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Hero's Welcome for Grisly Killers By: P. David Hornik
FrontPageMagazine.com | Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Israel’s neighbors are gearing up for celebrations. For those Israelis who still have the stamina to look, these events will again reveal the chasm between Israel’s life-affirming Jewish-democratic culture and the unchanging Middle Eastern jihad-and death-culture of its neighbors.

This week most of the Olmert government’s live-terrorists-for-dead-soldiers swap with Hezbollah will be completed including the freeing of Samir Kuntar and four other live, dangerous Lebanese terrorists.

As part of a 1979 terror attack in the Israeli coastal town of Nahariya, Kuntar shot dead 28-year-old Danny Haran in front of his 4-year-old daughter Einat Haran, then drowned Danny Haran in the sea to confirm the kill. Kuntar then smashed Einat Haran’s head on rocks and crushed her skull with his rifle butt.

Yet Israeli analyst Jonathan Spyer noted that “the news of the planned swap has been greeted with enthusiasm from politicians on both sides of the [Lebanese] divide.”

Against the Hezbollah-led, mostly Shiite bloc stands the March 14 Sunni-Druze-Christian bloc. Yet new Christian president Michel Suleiman (whose affiliation vis-à-vis the two blocs is a matter of dispute) and Sunni prime minister Fuad Saniora (considered anti-Hezbollah) are poised to give Kuntar and the other four terrorists a state welcome today at Beirut International Airport. Saniora said Hezbollah’s “success … in the negotiations [with Israel] is a national success for the party and for the struggle of the Lebanese because it secured national goals.…”

As for Druze leader and sharp Hezbollah-foe Walid Jumblatt, he's planning to visit Kuntar (also Druze) and congratulate him on his return, which he called a “national occasion.” Spyer reports that “other March 14 leaders spoke in similarly glowing terms.” The Lebanese daily As-Safir reported plans to make the day of the terrorists’ return a national holiday. Already today the road from the Israeli border to Sidon, and Kuntar's hometown of Abey, are hung with banners.

Israeli Middle East scholar Barry Rubin notes that “no one in the Arabic-speaking world will say a single negative word about Kuntar’s deed or his being made a hero, despite a small liberal minority’s disgust.”

Also set to be delivered to Hezbollah by Israel, along with the remains of two hundred other Lebanese and Palestinian terrorists, are the remains of a Palestinian woman terrorist named Dalal Mughrabi. The Jerusalem Post’s Khaled Abu Toameh reported, however, that the Palestinian Authority had asked Israel to hand over Mughrabi’s remains to the PA instead.

Azzam al-Ahmed, a senior Fatah official and close associate of PA president Mahmoud Abbas, called Mughrabi “the first Palestinian woman to carry out one of the most courageous operations in Israel” and said “we want to turn Dalal’s funeral into a national wedding, a major celebration. The operation she carried out off the shores of her hometown of Jaffa was heroic and exemplary. She will always be remembered as a symbol for the Palestinian women’s struggle.”

What, then, did Dalal Mughrabi do? In what became known as the Coastal Road massacre, on March 11, 1978—about a year before the attack Samir Kuntar took part in—she led a group of eleven Palestinian terrorists who landed in inflatable boats on a beach north of Tel Aviv, killed an American photographer named Gail Rubin who was taking nature pictures nearby, and hijacked a bus along the coastal highway.

After the Israeli army pursued the bus and finally stopped it, a gun battle ensued between the soldiers and the terrorists during which the terrorists shot passengers who tried to escape. Eventually Dalal Mughrabi blew up the bus, which became a large firetrap, and the attack left thirty-six Israeli civilians dead including thirteen children. Mughrabi and the other terrorists were killed; seventy-one Israelis were wounded.

Toameh noted that “even if Israel refuse[d] to deliver Mughrabi’s remains to the PA in Ramallah, Fatah officials said they were planning to hold big celebrations throughout the West Bank to coincide with her funeral in Lebanon…. Since its inception, the PA has honored Mughrabi by naming many schools and various institutions after her. An article published in Thursday’s edition of the PA-funded Al-Hayat Al-Jadedda newspaper hailed Mughrabi as a ‘living legend and a wonderful example for all women.’”

It’s not a pretty picture, especially considering that Lebanon’s March 14 bloc and the Palestinian Authority are considered moderate or relatively moderate actors—in the former case with some justice, in the latter with none. Even among the relative geopolitical moderates, let alone the rest, toward Israel a tribal ethos prevails that regards grisly killers—alive or dead—as heroes for emulation. It’s a reality that Israelis and those wishing to help Israel need to face fully and without evasions.

P. David Hornik is a freelance writer and translator living in Beersheva. He blogs at http://pdavidhornik.typepad.com/. He can be reached at pdavidh2001@yahoo.com.

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