That really depends on who you are.
A columnist for the Haaretz newspaper wrote this week that he is "a monster convicted of a crime so brutal that even the designation terrorist is too good for him". On an earlier occasion, the same writer said Kuntar "may never have deserved a life."
A columnist writing in The Atlantic magazine said Kuntar "is perhaps the most terrible person held in an Israeli prison, a man who crushed the skull of a Jewish child against a rock. Sometimes, these prisoner exchanges don't seem worth it."
How true that is can be seen in a Pakistani paper today that quotes someone from Hamas saying "there was no reason to soften its demands in light of the heavy price that
The same thought had occurred to us.
Some people might be surprised to know that the "moderate" leader of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, odiously and publicly "extended congratulations" today to the killer’s family on his being "liberated".
Actual 'moderate' quotation: "He [Abbas] extends his congratulations to the family of Samir Kantar, the dean of Arab prisoners, and the families of the other released prisoners".
It's plain that Abbas wants people to know he's delighted that Kuntar is back on the streets.
Ismail Haniyeh, the slightly-less-moderate leader of the globally-outlawed Hamas regime in Gaza, says the child-killer is "a great hero".
Additional words are unnecessary. Kuntar delivers the goods. Period.
The killer's brother says getting him out of jail is "a historical achievement". You'd expect him to say that. But in Ramallah, heartland of Palestinian-Arab "moderation" and ground-zero for the in-pouring of massive quantities of foreign aid from Western Europe to the enlightened PA government, Mahmoud Abbas's own Fatah party organized a celebratory rally. "This is an historic victory over Israeli arrogance," says Ahmed Abdel Rahman, a top Fatah official and official advisor to the "moderate" Abbas.
Many ordinary Palestinian Arabs feel so uplifted by Kuntar's story that they are reported to be distributing candy in the streets in honour of his release from prison. This is not to be taken for granted; Palestinian towns already have too many child-killers walking their streets. But this one, perhaps because of his having bashed a four year-old Jewish child's head to pieces on rocks and killing her after first murdering her father in cold blood in front of her eyes, is special. He's a successful, authentic role model.
The government of Lebanon, a genuine member of the family of nations, a seat-holder at the UN, a sovereign state with its own flag and postage stamps and everything, officially rolled out the red carpet. Its government declared Wednesday to be an official public holiday. It's simply incredible to us that three of its most prominent politicians - Lebanese President Michel Suleiman, Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora and Lebanese parliamentary speaker Nabih Berri - are going to provide an honour guard to celebrate the return of the child-murderer. Have Lebanese everywhere swallowed their moral compass? Where's their outrage? Have they no pride? Don't they care what this says about them?
As for Kuntar himself, a graduate of an Israeli university (tertiary studies are routinely made available for free to terrorists in Israeli prisons), let's give him a moment to help us understand why those who support him are so enthusiastic.
In Kuntar's own words:
"I give you my promise and oath that my only place will be in the fighting front soaked with the sweat of your giving and with the blood of the shahids (martyrs), the dearest people, and that I will continue your way until we reach a full victory."And this:
"I return today from Palestine, but believe me, I return to Lebanon only in order to return to Palestine".He means it and he needs to be believed. His credibility is not in question.
The Chinese newsagency Xinhua accurately terms Kuntar a "convicted Lebanese killer". Sky News refers to him correctly and properly as a "Lebanese terrorist". But cooler, more mature, heads, like those at the cooler, more mature BBC, see things differently. The BBC has long referred to Kuntar as a "Lebanese militant" who was imprisoned because of his involvement in a "deadly guerrilla raid". Agence France Press news service, constitutionally incapable of attaching "terrorist" to the terrorist's name, also calls him a militant. And Associated Press can't bring itself to call the murderer anything more pointed than "Lebanese gunman".
We'll let Smadar Haran-Kaiser's words close this entry with a cold dose of water in our faces. Mrs Haran-Kaiser was a wife and the mother of two little girls aged 4 and 2 when Kuntar thrust himself into her apartment and her life in 1979. She has lived with the deaths of all three for the past 29 years. She watched the man who erased her loved ones walk to freedom this morning.
"This man, he is more than a killer to us, he is a symbol of the viciousness, the brutality, the hatred, of this fight against us. The demands for his freedom expose the evil faces from behind the mask, and show we cannot trust these people."So sad. So true. How can it be that so many people fail to understand this? How can the lessons of terror be so consistently ignored, forgotten, twisted and misunderstood?
And who really pays the price?