Israelis, whose State was founded 50 years ago, and expanded since through naked aggression and unremitting acts of terrorism, might have loudly deplored Mossad’s humiliating failure to assassinate Khaled Meshal, the Hamas chief in Jordan, on September 25 in Amman; but they uphold the ‘right’ of their leaders to seek out the people they have disinherited and kill them wherever they are found, using whatever methods and weapons; that would do the deed.
Likewise, king Husain’s manufactured anger at the assassination attempt in his own capital cannot disguise the fact that, having signed a ‘security pact’ with Israel, he has given Mossad agents the general run, not only of the Israeli embassy in Amman, but also of his entire kingdom. Nor can his boast that he negotiated the release of Shaikh Ahmad Yassin and other Hamas prisoners in Israel in exchange for the release of the Mossad gunmen deflect criticism from what Palestinians have come to regard as ‘a very bad deal’, which his US masters had a hand in clinching, anyway.
In the wider Arab world, both the failure of the attempt and the release of Shaikh Yassin were hailed as a triumph, but few commentators or politicians bothered to ask why the Mossad thugs were allowed to go scot-free when they tried to kill a Muslim activist in an Arab capital in broad daylight.
Indeed, Shaikh Yassin’s release was quickly forgotten as an outbreak of synthetic compassion for three recuperating Gulf potentates gripped the Arab world. All three - the Crown Princes of Kuwait and Saudi Arabia and the Emir of Qatar - returned at about the same time to their fiefdoms from medical treatment abroad. Even at Muslimedia International press time, large newspaper advertisements - taken out by companies and individuals wishing to ingratiate themselves with the potentates - continue to appear unabated.
In Israel the first shock at the failure of the assassination attempt has given way to support for prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu who ordered the move - revealing a cross-party consensus that places Hamas beyond the pale. On October 8, the ‘dovish’ Israeli president, Ezer Weisman, said in Washington that he had made the point to US president Clinton that Netanyahu ‘was the man to deal with if the peace process were to be re-energised.’
Netanyahu himself privately cites polls showing support for his decision, taken after a bomb attack on July 30, to eliminate Hamas leaders, knowing that most Israelis, American Jews and US leaders will support a ‘discreet and successful operation’ - a euphemism for undetected murder.
A news analysis in the Herald Tribune on October 13, noted that the moral dimension was totally absent from the exhaustive discussion by Israelis of the botched attempt. ‘No mainstream politician or columnist, from right to farthest left, has questioned Israel’s entitlement to hunt down accused terrorists such as Khaled Meshal ...,’ the article explained.
Israeli law not only sanctions assassination but has ‘regularised it to some extent’ - according to the article. It was the then prime minister, Golda Meir, who in 1976 set up two committees - a forum of secret service chiefs known by its Hebrew acronym, Varash, and a panel of government ministers known as the X committee - to vet candidates for assassination by Mossad.
Alex Lubotsky, a member of parliament from the ‘moderate’ Third Way Party, not only defended the attempt on Meshal’s life but justified carrying it out in a friendly country. In an Israeli radio interview he said: ‘It is very easy to say you shouldn’t do it in countries with which we have relations. The first commitment of a government is to the security of its people.’
Israeli agents are in fact responsible for the murder of many Palestinian activists, whether Islamic or secular - and Tel Aviv doe not even bother to conceal the fact.
In April 1988, for instance, Israeli agents killed Khalil Wazir, Arafat’s deputy, known as Abu Jihad. In October 1995 they murdered the Islamic Jihad leader, Fathi Shiqaqi, in Malta, and the following year (January 5, 1996) they used a booby-trapped cellular phone to assassinate Yahya Ayash, a Hamas activist.
The officer who planned and led the attack on Abu Jihad in Tunis, the PLO headquarters in 1988, was none other than Ehud Barak, the current leader of the Israeli opposition Labour Party whom Arab rulers and Arafat insist is a man of peace.
On October 5, Barak offered to harness his international connections to rescue Netanyahu from the fall-out of the botched assassination attempt on Meshal. Instead of trying to unseat the Likud chief and help his party gain power, he instinctively leapt to the aid of the murderous profession he loved as a ‘security’ thug.
Netanyuhu’s director of communications and policy planning went further than anyone else in justifying not only the attempted murder of Meshal but also the assassination of the Palestinian activists since 1988. David Bar llan said Netayahu ‘did what every other Prime Minister would have done’ - adding that the attempt was not a ‘failed political assassination,’ he said. ‘This is in the same line - and I am not saying we did it - as the Yehya Ayash assassination, the Fathi Shiqaqi’s assassination. The whole world cheered the way these assassinations were executed and the results...’
It is clear that king Husain made a serious moral and political blunder in releasing those Mossad agents against this background of gloating. He told a journalist that he refused to meet Netanyahu, negotiating, instead, with Sharon the current infra-structure minister and the Butcher of Beirut, who in 1982 engineered the massacre of Palestinian refugees in Sabra and Shatila.
Arafat - who believed Husain had engineered the release of Shaikh Yassin to expand his influence over Palestinians at the expense of the Palestinian authority, was himself guilty of a sell-out by resuming talks with Israel (on October 8) so soon after the September 25 assassination attempt.
But what is new in all this, after all?
Muslimedia: November 16-30, 1997