The bad, the worse, and the stupid 64

An Italian journalist, Vittorio Arrigoni, has been murdered in Gaza.

Passionately pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel, he was a member if the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), and had been in Gaza since 2008 when he arrived there on a “Free Gaza” boat mission intended to “break the Israeli blockade”.

ISM supports Hamas, the terrorist organization that rules Gaza; and those terrorist friends of President Obama, Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn, are involved with it.

Discover the Networks says about ISM:

Radical, anti-Israel organization that recruits westerners to travel to Israel to obstruct Israeli security operations.

Justifies Palestinian terrorism against Israeli civilians.

Though professing  a commitment to nonviolence, ISM members openly advocate the “liberation” of Palestinians “by any means necessary,” including “legitimate armed struggle”.

But the members of ISM consider themselves to be “humanitarian”.

From the (anti-Israel) BBC:

Vittorio Arrigoni, 36, was seized on Thursday by a radical group that has been in conflict with Hamas and is seeking the release of its leader.

Police said he was found hanged in a Gaza City house after receiving a tip-off. Two people have been arrested. …

“He came from across the world, left his country and family and his entire life and came here to break the siege, and we kill him? Why?” asked one of his [Palestinian] friends. …

Vittorio Arrigoni was a fierce critic of Israel but it is Palestinians that killed him.

Two members of an al-Qaeda inspired Salafist group have been arrested. Salafists practise an ultra-conservative form of Islam and regard Hamas as too moderate. …

The Salafists had threatened to execute Mr Arrigoni by 1400 GMT on Friday unless several prisoners, including their leader [who was] arrested by Hamas police last month in Gaza City. …

It is not clear why Mr Arrigoni was killed before the given deadline, but the Hamas interior ministry said he had died soon after being abducted.

Ministry spokesman Ehab al-Ghussein said he was killed “in an awful way”.

He described the killing as a “heinous crime which has nothing to do with our values, our religion, our customs and traditions.”

Huwaida Arraf, a co-founder of the ISM, said he was very well known in the territory and had a “dynamic, humanitarian personality”.

“I even thought that whoever has him is going to see his humanity and just let him go, so when I heard what happened to him I was totally shocked.”

Nothing to do with Hamas’s “religion, customs and traditions”?

And a founder of ISM expects Salifists to “see his humanity and just let him go”?

The bitter delight of ironies like those makes the reading of thousands of lines of news and commentary worth while!

News for ISM: the Arab culture is dishonorable and cruel. In the culture of the West, to be honorable, to act honorably, is to do what you know to be right. It is not a matter of what other people expect of you, but of what you expect of yourself: living up to your own principles of decency. It is to do with your probity, not with how you appear to others. You are answerable to your own conscience. Not what you seem to be but what you are, not what you are reputed to do but what you actually do, makes you honorable or dishonorable.

In Arab culture it is what a man seems to be to his fellow Arabs that matters, so the right word for what Arabs call “honor” is “face”. So important is face that if the least breath of unsubstantiated gossip threatens a man with the loss of it, he’ll go to any lengths to recover it. If it touches on the chastity of his wife or daughter or sister, he’ll kill her to recover it. Such an act his fellow Arabs call “restoring his honor”, a man’s face being more important than a woman’s life. Even if she is innocent of any unchaste act or look or thought, if she is being maliciously maligned, or if she is the victim perhaps of violent sexual assault that she resisted by all means, if others say she is defiled his reputation is stained, and he can only cleanse the stain by killing her. Judged by Western standards of morality, such abuse of women is profoundly dishonorable.

As these so-called “honor killings” are carried out in Islamic societies generally, it may be that Islam is the source of the custom. But whatever the origin, this cruelty, this injustice, persists in Arab culture.

We are not speaking of ethnicity. Whatever can be said of a race or a nation, whatever characteristics it is perceived to have, cannot be ascribed to any individual member of it. But a culture is made of religion, custom and tradition. It is what the majority accept, enact, continue, and hand on. And a culture that subjugates women; that beats the Koran into children; that tortures prisoners as a matter of routine; that sends children walking over minefields (as was done in the Iran-Iraq war); that uses children, civilians, hospital patients as human shields, is vicious, uncivilized, and needs to be completely changed.

We do not condone the murder of Vittorio Arrigoni. We are distressed that he was tortured. He was wrong and foolish, he assisted terrorists, and failed to see that the regime he supported was cruel and unjust. Like all his fellow members of ISM, he was blind to the fact that America and Israel, among a minority of countries, genuinely strive for freedom and justice in a dangerous world. He and all those who have lived safely in Western countries and go to places like Gaza to prove their moral superiority, to serve a cause they little understand in societies where quite different ways prevail, seem to expect to be privileged, exempt from the practices they excuse. If they find they are not exempt, that their grand moral gestures are not appreciated, that they are not seen as heroes but as foreign interferers, and are treated in the customary way, they ought to blame themselves. But we don’t think they will.

Is ISM likely to draw the right conclusions from the death of Vittorio Arrigoni, and disband? Probably not. If experience is no cure for foolishness, nothing is.