From the Archive/Samir Kuntar, enough with the arrogance
Hanin Ghaddar/Now Lebanon/November 4, 2011
Shortly after his release from an Israeli prison, Samir Kuntar visited Syria in November 2008 and met with President Bashar al-Assad, who awarded him Syria’s highest medal, the Syrian Order of Merit. Kuntar also visited Druze communities in the Golan Heights. On the border with Israel, he expressed solidarity with the Druze community: “President Bashar al-Assad has promised me that he will help you,” he said. “I say to you, soon President Assad will fly the Syrian flag over the Golan.” Of course, none of that happened. But Kuntar did not care. Exactly three years later, Kuntar told the Syrian people that he is ready to cut off the hands of any Syrian who dares challenge the Assad regime.
At the same time, the Syrian government and media are ignoring the return home last week of the only Syrian prisoner freed as part of a swap deal between Israel and Hamas, Weam Amasha. Residents welcomed Amasha in the Golan Heights and refused to hold up photos of Assad. In a solidarity statement from his prison in Israel in May, Amasha voiced support for pro-democracy demonstrations in his homeland and went on a hunger strike to protest what he called a “massacre against unarmed Syrians” by the regime’s forces.
Kuntar wants to cut hands. Amasha wants to free Syria. Both were imprisoned in Israel, and both understand the meaning of freedom and dignity. But Kuntar preferred to turn a blind eye to the Assad regime’s killing of thousands of innocent civilians, including 267 children and babies, since the uprising began in March. He put his leader, Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah, who is a close ally of Assad, above the murdered protesters, forgetting the true meaning of the word resistance and why he joined the effort back in the late 1970s.
The absurdity of protecting Assad is intolerable, especially since he has in essence admitted to the killing and torture of his people by accepting the recent Arab League initiative to end violence in Syria. If the regime was innocent and was just protecting itself from a conspiracy, it would have rejected all attempts at implicating it. However, Assad agreed to all the steps of the Arab League initiative, without any conditions. This is an indirect confession of his regime’s involvement in the violence.
He accepted because it has become clear that there is no turning back—the protests will not end—and he wants to buy more time. Everyone can see it, except Samir Kuntar and the likes, who display an arrogance that masks logic or humanity. Of course no one expects Assad to implement the conditions of the Arab League initiative—that was made clear by yesterday’s killings and arrests of activists in Syria.
If Assad fulfilled the required demands—that the regime withdraw tanks and troops from the streets, free political prisoners, accept Arab observers and foreign journalists, and open negotiations with the opposition within two weeks—there would be mass demonstrations all over Syria, including in Damascus and Aleppo. The opposition will not stop until the regime is toppled. That’s exactly why the initiative is doomed to fail. The problem is that people like Kuntar do not understand that Assad is just buying time, and that he and his regime are too weak to refuse any initiative. They still look at the Syrian regime as a sacred entity because it supports the scared Resistance.
Kuntar is the Syrian regime’s kind of hero, one that cuts hands and protects murderers. After he was released, he rushed to Syria to get his medal, but did not mention the Lebanese who have been rotting in Syrian jails for decades or the Syrian political prisoners who have suffered much worse conditions than those he faced in Israeli prison. For they are not heroes. They did not kill any Israelis. All other political activity is a conspiracy, and deserves death, torture and pain. All those calling for freedom in the Syrian streets do not make sense to people like Kuntar. All the Syrian children who died in the past eight months are just victims of a conspiracy and deserve no sympathy. All prisoners who are viciously tortured every day by the Syrian security forces are not human beings.
It is the same arrogance that divides people into the honorable ones who support the Resistance and the traitors who are against it. If you are not ready to sacrifice your freedom, dignity and future for the sake of the Resistance and your dictator, you do not deserve to live. However, this arrogance cannot last on the new Arab street. In the face of the prevailing quest for dignity, it will lose. Samir Kuntar is today faced with Weam Amasha, who refused to meet with Assad upon his release because he understands that resisting the Israeli occupation in the Golan Heights does not contradict resisting one’s own dictator. Occupation and Dictatorship are two faces of the same coin.
Amasha gets it, but Kuntar is still arrogant.
**Hanin Ghaddar is the managing editor of NOW Lebanon