Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Nothing positive in the release of Samir Kuntar

(This seems to be something I forgot to publish, but has been here since December 2007... Oops)

This is a comment I got from Monday's What kind of terrorists are being held in Israeli prisons?

It's actually a whole article which also talks about the moral differences between Samir Kuntar and abducted Israeli soldiers, Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev.

The whole article is here: Hizbullah's Promise to the Murderer of Jewish Toddlers

Fast forward to July 12, 2006. The only reason Ehud Goldawasser and Eldad Regev were abducted by Hizbullah was to force Israel to release Samir Kuntar. Now, the dilemma is whether or not Israel should release Kuntar in order to secure the release of Goldwasser and Regev. And since there has been no news as to the health of the two Israeli soldiers, Kuntar may be exchanged for two body bags.

The July 12 abduction plot was originally named "Operation Freedom Samir Kuntar" by Hizbullah. However, just days before the operation was launched, Hizbullah changed the name to "Operation Truthful Promise." This was based upon the "true promise" that Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah made to Kuntar's family to have him freed from Israeli prison.

Hizbullah has never claimed that Kuntar was innocent or that he may have been framed. Kuntar is their hero and they demand his release as if he were being held unlawfully. Sadly, Israel has an extensive history of releasing prisoners with blood on their hands. Most expect that it might happen again, this time with Kuntar.

It is important to keep in mind that prisoners in Israeli jails are serving time for something. Israel is not a "gangster" or "lawless" state that imprisons people based solely on a whim. Every prisoner was charged, stood trial, was convicted and properly sentenced. They were not kidnapped simply because they were Arabs. Hence, there is no justification in comparing the kidnapped Israeli soldiers to Samir Kuntar.

If Israel were to release Kuntar, it would be the biggest surrender. The Sinai Peninsula, Israel gave back under negotiations; the West Bank and Gaza Israel also gave away under negotiations of the Oslo Accords. In 1985, during the famous "Ahmed Jibril Exchange," Israel released 1,200 prisoners for the release of three IDF soldiers. Some of those prisoners who were released had blood on their hands, including Kozo Okamoto who killed 26 people in Israel. But even all those 1,200 prisoners put together cannot compare to the savage murderous act committed by Samir Kuntar. Israel also currently holds 10,000 Palestinian prisoners, some of whom have been incarcerated for conspiring, carrying out or masterminding murderous terrorist attacks (suicide bombings, shootings, etc.), which targeted Jewish civilians in Israel. But even all those 10,000 prisoners put together cannot compare to Kuntar.

Kuntar could have shot little Einat or blown her up, but instead, he took his loaded gun and just bludgeoned her on the head repeatedly for several minutes until she was dead. Lets not also forget the fact that several minutes prior to murdering Einat, Kuntar drowned her father in front of her, and forced her to watch.

There is a fine line between a humanitarian release of prisoners, or releasing prisoners for the sake of peace, and knuckling under to unadulterated extortion. The latter will be viewed as a response by a weak state that can be brought easily to its knees by extortion. What obscene messages does it send to the families of those Israelis murdered by Kuntar and future Kuntars? And what demoralizing message does it send to the Israeli troops and security services who risk their lives in order to capture and arrest Arab terrorists?

There is no doubt that Goldwasser and Regev need to be unconditionally released from Lebanon, Syria, Iran or from wherever they are now being held. Olmert's "good-will gesture" has disaster written all over it. Appeasement didn't work with Hitler and it will not work with Hizbullah. What exactly is there to negotiate? How far will Israel go to assure its own disappearance?

There will be nothing positive coming from the release of Samir Kuntar.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Happy Hannukah! - !חנוכה שמח

Happy Hannukah, Chanukkah, חנוכה, Ranouca (for my French speaking readers who have a hard time pronouncing the CH sound) or however you might spell it. I'm going to go for Hannukah.

This 2,000-year-old holiday is also called the Festival of Lights or Feasts of Lights and celebrates an ancient victory of the Jews over their enemies, and the freedom Jews enjoy today. Hannukah celebration is significant in that it symbolizes the Rededication of the Temple of Jerusalem over 2,000 years ago and the triumph of Judaism's spiritual values.

Around 200 BCE Jews lived as an autonomous people in the Land of Israel, also referred to as Judea, which at that time was controlled by the Seleucid king of Syria. The Jewish people paid taxes to Syria and accepted its legal authority, and they were free to follow their own faith, maintain their own jobs, and engage in trade. In 175 BCE Antiochus IV Epiphanes ascended to the Seleucid throne. At first little changed, but under his reign, the Temple in Jerusalem was looted, Jews were massacred, and Judaism was effectively outlawed. In 167 BCE Antiochus ordered an altar to Zeus erected in the Temple.

Antiochus' actions proved to be a major miscalculation as they provoked a large-scale revolt. Mattathias, a Jewish priest, and his five sons Yochanan, Shimon, Elazar, Yonatan, and Yehuda led a rebellion against Antiochus. Yehuda became known as Yehuda HaMakabi ("The Hammer").

After three years of fighting, the Jewish revolt against the Seleucid monarchy was successful and the Maccabees victoriously reclaimed the temple on Jerusalem's Mount Moriah. Next they prepared the temple for rededication. When the Temple was reclaimed, the altar was so desecrated that Judah and his clan didn't just clean it up they rebuilt it and all the utensils involved with that area. In Hebrew, Hannukah means "dedication", and when you move into a new home, you do a "Hannukat Bayit" -- a dedication of the house -- before actually living in it.

In the temple they found only enough purified oil to light the Temple lamp and burn one day. Miraculously, the oil burned for eight days.

The festival of Hanukkah was instituted by Yehuda HaMakabi and his brothers to celebrate this event.
The significance of the eight days is celebrated by lighting one candle for each day of the celebration. Each candle represents a day the oil burned in the Temple lamp. The candles are held in a symbolic figure called the Hannukiah (for some odd reason Americans insist on calling it a Menorah). A Hannukiah is a candle stand with nine branches, eight of them are of the same height, for each of the eight days of Hannukah, and one which is taller, for the Shamash ("servant"). The Shamash is used to light the others and is the first candle to be lit. Once it is lit, it lights the other candles, one for each night of celebration. This continues until all the candles are lit each evening of Hannukah with a special blessing.

We add to the "oily" festivities by indulging in foods which have been deep fried in oil (this is not the healthiest of holidays...) like Latkes and Soufganiot, as well as playing with a dreidel (Sevivon). The general "They tried to kill us, they failed, let's eat!" motto is valid for this Jewish holiday as well.

So a quick little math question...
Eight nights of Hannukah, every night we add a candle to the Hannukiah, which is lit with a Shamash. Every night all the candles burn out, so the next day we need to put new candles in the Hannukiah.
How many candles are needed per season per Hannukiah? (Assuming of course that none are broken, and that you light them every night :p)

I'm not sure this virtual Hannukiah will light up at European sunset time, we'll see what happens.

Happy oily food bestuffing!

Monday, December 3, 2007

What kind of terrorists are being held in Israeli prisons?

I showed you a few days ago that people are trying to compare abducted Israeli soldiers to the Palestinian terrorists being held in Israeli prisons.

From an article on Jerusalem Post:

Jailed Lebanese terrorist Samir Kuntar, whose release has been sought by Hizbullah, was also visited by the group, which included Paz-Pines and Gafni as well as MKs Nadia Hilou, Moshe Kahalon, Ibrahim Sarsour and Ya'akov Margi.

Samir Kuntar told the committee members that "the IPS treatment is humane and is based on a relationship of mutual respect." But in answer to Gafni's question as to whether he regrets his actions, he responded: "I do not regret. The question isn't personal. It's a matter of a conflict that is collective."
Samir Kuntar says that he does not regret his actions. He believes his actions were justified and served the collective purpose of his side of the conflict.

What were his actions exactly?

The World Should Know What He Did to My Family
By Smadar Haran Kaiser
Sunday, May 18, 2003

Abu Abbas, the former head of a Palestinian terrorist group who was captured in Iraq on April 15, is infamous for masterminding the 1985 hijacking of the Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro. But there are probably few who remember why Abbas's terrorists held the ship and its 400-plus passengers hostage for two days. It was to gain the release of a Lebanese terrorist named Samir Kuntar, who is locked up in an Israeli prison for life. Kuntar's name is all but unknown to the world. But I know it well. Because almost a quarter of a century ago, Kuntar murdered my family.

It was a murder of unimaginable cruelty, crueler even than the murder of Leon Klinghoffer, the American tourist who was shot on the Achille Lauro and dumped overboard in his wheelchair. Kuntar's mission against my family, which never made world headlines, was also masterminded by Abu Abbas. And my wish now is that this terrorist leader should be prosecuted in the United States, so that the world may know of all his terrorist acts, not the least of which is what he did to my family on April 22, 1979.

It had been a peaceful Sabbath day. My husband, Danny, and I had picnicked with our little girls, Einat, 4, and Yael, 2, on the beach not far from our home in Nahariya, a city on the northern coast of Israel, about six miles south of the Lebanese border. Around midnight, we were asleep in our apartment when four terrorists, sent by Abu Abbas from Lebanon, landed in a rubber boat on the beach two blocks away. Gunfire and exploding grenades awakened us as the terrorists burst into our building. They had already killed a police officer. As they charged up to the floor above ours, I opened the door to our apartment. In the moment before the hall light went off, they turned and saw me. As they moved on, our neighbor from the upper floor came running down the stairs. I grabbed her and pushed her inside our apartment and slammed the door.

Outside, we could hear the men storming about. Desperately, we sought to hide. Danny helped our neighbor climb into a crawl space above our bedroom; I went in behind her with Yael in my arms. Then Danny grabbed Einat and was dashing out the front door to take refuge in an underground shelter when the terrorists came crashing into our flat. They held Danny and Einat while they searched for me and Yael, knowing there were more people in the apartment. I will never forget the joy and the hatred in their voices as they swaggered about hunting for us, firing their guns and throwing grenades. I knew that if Yael cried out, the terrorists would toss a grenade into the crawl space and we would be killed. So I kept my hand over her mouth, hoping she could breathe. As I lay there, I remembered my mother telling me how she had hidden from the Nazis during the Holocaust. "This is just like what happened to my mother," I thought. As police began to arrive, the terrorists took Danny and Einat down to the beach. There, according to eyewitnesses, one of them shot Danny in front of Einat so that his death would be the last sight she would ever see. Then he smashed my little girl's skull in against a rock with his rifle butt.
That terrorist was Samir Kuntar.

By the time we were rescued from the crawl space, hours later, Yael, too, was dead. In trying to save all our lives, I had smothered her.

The next day, Abu Abbas announced from Beirut that the terrorist attack in Nahariya had been carried out "to protest the signing of the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty" at Camp David the previous year. Abbas seems to have a gift for charming journalists, but imagine the character of a man who protests an act of peace by committing an act of slaughter.
Two of Abbas's terrorists had been killed by police on the beach. The other two were captured, convicted and sentenced to life in prison. Despite my protests, one was released in a prisoner exchange for Israeli POWs several months before the Achille Lauro hijacking. Abu Abbas was determined to find a way to free Kuntar as well. So he engineered the hijacking of the Achille Lauro off the coast of Egypt and demanded the release of 50 Arab terrorists from Israeli jails. The only one of those prisoners actually named was Samir Kuntar. The plight of hundreds held hostage on a cruise ship for two days at sea lent itself to massive international media coverage. The attack on Nahariya, by contrast, had taken less than an hour in the middle of the night. So what happened then was hardly noticed outside of Israel.

One hears the terrorists and their excusers say that they are driven to kill out of desperation. But there is always a choice. Even when you have suffered, you can choose whether to kill and ruin another's life, or whether to go on and rebuild. Even after my family was murdered, I never dreamed of taking revenge on any Arab.
But I am determined that Samir Kuntar should never be released from prison. In 1984, I had to fight my own government not to release him as part of an exchange for several Israeli soldiers who were POWs in Lebanon. I understood, of course, that the families of those POWs would gladly have agreed to the release of an Arab terrorist to get their sons back. But I told Yitzhak Rabin, then defense minister, that the blood of my family was as red as that of the POWs. Israel had always taken a position of refusing to negotiate with terrorists. If they were going to make an exception, let it be for a terrorist who was not as cruel as Kuntar. "Your job is not to be emotional," I told Rabin, "but to act rationally." And he did.

So Kuntar remains in prison. I have been shocked to learn that he has married an Israeli Arab woman who is an activist on behalf of terrorist prisoners. As the wife of a prisoner, she gets a monthly stipend from the government. I'm not too happy about that.

In recent years, Abu Abbas started telling journalists that he had renounced terrorism and that killing Leon Klinghoffer had been a mistake. But he has never said that killing my family was a mistake. He was a terrorist once, and a terrorist, I believe, he remains. Why else did he spend these last years, as the Israeli press has reported, free as a bird in Baghdad, passing rewards of $25,000 from Saddam Hussein to families of Palestinian suicide bombers? More than words, that kind of cash prize, which is a fortune to poor families, was a way of urging more suicide bombers. The fortunate thing about Abbas's attaching himself to Hussein is that it set him up for capture.
Some say that Italy should have first crack at Abbas. It had already convicted him of the Achille Lauro hijacking in absentia in 1986. Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi now wants Abbas handed over so that he can begin serving his life sentence. But it's also true that in 1985, the Italians had Abbas in their hands after U.S. fighter jets forced his plane to land in Sicily. And yet they let him go. So while I trust Berlusconi, who knows if a future Italian government might not again wash its hands of Abbas?

In 1995, Rabin, then our prime minister, asked me to join him on his trip to the White House, where he was to sign a peace agreement with Yasser Arafat, which I supported. I believe that he wanted me to represent all Israeli victims of terrorism. Rabin dreaded shaking hands with Arafat, knowing that those hands were bloody. At first, I agreed to make the trip, but at the last minute, I declined. As prime minister, Rabin had to shake hands with Arafat for political reasons. As a private person, I did not. So I stayed here.

Now I am ready and willing to come to the United States to testify against Abu Abbas if he is tried for terrorism. The daughters of Leon Klinghoffer have said they are ready to do the same. Unlike Klinghoffer, Danny, Einat and Yael were not American citizens. But Klinghoffer was killed on an Italian ship in Abbas's attempt to free the killer of my family in Israel. We are all connected by the international web of terrorism woven by Abbas. Let the truth come out in a new and public trial. And let it be in the United States

[Abu Abbas died of natural causes in March 2004 while in U.S. custody and never faced a trial.]

This is one of the terrorists that are being held in Israeli prisons. Compare this to our missing soldiers.