Worried Lebanese

thought crumbs on lebanese and middle eastern politics

Monster and Angels?

Posted by worriedlebanese on 17/07/2008

 I just did a little research on the net to see who this “Samir Kuntar” is. The Lebanese press and politicians call him a hero, the Israeli press calls him a monster.  The Lebanese talk about him in general terms, describing him as a resistant (not to confuse with freedom-fighter… in the Middle East, it’s never about freedom, it’s about pride and survival), and counting the years he spent in an Israeli Jail. 

The Israeli press on the other hand unanimously describe him as the monster, a cold-blooded assassin who brutally murdered a 4 year old girl and is responsible for the death of a 2 y/o sister (who was accidentally killed by her mother). They also talk about him in general terms and are only interested in the drama that he and the commando he was with triggered. The only details you get are on his victims.

I couldn’t help but search the internet to find some details about this person. I honestly didn’t find much. But I realised that on April 22 1979, the day he disembarked on the shore of Nahariya, he was only 16. This hero/monster was a teenager, caught up in a violent secular group which boasted that its actions were aimed at terrorising its enemy. On april 22 1979 this indoctrinated teenager was caught under fire. He was vulnerable and all powerful at the same time. He had complete power over the two israeli hostages he had. They represented the enemy in his eyes; the group he perceived to be responsible for his country and the region’s plights. His camarades were being shot down around him. He could have fell at any moment. Imagine the odd mix of emotions rushing in his head: fear, hate, excitement, panik, anger…

In such dramatic moments, people act in ways that they can later regret, they act without thinking, relying on their instincts. On that beach, Samir Kuntar brutally killed Danny and Einat Haran, by instinct, to show his enemy that he is vulnerable, to be remembered and celebrated as having incurred harm to his enemy. At the same moment, Smadar Haran accidentally took away her two y/o daughter’s life while trying to muffle her cries. She acted by instinct, to save her own life and that of her daughter.  

What Samir Kuntar did that night in Nahariya is beyond doute criminal. But instead of looking at him through war-faring eyes, why not situate the whole dramatic event in its hate structured context. Over 1000 civilians were killed in Israel’s “Second Lebanon war” (July 2006), many of them children. Does anyone in Israel see the IDF as a criminal organisation? Does anyone condemn the soldiers who shot at Lebanese civilians, shelled their houses, destroyed the bridges they were using to flee the region that was under fire?There is no empathy in war, unfortunately. Only fear and loathing. You can’t accuse the other for having no empathy when you are deprived of it.

Samir Kuntar is no monster, he is no angel either. But neither are Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev. They are victims of waring structures that crushed them as they have crushed many others. 

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