19 February 2010

Israel and the Mossad: The Original Don't Ask-Don't Tell

It's always been an odd match, eh? The country that loves to shine as a beacon of democracy in a sea of religious dictatorships, and the men of action who keep them free.

Israelis enjoy a love-hate relationship with the intelligence service, Mossad. When they succeed in another James Bond-style operation, we sing their praises as an example of all good things Israeli: innovation, daring, outsmarting the competition. But when they screw up, we are quick to identify all of our social maladies: arrogance, carelessness, disregarding the rules.

The assassination of the Hamas operative Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai serves as a rare example of both attitudes. When news of the hit first broke, the global media pointed at Israel's responsibility. Despite the lack of official acknowledgement and the bounds of censorship, Israeli officials and journalists celebrated the "clean" killing of an old enemy – held responsible for the killing of two Israeli soldiers more than 20 years ago, and for the current flow of Iranian arms into Gaza. It added to the glory of Mossad chief Meir Dagan, widely credited for "resuming the fighting spirit" of the organisation. Dagan, appointed by Ariel Sharon, who said "Meir's speciality is in separating the head of an Arab from his body" recently got an eighth year in office from Binyamin Netanyahu.

Now, however, the wind has changed. Dubai police surprised Israelis with its professional report of "the murder of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh", showing a video featuring the suspects and their fake European identities. For the first time, we could see our anonymous heroes in a real-life documentary, not a Hollywood spy drama or some later recreation. It's mesmerising. And indeed, Israelis started looking around for "Kevin", "Gail" and the film's other stars in their neighbourhood.

More at the link

By: Brant

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