Tunisia honors convicted murderer Samir Kuntar

Salafis storm ceremony to protest Kuntar for pro-Assad, Shi'ite position.

August 20, 2012 03:26
2 minute read.
Samir Kuntar [file]

Samir Kuntar 311. (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

BERLIN – The city of Bizerte in Tunisia last week honored convicted murderer Samir Kuntar, who carried out a brutal 1979 attack in Nahariya that killed Israeli policeman Eliyahu Shahar, and Danny Haran and his four-year-old daughter, Einat Haran.

Kuntar also caused the death of two-year-old Yael Haran, who suffocated because her mother, Smadar, sought to prevent her from making noise as she tried to hide her daughter from Kuntar.

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Kuntar, a Lebanese Druse, was released in a 2008 prisoner swap with Hezbollah. At the time, Middle East expert Dr. Daniel Pipes termed Kuntar “a psychopath and the most notorious prisoner in Israel’s jails.”

The Tunisian website Tunisie Numerique reported that a Salafi mob stormed last week’s ceremony, accusing Kuntar of a pro-Shi’ite position favoring the Assad regime and its slaughter of more than 20,000 Syrians. Kuntar, 50, escaped the meeting hall through a back exit and several people were hospitalized.

In an email to The Jerusalem Post on Sunday, Prof. Gerald Steinberg, a political scientist at Bar-Ilan University, wrote, “This is yet another illustration of the false religion in the West that simplistically blames the violence and threats in the Middle East on the myths of Palestinian victimization. Samir Kunter is one of the worst symbols of brutality and terror targeting Israel, but the hatred unleashed by the radical Sunni-Shia conflict is far stronger.”

Steinberg, heads NGO Monitor in Jerusalem, added, “Indeed, as this incident shows, the internal Islamic religious wars merely use the Arab- Israeli conflict as another battleground.”

American Mideast experts and bloggers quickly picked up on the Sunni-Shia violence surrounding Kuntar’s visit to the northern Tunisian city.

In his blog Pressure Points, Elliott Abrams, a senior fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, noted, “There is so much dishonor to go around here that there is no point attempting to distribute it fairly; the conduct of every single party is shameful.

But it would be nice to hear a word from the ruling party in Tunisia, the Ennadha Party, or from its newly elected government, about the idea that the murderer of children is a fit guest of honor in the new, democratic, humanistic Tunisia.”

The popular blogger Elder of Ziyon wrote on Friday “that Samir Kuntar, the disgusting child-murdering terrorist who is considered a hero to the Palestinian Arabs, visited Tunisia this week,” and ridiculed his cowardice for fleeing the ceremony.

Michael J. Totten, a contributing editor to World Affairs and the author of the new book Where The West Ends, also emailed the Post on Sunday.

“Tunisia is more politically moderate and mature than other Arab countries, and it’s also more tolerant, but unfortunately none of that extends much to Israel,” said Totten, who has written extensively about Lebanon and Tunisia. “I don’t think this by itself will hurt Tunisia’s chance for democracy – Israel is hated in plenty of democratic countries in Europe – but no one should expect Tunisia to play a constructive role in Arab-Israeli relations any time soon.”

Kuntar, who has earned praise from Arabs as the “dean of the Lebanese prisoners,” was honored by Syrian President Bashar Assad in 2008 with the country’s highest award. Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad honored Kuntar the following year.

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