“Demolish the home of a mentally deranged Palestinian? What a joke,” Defense Minister Ehud Barak declared today in an exclusive interview with the influential South Jerusalem blog.
Barak revealed that, in advocating the destruction of the home of the bulldozer terrorist who killed three Israelis and wounded dozens of others on Wednesday, he’d been engaging in a deliberate parody of his ministerial predecessors.
“We all know the routine ad nauseum,” Barak said. “A terrorist strikes, the public demands action, and the minister of defense shows that he’s no sissy by sending bulldozers to demolish the terrorist’s home. He claims it’s a deterrent. In other words, the next time a young Palestinian thinks of killing Jews, his parents or wife will stand in the doorway and refuse to let him go, for fear of losing their home.”
“But terrorist attacks don’t stop. No one seems to notice that,” Barak added.
He noted that the IDF has not demolished the homes of terrorists since the beginning of 2005, when an expert committee established by the ministry recommended that the practice be discontinued. Empirically, the committee reportedly reported, the measure seemed to have no deterrent effect. The conclusion was backed up by a detailed analysis carried out by Efrat Silber in her PhD dissertation, submitted to Bar-Ilan university in February 2005.
“I confess that I didn’t really give much thought to the issue until the terrorist attack on the Merkaz HaRav Yeshiva last March,” Barak admitted. “At that time, there was also a public outcry calling for the demolition of the home of the terrorist.”
“Then I read the an interesting post on your blog explaining how useless collective punishment usually is,” he said. “By the way, your blog is exceptionally well-written and thought-provoking. I’ve signed up for an RSS feed and read your stuff every day.”
Barak explained that, in the heated atmosphere in the wake of this week’s attack, it would have been political suicide to have come to the defense of the terrorist’s family. That’s why he chose a different tack.
“After all, humor has always been the Jewish people’s best weapon,” he smiled.
“I realized that this was the perfect satiric setup. This terrorist had clearly acted on his own. He had no record of political or anti-Israel activity. He was a drug addict and convicted rapist, very likely not entirely in his right mind. His decision to go on a rampage may very well have been a spur-of-the-moment impulse. Even if it wasn’t, it seems unlikely that he told anyone of his plans.”
“In other words,” Barak said, “his parents, wife, and children had no knowledge of his intentions, no reason to suspect anything, and clearly had no way of preventing the attack.”
It was the perfect case for showing the public how absurd the home demolition policy is, he maintaned. It may technically be legal, Barak noted, but if it has no deterrent effect, then it is clearly wrong, not to mention a waste resources, to render his wife and children homeless.
“So I figured I’d make the usual forceful statements about how we need to stop terrorism and show them who’s boss and all that hantarish,” Barak said. “And then the public would say: ‘Huh? What good will it do to destroy this guy’s home?’”
“So I’ve chosen South Jerusalem as the appropriate venue for telling the public: the joke’s on you,” Barak chuckled. “We’re going to fight Palestinian terrorism with every effective weapon at our disposal. But home demolition is not one of them.”