The Prisoner Swap Controversy

Much of today's Daily Star is devoted to stories of the return of Lebanon's prisoners. Yesterday on NPR, Walid Junblatt defended the notion that Lebanon should welcome them as heros. Samir Kantar, the most controversial returnee, is a Druze. He killed an Israeli family in an attack on Israel in the 1970s. The controversy raises all the difficult questions about what is permissible in war. When is killing to be called terrorism and when is it legitimate? When is killing collateral damage and permissible under the "rules" of war, even if lamentable, and when does it cross the line into war crimes. Should people cheer their returning soldiers even when they have killed children and women in the name of defending the homeland? How does one measure intentions in such situations?

A similar controversy was raised by the assassination of Mughniyya, the Hizbullah hero. Some saw him as a legitimate national hero who drove foreign occupiers out of Lebanon with minimal loss of life and by targeting military objectives. Others see him as a master terrorist and murderer.

Here are some of the headlines: 

Israel Mourns, Hezbollah Exults: (By Griff Witte and Alia Ibrahim, The Washington Post)
In Swap, 2 Jewish Soldiers' Remains Are Released and 5 Lebanese Prisoners Go Home 

Freed detainees receive heroes' welcome – Hussein Abdallah: Five Lebanese prisoners freed by Israel arrived to a hero's welcome in Lebanon Wednesday, hours after Hizbullah handed over the bodies of two Israeli soldiers seized two years ago.Among those freed in a prisoner swap greeted with triumph in Lebanon but anguish in Israel was Samir Kontar, who was sentenced to five life.

Naqoura rolls out red carpet for liberated detainees Agence France Presse (AFP): Five Lebanese prisoners arrived to a triumphant red carpet welcome in Lebanon on Wednesday after being freed by Israel in a prisoner swap after years behind bars. The five – Samir Kontar and Hizbullah members Khaled Zeidan, Maher Kurani, Mohammad Srour and Hussein Suleiman – were given a heroes' welcome when they set foot on Lebanese soil.

Lebanese officials hail swap deal as harbinger of unity Dalila Mahdawi: Senior Lebanese officials welcomed Wednesday the prisoner swap between Israel and Shiite group Hizbullah, with many saying that the exchange would serve to bolster unity in Lebanon. Speaking to Al-Jazeera television about the returning Lebanese prisoners, Christian opposition leader and head of the Free Patriotic Movement MP Michel Aoun said.

Tens of thousands celebrate return of detainees in Dahiyeh Eugene Yukin: Tens of thousands of jubilant people descended into the Rayeh football court in Beirut's southern suburbs, better known as Dahiyeh, Wednesday night to celebrate the prisoner exchange that took place earlier that morning. In the prisoner exchange five Lebanese prisoners were exchanged for the bodies of two Israeli soldiers captured on July 12.

World leaders see prisoner exchange as positive step Eugene Yukin: United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon says he is encouraged by an exchange of prisoners that took place between Israel and Lebanon's Hizbullah on Wednesday. Ban said at a news conference in Berlin that he hoped it will be the beginning of many to come.

Swap criticized as granting Nasrallah victory Agence France Presse (AFP): Israeli commentators sharply criticized a prisoner exchange with Hizbullah on Wednesday, saying it gave a propaganda victory to the Lebanese group and set a dangerous precedent. The Maariv daily newspaper said Israel had been humiliated, arguing that Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah "will entrench his image.

Economics

Map from here US Dept. of Agriculture

Poor Middle East wheat crop to drive up imports

Poor rainfall will slash this year's harvest in Syria, a major foods and commodities player in the Middle East, to around 2.3 million tonnes from 4.2 million tonnes last year, according to traders and agronomists.

Syrian officials who deny it will go that far concede it will drop to 3 million tonnes, eroding a strategic stockpile of at least 1.5 million tonnes in country with wheat consumption of at least 3 million needed to feed 19 million people.

Syria's private millers have begun importing Black Sea wheat and the country is studying issuing tenders to buy soft wheat and even contemplating importing US wheat as its production hits a nine-year low. Barley production is also expected to fall to almost a third of last year's 800,000 tonnes production.

Syria Will Start Importing Wheat After Drought Hurts Harvest
2008-07-15 12:53:49.490 (New York)
By Abeer Allam

July 15 (Bloomberg) — Syria will start importing wheat for the first time in at least 18 years after drought hurt the crop. 

"We will likely make a decision about quantity in a couple of days,'' Adnan Ramadan, a senior official at state-owned grain exporter Hoboob, said today by phone from Damascus. “It won't exceed 100,000 tons.'' The Syrian government expects farmers to harvest 2 million metric tons of wheat in the year through June 2009, half the previous year's crop, according to a report by the U.S. Foreign Agricultural Service dated May 15.

"The harvest was below expectations this season because of the drought,'' Ramadan said. “We have halted exports for the past year to build our stockpiles. We will use imports to add to that.''

Demand in Syria, a country of 19 million people, is increasing because of refugees from neighboring Iraq, according to the U.S. report. Syria exports wheat to countries including Jordan, Yemen and Egypt.

Iran `Increasingly Isolated' on Financial Front, Levey Says 
By Steve Scherer

July 15 (Bloomberg) — U.S. Treasury Undersecretary Stuart Levey said Iran was becoming more isolated from the global financial and business community, especially as European countries begin to cut off business ties.

"What we've seen in the last month or so is very significant, with the Europeans taking a very important step forward in terms of actions against Iran,'' Levey told reporters today in Rome. Levey is undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence. “Iran is finding itself, because of its own conduct, increasingly isolated.''

Italy was Levey's first European stop on a trip aimed at coordinating diplomatic and economic pressure on Iran to prevent the Islamic republic from funding terrorism and developing nuclear weapons, he said. After meetings at the Bank of Italy, Foreign Ministry and the Finance Ministry this morning, he will travel to Spain and France.

Eni SpA, Italy's biggest oil producer, and Total SA, France's biggest petroleum company, this month both announced they wouldn't seek any new contracts or investments in Iran even as oil prices soar to record highs. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said oil prices will remain above $100 per barrel because of political tensions and threats against his country, according to a state-television interview late yesterday.

While U.S. policy to isolate Iran may put “some pressure'' on oil prices, the goal is to find a diplomatic solution, Levey said. Should diplomacy not work and force be used, the effect on petroleum prices would be “much more drastic and costly in every way,'' Levey said.

Oil prices climbed to near a record today and have gained more than 50 percent this year. Crude oil for August delivery rose as much as $1.55, or 1.1 percent, to $146.73 a barrel inelectronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Progress on Israel needed for Syria/EU pact-France
Tue 15 Jul 2008, 14:42 GMT

BRUSSELS, July 15 (Reuters) – It is still too early for the European Union to sign a stalled partnership pact with Syria and more progress is needed in dialogue between Damascus and Israel, the French foreign minister said on Tuesday.

"My personal opinion is perhaps it's a bit too early, we are going to have to wait and see how the dialogue between Israel and Syria develops," Bernard Kouchner, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency, told a European Parliament committee.

"But we should be prepared to move forward. Not yet, we should be on standby, and ready to respond to the opening up, the democratic opening up of Syria, but I think that we will need to bide our time," he said.

Kouchner was speaking after a visit by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to Paris at the weekend marking his emergence from isolation by the West three years after the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri, which many believe was orchestrated from Damascus.

Comments (75)


Nidal said:

Joshua,

Is there controversy over how were the four israelis killed by Samir Qantar and his gang? I mean, there is this story about the little girl killed with his bare hands, other stories point to cross-fire killing (or collateral damage).

July 17th, 2008, 2:37 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

In the long run, the exchange will not matter much. It is not wise to return live people for bodies but most Israelis felt that unless there was a certainty about their status, the families should not be left hanging. Nasrallah exploited this very well. Bravo! He was really proud that until the last moment the families did not know anything. What a great man.

On a personal level, after having seen the wall to wall celebration regarding the return of Kuntar I have decided that I would not visit Lebanon if and when there is peace. In fact, I would not want anything to do with the country or its people. In the end, what can you expect of people that have no problem killing each other to the tune of 150,000 dead or about 3% of the population? Nothing much I guess. If you can kill your neighbor, you can certainly make a cold blooded killer of a 4 year old a hero. To each his own.

July 17th, 2008, 3:31 pm

 

Kenneth said:

That’s a jaw dropping bit of moral equivalence there, Josh. Kantar murdered an Israeli family, including a 4 year old girl by smashing her skull with his rifle butt. Mughniyya, a notorious terrorist, was assassinated, possibly by Syrian intelligence agents or Israeli Mossad.

You seem to think these two incidents raise similar moral questions?

July 17th, 2008, 4:49 pm

 

Joe M. said:

Just to point out as well, there are clearly two stories about what happened with Kuntar. Even the New York Times points this out in this story:
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/16/world/middleeast/16israel.html
“Mr. Kuntar, who was formally pardoned by Israel on Tuesday as part of the swap agreement, gave a different version of the night of the attack in his court testimony in 1980, excerpts of which were published for the first time on Monday in Yediot Aharonot, an Israeli newspaper. He told the court that Israeli gunfire had killed Mr. Haran as soldiers burst in to free him and that he did not see what happened to Mr. Haran’s daughter.”

I am not qualified to pass judgment on this as I don’t know all the details, but is clear that he did not receive a fair trial and clearly did not admit guilt. Considering Israel’s track record of lies, brutality and racism, on the face of things, I am more likely to believe Kuntar than Israel. Especially considering the hundreds of thousands of Palestinian prisoners who have been held for years without doing anything…

July 17th, 2008, 6:42 pm

 

Nur al-Cubicle said:

You seem to think these two incidents raise similar moral questions?

They do. Israel is happy to take innocent life in its so-called targeted assassinations. And of course, there’s driver of the armored Israeli bulldozer who murdered Rachel Corrie. Ok, the bulldozer was a little bigger than a hammer but the driver probably got a wink and a promotion.

By the way…look at this. The Israelis can’t even behave for 24 hours after a formal prisoner release deal. Just look at today’s timeline:

07:50 GMT: Israeli warships deploy to Lebanese coastal waters
07:57 GMT Israeli warplanes violate Lebanese airspace
08:15 GMT West Bank : 2 Palestinians shot, ten other arrested
08:40 GMT Mossad announces Samir Kuntar will be targeted and “liquidated”

July 17th, 2008, 6:56 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

Joe M.,

Considering Israel’s track record of lies, brutality and racism, on the face of things, I am more likely to believe Kuntar than Israel. Especially considering the hundreds of thousands of Palestinian prisoners who have been held for years without doing anything…

Joe M.,

What could be more brutal than dragging a man out of his house with his 4 year old daughter and then shooting him in front of the daughter? The events are not disputed – there were plenty of eye-witnesses.

Also, please let us know:

1.) How do you know there are “hundreds of thousands of Palestinian prisoners”? And,

2.) How do you they’ve been “hld for years without doing anything”?

You wouldn’t be guessing, would you?

From your NYT link:

The four men killed a policeman and broke into an apartment building and kidnapped a young father, Danny Haran, and his 4-year-old daughter, Einat, taking them to a nearby beach.

Joe M.,

Are you denying that Samir Kantar:

1.) Killed a policeman

2.) Broke into an apartment building

3.) Kidnapped a young father and his daughter

New definition for the word “brutal”.

Nur al-Cubicle continues to apologize for terrorist crimes:

Israel is happy to take innocent life in its so-called targeted assassinations.

“Targeted” assassinations are just that: targeted. Since the terrorist freedom fighters “target” Israeli population centers instead of military targets and since they most often fire from their own heavily populated civilian areas (which is a war crime), I’d say you have it backwards.

Moreover, Israelis do not celebrate mistakes and the loss of innocent life the way the terrorists and their supporters do.

And of course, there’s driver of the armored Israeli bulldozer who murdered Rachel Corrie.

Where do you have evidence that Rachael Corrie didn’t confront the bulldozer and that she didn’t walk right in front of it as it was trying to clear a tunnel?

http://www.geocities.com/rachav/rachel-corrie-flag-02.jpg

July 17th, 2008, 7:37 pm

 

JustOneAmerican said:

Didn’t Hezbollah pretty much disavow Mughniyyah until he got killed?

The controversy raises all the difficult questions about what is permissible in war. When is killing to be called terrorism and when is it legitimate? When is killing collateral damage and permissible under the “rules” of war, even if lamentable, and when does it cross the line into war crimes.

These issues are enduring but I don’t think the questions are as difficult as some might like them to be. There is a certain amount of subjectivity to be sure, but the principles behind the laws of armed conflict are very clear. The legality of a certain action under international law is determined using the three principles of proportionality, military necessity and distinction. Israel, while by no means always innocent, adheres to these principles much more often than most of its enemies do.

Whatever the reality of whether Kantar killed the little girl or not, he was not a legal combatant and his victims likewise were not legal targets under international law. There is no real international legal regime to cover what he actually was – essentially a bandit or pirate – so he was tried and convicted as a regular criminal.

July 17th, 2008, 8:13 pm

 

Alex said:

AIG,

Here is one for your comfort and confidence in your country’s moral superiority.

This is not an isolated incident .. your army (ordered by your ELECTED prime ministers) kills innocent children systematically.

Go fix your own country and come back to preach to the Lebanese and Syrians about morality.

July 17th, 2008, 8:23 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Alex,

Nobody forced the M14 leaders and Suleiman to kiss Kuntar, not even AIPAC. But if I were AIPAC, I would send every congressman a photo with these people doing exactly that. They just made AIPAC’s job 10,000 times easier by proving again that what AIPAC says is true. And if against all our hopes there is another war, Lebanon will not be able to hide anymore and say they are nor responsible. ALL the lebanese political parties support terror. I saw this with my own eyes and so did all the world.

July 17th, 2008, 9:23 pm

 

Karim said:

Turkey cooperating with Syria on 42 projects
The Turkish government has delivered $6.3 million in support to 42 projects as part of an interregional cooperation program between Turkey and Syria, with Turkey’s State Planning Organization (DPT) earmarking $10 million for a program covering the southeastern Turkish cities of Gaziantep and Kilis and Syria’s Aleppo.
In the initial phase of the Turkey-Syria Interregional Cooperation Program, extending from January-May 2008, 26 project proposals — submitted by local individuals, associations, municipalities and companies — from Gaziantep and Kilis were found deserving of DPT financial backing. The total allocated for these projects was $4.7 million. The second call for project proposals resulted in the selection of only 10, to which the DPT distributed funds slightly exceeding $900,000. In June, the DPT welcomed six more projects with $767,000 in support. Accepted proposals were for projects that worked to achieve economic growth and permanent employment while ensuring cooperation between Syria and Turkey.

The construction of two language schools, one for teaching Arabic and the other for Turkish, the establishment of the Syria-Turkey Trade and Communication Office, the construction and installation of signage and lighting for a road in Öncüpınar, the restoration of the Rumkale historical area, renovation of 2,000-year-old regional mosaics, the creation of an education center for the handicapped, the cataloguing of silver coins found in and around the ancient Zeugma archaeological site and feasibility studies for an Akçakoyunlu border trade center are some of the projects to which Turkey has lent financial support.

The program was initiated in 2006 between the DPT and the Syrian Arab Republic State Planning Commission.

09 July 2008, Wednesday
TODAY’S ZAMAN WITH WIRES İSTANBUL

http://www.todayszaman.com/tz-web/detaylar.do?load=detay&link=147020&bolum=105

July 17th, 2008, 9:31 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

AIG

Not that I’m vying for your tourism dollars, but just for the sake of argument, the American Civil War produced about 1,030,000 casulties which was equivalent to 3% of the population.

But you visit New Jersey all the time.

July 17th, 2008, 9:41 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

QN,

The Americans fought in 1861. Since then the US has changed dramatically. The Lebanese civil war ended when the Syrians took over Lebanon in 1991. Since then, the Lebanese have not changed. You cannot even bring yourself to teach what happened in the schools.

July 17th, 2008, 10:03 pm

 

kamali said:

for the first time i feel AIG getting confused. although i like the democrasy in Israel if compared to syria’ s way of dealing with its own people but you should never forget the real nature of your state. they killed and killed, displaced and displaced, destroyed and destroyed. the state of Israel is built on the displacement of more than 50% of the population of the land. what are you talking about man? do you still really think that Kuntar is a killer by instinct or he is killing because he is reacting to an action of the same sort if not worse. the problem of HA for israel is the fact that they use the same cunning ways the state of Israel does. Go to any Israeli town, say safad, and think of those people who used to live in those old houses.

July 17th, 2008, 10:20 pm

 

CWW said:

I understand that many of you people posting here hate Israel, but you lose all credibility when you try to defend or make excuses for a man such as Samir Kuntar.

July 17th, 2008, 11:10 pm

 

CWW said:

Yesterday as I heard the story about the celebrations in Beirut I began to think a little differently about Lebanon. I mean, I had thought that Syrians may have certain thoughts about the Holocaust or Hezbollah, but I thought that a large chunk of the Lebanese society desire peace and don’t have the same type of irrational hatred of Jews and Israel that I saw in Syria. I mean my estimate is that most Syrians think that 9/11 was committed by Bush and that the large suicide bombings in Iraq were being committed by the CIA and not by their fellow Muslims. I thought Lebanon was different. Now I’m not so sure. Granted, a few demonstrations does not necessarily say something about the country’s general view. Nevertheless, Nasrallah thought that giving a hero’s welcome to Samir Kuntar wouldn’t hurt his reputation in Lebanon. Although, I understand that they may feel like the underdog and so any kill is seen as a great victory, but normal people don’t celebrate the killing of civilians and children. When innocent people die that is sad, no matter what side of the conflict they’re on. Normally that would be obvious. In this case though, I get the feeling that many people on this blog don’t feel that way. And apparently many people in Lebanon don’t feel that killing families is shameful either.

July 17th, 2008, 11:29 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

CWW

See this: http://joshualandis.com/blog/?p=806#comment-192891

Also, this may be of interest.

As for this statement of yours:

When innocent people die that is sad, no matter what side of the conflict they’re on. Normally that would be obvious. In this case though, I get the feeling that many people on this blog don’t feel that way. And apparently many people in Lebanon don’t feel that killing families is shameful either.

I would urge you to go back and read some of the threads on Ha’aretz during the July War of 2006. I vividly remember the hundreds of cruel and vicious comments about the rising numbers of Lebanese civilian deaths.

Does that mean that “many people in [Israel] don’t feel that killing families is shameful either”?

July 17th, 2008, 11:47 pm

 

CWW said:

Qifa the post you pointed me to was interesting and it had a good point. Nevertheless, it’s pretty disguisting to give a hero’s welcome to someone who killed a family.

I didn’t really get the point of the second part of your post. You wrote:
“Does that mean that “many people in [Israel] don’t feel that killing families is shameful either”? ”

Do you mean to imply that if Israelis celebrated the killings of civilians (i.e. families) that somehow we should feel differently when people in Lebanon do this? I don’t really think that one has much to do with the other.

July 17th, 2008, 11:57 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

CWW

No, I meant that you are holding the Lebanese (and the people on this blog too) to a higher standard than the Israelis who read Ha’aretz and comment on its pages. Given that there was much merriment on the Ha’aretz comment boards during the July 2006 War, despite the deaths of hundreds of civilians, does that mean that “many people in Israel don’t feel that killing families is shameful?”

You may find this interesting.

July 18th, 2008, 12:02 am

 

CWW said:

Thank you Qifa. It is heartening to see that some in Lebanon are not happy with the celebrations over Kuntar’s release. Perhaps Lebanon is different. I think it would be extremely difficult to find people in Syria who would flatly condemn the actions of that man.

I didn’t mean to make any comparisons between people in Lebanon and Israelis. I don’t really that that is relevant anyway. The only comparison that I did make was to compare Syria and Lebanon. Nor did I mean to compare the posters on this blog to those on Haaretz’s comment boards. What goes on in Uzbekistan is irrelevant also. So, I didn’t mean to hold one group to one standard and another group to another standard, after all I don’t believe I even mentioned Israel in my post.

It is interesting that the very people who despise Israel use Israel’s actions to justify the tactics of those with whom they sympathize. By that I mean, people who hate Israel may go on and on about how Israel’s behavior is immoral, yet if one were to criticize the behavior of those engage in conflict with Israel (i.e. by the use of suicide bombings) they often respond by saying “well Israel does x.” This is perplexing because if Israel’s behavior is worthy of hatred or criticism why are people using it’s very behavior to justify the tactics of those with whom they sympathize.

The laws of war don’t change just because your enemy has broken them.

People in Lebanon know what Kuntar did and think that he deserves to be treated like a hero for it. That is remarkable.

July 18th, 2008, 12:13 am

 

Honest Patriot said:

AIG and CWW:

Let’s not play the “Holier than Thou” game. Terror is despicable and the lowest form of human expression no matter who the author is. Menachem Begin was a terrorist in his early days. Just because his victims were Palestinian Arabs doesn’t make him any less guilty. And he got the Nobel Peace Prize. I don’t know whether Kuntar actually did what he is alleged to have done by Israel. What was being celebrated was his status as a commando operating in enemy territory. Or at least I would want to think of it this way. The repulsion upon seeing a hero welcome and kisses by the President for someone who may have committed an atrocity against a civilian child is understandable. However, the picture is not quite as black and white. Like life, it is shades of gray. But most importantly, AIG, please do not offend us with your haughty and condescending demeanor about visiting Lebanon. There are plenty of horrors against humanity to go around to all leaders and fighters in that area. As Alex keeps showing you in his clips, there is indeed a vast amount of shameful horror that has been committed by Israel. Let’s condemn it all regardless of who the perpetrator is and work on transforming this pitiful history into some level of coexistence and humanity. The bullies are fighting in the schoolyard. Neither is more dignified than the other.

CWW: you said People in Lebanon know what Kuntar did and think that he deserves to be treated like a hero for it. That is remarkable.
You don’t know what people in Lebanon know or don’t know and you are wrong in assuming that Kuntar is being celebrated for the act he is alleged to have committed. If Kuntar is guilty as charged I can guarantee you that the largest (and silent) majority in Lebanon would consider him a war criminal. Please don’t let the psychological warfare effectively conducted by HA lead you exactly where they want you to go. Thinking the way you do gives HA even more of their “divine victory.”

July 18th, 2008, 12:43 am

 

CWW said:

Mr. “Honest Patriot”

I didn’t mean to be holier than thou in my post. But then again, I haven’t killed any children so, I guess I am a little holier than thou when it comes to me discussing Samir Kuntar.

Your second to last sentence reads:
“Let’s condemn it all and work on transforming this pitiful history into some level of coexistence and humanity.”

Well it’s the lack of condemnation, or rather the celebrations, that worry me. Normal people don’t celebrate the return of a man like that. Normal people don’t treat people like him a hero.

July 18th, 2008, 12:52 am

 

Honest Patriot said:

CWW, was Samson a hero?
… and, whether or not you read between the lines, let me be more direct in saying that the celebrations we witnessed caused many more than appears to be case to be quite dismayed (to say the least). As QN explained the real celebration and psychological warfare here is of and by HA scoring points about what they pulled off. The details of Quntar are a second if not third thought. Everybody in that area is hostage to the culture of violence, revenge, and religious fanaticism.

July 18th, 2008, 12:56 am

 

CWW said:

Do you mean that I should condemn Samson?

It’s the 21st century, or at the time of the crime it was the 20th century. I think different rules apply.

July 18th, 2008, 1:00 am

 

Honest Patriot said:

What if Quntar was indeed innocent of the accusation and the deaths happened as a result of the firefight?

July 18th, 2008, 1:05 am

 

CWW said:

Honest Patriot:
The issue is why people came out to celebrate. If people had come out to celebrate the release of a man from their country who had been wrongly imprisoned, there would be nothing unusual about that. He is being celebrated as a fighter, not as a victim of wrongful imprisonment. If people were coming out to celebrate the justice of the release of an innocent man that would be great. But they are not doing that. They are celebrating the release of a man who is convicted of killing a little girl and her father, execution style. These rallies are not about his guilt or innocence they are about the fact that he was fighting Israel.

You wrote: “Everybody in that area is hostage to the culture of violence, revenge, and religious fanaticism.”

I would ask is Peace Now, B’Tselem, or Meretz “hostage to the culture of violence, revenge, and religious fanaticism.”

About your 12:56am post:
I am encouraged by the fact that many in Lebanon are dismayed by this. The “silent majority” idea may be relevant here. At the same you also mentioned that the details of what happened may be a second or third thought. That is what is worrisome.

July 18th, 2008, 1:19 am

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

HP,
The girl’s brain was on the handle of his gun. The forensic reports are ultra clear. The 4 year old died because someone bashed her head. It was either Kuntar or the little mermaid (it was on the beach). I choose to believe it was Kuntar.

What is really disgusting are Suleiman and the M14 crowd lining up to kiss Kuntar. No shame whatsoever. ALL Lebanese parties support Kuntar. Not ONE dissenting political voice. Not ONE. That is what bothers me the most.

July 18th, 2008, 1:26 am

 

Honest Patriot said:

CWW, yes it is worrisome, but not more so than the pictures of innocent little Israeli girls signing messages on rockets destined to kill Lebanese — even if the intended targets were allegedly military, those who ended up getting killed were civilians in the ratio of 10-to-1. The damage to children’s psyche enabling them to “sign the rockets” is no less of a crime.
We are voices of reason here and, alas, we are not the ones making decisions but mere observers. My main message is that there is enough reciprocity in horror by the two sides that the offense taken at Quntar’s welcome, while perhaps legitimate, does not mean that one side is white and the other is black.
No, Peace Now et al. are not hostage to the culture of violence, revenge, and religious fanaticism but they sure are victims of it, and so are the “Peace Now”-equivalents on the Arab side.

July 18th, 2008, 1:58 am

 

Leila Abu-Saba said:

One thing I noticed about Sami Quntar is that he was seventeen years old when he took part in the terrorist action in Israel for which he was convicted. He had been living as a child warrior, fighting with the militias, since he was thirteen; he was from a broken home and being raised by a stepmother before he left to become a “fighter.”

I don’t like this propaganda blathering over Quntar either, and I am not trying to “excuse” the action of killing a father and child. I am pointing out that like many other juveniles involved in fighting during Lebanon’s civil war, Quntar in 1979 was out of control and fatherless and almost feral. War is grotesque, and strife like what we saw in Lebanon and what we see now in Iraq produces people who commit actions that are beyond belief. I think it’s situational, and that if such lost souls were not in the middle of civil disorder, they would be merely stealing cars and getting into fistfights. To make him into a towering monster or a valiant hero is to lose sight of who he really was in 1979 when he killed (or did not kill -see his story) those people.

The bigger picture is – if you want to get emotionally caught up in the propaganda stories of the different sides, then you will find plenty of emotional reasons to confirm your beliefs – that your enemy is evil, barbaric, brutal and sub-human, that he worships bloodshed and butchery, that he has no mercy for you or your children.

This view is natural, but somewhat unevolved and does not include enough information about how humans operate.

I prescribe that all of you take a deep breath and step back from the TV and the computer. Remember that all political leaders will use almost any barbarity to promote their own agendas. They will use the flag and patriotism and worship of their own fallen to push their followers to do things that defy common sense. Don’t fall for it in your own leaders, and don’t take it too seriously in the leaders of your enemies.

Regarding visiting or not visiting Lebanon (not that Lebanese are weeping because of AIG’s snub): I live in America even though we have committed many, many crimes against people everywhere (the list is too long to catalog here). What am I going to do, become homeless, stateless? I plan to visit Lebanon and Syria even though all kinds of criminals live there, many of them leaders. I will drive through Ain el Helweh on my way to my village, even though somebody in that camp knows who killed my grandmother and how. In fact I might even meet residents of Ain el Helweh and shake their hands, not knowing who was involved in the death of my grandmother and the sack of my village in 1985. And in my village I will surely shake the hands of neighbors or even distant relations who collaborated with Israel, or beat up Palestinians, or invited right-wing Christian militia in to start the problems that led to 1985.

A Semitic prophet once said “let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” I have learned that human beings are profoundly fallible, as I am, and whatever darkness I see in someone else’s heart also lurks in my own.

I hope, with humility and a bit of despair, that this rant might persuade at least one of you to question your belief that your enemies are profoundly evil and not like you or your side at all. I’m sorry, but what you accuse your enemy of is too often true of your comrade, your countryman, your president as well.

July 18th, 2008, 2:46 am

 

Honest Patriot said:

Amen Leila.

July 18th, 2008, 3:08 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

I hope, with humility and a bit of despair, that this rant might persuade at least one of you to question your belief that your enemies are profoundly evil and not like you or your side at all.

Leila Abu-Saba,

Thank you for your post. Let me just say, that when Baruch Goldstein went into a mosque and killed 29 Arabs at prayer, 99% of Israelis were embarrassed and NO political party represented in the Knesset “celebrated”, danced in the streets, waved flags, held victory speeches or gave out candy.

Yes, a handful of thugs erected a monument, until the Israeli Supreme Court ruled that it be torn down.

Also, I am not aware of any public school named in “honor” of Baruch Goldstein.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baruch_Goldstein
http://www.zoa.org/sitedocuments/pressrelease_view.asp?pressreleaseID=688
http://www.pmw.org.il/murder.htm

July 18th, 2008, 3:09 am

 

Nour said:

Baruch Goldstein had a shrine erected for him with the help of the “Israeli” state. But what say you of Menachem Begin, Ariel Sharon, Yitzak Rabin, Ehud Barak, etc. all of whom were brutal murderous terrorists who were elected prime ministers of “Israel”?

July 18th, 2008, 3:17 am

 

Leila Abu-Saba said:

Right, the argument goes on.

I repeat. If you want to remain emotionally caught in your beliefs, your tribal allegiances, then nothing I say will open your mind.

But if you do want to step back and look, you will see that almost any crime your enemy has committed, your own side has committed, in a different form (dropping bombs from the air vs. exploding them in a teenager’s vest). It’s a matter of degree. You can argue numbers, or style, or naming of public schools, all day long. As long as you insist that your enemy is not like you and not like your people, you will remain mired in strife. It’s an illusion. You are stuck in an illusion that you have enemies and that they are different from you.

Wake up!

July 18th, 2008, 3:25 am

 

MNA said:

CWW said: I think it would be extremely difficult to find people in Syria who would flatly condemn the actions of that man.

You are just making a blanket statement about 18 million people. Very enlightened and open minded indeed. Yeah Syrians are terrorists and anti-sematic in nature. Bravo, very profound observation!!!!

July 18th, 2008, 4:46 am

 

Enlightened said:

I was hoping not to comment on Samir Kuntar.I was going to ask Shai yesterday a question on the topic, but prudently did not.

But…………

My first impression was this child/teenager now man was a product of the civil war, that somehow he was co opted by the militias/PLO, a orphan with no parental guidance, a victim…

But that would be delusional. Although both sides of the conflict will max the propgandah out of this , I concur with Leila and her elloquent words.

However, If Kuntar killed the little girl,it is now irrelevant, If Kuntar was set up by the Israel Judicial system, it is now irrelevant.

This whole episode and the way both sides are carrying on, sometimes makes me want to hide my head in shame and forget that my ancestors came from the ME. The whole episode disgusts me to the core. Hezbollah claims to achieve a great victory, by this mans release at the price of 1200 of its fellow citizens, and for Israel the whole episode is too emotional to bear forgetting the havoc it caused during 2006, when more pragmatic diplomatic dealings could have averted the war.

A very wise Golda Meir once put it: “We can perhaps someday forgive you for killing our children, but we cannot forgive you for making us kill your children.”

No side can claim the moral ground in the ME, not anymore, those that think their side is delusional, and the cycle of violence will continue.

July 18th, 2008, 6:24 am

 

Honest Patriot said:

AIG, I wasn’t an eyewitness to the horror of the death of Einat and neither were you. Similarly, neither of us was an eyewitness to the thousands of children killed by either side. The focus on a single case and the generalization you seem to want to draw from it detracts from the important big picture and from the context. As Leila said:
“As long as you insist that your enemy is not like you and not like your people, you will remain mired in strife. It’s an illusion. You are stuck in an illusion that you have enemies and that they are different from you.
Wake up!”

And as Enlightened said:
A very wise Golda Meir once put it: “We can perhaps someday forgive you for killing our children, but we cannot forgive you for making us kill your children.”
No side can claim the moral ground in the ME, not anymore, those that think their side is delusional, and the cycle of violence will continue.

July 18th, 2008, 9:23 am

 

rumyal said:

Enlightened: However, If Kuntar killed the little girl,it is now irrelevant, If Kuntar was set up by the Israel Judicial system, it is now irrelevant.

Irrelevant, how and to whom? If you were Kuntar and you were set up by the Israeli Judicial system, would it be irrelevant that you spent 30 years of your life in prison? I would think that if that was the case you would find a way to prove your innocence and ask for compensation (perhaps through an international court). On the other hand, if you were the Haran mother and your family was annihilated by Kuntar and his gang, would his premature release—foregoing any repentance of any sort—be irrelevant?

This post and the ensuing discussion sets a new bar on relativistic interpretation of evidence and moral. The two “ifs” above are not equivalent in their probability and they would have not cancelled-out if they were. There is only one truth to this matter. The “judicial system in Israel” did not “set up” Kuntar, nor did it have any motive to do so, since whether he killed in his own hands the little girl (and her little sister) or not, he is definitely responsible for their death. But the evidence that he did kill the child is abundant, so this becomes a theoretical question.

When would it really “all become irrelevant”? Not before Israelis and Arabs mutually decide so. Middle Eastern “Truth and Reconciliation”. But the pictures from Lebanon teach us the very opposite is actually happening.

Therefore, I will have to squarely agree with my compatriot AIG that we should have no desire in reconciling at this point. (Maybe tactically we should, but not morally).

Enlightened:…the cycle of violence will continue

Yes, when the heads of a state make a hero out of a child murderer, it definitely will. Educating for martyrdom also does its bit, believe it or not… Still, I would only hope that the next cycle of violence starts with bringing final justice to Kuntar. I also hope that it would stop there. Imagine how things could have been different if only he had repented for what he did.

July 18th, 2008, 9:27 am

 

Honest Patriot said:

Rumyal,

For every Einat there are thousands of dead Palesitinian children, killed not by the savagery of a delinquent and brainwashed 17-year old but by the rational calculations of highly intelligent and trained military commanders estimating the percentage of collateral damage acceptable to civilization. Let God be judge of where the line for moral equivalence lies.
Enlightened is right because nothing can bring back Einat to life nor give Kuntar back his years of lost freedom under either scenario of guilt or innocence. We can remain stuck in the past or we can move forward to eradicate the causes of the horror and extremism. Without a shift in understanding, strategy, and tactics, the ME will be condemned to a perpetual of cycle of horror.

July 18th, 2008, 9:31 am

 

annie said:

Lifted from Angry Arab this:
“Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Electronic Ali shared with me this letter (I cite with his permission):
” Dear Mr. McCarthy, On what basis do you write that:
“Five Lebanese prisoners, including the notorious murderer Samir Qantar, crossed free out of Israel today in a prisoner swap after the Hizbullah militant group handed over two black caskets containing the remains of two Israeli soldiers”?
Is it on the basis of the claims of the Israeli government that you refer to Mr. Quntar as a “notorious murderer”? I agree that if the Israeli account is true, then he would be a murderer. But Israel lies at every turn and its claims can never be believed without independent verification, as you should well know.
The New York Times reports today: “Mr. Kuntar, who was formally pardoned by Israel on Tuesday as part of the swap agreement, gave a different version of the night of the attack in his court testimony in 1980, excerpts of which were published for the first time on Monday in Yediot Aharonot, an Israeli newspaper. He told the court that Israeli gunfire had killed Mr. Haran as soldiers burst in to free him and that he did not see what happened to Mr. Haran’s daughter.”
So by Mr. Quntar’s account, the deaths of the Israeli victims was what military people call “collateral damage” from “friendly fire” in all three cases. Since you are apparently relying only on Israeli official propaganda for your reporting — which has already been found to be false in a key respect by other media, you should be much more careful. For example, the Washington Post website, posted this correction today: “CORRECTION TO THIS ARTICLE Due to incorrect information on the Web site of Israel’s Foreign Ministry, earlier versions of this story misstated the number of Israeli police officers killed by Samir Kuntar during the 1979 kidnapping and slaying of an Israeli man and his young daughter. Kuntar killed one police officer.” Also, the term “notorious” is clearly subjective since the celebrations in Lebanon at his release suggest he is “famous” and not “notorious” in that country. Some more circumspect reporting please.
Yours
Ali Abunimah”

July 18th, 2008, 9:50 am

 

annie said:

An another thing : in the Western Press the sorrow of the two Israeli families was spread averywhere on the front page. What about the sorrow of the Lebanese and Palestinian families (some 200 of them) ? What do the westerners think ? That only westerners have feelings ? Love their families ?

July 18th, 2008, 10:03 am

 

Honest Patriot said:

AIG, CWW, Rumyal,

http://www.naharnet.com/domino/tn/NewsDesk.nsf/getstory?openform&6DC3CDF490621FC0C225748A003465A9

Do you think Israel should assassinate Nasrallah and/or Kuntar? Would you support such action? Why or why not?

July 18th, 2008, 10:23 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

Do you think Israel should assassinate Nasrallah and/or Kuntar? Would you support such action? Why or why not?

Honest Patriot, Leila Abu-Saba, et al:

I’ll answer your question with another question and then make a comment or two:

Does Israel have the right to self defense?

Does Israel have a right to defend herself against rocket attacks from Gaza and Lebanon? How should Israel defend herself? What would you do?

Now my point-of-view:

Actually, the rocket attacks have come along borders that most people recognize as being pretty close to final. Gaza’s border is not in dispute except for those that don’t recognize Israel and Lebanon’s border with Israel is in dispute of a tiny area called Shebaa Farm.

The largest land dispute is along the West Bank, where the least amount of fighting is taking place.

Therefore, it seems to me, you should be whining and complaining not about who Israel assassinates, but why the Hamas and Hezbollah thugs are still lobbing missiles into Israel and why (in this day and age) they STILL don’t recognize Israel.

Annie asks:

What about the sorrow of the Lebanese and Palestinian families (some 200 of them)? What do the westerners think ? That only westerners have feelings ? Love their families ?

Westerners and their media probably did not give much thought to the Lebanese and Palestinian families for the same reason they didn’t give much thought to the families of the 19 terrorists who destroyed the World Trade Center towers. Life isn’t “fair”.

July 18th, 2008, 10:51 am

 

Honest Patriot said:

AP,

why the Hamas and Hezbollah thugs are still lobbing missiles into Israel
HA hasn’t lobbed any missiles since the end of the 2006 war. Their rhetoric may be of concern and comments like the ones by Kuntar (http://www.naharnet.com/domino/tn/NewsDesk.nsf/getstory?openform&E61E40283530767CC2257489004A6652) are not welcome by the (silent) majority of Lebanese. It’s a question of whether to fan the fires of conflict and hatred or to be a catalytic agent to help the forces of peace prevail in Lebanon. Israel can choose to do the former by further assassination or the latter by negotiating a peaceful return of the Shebaa farms and other steps to take away any excuse for HA.

July 18th, 2008, 11:03 am

 

Honest Patriot said:

AP,

On your comment to Annie: not every Lebanese or Palestinian fighter is a 9/11-style terrorist. The bodies returned by Israel include fighters no less legitimate than the Israelis soldiers returned. The mentality of generalization you use is hurtful and not helpful. It is the kind of argumentation that I said will lead to the perpetual cycle of violence in the ME.

July 18th, 2008, 11:06 am

 

Akbar Palace said:

Honest Patriot,

I appreciate your comments, but with all due respect, you didn’t answer my questions.

As far as Annie’s comment goes, I think the West and the Israelis (for the most part) “perceive” the Arab world as being complicitous with the Islamic fundamentalists. I’m not saying that’s fair, because in the Arab world, demonstrating against one’s own government is against the law. But my response to Annie is really not an exaggeration. It is assumed that the vast majority of Palestinians in Israeli jails are there for doing something that they probably brought on to themselves.

OTOH, Annie and many other participants here probably do not recognize (objectively) how the Western media has “bent-over-backwards” to show the plight of the Palestinians, their difficult situation, and the “causes” for resorting to terrorism. I’ve seen oodles of reports about the difficulties of the Palestinians from all the major networks on an almost daily basis. Just check in the the BBC or NPR…

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/default.stm

… a peaceful return of the Shebaa farms and other steps to take away any excuse for HA.

They said Israel’s evacuation from Gaza and Lebanon would “take away any excuse” HP.

Got any other bright ideas?;)

Looks like some more Arabs are going to jail: When will these evil Israelis ever learn??

Israel makes arrests in alleged plot against Bush

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20080718/ts_nm/security_israel_qaeda_dc

July 18th, 2008, 12:12 pm

 

rumyal said:

HP,

Do you really care about my personal opinion or the opinion on the street? The street being a street, I’d assume 80% of Israelis would support such assassinations. A goal for the home team, screw the consequences.

My personal thoughts on this are something along these lines: in order to make a decision you have to weigh in two factors:
1) Justification. This is split into two further categories:
a. Past crimes/damages that the assassination is punishment for.
b. Prevention of future crimes/damages.
2) Cost. This can be further broken down into:
a. The likelihood of success.
b. Cost and consequences of success.
c. Cost and consequences of failure.

So I’d say (1.a) should never really apply, because capital punishment is just so passé. (1.b) doesn’t seem to apply at all to Kuntar and let’s not forget he was pardoned. So there is no justification to assassinate Kuntar. (1.b) may apply to Nasrallah but it’s highly unlikely that Nasrallah is really controlling the political processes in his arena. He’s just a charismatic head of a movement whose true engine is the strong demographic growth of the shi’a population in Lebanon and the strong Iranian support. Another (1.b) style justification will say that Nasrallah should be removed to cause temporary disarray such that Israel could do XYZ while the organization doesn’t have a leader. Doesn’t seem like this is the case either, since HA did well even when Israel fragmented its communication capabilities in 2006. So there really isn’t a very good reason to assassinate Nasrallah.

Now whatever little justification is there for assassinating Nasrallah, it seems like the cost will be another war. Some in Israel want another round to diffuse Hisballah and regain deterrence, but this seems totally misguided to me. The best way to diffuse HA is a prolonged period of quiet. And we’ve seen that a war only diffuses HA for a short period before it re-stokes and re-staffs.

So, the bottom line is that I think no, Israel shouldn’t assassinate Nasrallah and furthermore it should stir away from confrontation if at all possible.

July 18th, 2008, 12:29 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

HP,
What CWW, AP, RUMYAL and myself are telling you is quite simple. Wall to wall, ALL Lebanese politicians without exception lined up to kiss Kuntar. He is a Lebanese national hero. M14 to the SSNP, everybody, including everybody participated in the kissing.

To us, this means that most Lebanese see Kuntar as a hero and we would like nothing to do with such people. M14 could have been happy about all Lebanese prisoners being freed, but no, they had to take the extra step, kiss Kuntar and make him a hero. Sorry, for us it is too much to fathom. It means something is really rotten with Lebanese society.

And then there are the little things such as that there was not ONE politician in Lebanon that condemed how Hizballah treated the families of the prisoners and the fact that he would not let the red cross visit them. Did you see how Hizballah through the coffins out of the trucks on the ground and said, “here they are”? Nice touch also.

July 18th, 2008, 12:39 pm

 

Atassi said:

مرسوم جمهوري يقضي بإغلاق المؤسسات التعليمية الخاصة
في حال الفشل أو المس بالوحدة الوطنية والأخلاق
( كلنا شركاء ) : 17/7/2008
أصدر الرئيس بشار الأسد المرسوم التشريعي رقم 35 للعام 2008، و القاضي بإغلاق المؤسسات التعليمية الخاصة المخالفة
وتضمن المرسوم تعديل نص المادة 44 من المرسوم التشريعي رقم 55 للعام 2004 لتنص على الإغلاق الكلي للمؤسسة التعليمية الخاصة في حال أثبتت تحقيقات الوزارة عدم قدرة المؤسسة على الوفاء بالتزاماتها المالية أو تكرار مخالفات تعليمات الوزارة .
كما تضمن المرسوم الإغلاق الكلي للمؤسسة التعليمية الخاصة إذا تبين أن فيها فساداً أخلاقياُ أو ترويجياً للشقاق الوطني،أو مساً بالوحدة الوطنية،سواء كان ذلك بشكل مباشر أو غير مباشر .
وترك المرسوم لقرار الإغلاق الذي يصدر عن وزير التربية تحديد كيفية تصفية التزامات المؤسسة التعليمية الخاصة تجاه الطلبة والعاملين فيها وكيفية التصرف بالموجودات التي استفادت من أحكام المادتين 54 و 55 من المرسوم التشريعي الآنف الذكر .
ونص المرسوم على قطعية القرار الصادر بالإغلاق حيث لا يقبل أي طريق من طرق الطعن أو المراجعة .
للإطلاع على نص المرسوم يرجى النقر على الرابط :
http://www.all4syria.org/Details.aspx?ArticleId=15534

July 18th, 2008, 1:51 pm

 

trustquest said:

Dictatorship Learning,

I believe most of the laws issued in Syria after the claim of the new economic direction and the opening of the private sector as a partner in building the country and sprung of private learning institutions, all these laws have the smell of Dictatorship Learning with no objective and in chaotic way the State and the Dictator do not understand their roles. This in my opinion is going no where and not even a step in the right direction. The example is the recent decree, http://syria-news.com/edu/readnews.php?sy_seq=26036, which stresses the penalty and punishment to include the closing of the institution in cases of tax evasion, moral defect and if the institution promote national divide, or against the national sentiment unity or any call for sectarianism, religious fanaticism directly or indirectly. Which are vague terms and the State keep using these terms to target others without definition and without legal base.
First, the financial issue is very dangerous; instead of the playing cooperative with this educational sector the State is playing the role of tax collector instead of partner where this sector is a complement to the State sector in education. All civilized countries support these institutions and give them the freedom to operate independently, and many are operate tax free.
You need a new generation built on critical thinking who can question the statue-quo and there are no limits in his way of thinking. You need a new State who can understand its role and help these institutions and make them tax free to build better future.
He visited India lately; did he or his wife learn something there?

Thanks Attassi for pointing to this, I wrote this post and did not want to post it at first, but when I saw your posting, I thought free minded people should know what is going on. It is a failure in every step.

July 18th, 2008, 3:30 pm

 

JustOneAmerican said:

Do you think Israel should assassinate Nasrallah and/or Kuntar? Would you support such action? Why or why not?

Nasrallah is a legitimate military target as the leader of an organization that is in a de facto state of war against the state of Israel. Whether Israel SHOULD try to kill him is something I can’t answer.

Kuntar is not a legitimate target since he is simply a pardoned criminal at this point – unless he takes up arms or otherwise makes himself a combatant again. I don’t think Israel should kill him.

I agree with AIG that it’s pretty unseemly that all of Lebanon’s political leaders united over Kuntar. Is this kind of thing the only thing these leaders can agree on? I sure hope not.

July 18th, 2008, 3:48 pm

 

Honest Patriot said:

Rumyal, thank you for a most thoughtful response.

AP, yes, Israel has the right to self-defense. I do not think that assassinating Nasrallah (or Kuntar) serves that goal (see Rumyal’s analysis). I’m not a politician nor an expert in politics, but if you ask me (and you did) what I would do is conduct the most serious negotiations with all the moderate forces in the Arab world, commit to return land to Syria and Lebanon, and find a way to move the peace process faster on the tracks that should lead to the solution that’s pretty much 99.99% defined by now. The real troublemakers are the religious fanatics (on both sides). On the Arab/Iranian side it is obvious that, left unchecked, such fanaticism is going to replunge the area into the abyss of misery. I will NOT be surprised to see a preemptive war against Iran launched before GWB leaves office.

AIG, I do understand your dismay at the kissing ceremony and I think you’ve read many here tell you that the dismay is shared by more people from the area than you think. The symbolism you saw in the line-up of leaders does not extend to the people they represent. There are also other subtle signals. From jpost.com “The Druse-born Kuntar impulsively kissed his beaming hero. Nasrallah did not reciprocate.
Neither Aoun, Geagea, Gemayel, Franjieh, nor Cardinal Sfeir paticipated in the kissing either.
The reaction, pain, and generalization I’m observing are precisely what HA wanted to achieve. You’re playing into their hands.

July 18th, 2008, 4:42 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

HP,
“The symbolism you saw in the line-up of leaders does not extend to the people they represent.”

I wish I could believe that, but politicians do what they think would be popular with their supporters. And those that did not kiss, supported Kuntar verbally, specifically Aoun. Sfeir is not a politician, but even he had nothing to say against the Kuntar festival.

“The reaction, pain, and generalization I’m observing are precisely what HA wanted to achieve. You’re playing into their hands.”

No HP. M14 and the other parties in Lebanon had a chance to show people in Israel what they are really made of, and that they are different than Hizballah and they failed. The only plausible interpretatin for their actions is that this is what their pblic expects of them. I am not playing into anyone’s hand. I am looking at reality and I see a kissing line.

July 18th, 2008, 5:50 pm

 

Honest Patriot said:

Where is Shai?

July 18th, 2008, 7:13 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

HP

He’s on vacation!

July 18th, 2008, 7:29 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

It means something is really rotten with Lebanese society.

This is so cute.

The Butcher of Beirut became Prime Minister of Israel. The man who was declared “personally responsible” for the Sabra & Chatila massacres by the Kahan Commission was popular enough in Israel to go on to a glorious career.

This MUST mean, AIG, that Israeli society has no problem with murdering civilians as a strategy of war.

Wow, rotten societies all around, it seems…

July 18th, 2008, 7:41 pm

 

Alex said:

AIG,

Instead of wanting people to make statements to declare their rejection of Kuntar and other violent activists, there is a more genuine way to seek an end to violence … peace.

If everyone in Lebanon is making you sick, imagine how sick Israel and people like you who work very hard (for hours every day) to sabotage peace efforts, are making Israel’s neighbors who suffered much more as they see terrorists elected Prime ministers of Israel .. and Imagine how sick people felt when President Bush praised Prime minister Sharon as a man of peace! … just when Sharon was ordering more Israeli punishment of the poor occupied Palestinians that left large numbers of them dead.

Part of the motivation for the Iraq war is to rearrange the Middle East in a way that makes Israel feels more secure … you are seeking security NOT through negotiated fair and comprehensive peace treaties with your neighbors, but through starting wars and economic sanctions that will kill huge numbers of people, destroy their homes, smash their dignity … and make them hate you even more in the process.

If Kuntar really killed innocent civilians, then I deplore it. I will never respect that man and I would not be happy seeing everyone in Lebanon (or Syria?) paying their respects to him.

The same way I feel about many of Israel’s elected prime ministers who killed many, many more civilians when they started unnecessary wars instead of seeking peace.

July 18th, 2008, 7:54 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

AP, yes, Israel has the right to self-defense. I do not think that assassinating Nasrallah (or Kuntar) serves that goal (see Rumyal’s analysis).

HP –

OK, thanks for the answer, now, when would YOU use military force as part of the right to self-defense?

… I would do is conduct the most serious negotiations with all the moderate forces in the Arab world, commit to return land to Syria and Lebanon, and find a way to move the peace process faster on the tracks that should lead to the solution that’s pretty much 99.99% defined by now.

How do you define “moderate forces in the Arab world”? Which forces are NOT moderate? Lastly, how do you know that “serious negotiations are NOT going on as we speak?

The real troublemakers are the religious fanatics (on both sides).

Please give a short list of the top five “religious fanatics” on both sides.

On the Arab/Iranian side it is obvious that, left unchecked, such fanaticism is going to replunge the area into the abyss of misery.

“Left unchecked”, how will this “fanaticism” replunge the area into the abyss of misery.

I will NOT be surprised to see a preemptive war against Iran launched before GWB leaves office.

If you want a “surprise”, it looks like Bush succeeded in democratizing an “unchecked, “fanatic” regime. With negligible help from the Arab world. Only now the Kuwaitis are opening up an embassy there.

Hallelujah!

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/iraq/article4351876.ece

July 18th, 2008, 7:54 pm

 

Qifa Nabki said:

AIG

You know what I think?

You’re complaining because you lost a round to Hizbullah, and you’re now trying to take it out on “Lebanese society”.

You love to tell people: “What is important is not what the Arabs say, but what the Jews do. If you don’t like our ideology, that’s why we have the IDF, but don’t complain about the consequences, etc. etc. etc.”

It seems Hizbullah has been listening, and they’ve been doing a lot of “doing” themselves, and now you are the one doing a lot of “saying”.

Remember, AIG, don’t complain about the consequences…

July 18th, 2008, 8:13 pm

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

QN and Alex,
When Sabra and Shatilla happened Israel setup a commission and Sharon lost his job, not because he was personally responsible, but because he should have known that his Lebanese allies could be cold blooded murderers. Let’s not forget who killed the Palestinians, it was of course Lebanese. But the fact is the Sharon was in the political desert for many years because of Sabra and Shatila. And let’s remind ourselves again who demanded that an inquiry be setup about Sabra and Shatilla? Yes the Israel public. There was no cover up or an attempt to blame anyone else.

What is rotten in the Lebanese society is that WALL to WALL, M14 to SSNP, they all supported Kuntar. Not ONE politican did not support him. Not ONE politician said anything about how Nasrallah treated the prisoners and their families. It is this 100% political consensus behind Kuntar that is so disgusting to me and I dare say many Israelis. Is there not one righteous man in Sodom? How is it possible that in a normal country 100% of politicians, who usually cannot agree on anything, agree that making a child murderer a hero is the right thing to do? How can it be that in a normal country not ONE politician would say anything against how Hizballah treated the prisoners and their families?

There are immoral and bad people in all countries and Israel has a fair share of them. Israeli people are just average, they are not more or less moral than any other people. But when ALL politicians in a country speak with one voice and stand in line to kiss Kuntar, that is pathological. A whole country has gone to the worst extreme without any form of internal self criticism by the political parties in it. This is something beyond the capabilitiy of this Israeli to understand.

July 18th, 2008, 8:19 pm

 

george said:

Well, CWW since you know that most people who blog here hate Israel, have you asked yourself why is that? Is it because we just love to hate?? or is their another reason for it???
I’m a Syrian living in the US and do believe for sure that 911 was an internal job and there is noway you could convince me otherwise.
but that is not the subject here.
Israel is a terrorist country that can not thrive or survive without killing people and acting like a victim. We know that you have suffered a lot in the holocaust or whatever but that doesn’t give you the right to act like monsters. and hey the holocaust is not the only genocide to happen in the world.. look at the Palestinians for example.. look at the Armenian genocide look in history and you would see that the so called holocaust is only one of many. So please, stop talking about it and move on.

July 18th, 2008, 9:57 pm

 

Akbar Palace said:

The same way I feel about many of Israel’s elected prime ministers who killed many, many more civilians when they started unnecessary wars instead of seeking peace.

Alex –

I’m afraid “Israel’s elected prime ministers” have never killed as many Arabs as Arabs have. Arabs have killed orders of magnitude more Arabs than Israelis.

The long and short of it is that Arabs can kill thousands of Arabs and not a sound is made.

Who was crying when Assad killed his Arabs?

Who was crying when Syria killed her Arabs?

Who was crying when Lebanon killed her Arabs?

Who was crying when the Jordanians killed their Arabs?

Who was crying when the Algerian killed their Arabs?

Where is the “brave” Arab street?

July 18th, 2008, 10:47 pm

 

Honest Patriot said:

AIG, what is then, according to you, the solution?

July 19th, 2008, 12:25 am

 

Enlightened said:

Rumyal:

Moral relativism: ” The good you do today may be quickly forgotten, but the impact of what you do will never disappear”

I was beginning to pen a response to you to explain my position, until I read this:

“Therefore, I will have to squarely agree with my compatriot AIG that we should have no desire in reconciling at this point. (Maybe tactically we should, but not morally).”

Sorry I cant take you seriously anymore!

July 19th, 2008, 1:48 am

 

CWW said:

There was a question a while back about killing Kuntar and Nasrallah. I’d have to say that I agree with JUSTONEAMERICAN.

If he hasn’t taken up arms and started working with some terrorist or resistance group, Kuntar is a civilian. So, I don’t think killing him would be legal or effective in fighting terrorism. However, Nasrallah is the leader of a terrorist or resistance group. He’s engaged in combat. That makes him a legitimate target. Killing the leadership of an organization usually hinders its ability to function so taking him and other elements of the Hizbollah leadership out might go a long way toward debilitating Hizbollah. So, if Israel took him out (imho) it would seem to be legitimate and effective, but Kuntar is off limits.

July 19th, 2008, 2:04 am

 

CWW said:

George,

First off, it is interesting to see that you believe that I am Jewish. One does not need to be Jewish to think that Samir Kuntar is not a great man or that the holocaust happened. In fact, I believe that regualr or normal people believe that the holocaust happened and that Samir Kuntar is a horrible person.

You asked me to stop talking about the holocaust and move on, well I only mentioned the holocaust to point out that many Syrians have “certain thoughts about the holocaust.” Well, while in Syria I learned that many of my Syrian friends either thought that it didn’t happen or wish that Hitler would have finished the job. How can we move on when so many people think that it didn’t happen or that the job should be finished? Now I don’t mean to generalize, but I really don’t think I met a Syrian who didn’t like Hitler. Go to Bab Touma, in the window of that Armenian bookstore near sahat Bab Touma on Shar’a Bab Touma is a copy of Mein Kampf. Now mind you, there is limited window space, so they’re only going to be putting the items that are in high demand in the window. I digress. There’s nothing wrong with reading Mein Kampf, but I did learn a lot when I saw it in the window of a large bookstore in a busy shopping area.

In any case, you asked me ” CWW since you know that most people who blog here hate Israel, have you asked yourself why is that? Is it because we just love to hate?? or is their another reason for it???

The answer to that question is long and complicated. I would say thought that ultimately it has to do with losing. I’ve been to Israel a number of times and the people I met would never say that they hate Arabs. I mean of course there is that contingent that would say that they hate Arabs, but it didn’t seem to be acceptable to say that one hated Arabs in front of a large group of people when I was in Israel. Perhaps, that comes from the strength of winning. Syrians on the other hand, have no problem saying that they hate Israel. Perhaps that has to do with being defeated. Or perhaps there are other reasons for it. All I know is, that I can’t imagine hating another country or another people.

July 19th, 2008, 2:29 am

 

norman said:

People who think that killing the leaders in Arab camp is justified should accept that killing the leaders of the Jewish community is as acceptable and i mean all the leaders of the Jewish community who support Israel occupation and destruction of Arab rights.

Revenge killing can be from both sides.

July 19th, 2008, 2:41 am

 

george said:

CWW
I’m not saying that what Samir Kuntar did is justified but the guy was 16 years old. He was a kid. and in the middle of a civil war when killing was happening on a regularly bases. I think that he should not have been sentenced 3 life terms.
Not all Syrians hate Jews. WE hate Israelis, and I think there is a difference. I live in the US and I meet Jewish people everyday and I connect with them and work with them and communicate with them. I only try to stay away from the Israeli Jews. You know why Arabs love Hitler?? Because they think that if he had finished the job they would have still living in their houses. they would have been with their families in their country. But because Hitler left many Jews behind, they (The Arabs) are paying the price for that.
I don’t agree 100% with this idea in 2 points. First, Hitler was not only killing Jews. He was killing all people who are not from the pure race he is, So not only Jews were being killed.
Second, I believe that if Hitler won the war and “finished the job” he would have continued to kill the Arabs too. So it doesn’t make sense to wish one evil away to get a another one.
and you are right in your theory about the losers hating the winners. The winners have won already there is nothing for them to hate anymore. but the Arabs who lost their homes and their families hate the Israelis who did that to them and convinced the whole world that they are the victims and that some terrorists are trying to kick them out of the land they stole.
and as for the Holocaust I don’t deny it but I deny that it was on the scale that the Jews want us to believe. Read Norman G. Finkelstein’s “The Holocaust Industry”

July 19th, 2008, 3:22 am

 

ugarit said:

http://angryarab.blogspot.com/2008/07/these-are-197-dead-bodies-delivered-by.html

These are 197 dead bodies delivered by Israel to Lebanon in the prisoner exchange. The two dead Israeli soldiers have received more coverage those those 197 dead Arab bodies. Hell, dead Israeli soldiers receive more coverage than all the Arab living. Such are the racist standards of the White Man. This explains why MEMRI sent out a bulletin today protesting that Fath’s PLC members (from Fath movement, for potato’s sake) honored Dalal Al-Mughrabi (the “professional” propaganda outfit, MEMRI, labeled dead Dalal as a “terrorist”). According to Zionism, even dead Arabs (women, children and the rest) are terrorists. If Dalal was a terrorist, does not that make Ehud Barak a Super-terrorist? Those dead Arab bodies are not all Hizbullah: only 9 belong to Hizbullah fighters. 17 belong to the Lebanese Communist Party, 22 to SSNP, and 30 to the Amal Movement. The rest belong to various Arab countries: they died fighting in Lebanon for Lebanon and for Palestine. They all (148 of them) belonged to various Palestinian organizations. Some were from Tunisia. But make no mistake about it: the supply of Arabs willing to fight Israeli occupation will never deplete. Never.
PS I posted this before I read the New York Times. Sure enough, there was not a single picture of a funeral for the dead Arab bodies. Instead, the New York Times have been publishing pictures of Israeli tears for THREE DAYS IN A ROW, including today when the news is the arrival of the 197 bodies.

July 19th, 2008, 3:48 am

 

AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

HP,
The solution is for the Lebanese to find out by themselves. I have given up hope of understanding what they want.

Israel’s goals regarding Lebanon should only be about keeping the border quiet and making sure that doing so is in Lebanon’s interest. In practical terms this means disproportionate reaction to any aggresive action from Lebanon.

Even if Israel left Sheba tomorrow, Hizballah would spin it as a divine victory and most Lebanese would buy it. They would even more believe that Israel has become soft and it would not advance peace 1 inch. Just like the fact that Israel left South Lebanon convinced Arafat to start the seocnd intifada.

I am not buying anymore the BS that we should help m14 by removing the reasons for Nasrallah’s arms. He is never going to give them up and no one in Lebanon is going to make him do it. Nasrallah’s arms are mostly a Lebanese problem now after the 2006 war. If he uses them against Israel, Lebanon may not survive as a state even though it is quite certain that whatever happens it will be a divine victory for Hizballah.

July 19th, 2008, 5:27 am

 

rumyal said:

Enlightened,

Rumyal: “Therefore, I will have to squarely agree with my compatriot AIG that we should have no desire in reconciling at this point. (Maybe tactically we should, but not morally).”

Enlightened: Sorry I cant take you seriously anymore!

I think I understand where you’re coming from. It was an emotional remark that I don’t really believe in—why else would I spend my time here unless I was deeply interested in reconciliation? My first post yesterday was an emotional one, fueled by what seemed like a unanimous support for Kuntar’s “heroism” by the entire Lebanese society. Following the discussion and the post on Lebanese Bloggers I now realize that except perhaps for GEORGE pretty much all the commenters here are not at all Kuntar fans and that this position does represent a large (albeit very quiet) section of the Lebanese society. So while I do loath your leaders and the political culture that corners your leaders into solidarity-with-terrorists I do really appreciate the moderation and humanity of the individuals on this blog. This is where it will start: one person at a time, talking to another person from the other side…

I very much believe in:

“The good you do today may be quickly forgotten, but the impact of what you do will never disappear”

When I was a child in the 70’s, it was pretty much unfathomable that I could converse with Lebanese and Syrian folks about anything, let alone terms for reconciliation. I think that the fact that we’re engaging here directly with overwhelmingly positive intentions is a great charity we’re doing to each other and yes its impact at least on me will not disappear. I’m not at all optimistic about our societies’ ability to reconcile but at least we have control over our own personal choices.

July 19th, 2008, 7:52 am

 

why-discuss said:

CWW, IAG, AP
Kuntar celebration is one of a victory on the Israelis who pounded Lebanon merciless and have still to give the maps of their mines that are killing lebanese children now. Whether Israelis want it or not, the return of Kantar is a huge victory for the resistance. If you, Isrealis, feel outraged by his reception in Lebaonon, why din’t you protest against this exchange? you claim to be a democracy no? How the lebanese receive their prisonners and who they consider as heroes is their prerogatives and none of your business. Noone in Lebanon it outraged that you have criminals, corrupted and ex-terrorists leading your country, it is your prerogative. What is clear is that the return of Kantar is a symbol for the justice and a reply for the thousands of palestinians children made orphans or killed by the IDF. Please spare us your moral outrage!

July 19th, 2008, 8:44 am

 

george said:

Rumyal,

“Following the discussion and the post on Lebanese Bloggers I now realize that except perhaps for GEORGE pretty much all the commenters here are not at all Kuntar fans ”

I AM NOT A KUNTAR FAN. Actually I have never heard of him before the exchange took place. I have always been a critic of Hezbollah and its methods but lately especially after Hariri assassination and the aggressiveness of how the “opposition” in Lebanon attacked Syria, I started to sympathize with Hezbollah and wish him luck in everything he does.

July 19th, 2008, 1:03 pm

 

ghat Albird said:

ONCE UPON A TIME Jewish guerrillas told the British: “quit Palestine or die”

A pamphlet warning Britons to leave the Middle East or face death has come to light in a stash of illicit propaganda.

The document does not hail from Basra or Baghdad, nor was it penned by the Islamists of al-Qaeda or the al-Mahdi Army. It was found in Haifa, about 60 years ago, and it was issued by the underground group led by Menachem Begin – the future Prime Minister of Israel and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.

The document, which surfaced at an auction house this week, is addressed to “the soldiers of the occupation army” and aimed at British soldiers serving in Palestine, then under the British Mandate, preceding the establishment of Israel in 1948. The print has faded and the paper has discoloured since it was unearthed from a grove of trees in Haifa in the summer of 1947. Yet the language and the concerns remain current.

Bombings and murders by underground groups, such as Begin’s Irgun, hastened the British withdrawal and the United Nations declaration that led to the founding of modern Israel.

Irgun propaganda targeted the British Army’s wavering morale, already dented by the bomb attack on the Mandate’s headquarters – the King David Hotel in Jerusalem – which killed 91 people.

In the document, Irgun tells British troops: “It is unavoidable that many Jewish soldiers and many British soldiers should fall. And it is only fair that these people know at least why they may be killed.”

It adds: “Most of you have been in this country for quite a long time. You have learned what the word ‘terrorist’ means, some of you may even have come into direct contact with them (and heartily desire not to repeat the experience). But what do you know about them? Why does a young man go underground?”

It then draws a parallel with what would have happened if, seven years earlier, Britain had been overrun by Nazi Germany. “Remember 1940. Then it seemed quite possible that your island country would be conquered and subjugated by Hitler hordes . . . what would you have done? Would you have gone underground?” The pamphlet says that the occupation is “illegal and immoral” and “parallel to the mass assassination of a whole people”, in language that echoes that used on a note pinned to the booby-trapped bodies of two British intelligence officers executed by Irgun that same summer.

The pamphlet came from a stash confiscated and burnt by cyptographers from the Royal Signals regiment. Corporal Raymond Smith found them buried in a secluded grove marked by a white Star of David and was ordered to destroy them, but took one as a memento. A collector acquired the document from Corporal Smith, and brought it to Mullock’s auctioneers in Shropshire.

Richard Westwood-Brookes, Mullock’s historical documents specialist, said the pamphlet was a remarkable find, which “ amounted to a manifesto for terrorist action”. He added: “It also raises the question as to who are ‘terrorists’ and who are ‘freedom fighters’. It’s a debate which raged through the troubles of Northern Ireland and continues in the Middle East.”

Irgun set aside its differences with Haganah, a rival underground Jewish group led by David Ben Gurion – the first Prime Minister of Israel, who once likened Begin to Adolf Hitler.

Begin forged a political career as a hardliner, but, after becoming Prime Minister, signed the Camp David agreement with Egypt in 1979.

The pamphlet, which is expected to fetch about £500, goes on sale at Mullock’s, in Shropshire, on August 6.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/middle_east/article4360655.ece

July 19th, 2008, 1:08 pm

 

Enlightened said:

rumyal said:

Enlightened,

Rumyal: “Therefore, I will have to squarely agree with my compatriot AIG that we should have no desire in reconciling at this point. (Maybe tactically we should, but not morally).”

Enlightened: Sorry I cant take you seriously anymore!

I think I understand where you’re coming from. It was an emotional remark that I don’t really believe in—why else would I spend my time here unless I was deeply interested in reconciliation? My first post yesterday was an emotional one, fueled by what seemed like a unanimous support for Kuntar’s “heroism” by the entire Lebanese society. Following the discussion and the post on Lebanese Bloggers I now realize that except perhaps for GEORGE pretty much all the commenters here are not at all Kuntar fans and that this position does represent a large (albeit very quiet) section of the Lebanese society. So while I do loath your leaders and the political culture that corners your leaders into solidarity-with-terrorists I do really appreciate the moderation and humanity of the individuals on this blog. This is where it will start: one person at a time, talking to another person from the other side…

I very much believe in:

“The good you do today may be quickly forgotten, but the impact of what you do will never disappear”

When I was a child in the 70’s, it was pretty much unfathomable that I could converse with Lebanese and Syrian folks about anything, let alone terms for reconciliation. I think that the fact that we’re engaging here directly with overwhelmingly positive intentions is a great charity we’re doing to each other and yes its impact at least on me will not disappear. I’m not at all optimistic about our societies’ ability to reconcile but at least we have control over our own personal choices.
———————————————————–
Firstly Shalom:

Sorry for the delay in response, there is a bit of delay as I live in Sydney Australia.

Today Rumyal, the day is a little bit brighter, devoid of a fair bit of emotion. Never the less, it does not bring peace to the two soldiers (families) your country buried, hide the deep wounds about the release of Kuntar, nor bring solitude to the 1200 innocent Lebanese civilians who lost their lives, or the innocent civilians that your country lost.

Firstly, thanks for your clarification. I think that when we can all let go of our “little prejudices” we can go a long way to reconcile with our “personal choices” as you succintly put it. The fact that you can converse and interact with your enemy, is a giant step. Like you I think our societies have a long way to go (its will resolve itself when we tire of fighting each other). I think a great first step is when we can stop demonising each other.

I am happy that you didn’t respond with the blind rhetoric of some here. Sane voices, reason and humanity are invaluable and a god given trait. Today I have made a new friend. I have a few Jewish friends in Australia, and one here on this site (Shai).

Theodore Roosevelt once said “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are”

July 20th, 2008, 3:08 am

 

rumyal said:

Enlightened,

Thanks. I’m honored! I too live abroad (in the US). Living in a very liberal and pluralistic community (somewhere on the West Coast) did it’s thing to me and helped me shed a ton of prejudice that people in Israel (and elsewhere in the ME…) are simply unaware they are harboring. HP asked AIG what would he do to bring peace. We can’t ignore the very realistic answer: “just leave and pursue your happiness elsewhere”. Many folks on this blog seem to be implementing this advice. It would be interesting to have a discussion some time about possible contribution of folks living abroad to the peace process, since on the one hand we seem to be at an advantage point due to not having blinders on, but on the other hand, we are also totally irrelevant, since we don’t actually “share the pain” with the folks back on the Eastern shores of the Mediterranean and cannot really engage “on the ground”.

July 20th, 2008, 6:50 am

 

CuriousCanadian said:

Rumyal:
Interesting comment. I read this blog almost every day and often have to bite my tongue to keep from commenting, only reminding myself that my information comes from observing from a distance both literally and figuratvely. Not being on the ground in the ME it’s impossible to understand the depth of feeling on both sides, and I guess it’s too much to expect everyone to step back and try to look at things objectively.

July 21st, 2008, 9:49 pm

 

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