We are usually highly critical of Arab governments, accusing them of being outdated. We also blame them for being tenacious when discussing their hindering and silencing policies. But then we witness a country such as Israel displaying traits that are just as bad as those we have been criticizing. We typically assume Israel is a modern and strong country that can deal transparently in many situations, since it has larger universities, larger research centers and better advanced media institutions.
This story, however, concerns Israeli agent “X,” who was said to have committed suicide in his cell after he had been secretly buried in prison, and was given a code name to conceal his identity. ; this increased the British and other international media’s longing to investigate and later uncover the “crime.”
For comparison purposes, let’s revisit the fall of the last big Israeli “secret” when Dubai police chief Dhahi Khalfan surprised the world with the abundant quantity of images and information about the Israeli infiltrated cell that assassinated the Palestinian undercover leader Mabhouh in early 2010. He exposed photos of 27 people who had come from six different countries with fake Western passports. This scene was unfamiliar; photos, passports, places and a map with the plot drawn out. In the world of technology and modern communication, the fake passports, wigs and disguises did not help them much because the faces of the cell members were uncovered, a harsh penalty that invalidated them as agents.
Prisoner “X,” who Israelis claim had committed suicide, may not be one of Mabhouh killers, because, according to Australian media, they had begun investigating his activities 6 months before the crime took place in Dubai. Nevertheless, the Israelis have certainly proven to be have longstanding military and security operations. But it adheres to worn concepts, following the scandal of muzzling the Israeli press.
Israeli writer Ronen Bergman tells an old story about Sokolov’s basement, quoting an expert on military censorship: “40 years ago, we had listening devices on phone lines belonging to foreign journalists. They used to call their colleagues, and we used sit and listen to their calls from the basement. Every time a journalist revealed more information than he/ she should, we used to intervene and shout so he would stop, and if that did not work, we used to cut off the conversation. I think that those who rush to hide the story (of the murdered man) are still living in a ‘basement mentality.’”
He tells a story similar to the policy of concealing truth under the pretext of security requirements, while it is in fact hiding the murder of an Israeli agent, committed by Israeli security forces more than half a century ago. He says the victim’s son has lived for decades, believing that his father had fled to Brazil and abandoned him and his mother. This is how the security services lied to his family, until a journalist came, fifty years later, and told him that his father was a secret agent who was killed with an anesthetic dose during his abduction to get him back to Israel. In order to hide the crime, they decided to throw his body in the sea and claim that the man fled to Brazil.
Maybe they were able to hide a political crime in 1952, but how can they hide a crime in this day and age? Dubai video tapes proved that lying is possible, but not perpetually. When Israelis claim the Arab press is not free, and that in Israel, they can throw rotten tomatoes at the prime minister, we agree with them! At least we know the press is not free and we are not pleased about it, but they are fraudulent, on a collective level.
This is a new era managed by frayed minds, not just with journalistic dishonesty, but through politics also. Israeli leaders believe the occupation of the Palestinian territories is guaranteed and permanent, as long as there is an abundance of cement and a plethora of gunpowder. But one day they will find themselves going over the cliff and out of the territories. The occupation may last for a century, but it will still be an occupation that seizes all the Israeli state’s potential and production, and it will eventually end.
This article first appeared in Asharq al-Awsat on Feb. 16, 2013.
Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today.