Religious tolerance: a true test Here's what they (including acquaintances and close relatives of mine) do: they assume there is goodness in the hearts of all mankind, a goodness similar to theirs. In decades past, they would have been labeled hippies. And now what are they? Idealists? Wishful thinkers? Naive? Humbly, I suggest the answer is 'yes' to all three.
Here's why. They assume that Islam is misunderstood, that the horror stories we read about pertain to 'other Muslims', not their friends, that Islam is a religion of peace. What they cannot do is point to a worldwide movement by 'good' Muslims to denounce Islamic evil-doers as well as the parts of the Koran those bad Muslims rely on with absolute conviction. Although there is no such movement among Muslims, that does not keep my wishful thinking and idealistic friends and relatives from doing it for them.
"Give Islam a chance", they say. "Eventually, they'll do the right thing". And this, the one notion that destroys their objectivity: "They love life as much as we do!"
No they don't. At least not the most dastardly ones that steal headlines with their butchery and their decapitations. Nor their leaders who declare suicide bombers to be martyrs and heroes. Those leaders believe that the door to paradise is opened best with hands soaked in Jewish blood.
A gory exaggeration? An unfair appraisal? Often my arguments with relatives and friends last for hours. Always, I am left wondering whether they really believe what they're saying. What would it take, I ask myself, to convince them that they are making dangerous assumptions? After years of posing my questions, I think I have finally found shocking and sober proof that being so accepting can lead to ensuring that imprisoned and unrepentant cold-blooded murderers are set free. Or worse.
In this case, a miscreant, Samir Kuntar, bashed in the head of a four year old Israeli girl after making her watch him shoot then drown her Dad. That sick killer, Samir Kuntar, is about to be set free. An adequate comparison would be to consider what the world for biblical Jews would have been like had Haman been released. No one argued for his pardon. Samir Kuntar is worse than Haman. At least Haman was caught in the planning stage.
In the dead of night, Kuntar brutally murdered an innocent little girl and her father.
What is most troubling about the planned release of Kuntar in exchange for the remains of two fallen Israeli soldiers (Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev) and a report about long-missing Israeli navigator Ron Arad is this: what kind of group would cheer the return of someone like Samir Kuntar? Who would want to be affiliated with such a heinous individual?
Tragically, the answers are easy to find. Lebanese Hizbullah have acclaimed Kuntar as a hero. Hizbullah ringleader, Hassan Nasrallah, in Little choice for a defiant Israel, by Andrew Markus, The Age, July 15, 2006, is quoted as saying, "There is no solution to the conflict in this region except with the disappearance of Israel." Obsessed with that objective, Nasrallah made it his mission to free Kuntar. To do that, Nasrallah ordered his henchmen to cross into Israel and kidnap the Israeli soldiers. Just today, in exchange for the remains of Goldwasser and Regev, the Israeli Cabinet agreed to free Samir Kuntar, the psycho who was sentenced to spend more than 450 years in Israeli prisons.
In conjunction with the praise of Nazrallah, Palestinian leaders have made Kuntar an honorary Palestinian citizen. According to a CBC news broadcast, Kuntar is revered as a "role model". (On the Net, please see: Samir Kuntar... The REAL Samir Kuntar ) To me, he is nothing more than an evil child killer and murderer.
The problem I have with those who do not condemn Kuntar is the same I would have with any who do not find him despicable. Their values, are, at best, skewed as they are deranged. Some who cheer for Kuntar are scholars of Islam; they have no trouble defining him as a true follower of both Allah and Mohammed.
Islam can be seen that way. Indeed, I beseech my friends and family who seek to dismiss Islam's darker sides to look again. Samir Kuntar is willing and able to do things much more frightening to honor Allah than anything they can imagine. Those radicals who applaud Kuntar may find what he is doing to be compatible with equally foul acts they dream of committing.
That chilling possibility concerns me. I must ask my idealistic friends and family whether they will bother to find whether their Islamic friends are repulsed by the freeing of Kuntar. If so, where are their banners proclaiming their revulsion? Most likely, they're nowhere to be found.
Could there ever be a better time for them to prove where they stand? For the sake of all humanity, I wish they had both the courage and the desire to tell Israel not to free Samir Kuntar. If only they would, I would gladly admit to my mistaken impression.
How sad that that won't be necessary.
B. Koplen 6/29/08