Monday, June 30, 2008

Hezbollah Springs Samir Kantar, Israel Gets Two Dead Soldiers

The next time you start getting weepy about some poor Palestinian family you saw on television, crying their eyes out because their house is gone, consider this: The odds are pretty good that their house was used by terrorists: as a place to store or fire weapons, as a place to live, or a more-or-less willing shield.

Samir Kantar: Hero, Misunderstood Victim, or Something Else?

Samir Kantar is free. Israel agreed to release him in exchange for the bodies of two Israeli soldiers, captured by Hezbollah, who just happened to die after that.

You may not recognize the name Samir Kantar, but he's one of the great heroes of the Palestinian response to Israeli occupation.

The Battle of Nahariya

It was April 22, 1979. A crack team of Palestinian fighters made an amphibious landing on the northern shore of Israel, at Nahariya. Facing intense starlight and two Israeli policemen, they penetrated the defenses of a tactical apartment building, and secured prisoners.

Samir Kantar, single-handed, shot the father of a four-year-old girl while she watched. Then, showing bravery above and beyond the call of duty, he "smashed her skull against a rock with his rifle butt, killing her, too."

It's surprising that the Battle of Nahariya isn't more widely recognized and celebrated, but perhaps that's because the Jews control the news. Or, maybe traditional information gatekeepers don't quite know what to do about 'victims of oppression' who act the way Samir Kantar did.

Excuses and Common Sense

Yes, I know:
  • Samir Kantar was 16 at the time
  • Most Palestinians don't enjoy a prosperous lifestyle
  • After Samir got caught (and not killed), allegedly he says he didn't do it.
    • Witnesses say otherwise
      • But they're probably Jews
That doesn't excuse blowing away Danny Haran, and whacking Einat's head against a rock. Not in my opinion.

I also know that the Israeli military has killed people who shouldn't have been killed. I'm not making excuses, but I think it's worth remembering that Israel isn't the group that's been blowing up
  • Tactical markets and bus stops
  • Strategic schools
  • A command-and-control ice cream parlor
(Ice cream parlor? It was near a shopping mall in Petah Tikva. The Fatah Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades were proud to call that victory their own.)

The sophisticated thing to do, these days, would be to write as if Hezbollah were pretty much the same as Israel, and that what Hezbollah does is pretty much like what Israel does. The term for that sort of thinking is moral equivalence, "defining distinct and conflicting moral behaviors in similar terms."

I must not be very sophisticated. I think that there is a difference between bulldozing buildings that are used as launching platforms for rockets, and blowing up markets with rockets launched from those buildings.

Terrorists Know: Persistence Pays

I'll give Islamic terrorists credit: they haven't given up on trying to free Samir Kantar. One of the reasons that Abū ‘Abbās,AKA Muhammad Zaidan, AKA Muhammad ‘Abbās, arranged for the taking of the Achille Lauro, back in 1985, was to free Kantar.

Hijacking the Achille Lauro didn't get Kantar out, but at least the Islamic heroes rousing welcome when they took their prize into port.

At least they were able to machine-gun an old Jewish cripple, in a wheelchair. Later, Mr. ‘Abbās explained that the that the military action against Leon Klinghoffer was perfectly reasonable. He "created troubles. He was handicapped but he was inciting and provoking the other passengers. So the decision was made to kill him."
About Palestinians: I do have sympathy for these people, who keep picking such outstanding leaders.

I'd have more sympathy for Palestinians as a whole, if their best and bravest warriors weren't quite so proud of glorious victories over groceries, schools, and the occasional four-year-old girl.

Samir Kantar's release in the news: I've written about a couple of the ideas here before:


Brigid said...

So, wait. After all that the Israeli government handed that guy over in exchange for corpses? Did they know the soldiers were dead at the time of the agreement?


Brian H. Gill said...


There's more to it than that. As usual.

Yes, there's good reason to believe that the Israeli government knew that the soldiers were dead. And, there was what I gather was rather heated discussion about the wisdom of this exchange.

There's actually pretty good reason to recover the bodies. There is a tradition, in many cultures, that can be somewhat crudely summarized as 'nobody gets left behind.' You recover your own: alive or dead.

And, there's a clear indication in one of those articles that Israel gained some information in the deal, as well as the bodies.

I didn't include all this, because this post is mostly about perceptions of Israel and Palestine, and moral equivalence: not about diplomacy, culture, and military affairs in that part of the Middle East.

Brian H. Gill said...

An Announcement:

If you have a great deal to say, please: post a link in your comment, and do the writing on your own blog or website.

This isn't a bulletin board: it's a comment section.


I don't like doing this, but I deleted a comment posted today (July 1, 2008 6:20 PM).

It started this way:

Please read this article on Kuntar said...

The comment which followed was 2,463 words long, apparently copied and pasted from a number of sources, including a Wikipedia article ( Whoever did the copying didn't bother to edit out tags from the original, including:
[Image of Einat Haran]
[Image of Yael Haran]

I've deleted the comment, but leave the URLs and related text, most of which appeared at the end of the text. Israel moots Kuntar prisoner swap
(AL-JAZEERA 9/17/2006) Free the monster Samir Kuntar
(Haaretz article 09/04/2006) Plot to free terrorist (Kuntar) may have led to fight
(Washington Times 8/8/2006) Nasrallah says no deal without Samir
(9/12/2006 BBC article "Nasrallah Demands Militant Free") "Hizballah Wants Israel to Free Child-Killer"
(Cybercast News Service, 7/18/2006) More than 25 years later, militant still atop Hezbollah's list for swap
(Seattle Times 8/16/2006) Why Hezbollah Attacked Israel
(Mens News Daily 8/09/2006) Samir Kuntar to be released very soon
The Jerusalem Post 1/6/2007 of an interview with Smadar Haran on CBC
(RealPlayer required)

Brian H. Gill said...


I think part of your comment was intended to read "I bet Samir ... is dead in less than a year."

You're probably right. He has pursued, and probably is pursuing, a very high-risk lifestyle. Whether there will be a sort of vendetta against him, I can't say.

As for the "I hate" statement: Hatred is understandable in a situation like this. I'd suggest, though, that you not allow yourself to hate this murderer, or any of his fellows.

Letting hatred fester within yourself will not hurt them, but it will hurt you.

Holding on to hatred is like keeping a vat of acid in one's head. Over the years, it splashes around, eating away at the mind.

Just a thought.

Brian H. Gill said...


No spam. No kidding.

Brian H. Gill said...


Yet another very simple, very generic, rather generically flattering, comment - with two names and a craigslistsimplified URL.

Yes, I check for spam.

No, spam is not welcome.

Yes, spam is removed.

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.