FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Mafia Rules in the Middle East

I happened to learn about the car-bomb assassination of Imad Mughniyeh, the Hezbollah commander, while talking to a Palestinian Fatah man who is a confidante of Mohammed Dahlan, who is famously reputed in the press to have been both a torturer and the CIA’s man in Gaza, until the Hamas ousted him.

The Fatah / Dahlan man who imparted the assassination news hates Hamas with a passion — he said that in last year’s rival security forces showdown they grabbed and tortured him with knives for four hours (he was earlier tortured by the Israelis far longer, and worse, but views that as par for the course)– and is no fan of Hezbollah, but he viewed the killing with irony. He said he was hearing that the Israelis were saying “we cleared the account with him (Mughniyeh)” (Palestinian Authority security forces, like those Dahlan ran, now have regular coordination meetings with their ostensible enemies, Israeli intelligence), yet he claimed that Mughniyeh’s major killings had been more against other Arabs (eg. Saudi, Kuwait) than against Israelis.

The Israeli killing men are trying to contain their grins. The government issued a non-denial denial “Israel rejects the attempt by terror groups to attribute to it any involvement in this incident. We have nothing further to add” — i.e. they reject terror groups saying they were involved, but do not say that they were not involved.

The US, which had a $25 million bounty on Mughniyeh’s head (he’s implicated, in, among other things, the Lebanon Marine barracks bombing, the kidnap/ holding of AP reporter Terry Anderson, a TWA hijacking) felt no need to show restraint, saying, through the State Department: “The world is a better place without this man in it. He was a cold-blooded killer, a mass murderer and a terrorist responsible for countless innocent lives lost.”

In a world of proportionality and full enforcement of the murder laws — or even, rough justice-style “what goes around comes around” — George Bush’s men would not want to make that statement, since they (and Israel) are responsible for vastly more, and vastly more civilian, killings, don’t have Mughniyeh’s sometime excuse of responding to invasion, and don’t want to start up their cars tomorrow morning and wind up blown to bits.

But that is not this world. This is mafia world. If you’re big enough, you can whack guys.

It so happened that, hours before, another Palestinian man had used that mafia term as we wove through scrolls of barbed wire, checkpoints, walls, and Galil/M-16 toting Occupation men as Jewish settlers/occupiers zipped through the West Bank on ethnically/religiously segregated superhighways.

Two days before, a fairly typical day in Israeli politics, the lead front page headline in the Haaretz newspaper was “IDF (Israel Defense Forces) to step up Gaza assassinations,” in response to homemade rockets from besieged, hungry, bombed Gaza that had recently wounded Israelis (for background on the siege and the disproportionate death tolls, see postings of December 7, 2007, “Imposed Hunger in Gaza, The Army in Indonesia. Questions of Logic and Activism,” and January 6, 2008 “The Breaking of the Gaza Wall. Wise, Justified Political Violence.”).

“The IDF needs to wipe out a neighborhood in Gaza,” said the Israeli Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit, “We need to target all those responsible for terrorism without asking who they are” — suggesting a broad definition of “responsible” that encompasses those whose actions are unknown, but who do, at least, fit the criterion of being Palestinians living in Gaza. (Haaretz English Edition, February 11, 2008).

Dani Yatom, the former Shin Bet internal security chief, now a parliamentarian for what constitutes Israel’s establishment left, the Labor Party, said on TV of blowing up the smaller killer Mughniyeh that “the free and democratic world today achieved a very important goal” — suggesting that freedom and democracy do not have law and order (as opposed to whacking) as a prerequisite, which seems to undercut the whole US worldwide project of building up heavily-armed security forces, along with non-troublesome courts — in places including occupied Palestine — on the claimed premise that you can’t have freedom and democracy until you’ve first established the rule of law.

The politics are pretty clear. The US Republicans want terrorism — other people’s — on the US electoral front burner (see posting re. the just-announced 9/11 tribunals, February 11, 2008, “The Guantanamo Gambit. A Smart But Vulnerable Establishment. Tactical Options in US Politics.”), and Israel’s Olmert administration is still smarting from a new official report (the Winograd Commission) saying they lost the ’06 Lebanon war with Hezbollah (and with the precision-carpet-bombed civilian populations of southern Leabanon, and southern Beirut), and are simultaneously facing a fierce Israeli public clamor to go in and kill more Gazans.

There’s always a certain — weak — case to be made for just taking out a killer if nice, legal courts can’t do it (its the kind of thing that leftist guerrilla/liberation movements, or the French Resistance, did all the time). That was basically the case — apart from the weapons/ Al Qeada lies — that the US made for taking out Saddam Hussein. But the weak case becomes dangerously unserious when the one proposing to do the ajusticiamiento (delivery of justice, as they used to say in rebel Central America), has, like, say, the US or Israeli leadership, killed and murdered far more prolifically than has the proposed target. Then, though you remove a smaller killer from the face of the earth, you make the bigger killer still stronger, thus making life even more dangerous for regular people who are still walking around.

Surprisingly enough, for a man based in the New York area — an old mob stronghold and recently the fictional home of HBO’s Tony Soprano — Malcom Hoenlein, head of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations seemed to express surprise, at a Tuesday Jerusalem press conference, at his group’s poll findings that American popular support for Israel is “broad” but “also thin, and most Americans see Israel as a dark and militaristic place.”

Evidently they shouldn’t. When an assassination car bomb explodes, it gives off a lot of light.

(For the Hoenlein press conference see Anshel Pfeffer, “Hoenlein: Obama’s spirit of change could harm Israel,” Haaretz, February 13, 2008; despite the headline, he wasn’t criticizing Obama, who like all the big 3 candidates, is already pledged to the official US/Israeli government line, including on Gaza. He was merely fretting that “[t]here is a legitimate concern over the zeitgeist around the campaign… All the talk about change, but without defining that that change should be, is an opening for all kind of mischief.”).

ALLAN NAIRN can be reached through his blog.

 

 

 

 

More articles by:

ALLAN NAIRN writes the blog News and Comment at www.newsc.blogspot.com.

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

June 18, 2019
John McMurtry
Koch-Oil Big Lies and Ecocide Writ Large in Canada
Robert Fisk
Trump’s Evidence About Iran is “Dodgy” at Best
Yoav Litvin
Catch 2020 – Trump’s Authoritarian Endgame
Thomas Knapp
Opposition Research: It’s Not Trump’s Fault That Politics is a “Dirty” Game
Medea Benjamin - Nicolas J. S. Davies
U.S. Sanctions: Economic Sabotage that is Deadly, Illegal and Ineffective
Gary Leupp
Marx and Walking Zen
Thomas Hon Wing Polin
Color Revolution In Hong Kong: Usa Vs. China
Howard Lisnoff
The False Prophets Cometh
Michael T. Klare
Bolton Wants to Fight Iran, But the Pentagon Has Its Sights on China
Steve Early
The Global Movement Against Gentrification
Dean Baker
The Wall Street Journal Doesn’t Like Rent Control
Tom Engelhardt
If Trump’s the Symptom, Then What’s the Disease?
June 17, 2019
Patrick Cockburn
The Dark Side of Brexit: Britain’s Ethnic Minorities Are Facing More and More Violence
Linn Washington Jr.
Remember the Vincennes? The US’s Long History of Provoking Iran
Geoff Dutton
Where the Wild Things Were: Abbey’s Road Revisited
Nick Licata
Did a Coverup of Who Caused Flint Michigan’s Contaminated Water Continue During Its Investigation? 
Binoy Kampmark
Julian Assange and the Scales of Justice: Exceptions, Extraditions and Politics
John Feffer
Democracy Faces a Global Crisis
Louisa Willcox
Revamping Grizzly Bear Recovery
Stephen Cooper
“Wheel! Of! Fortune!” (A Vegas Story)
Daniel Warner
Let Us Laugh Together, On Principle
Brian Cloughley
Trump Washington Detests the Belt and Road Initiative
Weekend Edition
June 14, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Michael Hudson
Trump’s Trade Threats are Really Cold War 2.0
Bruce E. Levine
Tom Paine, Christianity, and Modern Psychiatry
Jason Hirthler
Mainstream 101: Supporting Imperialism, Suppressing Socialism
T.J. Coles
How Much Do Humans Pollute? A Breakdown of Industrial, Vehicular and Household C02 Emissions
Andrew Levine
Whither The Trump Paradox?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: In the Land of 10,000 Talkers, All With Broken Tongues
Pete Dolack
Look to U.S. Executive Suites, Not Beijing, For Why Production is Moved
Paul Street
It Can’t Happen Here: From Buzz Windrip and Doremus Jessup to Donald Trump and MSNBC
Rob Urie
Capitalism Versus Democracy
Richard Moser
The Climate Counter-Offensive: Secrecy, Deception and Disarming the Green New Deal
Naman Habtom-Desta
Up in the Air: the Fallacy of Aerial Campaigns
Ramzy Baroud
Kushner as a Colonial Administrator: Let’s Talk About the ‘Israeli Model’
Mark Hand
Residents of Toxic W.Va. Town Keep Hope Alive
John Kendall Hawkins
Alias Anything You Please: a Lifetime of Dylan
Linn Washington Jr.
Bigots in Blue: Philadelphia Police Department is a Home For Hate
David Macaray
UAW Faces Its Moment of Truth
Brian Cloughley
Trump’s Washington Detests the Belt and Road Initiative
Horace G. Campbell
Edward Seaga and the Institutionalization of Thuggery, Violence and Dehumanization in Jamaica
Graham Peebles
Zero Waste: The Global Plastics Crisis
Michael Schwalbe
Oppose Inequality, Not Cops
Ron Jacobs
Scott Noble’s History of Resistance
Olivia Alperstein
The Climate Crisis is Also a Health Emergency
David Rosen
Time to Break Up the 21st Century Tech Trusts
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail