The behind-the-scenes narrative of why Vittorio Arrigoni suffered a fate he wished only on Israelis.
Apparently on Wednesday, Vittorio Arrigoni, a 36-year-old Italian activist with the International Solidarity Movement who had been living in Gaza since 2008, was kidnapped. On Thursday a small, Al Qaeda-linked group calling itself Tawhid and Jihad (Monotheism and Holy War) released a video of Arrigoni with a beaten, bloodied face and someone clutching the hair of his head.
In the video, Tawhid and Jihad demanded that Gaza’s ruling Hamas regime free its leader, Hisham Saidani, whom Hamas had arrested in early March—or it would kill Arrigoni within 30 hours.
Reports say that on Thursday night Hamas police officers stormed the house in Gaza City where Arrigoni was being held—and found it empty except for his body lying on a mattress. The doctor who performed the autopsy said he had been strangled with a plastic cord, about 24 hours before the ultimatum was supposed to expire.
By Friday morning Tawhid and Jihad was denying responsibility for the murder. Hamas now claims it has arrested two suspects, but it has also, in de rigueur fashion, been putting the blame on Israel.
The International Solidarity Movement to which Arrigoni belonged, founded in 2001, abets Palestinian terror against Israel and is an important force in the international BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions) movement against Israel. Israel’s Meir Amit Center describes ISM as “joined at the hip” to the Free Gaza Movement, and last year the two of them cooperated with the Turkish terror-linked IHH group in dispatching the Mavi Marmara toward Gaza, whose passengers attacked Israeli soldiers with guns, knives, and clubs in a well-known incident.
In 2003 a senior Islamic Jihad terrorist was found hiding in the ISM’s office in Jenin. Also that year, two British Muslim suicide bombers blew up the Mike’s Place bar in Tel Aviv, killing three and wounding 50. Five days earlier the two had met with ISM members in Gaza.
When ISM member Vittorio Arrigoni came to Gaza in August 2008, it was three years after Israel had withdrawn all soldiers and civilians from the Strip and one year after Hamas had assumed full rule there. Israeli civilian communities that border Gaza were under constant rocket and mortar attack—particularly Sderot, a low-income town of about 20,000, one-third of whose children were suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and under constant treatment.
It goes without saying that Arrigoni, a blogger for the Communist paper Il Manifesto who sported a Che Guevara cap, had no sympathy whatsoever for the residents of Sderot—or for any Israeli under terror attack anytime. The New York Times, ever enamored of the “Palestinian cause,” writes admiringly that Arrigoni “dedicated his life to people he saw as oppressed,” and “during Israel’s three-week offensive in Gaza that started in late 2008, after years of rocket fire against southern Israel, he rode in ambulances to report firsthand on the Israeli assault that he condemned.” He also reportedly “worked closely with Gazan fishermen and farmers.”
According to AP, the ISM said in a press release that Arrigoni had been engaged in “monitoring human rights violations by Israel, supporting the Palestinian popular resistance against the Israeli occupation and disseminating information about the situation in Gaza to his home country of Italy.”
On top of this article is the humanitarian posing jubilantly in 2008 with Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniyeh. Hamas, among much else, is the perpetrator of scores of suicide bombings, and its charter quotes the Koranic scripture that “The time will not come until Muslims will fight the Jews (and kill them); until the Jews hide behind rocks and trees, which will cry: O Muslim! There is a Jew hiding behind me, come on and kill him!”
If, after the Gaza War that ended in January 2009, there was a relative lull in Palestinian anti-Israeli terror, things have picked up again lately with constant rocket and mortar attacks and some other, particularly appalling incidents. Last month, in the Itamar community in the West Bank, members of an Israeli family—the mother, father, and three children aged 11, four, and three months—were stabbed to death, the baby nearly beheaded. A week ago Hamas deliberately fired from Gaza an antitank rocket at an Israeli schoolbus; it killed a sixteen-year-boy, and could have killed a few dozen children had the bus—by chance—not been almost empty at the time.
But none of this in any way undermined Vittorio Arrigoni’s “solidarity.” This comes as no surprise when one sees his Facebook page of vile anti-Israeli cartoons.
In a YouTube video Arrigoni said, “I come from a partisan family. My grandfathers fought and died struggling against an occupation, another occupation. It was the Nazi-Fascist one. For this reason, probably, in my DNA, there are particles that push me to struggle.”
But if, actually, there was something in Arrigoni’s “DNA,” it was continuing the Fascists’ and the Nazis’ work. Of the 45,000 Jews living in Italy under Mussolini’s anti-Semitic laws in 1938, about 8,000 eventually died in Nazi camps, 7,000 fled, and 30,000 survived in hiding. Israel was established in 1948, in part, as a haven for refugees and survivors of the Holocaust. By 1960 fully one-quarter of Israel’s then-two million citizens were Holocaust survivors.
But for Vittorio Arrigoni, it was unacceptable that there should be a haven or a state for Jews anywhere in the world, and he sailed from Italy to Gaza to join Islamic terrorists in working to destroy it. Emblematic of the young Western-bred totalitarian, thirty years ago he would more likely have gone to work in Fidel Castro’s sugar cane fields; today, those of Arrigoni’s ilk are more typically drawn to the jihad.
Vittorio Arrigoni, though, was one acolyte who found out that it is not pleasant to be attacked by Islamic terrorists. Normally in such cases I feel compassion. Not in this one.