Occupied Territories

Collective Punishment is a mistake: Data from around the world

0 Comments 14 May 2017

Collective Punishment against Palestinians is a mistake from both a moral and a security standpoint: Data and evidence from around the world

“When one man sins, will You be wrathful with the whole community?” (Numbers 16:22)

A policy of collective punishment or action (as sometimes the measures taken are not defined as “punishment, but rather as a measure to ensure security) against the Palestinians is not only morally unjust, but a security mistake that harms Israeli citizens. In the West Bank, even a minor incident such as stone throwing can lead to the imposing of a curfew on a Palestinian town.  Does such a policy promote security in comparison to the alternatives?world terror map

In countries that experienced terrorism and violence but acted against the phenomenon on an individual basis, the levels of violence remained relatively low and limited, even sometimes decreasing. On the other hand, countries that responded to terrorism by instituting broad collective punishment increased the scope of violence. This has been the case in some of the states with the highst terrorism rates in the world: Iraq, Syria, Pakistan, Yemen, Libya, Egypt, and India, where collective punishment was employed against groups of people considered to be the source of terrorism (see other nations considered to have the highest levels of terror).

In Iraq, the Islamic State, now considered the most dangerous terrorist group on earth, emerged after  Shiite militias besieged entire Sunni communities in response to Sunni terror. In Syria, Assad attacked entire communities he believed opposed his regime, spreading a massive, bloody civil war, accompanied by intense terror that was likely to end with the collapse of the regime had external military aid did not arrived. In Pakistan, the government has carried out a violent military operation against the residents of the Pashtun autonomous region in response to the terror emanating from it; now the rate of terror there has increased by thousands of percentage points to horrific levels. In Egypt, where many groups are discriminated against, specifically the Bedouins in Sinai, terror flourishes. In Colombia, discriminatory state measures to dispossess and expel rural farm communities —mostly supporters of the opposition— led to the creation of the FARC militia and the exchange of violence and indiscriminate terror by both the FARC and pro-government militia groups as well as the Colombian security forces.

Judaism addresses this phenomenon with a number of commands: “Parents shall not be put to death for children, nor children be put to death for parents: a person shall be put to death only for his own crime (Deuteronomy 24:16); “When one man sins, will You be wrathful with the whole community?” (Numbers 16:22); “Will you sweep away the innocent along with the guilty?“(Genesis 18:23). within the sources of Judaism, there are examples of collective punishment, but they are the exception; we at RHR hope to teach and encourage the more humanistic interpretations and principles. We learn from our sages that it is grave wrong to collectively harm those who are not personally responsible. And in the end, what do these injustices produce?

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