The Corner


The Summer of ’82, Etc.

Sabri Khalil al-Banna, the terror-master known as ‘Abu Nidal’ (1937–2002) (Twitter, The Economist)

When you’re 18, the world seems so vivid. Everything makes an impression, doesn’t it? I was 18 in the summer of 1982, traveling in Europe for the first time. That included Paris (where my sister was studying).

On August 9, Palestinian terrorists — the Abu Nidal people — attacked Goldenberg’s delicatessen in the Marais district. They killed six people, including two American tourists. They injured more than 20 others.

In Israel, Begin said something like this: “If France can’t protect the Jews living there, I will.” It was just some rhetorical bravado — but it registered with me.

This attack is back in the news, almost 40 years later. Have a headline and a subheading from the Guardian: “Ex-French spy chief admits 1980s pact with Palestinian terrorists: Families of victims of 1982 Paris attack demand parliamentary inquiry over claims.”

For the story, go here. It contains a statement by Yves Bonnet, the spy chief in question:

“We made a kind of verbal deal in which I said I don’t want any more attacks on French soil and in return I’ll let you come to France and I guarantee nothing will happen to you. And it worked. There were no further attacks between the end of 1983 and the end of 1985. . . . Afterwards, they carried out attacks in Italy, for example, but that did not concern me as long as there was nothing on French soil.”

All very réaliste. But speaking of Italy: All the Achille Lauro hijackers went free, one by one. All of them.

In 1985, Palestinian terrorists hijacked the Achille Lauro, an Italian cruise ship. They singled out one passenger, Leon Klinghoffer, for murder. He was an American. But more important to the terrorists: He was a Jew.

He was traveling with his wife, Marilyn, in celebration of their 36th wedding anniversary. They had several friends with them. Klinghoffer was 69 years old and confined to a wheelchair. The terrorists shot him and dumped him overboard.

Later, a PLO spokesman said, “Perhaps it might be his wife who pushed him over into the sea to have the insurance.” Sweet.

We captured them, we Americans did. We captured the terrorists — some of them — who then spent time in Italian jail cells. After a while . . . poof. They walked. The Italians had their own realismo.

Before the terrorists walked, however, Mrs. Klinghoffer spat in their faces — I mean, literally. She recounted this to Reagan — who understood.

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