How Ten Dem (Dumb) Members of Congress Encourage the Use of Child Terrorists
By Alan M. Dershowitz
Originally Published by the Gatestone Institute.
Palestinian terrorist leaders often use teenagers to commit acts of terror because they know that the Israeli legal system treats child terrorists more leniently than adult terrorists. Now ten members of the “progressive caucus” of the Democratic Party are trying to give these terrorist leaders another reason for using even younger terrorists to kill even more innocent civilians.
On November 14, Representative Betty McCollum introduced legislation c co-sponsored by nine other “progressive” members of Congress — calling on the State Department to “prevent United States tax dollars from supporting the Israeli military’s ongoing detention and mistreatment of Palestinian children.” In a statement about the proposed legislation McCollum said:
“This legislation highlights Israel’s system of military detention of Palestinian children and ensures that no American assistance to Israel supports human rights violations…Peace can only be achieved by respecting human rights, especially the rights of children. Congress must not turn a blind eye the unjust and ongoing mistreatment of Palestinian children living under Israeli occupation.”
It is well established that recruiting and using young Palestinians to wage terror on Israeli civilians is part of the modus operandi of Palestinian terrorist leaders. For decades, members of the radical Palestinian political and religious leadership have been stirring up young people to wage war against the Jews and their nation state. This was seen in the gruesome Intifada that began in 2000, in which Palestinian teenagers committed dozens of attacks against Jewish Israelis on buses, in cafes and at nightclubs. More recently—in what has become known as the ‘lone-wolf’ intifada — children as young as 13 have stabbed Israelis with scissors, screwdrivers and knives with the aim of inflicting maximum harm.
Legislation proposed by members of the “progressive caucus” — entitled “Promoting Human Rights by Ending Israeli Military Detention of Palestinian Children Act” — does not explicitly state what constitutes a child within the context of its proposed cut in U.S. to Israel. While noting that children between the ages of 12-17 are held and prosecuted by Israeli military courts, the bill fails to acknowledge that some of the most barbaric terrorist attacks against Jewish Israelis have been committed by Palestinian teens who have been recruited by terrorist leaders. Consider the terrorists attack that took place over this past summer in Halamish (an hour outside Jerusalem) where a Palestinian in his late teens — from a nearby PA-controlled village — chose a Jewish house at random;, and fatally stabbed three members of a family as they ate Shabbat dinner. The Palestinian “child” murderer also wounded several other family members, while one mother hid her young children in an upstairs room until the terrorist left. This scene of carnage is reminiscent of a similar attack that occurred only six years earlier when two Palestinian teens armed with knives broke into the Fogel family home in Itamar as they slept on Friday night; the teens butchered the mother, father and three of their children — including a three-month-old baby as she slept in her crib.
As a result of such terrorist attacks by Palestinian teenagers, Israel has had to introduce legislation to deal with minors who commit grave attacks. In August 2016, the Israeli parliament (Knesset) passed a bill allowing imprisonment of terrorists as young as 12. The bill also allows for leniency. The courts can not only postpone the convicted minor’s transfer date from a closed holding facility to prison, but can also shorten or cancel the prison sentence altogether, if warranted by the circumstances.
When introducing the law in the Knesset, MK Anat Berko said:
“This law was born of necessity. We have been experiencing a wave of terror for quite some time. A society is allowed to protect itself. To those who are murdered with a knife in the heart it does not matter if the child is 12 or 15. We’ve witnessed numerous cases where 11-year-old children were suicide bombers. Perhaps this law will also do something to protect these children from being used to slaughter people.”
In a desperate effort to justify her proposed legislation Congresswoman McCollum argued that, “peace can only be achieved by respecting human rights, especially the rights of children.” McCollum’s hypocrisy in this context is palpable. She claims to be an advocate for “the rights of children.” Yet the Congresswoman refuses to acknowledge or condemn the Palestinian leadership for perpetrating acts of child abuse by recruiting children to commit terror attacks on Jewish women and children. She expressed no outrage when members of the Palestinian leadership have been caught posting material on social media inciting and encouraging young Palestinians to go out onto the streets and stab Israelis. McCollum failed to protest when Hamas set up training camps — under the mantra “Vanguards of Liberation” — aimed at training children as young as 15 to use weapons against Israel, or when children in Gaza were crushed to death when the terror tunnels they were recruited to build by the Hamas leadership, collapsed on their bodies.
So I ask: what do these members of Congress think Israel should do? If children as young as 13 or 14 were roaming the streets of New York, Los Angeles or Boston stabbing elderly women as they shopped at the supermarket or waited at a bus stop, would they protest the apprehension and prosecution of the perpetrators? Of course not. No country in the world would tolerate terror in its cities, regardless of the age of the terrorists. Israel has a right — according to international law — to protect its citizens from constant terror attacks, even those committed by young Palestinians. Indeed, it has an obligation to do so.
If Israel were to be punished for trying to protect its citizens from teenage terrorists, it would further incentivize terrorist leaders to keep using children in pursuit of their key objective: wiping the Israel off the map. Meanwhile, rather than condemning the abhorrent and unlawful use of children as pawns in this deadly process, this group chose to single out only the nation-state of the Jewish people for punishment, as it tries to protect its own citizens from indiscriminate terror attacks. People of good faith on both sides of the aisle should call out this double standard for what it really is: an attack on Jewish victims of teenage terrorism and their state. For shame on this group of biased anti-Israel “progressive” Democrats, which include the following members of Congress: Mark Pocan (WI), Earl Blumenauer (OR), André Carson (IN), John Conyers, Jr. (MI), Danny K. Davis (IL), Peter A. DeFazio (OR), Raul Grijalva, Luis V. Gutiérrez (AZ), and Chellie Pingree (ME). They give a bad name to the Democratic Party, to the Progressive Caucus and to Congress.
Alan M. Dershowitz, Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law, Emeritus, at Harvard Law School and author of, “Trumped Up! How Criminalization of Political Differences Endangers Democracy,” which is now available.