Disfigured body with Israeli passport found in Berlin

Police in Berlin found the disfigured body of a man carrying an Israeli passport.

The body was found Sunday amid the rubble of construction being done at a local church, Army Radio reported Wednesday. The body was so badly bruised that it was unrecognizable, raising suspicion that the man was murdered.

The passport was registered to a 22-year-old man, but officials could not immediately determine whether the deceased was its owner. The passport’s owner was not named.

The Chabad rabbi in Berlin, Yehuda Teichtal, told the NRG news site that the Israeli man to whom the passport belonged was supposed to celebrate the Passover seder at the local Chabad house on Friday night but never arrived.

The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs is in contact with German authorities about the case, the Army Radio report said.

Jordanian minister calls for murderer’s release

Jordan’s new justice minister participated in a demonstration calling for the release of a Jordanian soldier who murdered seven Israeli schoolgirls.

Hussein Mujalli, who was named minister last week, served as a defense attorney for Ahmad Dakamseh, who in March 1997 fired on a group of eighth-grade Israeli schoolgirls visiting Baqura, a scenic peninsula on the Jordan River near Israel’s border with Jordan.

Jordan’s charge d’affaires was summoned Tuesday to Israel’s Foreign Ministry, where Yaacov Hadas, deputy director general for the Middle East and the Peace Process, expressed the country’s “shock and revulsion” at the minister’s participation in Monday’s rally and statements that he has made in its wake.

Hadas called on the Jordanian government to “immediately and unequivocally denounce the minister’s statement” and to reject all calls for the release of Dakamseh.

Mujalli said he was participating in Monday’s rally outside his office as Dakamseh’s attorney, not as justice minister.

In an interview Monday with the French news agency AFP, Mujalli called Dakamseh a “hero.”

“It is still my case and I will still defend him,” Mujalli said. “It is a top priority for me.”

Israel and Jordan signed a peace treaty in 1994. King Hussein traveled from Jordan to Israel following the shootings to offer personal condolences to the families of the murdered girls, and Jordan paid compensation.

Accused parent murderer returned from Israel

A New York man accused of stabbing his parents to death was returned to New York after fleeing to Israel.

Eric Bellucci arrived Sunday in New York and was charged with double homicide. His parents had been discovered murdered in their Staten Island, N.Y., home on Oct. 13.

He is scheduled to appear Monday at a court hearing at the Staten Island Criminal Court.

Bellucci was arrested at Ben Gurion Airport on Oct. 15, a day after he arrived in Israel, while trying to buy an airplane ticket to China. Reportedly he has a friend in Israel. He is not Jewish.

Bellucci, who reportedly suffers from schizophrenia, reportedly told a friend that he worked for Israel’s Mossad spy agency. He told other acquaintances that he was a model in Israel or that he worked for the CIA.

Al-Jazeera and the glorification of barbarity

I have often wondered why some of the best thinkers of our time refuse to believe in human progress. After all, there was a time when tens of
thousands of ordinary citizens flocked to the gates of the Roman Coliseum to enjoy the sight of wild beasts tearing human beings to pieces. Today, such a sight would evoke revulsion and disbelief.

Of course, inhumanity still exists, but it is no longer laudable or fashionable in the public sphere. With the exception of exhibition killings by jihadist recruiters, cruelty is no longer a catalyst of mass arousal. Even the Nazis tried to hide their deeds from the eyes of history. Be it for fear or shame, the trend is clear: The norms of civilized society are moving forward, and it is those norms, not their exceptions, that shape the minds of our youngsters and invigorate our hopes for a better world.

All this was true until about four weeks ago, when the royal procession of Samir Kuntar brought barbarism back to the public square. Kuntar is the killer who smashed the head of a 4-year-old girl with his rifle butt in 1979 after killing her father before her eyes. The mother, hiding in a crawl space, accidentally suffocated her 2-year-old child while trying to keep her from giving away their hiding place.

Kuntar was tried, convicted and sentenced to 542 years in prison and never expressed any remorse. He was released by Israel on July 26 in exchange for the bodies of two Israeli soldiers, Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, who were kidnapped by Hezbollah in 2006.

As anticipated, Hezbollah’s mass celebration in Beirut in the presence of its leader, Hassan Nassralla, evoked a chivalrous scene from a fairy tale gone awry. One by one, the whole Lebanese leadership stepped up to “brother Kuntar” to shake the hand and kiss the cheeks of that archsymbol of barbarity. There was Prime Minister Fuad Siniora, President Michel Sulayman, even the Druze leader Walid Jumblatt — a whole nation bowed down to a moral deformity in a Hezbollah’s fatigue and a “Heil Hitler” salute.

The focus of my attention naturally turned to Al-Jazeera because, with its outreach of 50 million viewers from Morocco to the Persian Gulf, this pan-Arab satellite channel is considered the conscience and future of the Arab world.

“What would they tell their children?” I thought. “How would they present a Lebanon — once the crown jewel of the Arab world — kneeling before a child-killing psychopath?”

A chill went down my spine when British-accented announcers introduced Al-Jazeera’s English channel correspondent Rula Amin in Abeih, Kuntar’s home village, and translated the wisdom of Kuntar’s words from the original Arabic. Imagine a voice cast in an impeccable Oxford accent articulating in obvious empathy: “He has returned to a hero’s welcome…. After 29 years in [an] Israeli prison, Samir Kuntar spent his first day of freedom vowing to continue to fight against Israel. He says he hopes to see the enemy again very soon.”