Friday, July 18, 2008

Reflections on the Israel-Hezbollah Prisoner Swap Deal

by Khalid Amayreh for Palestine Think Tank

The latest prisoner swap deal between Israel and Hezbollah is a healthy indicator that at least some Arabs are beginning to understand the depraved Zionist mentality, and act accordingly. Such mentality is based on arrogance, insolence, and religious and ethnic superiority.

Israel, a country whose collective mindset views non-Jews as virtual animals or at least lesser human beings, had to face a new enemy, an enemy that will not be scared by overwhelming brutality, but one that will meet Israel’s state terror with toughness, resilience, valor and defiance.

This is a new reality that Israelis, especially Israeli leaders, have yet to come to terms with, especially psychologically.

This explains the deep frustration that is apparent in the tone of Israeli leaders reacting to the latest swap deal, especially the fact that Israel has been forced to release the Lebanese guerilla Samir Kuntar.

Israel, utterly ignoring her own countless murderous sins, has come to view Kuntar as the prototype of the ultimate terrorist - as if the tens of thousands of Jewish murderers and terrorists who have enormous amounts of innocent blood on their hands were the Lord’s angels of love and mercy.

Indeed, if Israel were a normal state, and its people a normal people, it would have adopted an honest and just approach toward its neighbors, an approach that would not discriminate between “blood and blood” and “life and life.”

Undoubtedly, such an approach would have saved thousands of lives, Jewish and Arab, and spared the region and its peoples decades of pain and suffering.

But then Zionism would be losing its face, mind and heart, and would morph into something entirely different.

Unfortunately, it is probably futile to preach morality to Zionism, a manifestly demonic movement which experience shows is not capable of behaving morally and humanely.

Well, let us examine some of the statements and remarks Zionist leaders have been making with regard to the latest swap deal with Hezbollah.

Shimon Peres, the hero of the Qana massacre of 1996, who is now Israel’s President, has been quoted as saying that “We don’t want murderers to go free, but we have a moral obligation to bring home soldiers whom we sent to defend their country.”

Peres also reportedly said that “my heart is torn over the decision to pardon Kuntar,” adding that his decision to that effect “in no way constituted forgiveness.”

Certainly no one, Arab or otherwise, is particularly infatuated with what Kuntar did in 1979, although the Israeli army then was at least partially responsible for the killing by the Lebanese guerilla of three Israelis, including a paramilitary policeman, a man and his daughter.

The three lives, like numerous other victims, Arab and Jewish, would have been spared had the insolent Israeli military establishment behaved wisely.

After all, Kuntar, and his friends who were killed in that rescue operation, didn’t come to Israel to kill and shed blood but to force Israel to release Arab prisoners.

Nonetheless, one is prompted to ask difficult questions, questions that most Israelis don’t like to hear - let alone answer, but when confronted with them, they either seek to evade or prevaricate and quibble in their answers.

Who has killed more innocent people, Shimon Peres or Samir Kuntar? Who has more blood, including children’s blood, on his hands, Shimon Peres or Samir Kuntar? Who has inflicted more terror, suffering and death upon innocent people, Shimon Peres or Samir Kuntar?

If honesty is to be the ultimate arbiter among men, then one can’t escape the inescapable conclusion that it is mass murderers like Peres, Ariel Sharon and other Israeli leaders, dead or living, who really need forgiveness for their horrible crimes against humanity.

In fact, Israelis should be reminded on this occasion that a Presidential post, a business suit with a necktie, and the ability to speak eloquent sound-bites in several languages and have audience with statesmen and VIPs from around the world, doesn’t really transform a criminal into a true human being.

A criminal is a criminal especially if he refuses to come to terms with his crimes and if he refuses to apologize to his victims. Needless to say, Peres has done neither.

But then criminals are not concerned about their sins.

One elderly Israeli woman interviewed by the Ha’aretz newspaper lashed out at Hezbollah for having refused until the very last moment to tell if the two Israeli prisoners were dead or alive.

“It’s the saddest day for Israel. They kept us waiting until the last second to learn the fate of our sons,” the woman was quoted as saying.

I certainly sympathize with the woman at the personal level. However, I would want to ask the Jewish lady why she thought that Jewish lives were worth more than non-Jewish lives?

I also would like to ask her what she would tell the mothers, families and relatives of thousands of Arab prisoners who have been languishing in Israel’s dark, underground dungeons since 1967?

We are talking about POWs and MIAs and other ordinary people whose families have no way of knowing if their beloved ones are dead or alive. Aren’t these “forgotten prisoners” human beings, too? Are they children of a lesser God?

Unfortunately, most Israelis, thoroughly self-absorbed and self-centered, don’t like to be asked such questions lest their superiority complexes and collective psychosis be exposed.

Finally, the latest prisoner swap shows that Israel only understands the language of cold realpolitik which is by definition immoral and coercive.

For Palestinians, who have more than 10,000 of their beloved ones languishing in Israeli concentration camps, the message is very clear: If you want to get Israel to release your beloved ones, take Israeli hostages and swap them for the Palestinian captives.

Khalid Amayreh is a journalist based in the Occupied Palestinian town of Dura.