,
and the refusal to accept responsibility that accompanied Europe’s latest
involvement, why should anyone expect anything different?
Italy and Spain were early candidates to receive the thirteen, but placing any
restrictions on them was apparently never seriously considered. Italy, whose
universities must have a very liberal open enrollment policy, actually suggested
issuing student visas to the terrorists.
Of course this is something we in the U.S. do all the time, but at least
we try not to know it in advance. Once it dawned on the Italians that visiting
scholars like these might cut every class but chemistry lab, the Italians
withdrew that invitation and Spain quickly followed suit.
After these countries backed away as potential hosts, the rest of the EU,
particularly the Scandinavians, seemed to fall all over themselves pointing out
clauses in their immigration laws that make such accused criminals – otherwise
usually referred to by them as “oppressed victims of Israeli occupation” –
ineligible to enter their countries. All of Europe bailed out faster than you can
say, “not in my back yard”.
The Europeans then turned to the “moderate” Arab countries to accept the
Surprise, surprise, the Saudis, whose generosity to the cause of
Palestinian suffering (especially by the families of suicide bombers) has become
legendary, would not broadcast so much as a public service announcement, not
to mention a telethon, to help them. The Egyptians and the Jordanians also
announced that they would be unwilling to receive any of their brethren.
All of this is actually perfectly understandable as consistent with the kind
of hospitality that maintains Palestinians in refugee camps more than five
decades after the original Palestinian “refugees” attacked Israel and created
their own Diaspora.
Next, it was proposed to try to achieve some measure of control over the
whereabouts of the “militants” by dispersing them to out-of-the-way locations,
possibly to assimilate there and make a fresh start.
This is what the U.S. government has tried to do in the Federal Witness
Protection Program (see: Gravano, Sammy). “The Program” might be a good
analogy in terms of their murderous tendencies and respect for law and order,
but it is not a very realistic plan in the case of Palestinian terrorists.
Countries that were mentioned as possible destinations for this included Canada
and Luxembourg and the vision of the Abayats playing hockey or wearing
lederhosen proved to be a nonstarter. Ireland was also mentioned, a location
where Arafat’s purported ties to the IRA might have helped the assimilation
process but not the overall goal of security.
Now it appears that the Nativity Thirteen, a bloody gang of brutal killers, will be
sent to Italy, Portugal, Spain and Greece, and free to move about at will. The
likelihood is that they will wait about a nanosecond before sneaking off to join
forces with Osama, or slipping once more into the West Bank to attack Israeli
Whatever the case, this should make for quite a nostalgic “Where are
they now?” segment on Al Jazeera in a few years time.
This episode speaks volumes about the pitfalls of European involvement in
finding peace in the Middle East. The EU is totally spineless, afraid of Arab
terrorism and willing to appease the Arabs at all costs. If this is how they
proceed to try to resolve one small piece of the problem, just imagine what their
final solution might look like.
The latest dispatch has the EU currently hosting the Nativity Thirteen at the
seaside Flamingo Hotel in Cyprus. At least for now it’s not the King David.