from Pressure Points and Middle East Program

Samir Kuntar, Award Winner

October 3, 2011

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Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (L) speaks with released Lebanese prisoner Samir Kantar during a ceremony in Tehran January 29, 2009 (Courtesy REUTERS/Raheb Homavandi).

Regimes, like individuals, are rightly judged by the company they keep and even more by the people they celebrate.

Samir Kuntar is a murderer. Here is the story of his acts:

On April 22, 1979, Kuntar’s terror cell reached the shore of Nahariya in a rubber dinghy; they shot at a police car and killed an Israeli police officer. At midnight they broke into the Haran family home, and abducted the father, Danny, and his four-year-old daughter, Einat. The mother, Smadar, the two-year-old daughter Yael, and a neighbor hid in a bedroom crawlspace.

The terrorists took the hostages towards the shore and, when they encountered law enforcement officers and IDF soldiers, Samir Kuntar shot Danny Haran at close range and cold-bloodedly slaughtered Einat by bashing her skull against a rock with the butt of his rifle. In the hiding place at the Haran home, baby Yael suffocated to death from her mother’s attempts to keep her quiet so the terrorists would not find them.

Smadar’s own telling of this story can be found here, and is almost too awful to read. But a few lines must be quoted as a reminder of who Samir Kuntar is.

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.

Kuntar was released in 2008 in a prisoner exchange between Hezbollah and Israel. Well, not exactly: in return for Kuntar, Hezbollah returned to Israel the bodies of Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, whom it had killed in 2006—part of the actions by which it started the Lebanon war that summer.

Later in 2008, Kuntar was awarded the Syrian Order of Merit, Syria’s top medal, by Bashar al Assad. In 2009, he was invited to Tehran to be given an award (which he is holding in the photo) by President Ahmadinejad, and took advantage of the occasion to declare that “we must resist the Zionist regime and destroy it.”

Today, Kuntar was heard from again, once again in Tehran, where the regime invited him to participate in a conference about the intifada. His exact remarks do not deserve attention, but his location does. It is a reminder of the nature of the Syrian and Iranian regimes that they continue to honor a murderer—a murderer of children at that. The honors accorded to Kuntar cannot be explained even by the supposed necessities of war against “the Zionist regime;”  it would be possible to oppose and even fight Israel without murdering children.

The celebration of Kuntar is a reminder that both regimes engage in the most vicious and bloody hatred of Jews, and that this hatred permeates their foreign policies. In fact, this hatred is part of the very fiber of both regimes. Israelis know exactly what that kind of hatred leads to, and so do most Americans—which explains why the vast majority of Americans of all religions and political affiliations continue to support the strongest possible alliance between the United States and Israel.

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