April 21, 2004


The Nicest Terrorist I Ever Met (DAVID MARGOLICK, 4/21/04, NY Times)

When I interviewed Abdel Aziz Rantisi a year and a half ago in Gaza, the interpreter who accompanied me made one request: that our cab remain parked conspicuously in front of his apartment, in a quiet and pleasant residential neighborhood there. That way, she figured, the pilots of any Israeli helicopters hovering nearby would see there were journalists visiting, and would hold off killing Dr. Rantisi, then the chief spokesman for the militant group Hamas, at least until we'd left. [...]

For all of Dr. Rantisi's incendiary rhetoric, there was a surprising serenity to him, the serenity of fatalism and faith. His security was lax. The helicopters could come any moment, he said, but he'd not changed his life; he still lectured every week at the local university, still had his grandchildren staying with him. Shortly after our meeting, as the Israelis started going after members of Hamas' political wing, he, too, went underground and had already survived one assassination attempt when his time finally came. A small crater in a Gazan street undoubtedly marks the spot where he was hit. He managed to reach a hospital before dying.

Entering Dr. Rantisi's home that day, I wondered how I would feel shaking the hand of someone who blew up Jewish children. I wondered, too, how he would feel about giving yet another interview to yet another American Jew, whose objectivity he surely questioned. But even killers can be charming, and reporters are disconcertingly adaptable. There was a gentle affability to Dr. Rantisi. The interpreter quickly became superfluous. He spoke English softly, musically, imperfectly but painstakingly. Though our talk was of targeted killings, he sometimes even laughed.

He described the degradation of occupation: the loss of lives and dignity, the dead Palestinian children, the uprooted trees, the bulldozed land, the desecrated holy places. The "martyrdom bombings" were retaliatory, he insisted, responses to Israeli murders and massacres. He spoke the language of the freedom fighter. "We are doing the same now that the French did to the Germans, and the Algerians to resist the French, and Vietnam to resist the Americans," he said. Taken in a vacuum, his reasoning was seductive. One could see how he charmed left-wing European journalists, including a crew of Englishmen there with us. [...]

"The history will write Sharon is the first one who started destroying Israel," he told me. "And if you will live — I hope so — for 120 years, you will see that." As he spoke to me, he laughed almost affectionately, as if he really meant it. Imagine that: the future head of Hamas wishing me a long life. All I had to do was to stay off the wrong Israeli bus.

Not many people know it, but the Fuhrer was a terrific dancer.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 21, 2004 9:29 AM

Apparently being a terrorist isn't reason enough to be hated; one must be mean to the waiter and kick dogs too.

Posted by: Jeff Brokaw at April 21, 2004 10:20 AM

And interested in art!


Posted by: kevin whited at April 21, 2004 12:40 PM

And Animal Rights!

After all, A.H. was a vegetarian. And they didn't use animals for all their medical experiments. I wonder why PETA and the Vegans haven't commemorated him...

Posted by: Ken at April 21, 2004 1:11 PM

And to make a particularly apposite point for OJ, Castro loves baseball.

Posted by: Bruce Cleaver at April 21, 2004 1:51 PM

Yeah, but he wanted to be a Yankee.

Posted by: Random Lawyer at April 21, 2004 1:57 PM

But his players love America.

Posted by: oj at April 21, 2004 2:03 PM


"The Hidden Hitler" by Lothan Machtan

Posted by: Rick T. at April 21, 2004 4:45 PM

He was also very good to kids, fought smoking and loved to munch on cream cakes. A real favourite uncle Adolf.

Posted by: Peter B at April 21, 2004 5:43 PM

Gay? Well, possibly - Nazi taste in sculpture was certainly homoerotic and there was always something a bit dodgy about the whole blond, blue-eyed Aryan bit - but also according to Waite's "The Psychopathic God", Hitler fancied certain fetishes (not dependent on sexual preference) that are so grotesque that I won't describe them here. Let's just say that Waite claims that Geli Raubal, Hitler's cousin (and onetime mistress) committed suicide because of her humilation as to having to perform them on der Fuehrer.

Posted by: Joe at April 21, 2004 7:14 PM