Thursday, July 17, 2008

Putting a face on evil

Samir Kuntar is the perpetrator of a truly gruesome act of violence committed almost 30 years ago. He was released yesterday, on July 16, 2008 as part of a prisoner swap between Israel and Hezbollah. While the negotiations leading to his release are the subject of controversy, I am also quite concerned and shocked by the hero's welcome he received in Lebanon. The guy murdered a little girl with the butt of his rifle, not exactly the kind of person you'd want to root for, especially not in a mass rally.

For me, he represents the face of evil. His nazi salute of the crowd (see photo) just clinches it.

Taking a step back, Sun Tzu said All warfare is based on deception." This general principle also applies to the Arab-Israeli conflict. Since 1974, the political and psychological aspects of the conflict have tremendous importance, perhaps even more than purely military considerations. Appearing as murderous fanatics on world TV is probably the last thing you'd want to do in order to win the hearts of minds of the wider public. What may seem like a Hezbollah victory today, may be viewed very differently tomorrow. This reminds me of a Zen Master story mentioned in the movie "Charlie's War".

Do you know the story of Zen Master and the little boy?

There was a little boy. On his 14th birthday, he gets a horse. Everybody in the village says "how wonderful, the boy got a horse" and the Zen Master says "we'll see." Two years later the boy falls off the horse and breaks his leg. Everybody in the village says "how terrible" and the Zen master says "we'll see." Then, a war breaks out, and all the young men have to go and fight. The boy can't because his leg is all messed up. Everybody in the village says "how wonderful" and the Zen Master says...

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