Monday, March 02, 2009

When justice is in the eyes of the beholder

A Yemen man who has been ruled mentally incompetent has been convicted and fined for the killing of a Jew. Ynet News:
The slaying of Jewish teacher Moshe Yaish Nahari last December in Omran, north of the capital, San'a, raised fears of anti-Semitic attacks across the country. Monday's ruling says the defendant – Abdel Aziz Yehia Hamoud al-Abdi, a retired pilot in the Yemeni air force – is "mentally unstable." It orders he pay a fine of 50.5 million riyals, or about $250,000.

Lawyer Khaled al-Anisi representing the slain teacher says the court showed "prejudice" and warned the light ruling opened doors to attacks that could lead to the eviction of the Jewish community from Yemen.
I want to contrast this with this rather remarkable piece from the NBC World blog profile on Ismail Haniyeh, leader of Hamas from the Gaza Strip:

I won’t get in the way of his words, for they tumbled out. But it’s Mahlouf’s explanation of why he believes Ismail Haniyeh changed from a humble worker to an Islamic militant, and what his old friend thinks about him:

"He was a good worker, he worked for me for five years on a salary. He went with my son to Netanya, all over, he came to my house and I went to his in Gaza.
"There was no border post then, we all just came and went. We went to him, I went to Jabaliya like going to my own home, we ate fish there, we lived together, no difference between Jews and Arabs. We ate together, they went to Tel Aviv in their cars, I went to his house, his old house, not the new one now! Gaza was like Tel Aviv for me. "Weddings, funerals, we were friends. He came with his wife and two children to my daughter’s wedding. But one day his brother was killed and from that very day he became a Hamasnik."

On May 20, 1990, an Israeli, Ami Popper, who had been dishonorably discharged from the army, lined up Arab workers in the road in Rishon-le-Zion, and killed seven. One of them was Haniyeh’s brother. Popper was sentenced to seven life terms for murder, one for each of the seven Palestinians he killed, but he could be paroled by 2023. "I went to Ismail’s house for the funeral," Mahlouf continued. "There were four men in masks. I thought, walla! I’m finished. I’m a dead man. Then one took off his mask and it was Ismail. He said, ‘I told you not to come. I’m finished. I’ll never come to Israel again.’ He came with me to the Erez border to make sure I was safe, and he never came back to work. I never saw him again.

"He wasn’t religious – only later when his brother died. Then I didn’t see him again till [I saw him on] TV, and he’s prime minister! But today, let him stay in the bunker."That day at the funeral, I told him, get better, you can’t kill the Jews, we are one state, you are many, you won’t beat us. "What’s to talk about? They ate with us, worked with us, lived like kings. What happened? They want to get rid of us, what? Tough, we have our state, that’s it. Nothing they can do about it. There they kill each other, what did they get out of it? "That’s it, if you see him, best wishes to Haniyeh. I say to him, Ismail, get better, stop making problems, it’s over. That’s my message to Ismail. And lose the beard. Tell him your boss, Danny the plasterer, Rachel’s husband, sends his best wishes and stop making all those problems. We all want peace.

Check out the comments at the end of the blog. Many of the commenters say they well understand Haniyeh’s flip to the dark side – except Ami Popper didn’t escape Israeli justice. He was charged and convicted for seven life terms in an Israeli court which is hardly lenient even when the sentenced was later commuted down to 40 years in jail. Amir Popper is sitting in jail today. The interests of justice were served but it was not enough to satisfy Haniyeh’s blood lust, but a Yemeni killer of a Jew is set free, and yet, no one expects the sons of Moshe Yaish Nahari to grow up to lead a terrorist movement dedicated to killing Arabs.

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