Elliott Abrams

Pressure Points

Abrams gives his take on U.S. foreign policy, with special focus on the Middle East and democracy and human rights issues.

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Tunisia’s Shame

by Elliott Abrams
August 18, 2012


The existence of “World Jerusalem Day” is itself a source of shame to all its “celebrants”, for it has now become a day when orgies of anti-Israel and anti-Semitic rhetoric are produced.  In Iran this past week, the day was “celebrated” by President Ahmadinejad with his usual vicious speech about Israel. While the crowd shouted “Death to Israel,” Ahmadinejad called Israel among other things a “cancerous tumor.”

But Iran’s “celebration” had nothing on Tunisia. There, in the city of Bizerte on Thursday, the day was marked by the presence of a guest of honor: Samir Kuntar. Kuntar was referred to as the “Dean of the Lebanese Prisoners.” In fact he is a child-murderer. In a terrorist attack in Nahariya, Israel in 1979 he killed a four year old child–after murdering her father in front of her–by smashing her head in with his rifle butt. He spent nearly thirty years in an Israeli prison (because Israel does not have the death penalty, except for Nazi war criminals) and was liberated in an exchange with Hezbollah in 2008 for the bodies of the kidnaped Israeli soldiers Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser.

So that is the man who was the honoree and center of attention in Bizerte. Here the story moves from the despicable to the absurd. Kuntar, a Hezbollah terrorist through and through, defended the Assad regime in Syria, which has now killed over 20,000 Sunnis. Accordingly, Salafi gangs using sticks and knives attacked the closing ceremony of the anti-Israel rally, shouting slogans that in essence accused Kuntar and the organizers of being pro-Shia. Several people were wounded badly enough to be hospitalized. The brave Kuntar fled out the back door of the hall.

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.

Post a Comment 9 Comments

  • Posted by EthanP

    IMHO, the real problem is that every “civilized nation on earth did not condemn this. Unfortunately, anti-semitism is so pervasive, and Muslim petro dollars so corrupting, that I see no happy ending. This will end in rivers of blood.

  • Posted by Niz

    Lol racism is a two way street. it is funny ppl here are accusing arabs of racism etc., but jews themselves are some of the biggest racists out there. one only has to see videos of israeli settlers and postings by israellis on public forums. moreover samir kuntar is indeed a killer and despicable man. killing a child should no way be excused under any circumstances, however such killer are honoured in every country. lets take the example of the U.S.A……. how about the captain of the USS Vinceses which shot down and iranian airliner. he was given a medal of honour for his ervices. how about the pilot of the enola gay which dropped the atomic bombs on japan killing and injuring thousands of civilians, how about general custer and other american generals who massaacred and genocided entire native american villages including women and children. arent’ all these guys celebrated by american children as great men, champions of freedeom and democracy etc etc. hypocracy is indeed hilarious

  • Posted by B'nei Noach?

    Secretary Abrams,

    Posting on Shabbat? To what code of honor, hence ‘dishonor,’ are you referring? Unless you are dipping into the post-Christian drift into nothingness and convenience of the West, or abiding by UN declarations at your discretion, could it be said that you are “fake,” (to echo Khamenei last week) in attempting to draw from the deep wellspring of Jewish values while cherry-picking its precepts?

    Their Quranic mandate is to drive into the sea those who drive Muslims from their homes. They do not differentiate within Herzl’s wake.

    Europe is clearly unimpressed by Israel’s attempts at imitation. Stop clamoring for attention and take the initiative to adapt to the Middle East through Torah. Its genius is evolution.

    (If you were in Israel, perhaps a white night in the ‘White City,’ I withdraw the personal nature of my critique. As last week’s Parshah notes, one is free to choose between a blessing and a curse, but to stake ownership in the Land without the Law is to have already made that choice).

  • Posted by Andy Gill

    Samir Kuntar is human filth. He is regarded as a hero for killing a four year old girl.

    That tells you how low Tunisian society has sunk. It is racist to the core, and destined to degenerate into barbarism. The world hates and despises them.

  • Posted by bdangr

    Perhaps,Mr. Abrams

    We would like to be finally told the Truth about some Israel’s illegal terrorist attacks if you will elucidate completely about such things as Operation Cast Lead, killing of 5 Iranian Scientists, attack of the Freedom Flotillas in International Waters, attack on the USS Liberty
    with US furnished Airplanes, Oh, by the way did you award your Pilots with Medals for that? Most of the American People are against any further Wars especially any Israel starts and involves us. We are not the United States of Israel!

  • Posted by Raja M. Ali Saleem

    While blaming others and pointing out their mistakes is a good strategy, it doesn’t helps peace. I would request Mr. Elliot Abrams to also point out how shameful Israeli parties conduct is when they have to stand in front of their own religious right.

    I would also like to ask CFR how they have allowed MANNY’s comments to be posted on their website. Is racism and anti-Arab prejudice kosher?

  • Posted by Not Impressed

    Nice selection of comments here. When you can’t defend the actions of Tunisia, Kuntar or the Salafists, try to deflect the attention onto another party. Truly pathetic rebuttals on display over here.

  • Posted by "Halfway Gone"

    One doesn’t have to defend them. Their actions are part of a broad historical wave which will end this conflict and prospects for Jewish messianism- the structure of our lives if we are to exist going forward- through violence unless Israel can adapt.

    The rebuttals on both sides- from calls for the extermination of over a billion people to scattershot divergence- reflect the vitriol and enmity which sadly define what should be a partnership among brothers.

  • Posted by Anis Attia

    When I read the headline, I thought Mr. Abram is addressing the current political stalemate and the potential of an intrastate conflict involving Al- Qaeda backed Islamist radicals, unfortunately I was deeply disappointed as his article take us back in time some 40 years ago. Both Palestinians and Israelis caused a lot of harm to each other. Traumatic experiences stay resilient in the communal consciousness for numerous generations who have not witnessed the initial or seminal experiences. One of the reasons they are still stuck in this stalemate and can’t come to a final resolution is the hardliners who are displaying Post Traumatic Stress Disorder symptoms. Those hardliners from both sides ,such as Mr. Abrams, are stuck in the past and maintain this conflict going through a rhetoric of mutual hatred and mistrust. Most of the readers of CFR and other foreign policy think tanks publications are abreast of the historical background of most international conflicts. This article is an insult to these readers’ intelligence as it distorts the facts and attempts to refuel inter-group animosity. Mr. Abrams praises the Israeli justice system as it only allows the death penalty for the Nazi war criminals, but he ignores all the dead from both sides. Until 2007, the Arab-Israeli conflict generated 62,000 deaths since the Israeli war of independence, 1947-49: Arabs make up roughly 40,000 of these dead and Jewish Israelis make up 22,000 (http://www.danielpipes.org/4990/arab-israeli-fatalities-rank-49th). The truth is both parties have been systematically killing each other, this is well beyond the death of a 4 year old girl. Comprehensive peace means not only the prevention of violent episodes but also the creation of a more equitable social order that meets the basic needs and rights of all people. I don’t defend either side here, but I want to just point out that S. Kuntar was 16 at the time of the kidnapping, let’s not forget he is a Druze Lebanese who witnessed the first Israel Defense Forces 3 months occupation of southern Lebanon in 1978, he’s an orphan and since his childhood was introduced to violence as the only mean to survive in a Lebanon torn by a raging civil war. Now if you expect someone who spent the last 30 years of his life in an Israeli prison to praise the Israelis you are delusional, what is striking though is that he maintained his innocence through out his trial, imprisonment, and after his release.

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