Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Releasing Kuntar

Today Hizbullah handed over to Israel the bodies of Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, whose kidnapping two years ago sparked the Second Lebanon War. Israel, meanwhile, is handing over the bodies of several Lebanese fighters, as well as releasing Samir Kuntar, imprisoned for these actions:
"On April 22, 1979, Kuntar's terror cell reached the shore of Nahariya in a rubber dinghy; they shot at a police car and killed an Israeli police officer. At midnight they broke into the Haran family home, and abducted the father, Danny, and his four-year-old daughter, Einat. The mother, Smadar, the two-year-old daughter Yael, and a neighbor hid in a bedroom crawlspace.

"The terrorists took the hostages towards the shore and, when they encountered law enforcement officers and IDF soldiers, Samir Kuntar shot Danny Haran at close range and cold-bloodedly slaughtered Einat by bashing her skull against a rock with the butt of his rifle. In the hiding place at the Haran home, baby Yael suffocated to death from her mother’s attempts to keep her quiet so the terrorists would not find them."

These are the types of actions that, even when directed against Israel, many Arabs will quietly distance themselves from. Augustus Richard Norton comments:
"One may argue that his pending release by Israel is something of a political victory for Hezbollah, as Amal Saad-Ghorayeb does, but it is simultaneously a moral defeat for Hezbollah. This man was not a victim, but a bona fide terrorist. He is not like those Lebanese seized, reprehensibly, by Israel in years past to be held for years as bargaining chips, or those Lebanese jailed by Israel for fighting to liberate their country. Whether Christian, Jewish, Hindu or Muslim, there should be not doubt about the distinction being made here. The fact that Hezbollah has made his release a centerpiece of its policy, and that his release was a rationale for the infamous operation of July 12, 2006, undermines whatever moral claim the group might otherwise make."

Unfortunately, I sometimes think Israel's over-use of the word "terrorist" to describe almost all its enemies will prevent this point from being made effectively, and figures like Kuntar will continue to have a following among those who only hear about attacks on their enemies.

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