Daily Israel Report

Gov't-Produced Video Lashes out at Arab World for Kuntar Support

Israel's Foreign Ministry takes the offensive in its PR war with Arab extremism, with a new Arabic-language YouTube video slamming Kuntar.
By Ze'ev Ben-Yechiel
First Publish: 7/17/2008, 9:01 AM

Israel's Foreign Ministry released a video to the Arab world, in Arabic, blasting Samir Kuntar, Hizbullah, and the Arab listeners who continue to support terrorism.

The video, which can be viewed on YouTube, is part of an international media campaign targeting the Arabic-speaking world. The video explains who "the real Samir Kuntar" and his supporters are: "Hizbullah is a terrorist organization that sees a cold-blooded child murderer as hero," reveals the narrator of the video, which aims to establish an Israeli moral victory over Hizbullah.

"For Hizbullah, Samir Kuntar is a first-rate hero, while for Israel and the rest of the civilized world he is the most despicable of murderers," the spokesman declares in Arabic. "He is no freedom fighter, but an abominable murderer."

Samir Kuntar crushed the skull of a four-year-old girl and killed her father along with an off-duty policeman in 1979. He has been lionized in the Arab world as a hero for doing so, and respected as a martyr for the nearly three decades he spent in Israeli prisons. The video is an attempt by the Israeli government to combat global Arab propaganda on Israel's terms.

Rather than acquiesce to an Arab media that controls the prerogative of propaganda, the new Foreign Ministry initiative allows government spokesmen to speak directly to the Arab world on the internet.

"The age of waiting for an interview with an Arab station is over," a Foreign Ministry spokeman told Ynet. "The aim is to create a dialogue through the YouTube channel's talkback mechanism. This video is the first, and in it we stressed the cynical way in which Hizbullah has exploited the families' grief and its and Samir Kuntar's boastful manner." 

The spokesman, Ofir Gendelman, is deputy director in the public affairs division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and is in charge of relations with the Arab press. The YouTube video contrasts Kuntar's murderous nature with the ethical pillars upholding Israel's decision to approve the prisoner exchange.

"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," he charges in the clip. "Hizbullah is a radical terror organization that is working under Iranian sponsorship. Hizbullah is proud of cold-blooded murder." 

The video was first launched on the ministry's Arabic website, as well as its YouTube channel.

The video concludes with a warning to the entire Arab audience: "Respected viewers, just one last word. If Hizbullah tries to carry out another kidnapping, the Israeli response will be tougher than it was in July 2006."