Bringing down the house

To put it as simply as I can, I am opposed to the demolition of homes as a punishment in any shape, manner, or form. It’s often a collective punishment – the legality of which under international law is probably, at best, questionable – and there’s no evidence that it actually is an effective deterrent. To the contrary, the effect seems to be a radicalization and hardening of attitudes that does absolutely nothing positive for Israel. It does not make it safer. It does not reduce the pool of attackers – but increases them.

I understand the argument that you cannot show weakness to your enemy in this part of the world, and that to win you must constantly show power, strength, resolve, and so on. But home demolitions are not a show of power or strength; they are a bullying response, and expose an almost childish, immature motive of having the last say.

Whatever doubts exist about the folly of home demolitions should be eliminated by this:

Family of E. Jerusalem Arab teen petitions court to demolish homes of his killers

Muhammed Abu Khdeir was the East Jerusalem teen brutally murdered by Jewish extremists in 2014. The homes of the murderers remain untouched. Was the killing a terrorist action? For sure. So why are their homes still intact?

The Time of Israel continues the story:

… the Abu Khdeir family has demanded the state demolish their homes, as it does for Palestinian terrorists.

“The state needs to operate in the same way against Jewish terrorists as it does against Palestinians. Just like the homes of Palestinian terrorists are sealed, the same should be done to Jews,” the family said in its plea.

I agree. However…

Last month, the Defense Ministry told the family in a letter that there was no need to demolish the homes of Jewish terrorists at this stage, as the attacks are too infrequent to warrant the deterrent action.

According to the official letter seen by The Times of Israel last month, the ministry’s legal adviser told the Abu Khdeir family: “Given the scale of the phenomenon of seriously hostile crimes in the Jewish community, the need to implement this [deterrent] power does not arise.”

That’s a dreadful excuse. It’s a fig leaf to cover a nasty attitude, and in my opinion it is unacceptable. One law for all, or no law exists. The state should demolish the homes of Muhammed Abu Khdeir’s killers, or it should stop all home demolitions permanently. It’s time for the authorities to take a good long hard look at their attitude, admit they are wrong, and bring the sad saga of home demolitions to an end, once and for all.