Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Not All Lebanese Celebrate Kuntar's Release

Lisa Goldman, who blogs at On the Face, has a post on Pajamas Media, where she notes that not everyone there is celebrating:

“How,” asked several Israeli friends, “Can the Lebanese celebrate the release of a child murderer?”

In fact, there is ample evidence to show that not all Lebanese are cheering the return of Samir Kuntar.

Comments from Lebanese reader in response to the Naharnet report of the national celebrations are contemptuous, with many describing Kuntar as a child killer and a disgrace to Lebanon. Lebanese blogger Abu Kais quotes an editorial published on the Now Lebanon site:

The prisoner swap is not the whole deal, just the final clause. Conveniently forgotten are the reams of gory appendices in a much larger and bloodier contract written out almost exactly two years ago, with all of Lebanon as collateral. Indeed, the full audit is still ongoing.

How much is the Resistance’s pledge worth? Add to the two Israeli bodies the bodies of 1,200 Lebanese civilians, nearly 400 of them children under the age of 13, sacrificed by Hezbollah to secure Kantar’s return. Add to that the 4,400 wounded civilians, of whom almost 700 are permanently disabled. Add to that those killed and wounded, most of them children, by the cluster bombs still littering large swaths of South Lebanon. Add to that the billions of dollars in destroyed homes, infrastructure and livelihoods.

In the final tally, Kantar - whose alleged taste for violence far exceeds the remit of the typical heroic freedom fighter - is a very expensive man. For make no mistake, his release is the sole profit weighed against the thousands of Lebanese dead and wounded. The four other Lebanese prisoners to be released were themselves captured on his account during the July War, and the number and names of the Palestinians to be freed are entirely at Israel’s discretion.

So Kantar will be freed, and Hezbollah’s word is once again proven to be Lebanon’s bond. We hope and pray that any Lebanese prisoners still held in Israeli jails come at a cheaper price in the future. If each is as expensive as Mr. Kantar has been, they may find themselves heroically repatriated to a desolate wasteland.

And rather than comment directly, Lebanese blogger Jeha posts a poem that “welcomes” a “child killer.”

Now Lebanon notes that with all of Nasrallah's bragging about his accomplishment, the fact remains that Nasrallah has failed to address the issue of captured Lebanese:

While Lebanon celebrates becoming “the first Arab country in the Israeli-Arab struggle to close its detainee file,” as Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah put it in a July 3 speech, many Lebanese still languish in Syrian prisons.

The exact number of prisoners and detainees is not known, and Syrian authorities have a history of keeping silent on the issue. During the civil war, approximately 17,000 people disappeared. Following the war, the arrest and disappearance of those expressing opposition to Syria’s continued presence was common.

As far as what the future holds for Kuntar, The Lebanese Political Journal notes that political office may be in Kuntar's future:
Now, we hear in al-Akhbar newspaper that Hezbollah wants Qantar to run for parliament. Obviously, Druze leader and PSP chief Walid Jumblatt might oppose this. However, Qantar might run with Hezbollah's support.

Nothing would say more about Hezbollah's ethics than for them to nominate Qantar. The party claims moral legitimacy, but their actions defy their rhetorical claims.
Not all Lebanese agreed with Hizbollah's claim of victory in the war with Israel 2 years ago--realizing the enormous cost. Now too, the Lebanese may realize that this 'victory' of Hizbollah comes at a cost as well.

Crossposted at Soccer Dad

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