So, Israeli President Shimon Peres thinks that the fact that thousands of Lebanese people would turn out to celebrate the return of prisoners from Israel – including Samir Al-Quntar, convicted of murdering a four-year-old child – is proof that Israel’s moral values are superior to its neighbor’s:
President Shimon Peres denounced the red carpet treatment that welcomed the five prisoners that returned to Lebanon on Wednesday, comparing between the behavior of Israelis, who mourned the return of Regev and Goldwasser, and what he called Lebanese "dancing and drumming."
"I see and hear what is happening on both sides of the barricade. In Lebanon there are victory celebrations…
The heads of states, heads of Hezbollah are dancing and drumming before welcoming Kuntar - the murderer who with his rifle's butt smashed the skull of Einat, of blessed memory, who was four years old, and who shot her father in cold blood. In Israel, the people are crying. Today we are all the Goldwasser and Regev families…
You can see where the pain is, where the happiness is. But if you ask really where is the supreme moral victory, and where is the human defeat - [look] in the reception of a unparalleled, base murderer, and the lighting of memorial candles for the remembrance of our loved ones - the answer is clear…"
Einat Haran was that four-year-old Israeli child, beaten to death in April 1979 by 16 year-old Samir al-Quntar, a member of a four man PLF (Palestine Liberation Front) unit that infiltrated by sea from south Lebanon, and attacked the apartment building where she lived in the northern Israeli town of Nahariya.
At trial, eyewitnesses and an Israeli doctor testified that Samir al-Quntar had killed Einat by beating her about the head with the butt of his gun. For beating to death an Israeli child with the butt of his gun, an Israeli court sentenced al-Quntar to life imprisonment (and to 542 years overall). He was released in a prisoner exchange after serving 29 years in jail, and welcomed home as a hero in Beirut. Millions of Israelis were apoplectic at the release of a child-killer.
Hilmi Shusha was an 11-year-old Palestinian child, beaten to death in October 1996 by 36-year-old Nahum Korman, an Israeli settler in the West Bank.
At trial, eyewitnesses and the Israeli state pathologist testified that Nahum Korman had killed Hilmi by beating him about the head with the butt of his gun. For beating to death a Palestinian child with the butt of his gun, an Israeli court sentenced Korman to six-months community service (and a fine equivalent to $17,500). He was welcomed home as a hero at Hadar Beitar settlement. Millions of Israelis were utterly apathetic that their law enforcement and judicial system should enable a child-killer to walk free.
Commenting on the plea deal that the Israeli District Court offered Nahum Korman, which allowed him to escape jail time for beating a Palestinian child to death, the Israeli civil rights group, B’Tselem, noted:
The Court's decision to accept the plea bargain is a direct continuation of the policy of all Israeli law enforcement agencies - from the police and the IDF, to the State's Attorney's Office and the Courts, and including the Presidency. Throughout the years, all these institutions have turned a blind eye to cases where Israelis injure innocent Palestinians, and have even supported them. This policy stands in blatant contradiction to the authorities' treatment of cases where Palestinians injure Israelis. In the latter cases, the justice system is suddenly highly efficient and employs all means at its disposal, including measures that violate human rights...
This incident is one of dozens in which Israeli civilians killed Palestinians in the Occupied Territories. B'Tselem conducts a comparative study of all these cases, which paints a disturbing picture: many cases are never even investigated by the Police; others that are investigated, the State's Attorney's Office decides not to file indictments; the few cases that do reach the courts end in acquittal or in light sentences. In those isolated incidents where a serious sentence is imposed, the President commuted the sentence.
-- B'Tselem, Palestinian Life Continues to be Cheap; 22 Jan 2000.
But now the President of Israel thinks he has the standing to lecture Lebanon on how to treat child-killers. Sorry, Mr Peres, but people who think it perfectly normal that the killing of an Israeli child by a Lebanese should be punishable by life imprisonment, while the killing of a Palestinian child by an Israeli should be punishable by six months of community service, have nothing to teach the rest of us about morals or values.
Photos: Einat Haran via Arutz Sheva; Hilmi Shusha via BBC News.