In Samir Kuntar's mind:
Norm has a comment today:
...there is, in any case, a telling remark from Kuntar himself that may help others to decide what kind of a man he is. ... it is clear that killing civilians wasn't something that troubled him. He knew before embarking on the operation that led to the killing of Danny and Einat Haran that he and those he was with would be killing civilians; they saw every Israeli civilian as a 'soldier'. They admired those responsible for the attack on Ma'alot in 1974, when 21 Israeli children were killed. So much is, by now, merely par for the course. But Kuntar reveals a special sensibility in this passage, which does figure in the Guardian version:
Smadar [Einat's mother]... could not understand that it wasn't personal. I didn't come [from] Lebanon with a note that said 'Haran family.' I came as part of a conflict in which I was convinced I had to participate. I did what I did for my people, for my country. If I sit in jail for a hundred years, I will never change my opinions. This is what I believe.
(In the full version Kuntar adds, for good measure, that he didn't steal or break into a car.) The mother of the dead child does not understand; she takes it personally. And Kuntar cannot understand that.
Does the callous banality of the speaker's defence against the mother of the four year old Einat whose head he crushed with the butt of his rifle against a rock, does it remind you of someone else's defence?
''I was obedient to the leadership of the German state, because we were told and believed that Germany had enemies intent on destroying it,'' Eichmann wrote in another passage. ''The enemy's determination to destroy us, despite the madness of our own leadership at the time, weighed on my conscience.'' (Source)
Eichmann"s "cliché-ridden language produced on the stand, as it had evidently done in his official life, a kind of macabre comedy. Clichés, stock phrases, adherence to conventional, standardized codes of expression and conduct have the socially recognized function of protecting us against reality"
"the fearsome, word-and-thought-denying banality of evil." (Hannah Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem)
And like Eichmann, who could not understand how he was being held personally responsible for his role in engineering the Holocaust, a point that Arendt highlights in her book, so does Kuntar is incapable of comprehending the evil enormity of what he had done to one mother's family.
It's as if Quntar's "level of self-awareness... is less than zero. It is as if the very act of self-examination were something unmanly or profane: something unrighteous, in a word." (Source)
He seeks to diminish the onus of his evil deeds by appealing to a higher authority whose values are absolutely not to be doubted. Setting out to kill one particular child, with a name and an address, that would have been murder. But killing some anonymous Jewish toddler, which luck had thrown across his path? He is not answerable to the mother of that child.
And as though wanting to reassure his audience that he was indeed a law-abiding man, he is intent on emphasizing that he did not steal a car. That would have been a crime he could not commit.
"Civilization is not self-supporting. It is artificial. If you are not prepared to concern yourself with the upholding of civilization -- you are done." (Ortega y Gasset)
Saturday, July 19, 2008
In Samir Kuntar's mind: