Monday, October 15, 2007

Yigal Amir's Life in Prison

Yigal Amir's wife is supposed to be giving birth any day now, and the yellower parts of our press is all agog about the possibility of his being let out of jail for an afternoon to participate in the Bris (he won't, says Y-Net).

Riding in a cab this morning, the cabbie and I listened to an interview with Calman Geier, Yitzchak Rabin's personal pollster. (Radio, so I can't link to it). Geier was telling us that the number of Israelis who weren't quite fully aghast at Rabin's assassination has always been larger than we thought, and as the years go by ever more of them are willing to tell pollsters (such as Geier himself) that they think someday Yigal Amir should be paroled. Both Geier and the interviewer were deeply perturbed by what this has to tell about Israeli democracy, and the rise of the barbarians, I suppose.

The cabbie and I, who had never met one another before, agreed immediately that this was bunk. In the USA it seems that sometimes life sentences really are for life, even if that means spending 50 years in jail, perhaps more, and eventually dying in one's 80's, still in prison. But in Israel, life sentences generally turn out to be 20 years, or 25; even Palestinian murderers eventually receive parole, if they're not set free long before then as part of some political negotiations. I don't think anyone ever spends 35 years in an Israeli jail. In this context, the idea that Yigal Amir will be punished in a way no-one else is, is eventually slightly distasteful. The cabbie and I both agreed he should spend 30 years in jail, rather than 20 or 25, but someday he should go the way of every Palestinian murderer and be set free. This is not because we don't condemn Rabin's assassination, and it reflects no political position of ours, merely fair play.

I voted for Rabin, just for the record. If I'm one of Geier's right-wing boogies, there must indeed be many of us.

No comments: