Saturday, April 23, 2011

Letters on Vittorio

This is the letter I sent to our local English newspaper, Arab News, on Vittorio's murder.


Who killed Vittorio Arrigoni?

The brutal killing of the Italian activist Vittorio Arrigoni shocked the world.

He lived with the Palestinian people, worked and suffered alongside them, and his death and kidnapping was finally blamed on the people he loved and was loved by. He was a loud and vocal supporter of the Palestinian cause and backed his words with action: He stood by the Palestinians in good times and bad, and was one of the only foreigners to stay in Gaza during the December 2008-January 2009 Israeli assault. Hundreds of people took part in a remembrance march across Gaza and the West Bank for him; hundreds across the world mourned him with no less sorrow.

A Salafist group has been accused of the heinous crime. One of their members, we are told, has confessed.

The question to ask when looking for the perpetrator of a crime is always: Who stands to gain from it? Who has the motive to plot an atrocity and the capability to carry it out? The answer here is, beyond a doubt, Israel. The 2nd freedom flotilla to Gaza is scheduled soon; Goldstone recently retracted his report on Israel’s 2008 Operation Cast Lead that relentlessly bombed Gaza; and Israel has evidently decided to strike when the iron is hot.

If it is the way it appears, this crime only serves to underline the “brutality” of the Palestinian people. They are ruthless even to those who help them. Do they deserve peace?

Let us not allow Vittorio’s death to go in vain. Let us not willingly swallow the story spoon-fed us by those in power. Let his work continue on unabated. Let us honor him as he should be honored."

The next day I was pleasantly surprised to find a reply to me in the Letters section:


Gruesome murder

I was amazed by the logic put forward by Maryam Al-Dabbagh in her letter “Who killed Vittorio Arrigoni?” (April 20).

She builds her case on the assumption that since Palestinians got a bad name because of this killing Israel should be held responsible for this murder. She chose to simply ignore the information that an extremist religious group kidnapped Vittorio and killed him in cold blood when Gaza officials didn’t agree to free their leader in exchange for the Italian hostage. Mind you, the extremist group didn’t demand release of Gilad Shalit, so why to blame Israel to safeguard an internal enemy?

This is the same logic employed in Pakistan by the sympathizers of suicide bombers who first try to accuse the American agents for the mayhem in the country. But when a suicide bomber is caught and his relations with extremist organizations becomes evident, they try to justify the act by calling it a protest against American occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq.

There is no doubt that Israel will try to defame Palestinians for this brutal murder. But there are some people among Palestinians who are giving this chance to Israel. I agree with Maryam’s closing line that we shall not allow Vittorio’s death to go in vain. Palestinians should look for black sheep within their own ranks who are blind by hatred of other faiths. Palestinians need to understand that extremist groups are not going to help them; they simply want to exploit their sufferings for their own nefarious designs."

I replied to Mr. Khan in today's newspaper:


Vittorio Arrigoni

In response to Masood Khan’s reply (April 22) to my letter of April 20, I will say that baseless accusations against anybody, whether it is a country, individual or organization, is unacceptable and counterproductive.

I also admit that in the Arab media Israel gets blamed for things it has not done.

However, my charge of Israel’s possible involvement in the murder of Italian activist Vittorio Arrigoni was not a knee-jerk reaction in an attempt to exonerate Palestinians; it was put forward after a thorough examination of the motive and developments during and after the murder.

The motive is clear. Arrigoni was a foreigner well loved by many and his death would serve Israel’s interests very well, especially with the advent of the second international flotilla to Gaza (which, incidentally, was renamed “Stay Human,” after Arrigoni’s motto). What better way to prove the “inherent brutality of the Palestinian people” than to have someone like Arrigoni killed by Palestinians for whom he was working?

Vittorio was killed 24 hours before the elapse of the deadline set by the kidnappers; that is hardly the action of people who wanted a prisoner of their own released and were not intending murder in the first place. I also doubt a devout Salafist would shoot himself at the prospect of capture, as one of the three did, cornered by Hamas earlier this week.

There is no doubt that the ones who tightened the rope around Vittorio’s neck were murderous Palestinians who deserved the death penalty and much more for their crime. I merely wish to put forward a definitive statement — along with many others, including those who knew him best, such as activist Ken O’Keefe — that after examining the murder, motives and intent, it is more than conceivable and quite believable that a nation-state with Israel’s track record would be more than capable of masterminding a gruesome crime such as this.

Conspiracy theories or not, we will never know what really happened. Either way, I do agree with Masood: The presence of such people within the Palestinians ranks in the first place — collaborators with Israel or not — is detrimental to their very cause, and hurts their case in front of the eyes of the world.

I think we just need to hope with all our hearts that Vittorio’s death will serve no interests but the cause he believed in — the cause of complete, thorough and permanent justice for Palestinians.

So, did I handle it right? Waiting for tomorrow's edition to see if I get any further surprises... :)

1 comment:

  1. How awesome are you? :) LOL. Keep at this, M! You should be a journalist.