Friday, May 11, 2007

What's Going on in Jerusalem?

We'll get back to Beit Jann, Tsfat, and the Galilee in a moment. But first, some shots from Jerusalem. The light rail system is going up across Jerusalem. The first line will run from Pisgat Ze'ev to Mount Hertzl, through the city center, along the same route as the number six bus (my bus.) Though there are still about two years remaining until the first line opens, probably more like four given Israeli timing, the tracks are already going down. As an engineer, it makes my heart pump a little faster every time I see more track being laid.

Tracks laid on Hertzl Street.

A suspension bridge goes up over the entrance to the city, allowing the light rail to skip over the perpetual traffic jam in front of the central bus station.

Rebar at the end of the suspension bridge being prepared for a concrete pour.

On the aluminum planks walling off the construction from passersby are plastered some disturbing posters. They refer to the potential release of thousands of Arab terrorist murderers in exchange for the return of hostages Gilad Shalit, Ehud Goldwasser, and Eldad Regev, the Israeli soldiers kidnapped by Hizbullah and Hamas, which sparked last summer's Lebanon War.

"Terrorist Murderers are freed" (showing a picture of terrorist mastermind Marwan Barghouti, being offered in exchange for the hostage soldiers) "So why not? Free Yigal and Hagai Amir."

For those who don't know, Yigal Amir was convicted of assassinating Israeli Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin on November 4, 1995 and sentenced to life imprisonment plus fourteen years. His brother Hagai aided in the plot. There has been a determined campaign in recent months to achieve pardon for Yigal Amir, financed by anonymous donors. Presumably they would argue that because Rabin's policy of supplying weaponry and cash to terrorist mastermind Yasser Arafat, as well as the accompanying territorial surrender, has resulted in over 1500 murders of innocent Jewish civilians since his term in office, his assassination can somehow be retroactively justified and Amir should be pardoned. By my reasoning, this is both wicked and self-defeating. The cold blooded murder aside, pardoning Amir would be forgiving of this grave violation of the law. Supporters of this pardon make themselves no better than the politicians, Rabin and Peres, who similarly subverted the law forbidding negotiations with the PLO. Pardoning these criminals would do nothing to correct the problem, only further weaken the rule of law. If we (the religious right) want to prove to Israelis that we can offer a better alternative to the failed system currently in place, we can start by setting an example, by respecting the rule of law even when our opponents on the left reject it.

A more equitable pardon would be to release as many Jews currently imprisoned for terrorist attacks against Arabs as Arab murderers who would be released to the Palestinian Authority. But, of course, I'm against ANY such release, even if it means our precious soldiers remain in God-only-knows what kind of torment. Many of the murders which occurred during the previous intifada were committed by those released in such "confidence-building measures."

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