Wednesday, July 16, 2008

16-Jul-08: So what's the right way to relate to a freed psychopathic thug?

What's the right way to describe the Lebanese man called Kuntar, an unrepentant convicted murderer of children, a vile terrorist serving a 542-year prison sentence, a thug who swears that as soon as he is free he will seek out his next murder victims?

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 Israel agreed to pay in its deal with the Lebanese group Hizbullah. "

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". Y
ou'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?


Robin Mayhew said...

From the editorial in today's "The Australian", some words of sanity and comprehension.

July 18, 2008

Killer's welcome has shown Hezbollah's true colours

IT is easy to conclude that Israel has paid a diabolical price to honour the Jewish state's unbreakable promise to its citizens that soldiers will never be left stranded on foreign soil, even in death. The return of prisoners to the Iran-backed group, Hezbollah, in exchange for the corpses of two young Israeli soldiers who were kidnapped on Israeli soil offends the accepted wisdom that negotiating with terrorists only invites further acts of terror.

For those people who are preoccupied with false arguments about moral equivalence in the long-running Middle East conflict, the terms of the latest exchange illustrate just how lopsided things are. To secure the return of the remains of Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, army reservists whose seizure by Hezbollah sparked the 34-day conflict in Lebanon, Israel released a terrorist serving a life sentence for the deaths of four Israelis as well as four other Lebanese prisoners. Samir Kuntar was sentenced to three life terms for killing an Israeli man in front of his four-year-old daughter, then killing the little girl by smashing her skull with his rifle butt.

Despite his crimes, Kuntar was welcomed back to Lebanon as a hero by the President, Prime Minister and Speaker of parliament. A public holiday was declared to mark the agreement and yellow Hezbollah flags were flown to leave no doubt about who was responsible for the exchange. By contrast, there were no public celebrations in Israel. Only tears at the final confirmation that the two young soldiers were dead and deep soul-searching about what would come next. Lebanese politicians openly said the swap proved the only successful way to free prisoners was by kidnapping Israeli soldiers. Worst of all, hostage-takers are open to conclude that in negotiations with Israel, even dead bodies have a value. This calculation overlooks the fact the original kidnapping sparked a 34-day war between Israel and Lebanon that left more than 1200 Lebanese and 157 Israeli soldiers dead.

Hezbollah may rejoice that it has had a propaganda win at home. But for the rest of the world, the way in which it rolled out the red carpet -- literally -- for a criminal guilty of such a heinous crime has shown the group for what it is. The Australian remains an outspoken supporter of the state of Israel and of efforts to find a peaceful two-state solution to the Palestinian conflict. In this instance, we have no doubt that Israel has paid a terrible price to secure the return of the bodies of two kidnapped soldiers. Palestinians and Lebanese citizens have also paid a high price because of the conflict that was sparked by the kidnappings and they continue to do so because of the proxy war being fought on their soil by Iran, through Hezbollah, against Israel.

The best that can come out of the sorry episode is the hope that a dialogue has been opened that, rather than more kidnappings and killings, will prove useful in negotiations for lasting peace.

robin mayhew said...

Winning some sort of diabolical prize, the 'objective' news professionals at Al-Jazeera have set some sort of new standard, according to the Jerusalem Post:

Jul 23, 2008 1:38 | Updated Jul 23, 2008 18:15
GPO to sanction Al-Jazeera over Kuntar party

For the second time this year, Israel has decided to act against Al-Jazeera, after the influential TV station held a party for released Lebanese child-killer Samir Kuntar, The Jerusalem Post has learned.
Samir Kuntar gestures as he...

Samir Kuntar gestures as he symbolically breaks through makeshift prison bars during celebrations for his release in Beirut.
Photo: AP
Slideshow: Pictures of the week

The party, held in Beirut, was organized by the Al-Jazeera bureau there to honor Kuntar on the occasion of his release from Israeli prison. He was hailed as a hero who carried out a brave military operation against the Jewish state.

The Government Press Office said it would impose sanctions on Al-Jazeera and demand an explanation from the station.

Al-Jazeera's bureau chief in Beirut, Ghassan bin Jeddo, has long been known for his close ties to Hizbullah.

Kuntar, for his part, thanked Jeddo and Al-Jazeera for supporting him and other prisoners in Israeli jails and for waging a campaign to bring about their release.

Daniel Seaman, director of the GPO, expressed outrage over the event.

On Tuesday, Seaman phoned Walid Omari, the Al-Jazeera bureau chief in Israel, and summoned him to an urgent meeting to inform him of the GPO's decision to suspend ties with the station.

Omari, who is currently abroad, is scheduled to report to the GPO on his return, a source at Al-Jazeera said, adding that the station had still not been informed of the new measures against it.

Seaman said he also planned to write to the Foreign Press Association in Israel to explain his decision.

"We will suspend all handling of Al-Jazeera requests," Seaman told the Post. "For now, we won't provide them with any of our services, which include issuing press credentials and assistance with bureaucracy and applications for visas."

Seaman said he would demand an explanation from Al-Jazeera's headquarters in Doha, Qatar, about the event.

"I want to know what they are going to do about this case," he said. "I want to know how they intend to handle this case. What they did was not professional."

Earlier this year, Israel decided to boycott Al-Jazeera after accusing the station of supporting Hamas.

The boycott, initiated by the Foreign Ministry, included a ban on interviews by government officials and refusal to issue visas for the station's employees.

The move had come after Al-Jazeera correspondents allegedly staged a candlelight protest following a government decision to reduce electric and fuel supplies to the Gaza Strip in response to continued rocket attacks on Israeli towns.

The ban was lifted after Al-Jazeera editors in Doha agreed to discuss its coverage of the Israeli-Arab conflict with Israeli government officials.