Over at France 24, I explored the way Israel is using youtube to counter the positive portrayal of Samir Kuntar as a hero, and cast moral opprobrium on those who see him thus. While I agree 100% with the government’s position on this case, I wish they did not have to resort to such low quality propaganda. Who are they fooling?
Here is the report:
On Wednesday, as part of a prisoner-exchange deal with Hezbollah which saw the return of two dead Israeli soldiers, Israel released five Lebanese prisoners and 190 bodies of Lebanese and Palestinian fighters. Among the five prisoners, was Samir Kuntar: the man who was convicted in 1979 of the killing of three Israelis (including a father and his 4-year-old daughter). While hailed and celebrated as a hero and freedom fighter in much of the Arab world, Kuntar is detested in Israel as a particularly heinous and diabolical terrorist.
In the twin effort of countering the positive portrayal of Samir Kuntar as a hero, and casting moral opprobrium on those who see him thus; the Israeli government has lunched an online video initiative which depicts Kuntar as a cold-blooded terrorist.
The first video was produced by the Prime Minister’s office and is a dramatic recounting of the events that led to the Kuntar murders. It also features, Smadar Haran, the wife and mother of Kuntar’s victims. Haran recounts how Kuntar killed her daughter by repeatingly smashing her skull in (something that Kuntar denies doing). The video ends with the words “To Child Killer” written across the Hezbollah slogan.
The second video which was produced by the Foreign Ministry office is directed toward Arab viewers. It was launched in the ministry’s Arabic website, and on its youtube channel. Unlike the first video, it eschews dramatic visual recounts and instead features Ofir Gendelman, deputy director of the Arab press and public affairs division in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, sitting in a chair with an Israeli flag in the background, calmly explaining in Arabic to his audience who Kuntar was and why the deal had taken place.
He tells his viewers: “”This is a child-killer whom Hizbullah is welcoming with praises, cries, and parades. This is a savage murderer, whom you extremists see as a hero. Hizbullah is a radical terror organization that is working under Iranian sponsorship. Hizbullah is proud of cold-blooded murder.”
The clip ends with ominous warning: “Respected viewers, just one last word,” Gendelman said. “If Hizbullah tries to carry out another kidnapping, the Israeli response will be tougher than it was in July 2006.”
Here is what Bernard Mikael (secretary general for the Général Aoun Lebanon Movement – General Aoun is a Christian politician who signed an agreement with Hezbollah in 2006) – had to say about the videos.
The video in English is trying to stir up the emotions of Americans and Europeans while insisting on the murder of the child. It’ll certainly work. The one in Arabic however, won’t get through to anyone. Unlike their leaders, the Arabic people are favourable towards Hezbollah. You just have to see the way they reacted after the militant group’s victory in 2006.
I don’t consider Qantar a hero, because I’m against the death of civilians. But in Lebanon he’s become a symbol of resistance against Israel. You have to remember that Qantar has no link to Hezbollah. He was arrested in 1979 and the movement wasn’t even created until 1984! [it’s generally assumed that Hezbollah was formed in 1982] At that time, he belonged to the FLP [Front for the Liberation of Palestine]. So his return was celebrated by all Lebanese people, not just Hezbollah.
These videos don’t surprise me. In its arrogance, the Israeli government is always trying to depict Arab people as barbaric terrorists, while they practice terrorism through the state, which claims many more victims. Just think of the 2006 war with Hezbollah. The Lebanese movement attacked a military target. Israeli’s response however meant that 1,200 Lebanese civilians lost their lives. It’s double standards. Kuntar gets called a murderer, but the crimes committed by Israel are ignored.”
To read more, please visit France 24’s The Observers.