As we all know, the current war in Lebanon and Israel started when Lebanese Party of God terrorists crossed into Israel and kidnapped two soldiers, murdering others. The original goal was apparently to force a prisoner exchange. In particular the Party of God seeks the release of Samir Kuntar, whom Israel has refused to release in prior prisoner exchanges. Who is Mr. Kuntar, and why is he in an Israeli prison?
Mr. Kuntar is a killer. In 1979, at the age of 17, he and three others, recruited by a Palestinian [terrorist] group ... launched a small boat from the tip of Lebanon's southern coast and came ashore at the northern Israeli town of Nahariya. There, they killed a police officer they encountered, before taking a family of four in an apartment hostage.
The mother, Smadar Haran, had managed to slip into a crawl space with her two-year-old daughter Yael and avoid detection. But as police began to arrive, the gunmen took her husband Danny and four-year-old daughter Einat down to the beach, where they shot Danny in front of his daughter and smashed in her skull with a rifle butt.
Apparently, Kuntar is a hero not only to the Party of God, but to many Palestinians.
Kuntar should have been executed well over twenty years ago, not necessarily in a pleasant manner. Unfortunately, Israel does not have the death penalty except for Holocaust perpetrators, leading to consistent-hostage taking to try to win the release of the likes of Kuntar.
In any event, Kuntar came to mind because I received an email from a reader suggesting that I try to understand things from the perspective of the supporters of the Palestinian and Party of God terrorist groups. Sorry, but while I'm reasonably well read on the radical Arab perspective, whatever someone's grievance I refuse to "understand" those who idolize cold-blooded murderers of children. [Remember the exhibit at a Palestinian university celebrating a mass terrorist murder at Sbarro's Pizza in Jerusalem?] The fact that Kuntar is a hero to the Party of God and to the Palestinian terrorist groups reveals just about all one needs to know about them.
I recently read Rabbi Daniel Gordis's book, Home to Stay, about his aliyah to Israel. The book was only moderately interesting, mostly for its account of how Gordis went from being an ultra-dove when he moved to Israel to being much more of a realist after Camp David 2000. Gordis did made one point in particular that stuck with me: living in Jerusalem (one of the more "right-wing" parts of Israel) during the worst of Palestinian-Israel violence of the Second Intifadah, he never heard a single Israeli ever express glee at [unintended, but inevitable given the urban warfare involved] civilian deaths on the Palestinian side. [Someone is bound to bring up the few on the lunatic fringe who consider Baruch Goldstein a hero. Duly noted, but it's called the lunatic fringe for a reason.] Some accepted these deaths as the unfortunate price of defeating the Second Intifadah, others protested against them, but no one ever celebrated them, or expressed joy at the suffering of the survivors. Contrast that with grisly recreations of pizzeria bombings, candies being handed out in Palestinian areas when a terrorist murder takes place, the celebrations in the streets in 9/11, and so on, and you see the difference between a decent, modern society, and its enemies.