The cruelty of the public execution of a young man who had family and friends, as it was the case with Vittorio Arrigoni's killing, is always awful. This is clear. What is not clear to the European public is that it is evident that the killers are his old Islamic Jihadists friends from Gaza. But they could have been Afghanis To understand the death of this Italian activist, one important fact must be grasped: his death was triggered by the way he mixed his life with that of his potential enemies, whom he thought were his best friends. But militant fundamentalists, or Islamists do not have stable affinities and "best friends." The only thing that counts for them is their interpretation of Quran. Hamas's Gaza, where Arrigoni was killed, is a land ruled by awful and distant laws. Arrigoni loved the Palestinians, but for them, he remained a total foreigner.
The crucial issue is this: When you go to Gaza or Afghanistan, it is important to realize that our concept of life is completely different from politically Islamic people's concept of life. To them, you can die because you are Jewish, because you are Italian, or Christian, because you are an apostate, or a corrupt Westerner... the extremist mentality, make no bones about it, cancels out friends and allies. No matter how much you have worked against the "Zionist power" or that you have called Zionists "rats," as Arrigoni did, nothing is of any worth if you break their rule -- a rule which will remain changing and unclear until the knife blade comes.
The decapitation of the American Nick Berg in Iraq in 2004 was filmed, the Jihadists said, "to give a clear message to the West;" the Italian Fabrizio Quattrocchi was executed because he was "an enemy of God, an enemy of Allah;" Vittorio Arrigoni, as his butchers say in the video, in words that scroll across the screen, because "he was spreading western immorality in Gaza," and because "Italy fights against Islamic countries;" in 2002, Daniel Pearl was killed in Karachi because he was a Jew. It has been repeated again and again that Hamas, with whom Arrigoni was on friendly terms, has condemned the crime. But in actual fact it does not matter if the assassins are members of Hamas or not. They have been, they will be, they all are controlled by Hamas. Even Al Qaida, which has a presence in Gaza, is seen by Hamas in a better or worse light, depending on the moment. But Hamas is always top dog in Gaza.
Hamas is responsible for the armed destruction of the UN recreational camp for children, which did not abide by Islamic dictates; it was responsible for arresting 150 women under the accusation of witchcraft and the execution of several of them; and it is Hamas that has introduced by law death penalty, whipping, cutting off hands and crucifixion, according to Sharia. Hamas killed the 32-year old Christian book salesman, Rami Khader Ayyad, guilty of selling Bibles. It was responsible for the captivity of Gilad Shalit. Not all those who carry out these operations, or to whom Hamas gives orders to fire Qassam missiles against Israel, are members of the terrorist organization that rules Gaza. At times Hamas even pretends to fight them.
Hamas is a movement, a party, a fundamentalist State. Its statute stipulates that it wants to destroy the Jewish State, to exterminate Jews and impose an Islamic caliphate on the entire world. Salafi fringes and those linked more to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, those influenced to a greater or lesser extent by Iran or Al Qaeda and based in the Gaza Strip, join Hamas and leave Hamas by turns. The fact that Hamas has now disowned the killers of Arrigoni is not of the slightest importance. The killers, as members of the Al Qassam Brigades, were employed by Hamas
Arrigoni was fan of political Islamism because he was an enemy of the Jews, but this did not save him from a cruel execution in front of the camera, just as many others friends or enemies of Hamas or the Islamic Jihad never understood.
So it is intellectually sad and even dangerous that a demonstration in front of the Italian Parliament blamed Israel and Italy for Arrigoni's death; or that the ISM, the pro-Palestinian NGO group to which Arrigoni belonged, attributed "moral responsibility to the State of Israel." These reactions seem to be triggered only by ideological hatred. But what is more striking still, with sincerest respect for the figure of the President of Republic, was the statement of condolences which Giorgio Napolitano rightly delivered; instead of laying the blame on Islamic fundamentalism, he asked that "a negotiated solution be found to the conflict which sees bloodshed in the region."
For us, it is inconceivable, even if you are a militant like Arrigoni, to live alongside those who fire missiles on civilians, wear belts packed with explosives and hand out sweets when an Israeli family is killed, including a three months baby, a four year old child and another of nine, in the Israeli suburb of Itamar.
With the same coherence, he could have invoked any good cause: the fight against world hunger, or child prostitution. Yet instead, Israel is being summoned to face some mysterious responsibility. But the fault is only of Islamic fundamentalism; what is the point of dragging the pained witness and victim of Hamas terrorism into the question?
Originally published in Italian, in slightly different form, in Il Giornale, April 16, 2011