Weakness That Will End in Murder

Yigal Amir won. He defeated an intimidated Israeli democracy, a weak justice system and the principles of natural justice.

Amitai Amir, the murderer's brother, celebrated his victory across from Rimonim Prison in the Sharon region. He waved happily at right-wing extremists who had come to support the family and flashed them the "V" sign. And he was right. Yigal Amir won. He defeated an intimidated Israeli democracy, a weak justice system and the principles of natural justice.

Some 150,000 people came to Rabin Square on Saturday night not only to honor the memory of Yitzhak Rabin, but also to protest the terrible injustice slated to occur at Rimonim Prison. This was not mere injustice, but encouragement for the next murderer.

And indeed, the very next day, fans of the Beitar Jerusalem soccer team ran riot, screaming catcalls against Rabin, while the Jewish National Front plastered the streets of Jerusalem with posters of Shimon Peres in a kaffiyeh with the caption "the man who frees terrorists." This is exactly the same incitement that ran rampant here, without let or hindrance, 12 years ago. Today, it is preparing the way for the next political murder.

The state's weakness in dealing with the murderer began on the very night of the murder, with its catastrophic security failure, and it continues to this day. Even though the state forbade Amir to marry, he easily tricked it, claiming that he had married "via an emissary." It would have been possible to refuse to recognize this marriage, thereby preventing any further deterioration, but the Jerusalem Rabbinical Court declared the marriage valid, and Attorney General Menachem Mazuz neither appealed the decision nor contested it - because it was important to respect the murderer's rights. And what about the rights of his victim? Who cares?

Then, the State Prosecutor's Office gave Amir the right to have conjugal relations with his wife. This was another slide toward total collapse - another prize for the murderer who married by trickery. He received a room in the Ayalon Prison with a double bed, a television, chairs, a small table, nice curtains and a bathroom and shower. Because we have to respect the prisoner's rights. And what about the rights of the Israeli people? Those are less important.

And now comes the celebration of his son's brit milah (circumcision), with the murderer present and even serving as the sandak (the person who holds the child during the ceremony, which is considered an honor). The legal system hit a new low when Judge Zvi Gurfinkel ruled that we must prevent "excessive harm" to the murderer's rights. That is a perverted, Hottentot kind of justice. Mazuz continued his unacceptable policy by declining to appeal, and the Supreme Court declined to intervene. It was as if a sorcerer were preventing everyone involved from meting out justice as required.

For this is no ordinary murderer: Amir also murdered democracy. With three gunshots, he overturned the voters' decision. He even changed the course of history. Because he and those who sent him understood that Rabin would continue the Oslo process and reach a peace agreement with the Palestinians that would involve ceding most of the territories, and they sought to prevent this. At any price.

This was an exceptional political murder, with far-reaching consequences for the lives of the entire population. The peace process was halted, Hamas grew stronger, and the walls of hatred and death that separated the two peoples grew taller. Therefore, this was a special case that warrants special measures for a single purpose: to prevent the next political murder. After all, it is clear that following Ehud Olmert's courageous peace speech this week - "two states for two peoples" - and his support for the words of Yuval Rabin, his life, too, is in danger.

A society that wishes to enable freedom of political action, including difficult decisions, must protect itself from additional potential murderers. It must make it clear to them that it does not intend to be a bleeding heart, to squirm, to capitulate and to handle "the murderers' rights" with kid gloves. Israeli law does not permit the death penalty, but the principles of natural justice demand that the murderer not be granted any rights. He should not have been allowed to marry, to father children or to be present at the brit. A democracy that wishes to defend itself should grant Amir one thing only: his life. And not one single thing more.

In 2001, the Knesset passed the so-called "Amir Law," which made it harder to commute his sentence. That law should be strengthened to state explicitly that his sentence can never be commuted. For if we wish to prevent the next political murder, it must be made clear to all the Itamar Ben-Gvirs and the other inciters that from now on, the rights game has ended: Amir will remain in prison, in solitary confinement, until his dying day.