A Murderer Acclaimed as a Hero

Is there any place other than in the psychopathology of the Arab world that a Kuntar--freed by Israel last week in exchange for mutilated corpses of two abducted soldiers -- could be acclaimed a "hero"?  

The Beirut Daily Star
(ordinarily a decent newspaper) headlined:  "Nation Unites for Heroes' Homecomings"  Al-Mustaqabal (Beirut) said:  "Lebanon yesterday lived a national celebration...The Lebanese followed with jubilation return of the dean of prisoners in Israel, Samir Kuntar."  

Lebanese President  Suleiman, a Christian  (Lebanon is approximately 40% Christian) , addressed Kuntar and four terrorist companions as "freed heroes."   "Moderate" Palestinian Authority President Abbas congratulated Kuntar's family and organized widespread celebrations.   A top Fatah official praised Kuntar's 1979 murders as "one of the greatest freedom fighters' operations in the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict."  (Believing that killing toddlers is a "great" military operation  may indicate why  Arabs invariably lose wars.)   Gaza  Boss Haniyeh,  handing  candy to children, called  Kuntar "a great hero."


The bearded/turbaned terrorist Chief Sheikh Nasrallah, surrounded by bodyguards, appeared briefly at a Beirut rally.  He embraced Kuntar, calling  him a  "very very rich national  treasure."  How many countries can boast of  treasures of comparable worth?  Nasrallah departed abruptly-he has feared to appear in public since the war he instigated two years ago-and finished his speech on television from a  hideout.  Iran's agent in Beirut boasted absurdly  he had been strengthened in negotiations because Israel did not know if the soldiers were alive.  It was known that they were dead.

Kuntar Learns Something Important During His Imprisonment

Kuntar vowed to continue "resistance."   But he had learned something important about differences  between Israelis and Arabs: 

"I'm jealous of the Zionists, who don't spare any effort in bringing back captured soldiers or  soldiers' bodies.  We are jealous of our enemy and its care for a body and how it goes to the end of the world in order to return it, and of its concerns for captives and how it will go to the very edge to bring them back." 

Kuntar may conclude that he  was safer in an Israeli prison;  he  was  warned  before release "to always sleep with one eye on the door."  What Kuntar had learned was painfully  evident in Israel at  funerals of its two soldiers.  Sgt. Ehud Goldwasser's mother Miki said: 

"I hope we can come to see the Second Lebanon War as a victory.  We have found this nation to be a wonderful nation. We have found bereaved families with superior mental fortitude; we found generosity;  We have found the spirit of volunteering, the meaning of the word friendship.  This is an amazing nation."              

The Precept of Redeeming Captives

Defense Minister  Barak -- leader of a 1973 commando raid in Beirut eliminating planners of the  Munich Olympic massacre--addressed  Goldwassers' comrades:  "If the worst happens to any of you, Israel will make every possible effort to bring you back home."   An  Israeli officer explained  the seemingly disproportionate exchange as "demonstrating a compelling moral strength which stems from Judaism,  Israeli social values and from the spirit of the IDF."                        

The Talmud -- the code of conduct which united Jews during two millennia of statelessness -- urges redemption of captives but warns the price should not be so high as to encourage kidnappers.  This echoed in debate about the exchange.  Intelligence chiefs warned the price was too high.  IDF commanders, who look into the eyes of soldiers sent into battle, disagreed.   So did a majority of  Israelis.  Dissent was fierce; that is the nature of Israel.  I refrain from entering this debate.  Prime Minister Olmert said:  

"Every Israeli knows  the mutual responsibility and obligation to ensure the welfare of every soldier.  It is the glue  holding  our society together...I pity the people celebrating  release of an animal who crushed the skull of a little girl."                                           

The Difference Between Darkness and Light

Civilization is menaced  by cultural relativism  asserting that every society's customs are equally valid, even when these include killing authors and cartoonists.  The Jewish prayer demarcating the holiness of the Sabbath from the secular time of weekdays emphasizes "the difference between darkness and light."  I don't suggest that Israel is always right and Arabs always wrong.  But am I a racist for believing  that last week,  Israel showed itself as a beacon  of light while the Arabs exhibited a culture of darkness?    This explains why  71% of Americans -- an extraordinarily decent people--and an overwhelming majority of elected officials favor Israel.  The next time you hear the Carter-Mearhseimer-Walt hogwash that this support is the product of sinister AIPAC machinations, remember the photograph of Samir Kuntar giving the Hitler salute as the leaders of Lebanon cheered him.              

Joel J. Sprayregen, a Chicago lawyer, is a Member of the Executive Committee of JINSA, the Jewish Institute of National Security Affairs, a think tank dealing with national security of the U.S. and its democratic allies. 
Is there any place other than in the psychopathology of the Arab world that a Kuntar--freed by Israel last week in exchange for mutilated corpses of two abducted soldiers -- could be acclaimed a "hero"?  

The Beirut Daily Star
(ordinarily a decent newspaper) headlined:  "Nation Unites for Heroes' Homecomings"  Al-Mustaqabal (Beirut) said:  "Lebanon yesterday lived a national celebration...The Lebanese followed with jubilation return of the dean of prisoners in Israel, Samir Kuntar."  

Lebanese President  Suleiman, a Christian  (Lebanon is approximately 40% Christian) , addressed Kuntar and four terrorist companions as "freed heroes."   "Moderate" Palestinian Authority President Abbas congratulated Kuntar's family and organized widespread celebrations.   A top Fatah official praised Kuntar's 1979 murders as "one of the greatest freedom fighters' operations in the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict."  (Believing that killing toddlers is a "great" military operation  may indicate why  Arabs invariably lose wars.)   Gaza  Boss Haniyeh,  handing  candy to children, called  Kuntar "a great hero."


The bearded/turbaned terrorist Chief Sheikh Nasrallah, surrounded by bodyguards, appeared briefly at a Beirut rally.  He embraced Kuntar, calling  him a  "very very rich national  treasure."  How many countries can boast of  treasures of comparable worth?  Nasrallah departed abruptly-he has feared to appear in public since the war he instigated two years ago-and finished his speech on television from a  hideout.  Iran's agent in Beirut boasted absurdly  he had been strengthened in negotiations because Israel did not know if the soldiers were alive.  It was known that they were dead.

Kuntar Learns Something Important During His Imprisonment

Kuntar vowed to continue "resistance."   But he had learned something important about differences  between Israelis and Arabs: 

"I'm jealous of the Zionists, who don't spare any effort in bringing back captured soldiers or  soldiers' bodies.  We are jealous of our enemy and its care for a body and how it goes to the end of the world in order to return it, and of its concerns for captives and how it will go to the very edge to bring them back." 

Kuntar may conclude that he  was safer in an Israeli prison;  he  was  warned  before release "to always sleep with one eye on the door."  What Kuntar had learned was painfully  evident in Israel at  funerals of its two soldiers.  Sgt. Ehud Goldwasser's mother Miki said: 

"I hope we can come to see the Second Lebanon War as a victory.  We have found this nation to be a wonderful nation. We have found bereaved families with superior mental fortitude; we found generosity;  We have found the spirit of volunteering, the meaning of the word friendship.  This is an amazing nation."              

The Precept of Redeeming Captives

Defense Minister  Barak -- leader of a 1973 commando raid in Beirut eliminating planners of the  Munich Olympic massacre--addressed  Goldwassers' comrades:  "If the worst happens to any of you, Israel will make every possible effort to bring you back home."   An  Israeli officer explained  the seemingly disproportionate exchange as "demonstrating a compelling moral strength which stems from Judaism,  Israeli social values and from the spirit of the IDF."                        

The Talmud -- the code of conduct which united Jews during two millennia of statelessness -- urges redemption of captives but warns the price should not be so high as to encourage kidnappers.  This echoed in debate about the exchange.  Intelligence chiefs warned the price was too high.  IDF commanders, who look into the eyes of soldiers sent into battle, disagreed.   So did a majority of  Israelis.  Dissent was fierce; that is the nature of Israel.  I refrain from entering this debate.  Prime Minister Olmert said:  

"Every Israeli knows  the mutual responsibility and obligation to ensure the welfare of every soldier.  It is the glue  holding  our society together...I pity the people celebrating  release of an animal who crushed the skull of a little girl."                                           

The Difference Between Darkness and Light

Civilization is menaced  by cultural relativism  asserting that every society's customs are equally valid, even when these include killing authors and cartoonists.  The Jewish prayer demarcating the holiness of the Sabbath from the secular time of weekdays emphasizes "the difference between darkness and light."  I don't suggest that Israel is always right and Arabs always wrong.  But am I a racist for believing  that last week,  Israel showed itself as a beacon  of light while the Arabs exhibited a culture of darkness?    This explains why  71% of Americans -- an extraordinarily decent people--and an overwhelming majority of elected officials favor Israel.  The next time you hear the Carter-Mearhseimer-Walt hogwash that this support is the product of sinister AIPAC machinations, remember the photograph of Samir Kuntar giving the Hitler salute as the leaders of Lebanon cheered him.              

Joel J. Sprayregen, a Chicago lawyer, is a Member of the Executive Committee of JINSA, the Jewish Institute of National Security Affairs, a think tank dealing with national security of the U.S. and its democratic allies.