Of Mice and Men

Mice in a maze, for example, return to their starting point when they are subjected to mild electric shocks while running through the maze toward food, unless they are very hungry. Does man, the creature "whose behavior is very similar to the mouse's" respond similarly? This depends.

Many experiments have shown that negative reinforcement, such as electric shocks, cause normal organisms to refrain from doing things that result in pain and suffering. Thus, for example, mice in a maze return to their starting point when they are subjected to mild electric shocks while running through the maze toward food, unless they are very hungry. The greater the intensity of the shocks, the more the mice withdraw. They stop running altogether, even when extremely hungry, if the intensity of the shocks is lethal.

This experiment, which has been conducted in many laboratories, and which examines psychological and physiological responses, proves at least one thing: The mouse, "whose behavior is very similar to man's," is a rational creature that learns lessons - particularly from violence against it. Does man, the creature "whose behavior is very similar to the mouse's" respond similarly? This depends.

The behavior of the Jews proves doubtful. One example is the decision to release terrorists again, after all previous experiments in this direction have proved to be lethal failures. In May, 1985, over a thousand terrorists were released in the "Jibril deal," in exchange for three Israeli soldiers. The terrorists who were released became the ideological and operational foundation for many terrorist activities in the years that followed, coming to a peak during the first intifada. At the time Ariel Sharon warned of serious consequences. Indeed, over 150 Jews met their deaths in that intifada alone.

The Shin Bet security services had also opposed the deal. Gideon Ezra, then a senior Shin Bet official, predicted a catastrophe - and rightly so. Today, as deputy minister of public security - and someone who has learned the lessons of that catastrophe, he is actually advocating what even U.S. President George W. Bush opposes - the release of terrorists with blood on their hands.

Eight years after the 1985 deal, as a gesture to the Oslo Accords, Israel's leaders - the exact same people who had led the state at the time of the Jibril deal - decided to release more terrorists. Sharon reminded them of the results of the previous release of terrorists and warned the decision makers that the release of more terrorists would only fuel the fires of terrorism. "No agreement," he noted, "is worth the moral and security price that will be paid by the citizens of Israel." That price, as everyone knows, was over a thousand Jews murdered since Oslo.

Now that Sharon has reached the top government position, he too, unlike the mice and men of other nations, is behaving contrary to the most elementary organismic responses: It is he who is now forcing the government to release terrorists; he who shouted to the heavens against the revolving door policy, is now implementing it; and it is he who, without batting an eyelid, is now employing the same reasoning used by those who made the fatal error when they ignored his warnings that were one by one proved correct.

The Americans, even if this is not their goal, are causing the continuation of terror. After all, if Bush's aim, which he reiterated a few times on Tuesday, is the dismantling of the terror organizations, why is he pressuring for the release of terrorists? And why is he pressuring Israel, which has much bitter experience from previous prisoner releases, to make "gestures" that he would never make if it concerned terrorists who had acted against his people or against other Western peoples?

The Arabs do not need gestures, particularly after they exploited previous gestures in order to increase terror activities. After what the Palestinians have done to us as a result of the previous gestures, they are the ones who should now be making gestures toward Israel. But no one is demanding this from them. What's worse, even the campaign against "terror infrastructures" has been compromised.

How else would one explain the Israeli and American acquiescence to the continued experiments - unhindered by Abu Mazen, Bush and Sharon's darling - with the Qassam rockets, increased terrorist training by Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Tanzim; and the nonprevention by the Palestinians of mass terror attacks that Israel has prevented? All these are not even causing any Israeli remorse for the decision, which is only the first stage, of course, to release over 500 terrorists.

This special mental structure, the Jewish psyche, works differently than that of mice and men who have not developed a severe hesitancy syndrome; Diaspora syndromes that transmit that we can be treated differently than dictated by the existential instincts customary throughout the world. As long as we accept the racial discrimination whereby there is one strict law for terrorists who harm Americans and Europeans and another law - to which Israel surrenders - that demands "gestures" toward terrorists who harm Jews, there will be no peace.

The Arabs, who are encouraged by this approach by the world - and particularly by the Jewish acceptance, time after time, of this discriminatory and humiliating dictate - have no real reason to stop their war of attrition, which has proved itself effective and worthwhile.