By Rabbi Yair Hoffman
The tragic kidnappings of three high school youths last Thursday night have the entire nation of Israel and their Jewish brethren across the world in a state of despair. The murders of babies, the kidnappings, the missile launches at civilians have had a devastating impact. The goal of peace has been elusive. Terrorism is still the most looming problem faced in the region. And poll after poll shows that Palestinians as well as Israelis see the prospects of peace as very low.
Israelis see the dark and vile philosophy of terrorism as a problem that just won’t go away.
But there is an answer. And it lies in the American model. In the aftermath of the second World War, how did the United States deal with a nation that grew up under the dark leadership of the villainous tyranny of the Nazis? The answer? Believe it or not, it was the policy of DeNazification as implemented by General Lucius Clay.
What did DeNazification involve? It involved a combination of implementing what is known as the carrot and the stick.
The idea was to eliminate the scourge of Nazism and its vile philosophy through trials, prosecution, and replacement. The lists of Nazi party members were obtained.
Every German citizen was categorized into one of five categories: Major Offenders, Offenders, Lesser Offenders, Followers, and Exonerated Persons.
Major offenders were either sentenced to death or to prison for many years. Textbooks were rewritten, censorship was applied. Nazi imagery was made illegal. In short,– an end was put to the Nazi hero-worship.
And then there was the carrot. Millions of dollars were poured into education, and industry. Germany’s national infrastructure was rebuilt and modernized. Mercy and moderation was given to lesser offenders and followers.
General Lucius Clay oversaw the entire program with remarkable impartiality. But more than this, he cared for the well-being of post-war Germans. When the USSR blockaded West Berlin, it was General Clay who orchestrated the Berlin Airlift.
What were the results? Germany once again rejoined the family of nations. It became one of the strongest democracies in Europe and a supporting member of NATO. They have also been a strong United States ally since the end of DeNazification and they have been very supportive of the State of Israel.
Germany recognized the debt of gratitude that they owed to General Lucius Clay. He was given an honorary doctorate from the Frei Universitat of Berlin, became an honorary citizen of Germany in 1953 and even had one of the longest streets in Berlin named after him. Germany appreciated what he had for her.
The modern parallel to DeNazification is something called DeTerrorization. This program too would implement both the carrot and the stick in the Palestinian territories. Support for terrorism and the hero worship would come to a complete end. The textbooks calling for the killing of Jews and the destruction of Israel would be eliminated. Payments by the government to families of a terrorist would stop. In short, anyone with a background of support for the killing of innocents or for other terrorist acts would be removed form any position of leadership.
They would be replaced with a new crop of leaders comprised of those untainted by terrorism.
And then comes the carrot. A new infrastructure would be built and new system of education would be developed. Medical schools, schools for emerging technologies and a Palestinian silicon valley.
But rebuilding Germany without the program of DeNazification would have been fruitless and indeed counter-productive. The same is true with De-Terrorization. One cannot build a new infrastructure for a people that on a second’s notice will form an alliance with a terrorist organization. One cannot build a relationship of peace with those who support kidnappings of young high school boys.
It is time, in light of these vile kidnappings, that we launched such a program. Now is the time to completely knock out Hamas and all organizations like it. It will be a politically difficult decision to make, but it is the only manner in which a lasting peace can be forged.