The Mossad, the FSB, Gentiles and coreligionists


* At The Washington Post, Jackson Diehl has some fun at the expense of the The Financial Times: An FT editorial chided Israel for allegedly ordering the hit of a Hamas killer and gun-runner in Dubai:

There is something wrong about this. If say, Russia’s FSB, or Libyan agents, had carried out a killing rather than — as seems almost certain in this case — Mossad, Israel’s external intelligence service, the discussion would have taken a different turn. Instead, as the European Union demonstrated last week with its rather wimpish démarche, Israeli behaviour is simply judged by different standards, even allowing for its democratic status and its position in a threatening, unstable neighbourhood.

Except, Diehl points out, the FSB left a virtual calling card a year or so ago at the assassination of a Chechen general — in Dubai, no less:

The difference, of course, is that the audience for a story about a Russian-sponsored assassination in Dubai is nothing like that for an Israeli hit. Relatively few stories were written about the Yamadayev case; there were no angry editorials in the Financial Times. Perhaps it’s needless to say that Delimkhanov and the other suspects identified by Dubai have not been arrested or extradited.

* At The New Republic, Marty Peretz also takes aim at the FT for its Dubai coverage — but he includes in his indictment an op-ed by Henry Siegman, the former American Jewish Congress director now think-tanking it in London:

Sometimes the FT sinks so low that it will even ask Henry Siegman, a dreary old Jewish bureaucrat who found glory in being asked to speak at gentile soirees and left-wing “getting-to-yes” talkfests, to write. So, on the very same day, Siegman picked up Buck’s theme and argued that “for Israel, defiance comes at the cost of legitimacy.”

Both of them [Siegman and FT Israel correspondent Tobias Buck] wrote on the occasion of the killing–very plausibly by the Mossad–of a Hamas terrorist. He was smothered in his hotel room a month ago. But the anti-Israel crowd can’t let up.

I’ve scoured the Siegman op-ed, and although it says nothing new — Siegman has long argued a "blame Israel most" line about the conflct, and this is no exception — it says nothing at all about the Dubai killing.

* At Talking Points Memo, M.J. Rosenberg has a good time with Peretz’s invocation of "gentile soirees:"

Gentile soirees? Do such things exist? Are there Jews who aspire to go to them?

I tremble. Many of the events I go to may qualify as gentile soirees (including family events, although that applies to Marty Peretz’s family as well). Every day I talk to "gentiles." Most of the people I work with are "gentiles." All my life, I’ve been surrounded by them, although they never expressly invite me to their gentile soirees.

God, I love the word "gentile."

* I had much the same reaction to Chas Freeman‘s use of the word "coreligionist" over at Mondoweiss. Freeman, the abortive Obama appointee to chair the National Intelligence Council, takes Richard Cohen to task for a column (we cited it here) in which he blasted groups that likened Israel’s policies to apartheid. Ha! Freeman argues. With the Israelis it’s worse:

South Africa’s whites did not have a dedicated cadre of coreligionists or ethnic kin abroad who labored to protect them from the consequences of their deviance from the norms of humane behavior as defined by Western civilization at large.

It’s been quite some time since I’ve seen that word used. "Coreligionists:" It unlocks memories of my misspent (but thoroughly enjoyable) mid-20s scouring white supremacist bookshops in the Australian intellectual wilderness. So, first of all, thank you Chas Freeman for making me feel young again.

It’s really a great word: One imagines it was coined to keep the speaker from having to pronounce "Jews," replete as that word is with stiffnecked consonance. Softly mutter "coreligionists" and you avoid the embarassing spectacle of spitting out the "J" word, but leave the unmistakable impression that you would if you could. Its like the fat guy in the white suit and the string tie in the 1950s movie about the South: The way he stretches out "Nee-groes" leaves little doubt about what he’d rather pronounce.

And how much lovelier, even, is "cadre of coreligionists," invoking an alliterative sea of unrelenting Hebrews.

Anyway, Freeman’s argument seems to be that the consequences of Israel’s policies will be worse and more far-reaching than those of the apartheid regime; whereas South African whites merely lost some privileges, Israel will lose much more — and so will the Jews:

At some level, Cohen undoubtedly realizes that "whateverism" on the part of the Jewish Diaspora sets up a dynamic in which global anti-Semitism and the extension of the violent struggle against Israeli policies to world Jewry, not just antipathy to Israel, are the eventually inevitable results.  Thus, having been established to protect and secure the world’s Jews from harm by others, the aggressive amorality of the Israeli state is now the source of an accumulating threat to Jews everywhere–not to mention others who support the Jewish state, like Americans in general.

("World Jewry!" Score one more to Freeman for stoking my nostalgic fires.) So, natch, the only way to avoid such a catastrophe is for us "coreligionists" to denounce Israel, and prontissimo:

Cohen’s reaction to this irony is denial, but widening recognition of it, consciously or subconsciously, seems to me to account for the fact that the most courageous and outspoken protesters in the West against Israel’s behavior are — with few exceptions — Jews.  To declare "not in my name" is to assert the values of Judaism and to deny that Israel is acting on behalf of either oneself or the world’s Jews.  Doing so recognizes that Israel is a foreign country and affirms self-respect that accords with the strategic interests of world Jewry.   In a just world that would count for much.  But in the unjust world in which we live, irony will surely become tragedy — unless the moral flaw it embodies is overcome.

Cop out on the cadre, if you will. And I also like Freeman’s darsha on "not in my name," referring, I guess, to the story of Hillel’s campaign to keep pool halls out of Modi’in. Whoever said "the values of Judaism" were inaccessible?

So listen up and renounce the Jewish "moral flaw" and avert "tragedy."

The odd thing about Freeman’s attempt at Jewish scholarship is that he goes out of his way — in a way I have yet to see among his co-fabulists — to exempt non-Jewish Zionists from the coming conflagration:

The Jewish Diaspora and its Christian camp followers are as responsible as Israel itself for the Jewish state’s increasingly blatant racist outrages against Palestinians and other Arabs.  The corollary to that is that the Diaspora has a responsibility to prevent actions by the state of Israel that threaten the moral standing of Jews outside as well as within Israel.  (The Christian Zionist element is relatively immune to such discredit.)

I’m banging my head against the wall on this one; "relatively immune?" But pourquoi? "Fellow traveler" has always been a handy handle for killers who wanna get some some more killin’ done, after all the killin’s been done. Sympathizing with Jews brought down inquisitorial wrath as surely as being Jewish did; more recently, Hutu genocidists were as likely to target their own kind who were married to or even friends with Tutsi as they were Tutsi.

What I’m thinking is this: Freeman, perhaps, is suffering none-too-comfy nights for hunks of his career spent flacking for repressive regimes in Riyadh and Beijing.

One way to deal with fears of any imagined payback is to repeat to oneself, over and over: "I’m not Saudi. I’m not Chinese."

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