August 6, 2006

Edward cody now and then

I've mentioned before that Washington Post correspondent has a dubious distinction. In 1982 he wrote a front page eulogy for a PLO terrorist

From Soldier or Terrorist by Edward Cody, The Washington Post July 7, 1982

The Army communique was matter-of-fact: Israeli troops on patrol in southern Lebanon had discovered the hiding place of two "terrorists" in a house near Sidon and killed them both. There were no Israeli casualties.

One of the "terrorists," the communique added, was the Tyre region commander for Fatah, the leading Palestinian guerrilla group, and had participated in training and preparations for a number of operations against Israel including the coastal road assault of 1978 in which more than 30 Israelis were killed.

He was identified as Azmeh Seghaiyer, whom I had known since 1975 in the early days of the Lebanese civil war. In repeated contacts with Azmeh during the past seven years--in those Dodge City days and most recently in Tyre a few weeks before the Israeli invasion of Lebanon--I always thought of him as an honorable military officer in the closest thing the Palestinians had to an army.

Well old habit dies hard. In today's Post Cody wrote A Brother Hopes Anew for Man Long Held by Israel (The title notably was not "A Brother hopes anew for vicious murderer.")

Samir al-Qantar, 44, was sentenced to over 500 years in jail after leading a four-man Palestinian raid at the age of 16 on Nahariya in northern Israel that killed two policemen, a civilian man and his 4-year-old daughter. Witnesses said Qantar smashed her skull with his rifle butt.

Bassam was only 1 in 1979 when the acts occurred. But since his teenage years, he has campaigned tirelessly for Samir's release, seeking out government officials, human rights groups, lawyers -- anyone who would listen.

Now Hezbollah, the radical Shiite Muslim movement, has put Samir al-Qantar at the top of the list of Lebanese prisoners whose release it is demanding in exchange for two Israeli soldiers seized July 12 in a cross-border raid that touched off the current conflict. According to reports from Jerusalem, such a swap might be a part of an agreement to end the crisis being worked out at the United Nations.

Yes, Cody didn't leave out the details of Samir al-Qantar's crimes. But he presents his internment as a hardship by
1) using his brother as a source
2) mentioning that his brother has sought out human rights organizations as if releasing a murderer from jail is a human rights issue
3) mentioning that his release could be part of a cease-fire, putting the onus on Israel to release a murderer in order to bring peace.

He can't stop though

But in several prisoner exchanges, Samir al-Qantar was never released. The reason, Bassam al-Qantar said, is that Israelis remember what he did as particularly hateful. By Israeli accounts, his brother took the girl and her father hostage, then shot the father and killed the girl with his rifle butt as police closed in. In addition, the girl's mother accidentally smothered another child while trying to keep her quiet in a hiding place.

Just Israeli consider the crime hateful? I would hope that anyone reading how Smadar Haran Kaiser describes the deaths of her husband and daughter would consider the killing particularly heinous:

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.

A little more graphic and not as sterile as Cody's telling of the horror.

This also appalled me

Samir has also become a symbol of the terrorist threat to the Jewish state, Bassam al-Qantar said. A senior military officer was seriously wounded in the operation, he noted, and the mother of the 4-year-old girl has become an effective spokeswoman for victims of such violence.

"So they considered him as a hero-killer and a baby-killer," he said. "The problem is, the case is famous."

A "symbol?" That's what makes it so difficult for Israel to release Samir. How about that he committed two particularly vicious murderers? And Smadar is an "effective spokeswoman" is all that can be said about her? Let's be clear if Samir hadn't committed such awful crimes she wouldn't be effective.

The article goes on to tell of how Samir has earned his bachelors degree (left unsaid is that it was undoubtedly at Israeli taxpayers' expense.)

I don't know what it is with Washington Post reporters. Do they get assignments as challenges. "Hey, Ed, this guy brutally killed a four year old girl, do you think you could make him sympathetic?"

Regardless we learn of Samir al-Qantar and what he's been doing since his conviction and incarceration. We learn of the brother who's trying to get him released. Plenty of pathos for a murderer and his brother. But his victims are never named. The woman whose life was destroyed by him is never named, she's simply a "spokeswoman."

I tried to understand why this article was written. There are no good answers. This is propaganda for a terrorist. No less than what Cody did back in 1982.

(He's not the only one as Best of the Web today noted last week. In response Bookworm Room observed

Only people who have broken free of any type of moral anchor could find equivalence in the nature of these “prisoners.”
The other prisoners being the Israeli soldiers kidnapped in violation of international borders and law.)

This wasn't the only outrageous article, as Molly Moore and Jonathan Finer have given us In Israel, Questions about the Conflict.

The article quotes a single poll In a public opinion survey published Friday by Ma'ariv, 55 percent of respondents said they thought Israel was winning the war, and only 3.5 percent said Hezbollah was winning. But nearly 38 percent said "no one" was winning.

This hardly qualifies as proof that a significant portion of the population doesn't feel that Israel is right in fighting. I'd suspect that hasn't changed. And while they report that Israeli "peace groups" are trying to arrange the first anti-war rally (actually I know that there already was one) it hardly shows that the overwhelming support for the war has diminished. It does show, that more people are questioning the running of the war but not the war itself.

And the worst part of the article is quoting Yaron Ezrahi who's described as "one of Israel's most prominent political analysts." True he's a prominent political analyst, but he's not a military one. When he expresses his opinion

Ezrahi said he thinks the hail of Hezbollah rockets into Israel has demonstrated to the rest of the world the dangers Israel faces in the region -- particularly the risks of letting Iran, one of Hezbollah's benefactors, proceed with its nuclear programs.

Rather than push deeper into southern Lebanon, where Israel ended an unpopular occupation of a self-declared security zone six years ago, Ezrahi said, "we can have a lot to gain by stopping now and moving to convert what we have done to political assets."

And those political assets will accomplish what? What they accomplished when Hezbollah kidnapped and killed three soldiers? This is the opinion of one man, not one known for his expertise in military matters. Why is he presented as the unqualified expert who knows what's best or who represents Israeli public opinion. How about Guy Benyovitz who wrote Sorry World

And sorry, Omer Pesachov . Sorry precious child, you will forever remain seven-years-old. The small body left in the arms of grandma Yehudit at the community of Meron, which nobody in the world remembers. In fact, nobody really reported it.

Sorry, Omer, sorry we did not drag all news agencies crews and foreign correspondents and al-Jazeera to the site and turned to the United Nations Security Council and organized around-the-clock protest rallies and screamed, the second that cursed rocket fell on your home and killed you and grandma.

Israel doesn't need to make apologies. And as long as Israeli innocents are still suffering at the hands of terrorists Israel will have to fight. And most Israelis undestand that. Even if elitist journalists think that there's something wrong with that or that there's something noble about terrorists.

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Crossposted on Israpundit and Soccer Dad.

As you may or may not already be aware, members of the Watcher's Council hold a vote every week on what they consider to be the most link-worthy pieces of writing around... per the Watcher's instructions, I am submitting one of my own posts for consideration in the upcoming nominations process.

Here is the most recent winning council post, here is the most recent winning non-council post, here is the list of results for the latest vote, and here is the initial posting of all the nominees that were voted on.

Posted by SoccerDad at August 6, 2006 6:45 AM
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