Thursday, January 26, 2006

"Munich": Spielberg's lies and cover-ups

The Humanization of Israeli killers, and the Dehumanization of Palestinian civilians
Who is retaliating against whom in the Arab-Israeli conflict? That is the question

by As'ad AbuKhalil

(As'ad AbuKhalil, a native of Lebanon, is a leading expert on the Middle East. He received his B.A. and M.A. from the American University of Beirut, and his Ph.D. from Georgetown University. He teaches at California State University at Stanislaus and at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at UC/Berkeley. He is the author of "Bin Laden, Islam & America's New War on Terrorism." His latest book is "The Battle for Saudi Arabia.")

This film reminds me of a line that comedian George Carlin used in his comedy routine that went roughly like this: "Why do we call Israeli terrorists 'commandos,' and Palestinian commandos 'terrorists?" His question never got a laugh the two times I saw him use it with a live audience.

The thrust of the Spielberg movie is simple, fanfare notwithstanding: Israeli killers are conscientious and humane people, while Palestinians are always--no matter what--vicious killers.

Did you notice how one lone critical opinion of the movie by one Israeli diplomat (Ehud Danoch, Israel's consul general in Los Angeles), which mildly criticized the movie, got so much press in the US?It helped to promote the movie and to give the illusion of a "balanced" cast to the narrative, that it does not deserve. This supposed critical opinion reminded me of O'Reilly; how he always seems to find one e-mail from somebody in Montana who tells him that he is too liberal. He needs that to maintain an image that does not exist, just as Spielberg needs to maintain an image that he does not deserve.

This movie could easily have been a paid Israeli advertisement for its killing machine. In fact, it could be a recruitment movie for Israeli killing squads. It is a celebration of Israeli murder of Palestinians. When Israelis kill, it is always moral, and always careful, and always on target. On Dec. 26, yet another New York Times neo-con reviewer thinks that Spielberg was not sympathetic enough to the Israeli killers.

I was angry watching it; and I grew more angry as I observed the liberal Berkeley audience with whom I watched it react sympathetically to the movie, rooting for the Israeli head assassin, as he went about his "civilized" killing. I watched a humane Berkeley audience root for an Israeli killing team,in a story with Palestinian victims who were real people, with real blood.

An emotional moment for Spielberg, and presumably for American audiences was when the chief Israeli assassin talked with his young daughter in New York, stating that he missed her very much. Oh, yeah. That was the point at which you were expected to shed a tear or two; the music grew particularly sentimental at that point.

Spielberg's movie is based on a "non-fiction" book by journalist George Jonas, Vengeance, which took the Israeli account at face value. But in the book the Israeli killers did not express regret or second-thoughts of any kind. None! In the book -- but not in the movie-- the killers, according to Jonas, had "absolutely no qualms about anything they did." Hmmm...How could Spielberg have missed that?

I can connect to the story, in its details and personalities. The first victim of the movie was Wa'il Zu`aytir, and I knew his niece; I went to school with Abu Hasan Salamah's son--he was younger; and I knew the street and building where the three PLO leaders were massacred in Beirut. And let me tell you that none of the five people mentioned here had anything to do with Munich.

But why should this movie, a Spielberg movie, bother with facts, especially if they get in the way of a smooth pro-Israeli narrative? This movie is intended for mass audiences who know nothing about the facts of the conflict. That is exactly why it will work, and why it will deliver the propaganda goods.

Munich was not as planned an operation as has often been maintained. This was not planned months in advance, as Abu Iyad maintained in his account written with Eric Rouleau, My Home, My Land. Abu Iyad for years exaggerated the claims about the "carefully planned" Munich operation, and PLO media at the time lied about PLO gunmen throwing grenades into the helicopters, so as to make the last shootout more of a fight that it actually was.

Massacred Palestinians who were being bombed by Israeli fighter jets in their refugee camps demanded heroes and heroism, and the PLO had to give them some, even if they were not legitimate heroes. The German police at the time were going to take the PLO out, no matter what, and no matter how much the Germans endangered the lives of the hostages, and they presumably had Israeli consent. An Arab League diplomat revealed this recently when he broke his silence in an interview on Ziyarah Khassah on Al-Jazeera. He should know: he was the negotiator with the Palestinian guerillas in Munich.

It can be argued that the Palestinians risked the lives of the hostages by taking them hostages, even if they did not intend to kill them. That is true. This is similar to the moral perils entailed by hijacking: the hijackers, any hijackers, are responsible, and should be held responsible for whatever endangerment to the lives and health of victims. Quite true.

But it is also true that the "State of Israel" has taken a nation hostage, and has been endangering the lives of millions of Palestinians since the inception of the Israeli state. It is a question of who is retaliating against whom. One of the many false premises of the Spielberg movie is that Israel only went on a killing rampage-and only against Palestinian "killers"--after Munich; that Munich was some kind of watershed.

Watershed it was not, except in Israeli propaganda brochures. Israel has been perpetrating killing rampages against Palestinians, mostly civilians, since before the creation of the state of Israel. And how could Spielberg lionize Golda Meir and forget to mention her most memorable quote: that "there is no such thing as the Palestinian people"?

Spielberg must have missed that too,as he portrayed her as Grandma goodness who was pushed into vengeance by Palestinian monsters. More humanization of Israel and dehumanization of Palestine. That is why the movie showed the director of the Israeli assassination machine with his child: the audience must see him as a caring human being.

Not a single Palestinian in the movie appeared unarmed. They all were terrorists, and their murder had to be justified, and Spielberg did a great service for the state of Israel in that regard. They should name some stolen Palestinian property in his honor.

What were the Israelis doing before Munich? Before Munich -- not after-Israelis placed a bomb under the car seat of Palestinian writer/artist, Ghassan Kanafani and killed him and killed his 14-year-old niece. The teenage girl was not plotting the Munich attack when she was murdered by the Israelis; nor was her uncle. Kanafani wrote for Al-Hurriyyah magazine.

Israel, also before Munich, sent a letter bomb to Bassam Abu Sharif, a writer and journalist, and left him with life-long scars and bodily damage, and they also sent a letter bomb to Anis Sayigh, a scholar and researcher, who was not a member of any group. But Sayigh was a really diligent researcher, and Israel did not appreciate it.

Abu Sharif never had a military role. He was an innocent victim of Israeli killing. He nevr held a gun. I see him as a human being, and not as the armed and vengeful character that appears in Spielberg's movie; typical of US movies where Arabs appear, Arabs when they speak Arabic never need subtitles. We get them them when people speak in French and German, but Arabic is not important. It is not important to know what cheap natives say; we only need to know what expensive people say: Europeans and Israelis.

Do you notice that Hollywood still portrays Israelis as Europeans: they still don't want to accept that some half of all Israelis come from Asian and African countries. This makes it easier for the White Man to identify with them. And there is this element that is never mentioned about Palestinian attacks: and this is true of the present and of the past. It is not that some Palestinian leaders recruit or compel Palestinians to attack Israelis. It is the other way round. Palestinians, regular rank-and-file pressure Palestinian leaders and commanders to send them on military or suicidal missions against Israeli targets. Munich occurred exactly like that. Palestinians in the refugee camps in Lebanon, those who were trained by Fatah and by other groups, were lobbying for "action." Why? In February of the same year prior to Munich, Israeli jets bombed Palestinian refugee camps, and killed innocent people. This is what is missing in the movie. Most Palestinians who are killed by Israelis are unarmed and are killed not by conscientious and sensitive Israeli assassins-as they are outrageously portrayed in this movie-but by Israeli pilots who bomb refugee camps filled with unarmed civilians. Palestinians who are bombed from the air, long before Munich, are elderly and women and children in their beds. These are the victims that you will never see in a Spielberg movie.

Israel was killing Palestinians, and this was the context of pre-Munich. A small Palestinian group chose to seek venegeance--retaliation-- but they were not sure of their target, and this was only three months before Munich. One of the handful of people who knew about this was Abu Mazen, the Abu Mazen who today is the head of the puppet Palestinian Authority. But do you notice that US/Israel always forgive the past of those who submit to Israeli dictates? Look at how US and Israel forgave Anwar Sadat for his Nazi past. Abu Mazen was the money guy, and he dispersed the funds for Abu Dawud, who engineered the operation.

The American public and US media and popular culture are so enamored with the Mossad, the Israeli secret service, but the image of the Mossad does not match its actual reality. The best evidence is this movie: look at this obsession with Abu Hasan Salamah as the "mastermind" of Munich when he had nothing, absolutely nothing, to do with Munich. To be sure, Abu Hasan was a braggart, and had a big mouth, and would take credit for things he did not do, and would distance himself from failed "operations" that he planned, like the Sabena hijacking in 1972.

That was Abu Hasan: he lived the life of a playboy, and enjoyed a unique indulgent pampering from Abu Ammar who treated him like a son. Abu Ammar would never say no to Abu Hasan, on anything. But Abu Hasan had nothing to do with Munich, and this ostensibly all-knowing Mossad, did not know it. Former CIA director, Stansfield Turner, once said that the Mossad is a mediocre organization, but that it does outstanding PR. Former CIA man in Beirut Robert Baer said this about the Mossad--in an interview he gave to Al-Jazeera: "Let me tell you something, what people most err in in the Middle East, and I am responsible for my words to the end, is related to Israeli intelligence. To be sure, they can kill somebody in Paris or Rome or killing the wrong person in Finland or wherever else they did that [i.e. Norway]. To be sure they know Europe and Palestinians, and they know many things about Palestinians, but when it comes to the rest of the Middle East, I have not seen anything from their part that indicated their knowledge of those countries."

But this can never be maintained in a country that wants to exaggerate the prowess and knowledge of an intelligence agency not only to help feed the Israeli propaganda myth, but to also prepare the American public for more ruthless times and ways. So a very small number of people knew about it, and of course Abu Iyad was one of them. And Abu Iyad is the most important person on the list, and yet his name was not on the list, just to show you about how much--or how little-- Israel knew. Abu Iyad spoke more than he needed not only because he wanted to send a message to the enemy, but also because the wars of factions and "Abus" within the PLO necessitated a game of one-up-manship, and of wild exaggeration at times.

And while Black September was a paper name, and did not have a separate organizational existence or structure, several factions used the name for their own ends. Nobody consulted with Abu Iyad about Abu Hasan's use of the name for the failed Sabena hijacking. Abu Dawud is a key person here. And while his name was mentioned in passing, it was added after the fact in Israeli propaganda accounts. Abu Dawud was arrested in France for another reason in 1977, and he was released because there were no German or Israeli warrants for his involvement in Munich. That shows you.

Now, I will not give a blow-by-blow account of Munich. But I personally believe the account of Abu Dawud more than I believe Spielberg, i.e. Israeli propaganda claims, or even German police. (Abu Dawud's account is found in Abu Dawud, Filastin: Mina-l-Quds Ila-Muikh (Beirut: Dar An-Nahar, 1999). German police lied quite a bit about the case; they leaked to the press fanciful accounts of Palestinian infiltration of the workforce at the Olympic city, when none of that actually took place. They were too embarrassed to tell the truth. Similarly, the Israelis wanted to back the German account, especially as the violence at Munich was a propaganda bonanza for the Israelis in the West, just as Munich-this is not known in the West-was a propaganda bonanza for Fatah in the Middle East, as horrrific as the outcome was for all. And in that sense, the Germans, the Israelis, and Abu Iyad (and certainly Abu Hasan) lied about Munich, but not Abu Dawud, in my opinion. Abu Dawud is one of those 2nd tier PLO leaders who did not get corrupted in the messy Lebanese scene, and who did now allow the Gulf money that corrupted many PLO leaders to affect him.

Dawud was a man who was in charge of Beirut during the Lebanese civil war, and yet his name does not appear in any chronicle of the war because he was too low key, and because he never bragged. (he never talked even when the brutal Mukhabarat secret police in Jordan dangled him by his feet for days, while torturing him). People who saw him in jail at the time did not recognize him. But know this: your reliable "moderate" US allies in Jordan are quite proficient at torture. They are probably the best; they are helping the US in that regard as we speak. Most Lebanese did not even know Dawud's name. But this also explains why he survived, unlike say Abu Hasan Salamah, who married a Lebanese former Miss Universe, who introduced him to Lebanese bourgeois society. He could not get enough of that life. He developed a routine, and lived in a fancy apartment on Madame Curie Street in Beirut, and the routine he developed (going to the gym at the same time every day), made him an easy target for Israeli assassins.

Abu Hasan could get all the money he wanted for his own group from Yasser Arafat, and was doing a good job of maintaining not only good relations with the CIA but also with Lebanese right-wing groups. He became good friends with some right-wing militia leaders. Read the novel by Navid Ignatius, Agents of Innocence: it is based on Abu Hasan, although the author does not admit it.

It is interesting that in the Spielberg movie, the Israeli head killer (who was in the movie named "Troy"), was cast to be most appealing to the audience: a good looking and charismatic figure. But say what you want about Abu Hasan (and many people in Palestinian struggle, like Abu Dawud, did not like him) but he was a good looking and charismatic figure in real life. But in the movie the actor who played him in Spielberg's movie is not at all attractive.

Spielberg does not want the viewer to identify with any Palestinian in the movie. He just wanted to identify with the expensive human beings: the Israelis. The Arabs are worse than they were in Renoir's painting, the Mosque,where they are an unidentifiable blob. For Spielberg they were just armed, with no humanity. They were not supposed to evoke emotions, and you were not supposed to see them bleed, and if you did, you had to cheer for their killers.

The only ones that you had to feel sorry for were the Israelis who get killed, including the killers when they kill. The sentimental music that plays when Israelis die, differs from the music that plays when Palestinians die n "Munich." And no speaking roles for Palestinians were necessary. Why bother? Give one a line, and you have done your "objective" duty.

The list of prisoners that Palestinian guerillas submitted to German authorities for release, did not have just "200 Arab prisoners" on it, as the movie clams. It had the names of some 234 Arab and non-Arab prisoners, including Japanese and Germans, but that was not in the movie.

The statement that was issued by the guerillas gave a name to the Munich "operation": "Bir`im and Ikrit," the names of two (predominantly Christian) villages in northern Palestine, the people of which were expelled by Israeli occupation forces in 1948 for "security reasons." In 1972, the people of those villages petitioned the Israeli courts to return to their native villages, and the Israeli courts turned them down.

But if Spielberg were to use the actual name of the Palestinian commando "operation" in Munich ("Bir`im and Ikrit") he would have to relate to his audience those burdensome details and it would have detracted from his celebration of the Israeli killing machine.

But this begs the question: why is the Munich massacre more infamous than the genocidal Israeli bombardment of Palestinian refugee camps in February, prior to Munich? And why do the letter bombs to three Palestinian writers not get world attention? Why did American liberals not notice? Can you imagine what would happen if a Palestinian threw even a rose at an Israeli writer? Can you imagine the outcry among American leftists if a Palestinian were to say even a bad word to Amos Oz for example? That was the stature of writer Ghassan Kanafani among Palestinians.

I will not get into the military/intelligence background of the Israeli hostages as Abu Dawud does in his memoirs because the attackers did not know that information prior to the "operation." Abu Dawud gives many details about the military backgrounds of some of the Olympic hostages, but I do not think that this is appropriate because even Abu Dawud did not know that information before hand. I will not get into what actually happened at the site at the airport when the hostages were being transferred by their captors not only because the captors were responsible by virtue of the hostage "operation", but one can raise questions regarding the actual responsibility for the killing of the hostages. Abu Dawud cites Israeli newspapers from the 1990s in which writers raised questions about German police responsibility, and on how the German government never published autopsy reports of the hostages. The Israeli government also did not want to examine the bullets that killed the Israeli hostages. That would have settled the question, of course.

Dawud stressed that the attackers were under strict instructions to not shoot at the hostages, and you notice in the scene in the movie, that when they were storming the compound, they clearly struggled with the door and avoided shooting, when shooting could have shortened their entry time. Dawud claims that they were under strict orders to avoid using the grenades. He raises the possibility that the helicopter may have exploded from a bullet that hit its gas tank, but I don't know, and I have never relied on Spielberg, or on the book on which he based his account, for historical accuracy.

In retaliation for Israeli atrocities, Palestinians also have managed to assassinate Israeli military and intelligence leaders but those operations do not get Hollywood attention because the trend in US media and popular culture is that you should only show Palestinians when you can claim they are wantonly killing civilians, not when they are retaliating against Israeli military personnel.

It is not true that the Israeli response was confined to the assassination of the 11 Palestinians as was shown in the movie: Israel was also killing other Palestinians. Israeli "response" or initiative we should call it, was more massive and brutal that the operation of the secret team.

Three days after Munich, Israel ordered a bombing which required the use of some 75 Israeli aircraft (the largest attack since 1967). Their bombings of Palestinian refugee camps in Syria and Lebanon resulted in the killing of more than 200 civilians. And this is not because the Israelis were after a camp north of Sidon that was used for training the Munich attackers. That camp was not even hit (another sign that Israelis had no information about the real culprits of Munich) while other camps with civilians in them were bombed. While the "retaliatory" killings were being perpetrated by Spielberg's soulful assassins, Israeli bombing of Palestinian refugee camps continued uninterrupted.

The most glaring omission in the film, which shows you that the Israeli team was not only savage but also ignorant of their targets, was what transpired on July 21, 1973, when Ali Bushiki, a Moroccan waiter relaxing with his pregnant wife at a swimming pool in Norway, was murdered by Spielberg's beloved assassination team merely because Ali resembled what the hit team thought Abu Hasan Salamah looked like. The Norwegian police tracked and arrested the Israeli killers, but they were all released in a secret deal with the Israeli governement.

These inconvenient and uncomfortable facts about the Israeli killing team were omitted by Spielberg. Even Wa'il Zu`yatir, the PLO representative in Rome who knew nothing about Munich, and was an academic with close ties to Leftist circles in Italy, was shot 14 times. He almost certainly never held a gun in his life. Zu`ytir was more interested in literature than he was in military affairs, on which he knew nothing. The PLO representative in France, Mahmud Hamshari also had nothing to do with Munich; he too was "liquidated."

The movie, it seems, relished detailing the 1973 Israeli revenge in Beirut. Spielberg really enjoyed depicting that act by Israeli hit squads. But who were the three PLO personalities killed in that so noble endeavor? And who cares about the details? Kamal Udwan was the Fatah/PLO leader responsible for the West Bank and Gaza. He not only had no responsibilities in Europe, but he opposed "operations" in Europe, and even those by Black September. More than that, Udwan was one of the most moderate PLO leaders, having accepted the two-state solution back in 1970, before any of his colleques in Fatah. Another victim, Abu Yusuf An-Najjar, was in charge of intelligence in Lebanon-Lebanon, not Europe. While Udwan had no knowledge of Munich, Abu Yusuf may have heard about it but had no role whatever in it. The third victim was another Palestinian writer: and Israelis have no qualms about the murder of Palestinian poets, artists, and writers: Kamal Nasir was a poet, who was killed in his bed. The movie did not tell you that by the time the Israeli terrorists finished with their retaliation "mission," some 100 Palestinians and Lebanese were murdered on that day in April 1973.

The PLO representative in Cyprus also had nothing to do with Munich; he was the intelligence envoy of Abu Yusuf An-Najjar. And some people targeted on the list of the Israeli murder team were not only not involved with Black September, but some were not even members of the Fatah organization. Basil Al-Kubaysi was a Palestinian scholar who had just completed his PhD in political science; I recently had dinner with Basil's best friend in college in Candada. Kubaysi was in the PFLP and not in Fatah. The same for Muhammad Budia: he was with Wadi` Haddad, and not with Black September.

But we can rest assured the film is accurate: Spielberg offered the script to Dennis Ross and his former boss Bill Clinton to verify the "accuracy" of the film's Middle East political and historical references.

Spielberg portrayed the neighborhood where the PLO leaders and others were killed with all the features of the Orientalist imagination. The houses were old style with arches, and the place was protected like a military base. In reality, the PLO leaders lived in a civilian residential building in the most modern and upper class neighborhood of Verdun in Beirut. But why bother with that fact?

The Munich movie does not tell you that on September 16, and 17, Israel launched an invasion of south Lebanon, razing the refugee camp of Nabatiyyah. The Lebanese newspapers at the time had on the first page a picture of a smashed civilian car with seven Lebanese civilians crushed inside after an Israeli tank ran over their car near Jwayya in south Lebanon. That must have been too messy for Spielberg to cover. The car had stopped at the Israeli checkpoint that was set up at the entrance to the village. Were those civilians in the car also involved in Munich?

As Spielberg's movie ends,we see written on the screen the statement that Abu Hasan Salamah was later "assassinated." Spielberg forgot to add that he was "assassinated" by a massive car bomb in a crowded street in Beirut, which killed and injured scores of civilians--but hey--they were only Arabs and their blood is too cheap to mention.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006


President Chirac of France has indicated that the so-called "Nuclear Option" is thinkable against so-called "terrorist states".
The Chancellor of Germany, my home country, Angela Merkel has defended Mr Chirac´s remarks from critics within the German opposition parties.
Those government leaders of the biggest European countries have practically given the American and Israeli war-machine a green light for nuking Iran.

The war-crimes committed in the war against the Iraqi people were not committed in our, the German and the French name, the even worse crimes against the Iranian people will be.
I´m angry. I´m sad. I´m scared.
I knew that Ms Merkel as German Chancellor was not a good sign.
When Chancellor Schröder refused to rubber stamp the war against Iraq, I was so proud of him. I was so happy to be German, when I heard his speech in the Bundestag, when he said that the "power of the law" should rule and not the "law of power".
At that moment I was confident that we Germans had learned from history.
Cynics say, that the reason for Germany and France in not joining in with the Americans, was that those countries had opposing business interests in Iraq to the Americans.
But this at least was not the reason for Mr Schröder´s decision. I remember the media blast against him by all the pro-business media and generally by most all of the German media, even part of the publicly owned media.
I refuse to become a cynic dividing the whole world purely in business interests.
I refuse to believe in that dark and negative image of the human kind, which does not allow for ethical values.
I believe that in each one of us, is this ability for compassion and pure goodness, even politicians, even in capitalists.
Mr Schröder was the most business chancellor, the SPD, the German Social-Democrats ever had. In his office he was a German Tony Blair.
But he did not act like Tony Blair. In this short time span he became a compassionate and ethical human being, a person he used to be when he started to go into politics.
He possebly got the French President Chirac into the boat by pointing out French business interests going sour with an Iraq war. He might have gotten Russian President Putin in by pointing out that power would even shift more into the direction of the US when they would take over the whole Middle East, which in the long run would be dangerous to Russian sovereignity and interests. But Schröder was against the war for his love of ethics, ethics he might have compromised many times in his political career, but not this time, this one single time.

Ms Merkel is different. She has sold out all faith in human ethics a long time ago. And most Germans can feel it. Her party the "Christian Democrats", who actually have left pretense of the highest Christian value, the love of neighbour, quite a long time ago, had before the elections quite a bit of lead on Schröder´s SPD.
There had been quite a propaganda campaign against the SPD, by down-talking the German economy, which at the same time in reality had become the world-champion in export, far above the USA, still above Japan and even above the cheap wage, sweat-shop billion people country China. So while the high unemployment (high profit corporation were cutting down on personell, while also cutting down on paying taxes. Lacking those tax-revenues cities and towns were scrimping on public employment and work projects for small companies) and the so-called "economic problems" were causing the SPD government millions of votes, Ms Merkel was causing her own party to loose most of those votes again, just by being the parties front-runner, a person without charisma, unconvincing in her arguments and incapable of one single honest smile, that would reach her eyes.
As a conspiracy theorist I ask myself who, what economic big forces, pressed Ms Merkel, the vote-looser, on the CDU.
As a woman however I feel frustrated by her, the first female German Chancellor, one of very few female heads of government in the world. She sure makes us women look bad. She stands in a line with the British Margaret Thatcher and the American Condoleeza Rice, a woman without compassion or ethics, acting as if a woman in order to get respected in politics, must even act more cruel than a man.

And it makes me sad and angry. And it scares me.
But as a German and a woman I refuse to identify with Ms Merkel:

NOT IN MY NAME do I want the women and men of Iran being nuked, there homes, land and culture turned into radio-active rubble, their children being ripped to pieces, their future children condemned to life-long suffering of the consequences of radiation.
Who are the "terrorist states"?
Who terrorizes whom, threatening with the worst terrible destruction imaginable?

When Chancellor Schröder held his speech in the Bundestag, he knew, that chances were slim to stop the American war-machine, but he still refused to take part.
He thought, not in my name, the German name.
Now Schröder is no longer in power, now we Germans have to say it on our own:
so have the French, so have the other Europeans and so all the Americans of good will


If enough people say it, over and over again, the mothers to their sons, the sisters to their brothers, the children to their fathers, they will stop the war-machine, because they will stop the soldiers.
It still goes: "Imagine it is war, and nobody goes there!"

Thursday, January 19, 2006

"Munich" and Abu Nidal


There was a time when I thought that Palestinian was a synonym for terrorist - literally.
I remember exactly when I got impression. It was in August 1972 during the Olympic Games of Munich.
I was still a child then, I knew nothing about politics, very little about history and had not yet developed any interest in watching the news or reading a newspaper.
But from the few times I did pay attention to the news I knew that those Olympic Games were special for Germany.
Everybody was talking about it them, a long time before hand. Everybody was looking forward to them. And even people who normally weren't interested in sports or just interested in soccer were now watching the events on TV.
The openenings of the Games were so impressive, all those many athlets from just about every country of the world had come to Germany, the flags, the music, the cheering, the excited talks. It seemed like my whole country was so very, very happy.
And then all of a sudden everything changed. People were killed as hostages taken and afterwards those hostages were killed as well.
Everybody was in shock and all the happiness was gone. The Games went on, but there was no excitement any more. The reporters only made sad commentaries. And for the closing ceremonies there was no music, no dancing, no performances and no cheering.
I remember a group of children about my age, the commentator told the TV audience that they had practiced for many month to perform dances for these ceremomies, but because of the events, they would now only walk through the stadium.
I remember how sad those children looked and I remember that I hated the "Palestinians" for destroying all the happiness.
It was not until years later that I found out, that "Palestinians" didn´t just mean terrorists, that it was the name of a people.
By then I had seen the movie Exodus, which gave the impression, that Palestinians (or Arabs as they are called in the movie) are people who (most of them at least) did not want to live in peace with their Jewish neighbours, who had just come to the land after having fled terrible persecution in Europe.
Years later I watched the TV movie "Sword of Gideon" about the retaliation of Mossad against the people who were supposedly responsible for the death of the Israeli athlets in Munich. While I did not like the thought of assassinations I still did sympathize with those Mossad characters.
The events of Munich had poisened my mind for a long time against the Plaestinians. And it took many years and good antidote of historic information for me to realize exactly who is the oppressor and who is the victim in Palestine.
Now Stephen Spielberg has made a remake of the "Sword of Gideon" and from what I have read this movie seems to be not quite as pro-Israeli as the older movie.
At least the main-character shows in the end doubts about his murderous mission, doubts about its ethics, doubts about its goals and even doubts about the question, if the people killed are really guilty of any crime.However this movie is, according to reviewers, still blatantly from an Israeli point of view.

Looking back on the events of Munich I can see that I was not the only one who was influenced by them to become a staunch supporter of Israel at least for quite a while. The murder of those Israeli athletes was one of the best propaganda points for the Israely side ever.
Which leads me to the question what stupid idiot was responsible for this point.
He was called Abu Nidal. And he and his organisation "Black September" have scored many more points for the Israeli side.

I found some interesting information and credible speculations on Abu Nidal and his supposedly pro-Palestinian actions:

Abu Nidal began his long and bloody career in the PLO, only to become a bitter rival of Yasser Arafat. It was a situation that the Israeli Mossad, in a manner similar to their CIA cousins, would seek to exploit.

As Middle East expert Patrick Seale writes:

Israeli penetration of Palestinian organizations was common, but it was clearly not the whole story. Most intelligence sources I consulted agreed that it was standard practice to use penetration agents not simply to neutralize or destroy the enemy but to try to manipulate him so that he did one's bidding without always being aware of doing

Whatever jobs [Abu Nidal] might have done for Arab sponsors, and they had been numerous and nasty, he had done many other jobs from which Israel alone appeared to benefit."(1312)

Confirming Seale's theory are top Middle East terrorism experts, including intelligence officers in Arab countries, and even within Abu Nidal's own organization.

One French terrorism expert stated: "If Abu Nidal himself is not an Israeli agent, then two or three of his senior people most certainly are. Nothing else can explain some of his operations."

A former senior Jordanian intelligence officer said: "Scratch around inside Abu
Nidal's organization and you will find Mossad."

Backing up these reports was a former member of Abu Nidal's own Justice Committee, who told Seale that Mossad agents captured by Abu Nidal were usually killed very quickly to prevent them from confessing their true motives. Abu Iyad, former chief of PLO Intelligence, added,
"Every Palestinian who works in intelligence is convinced that Israel has a big hand in Abu Nidal's affairs."(1313)

Nidal's organization has been responsible for some of the most brutal acts of terrorism in the world. According to the State Department, Abu Nidal has carried out more than 100 acts or terrorism that have resulted in the deaths of over 280 people. Some of these attacks include the 1986 grenade and machine-gun assaults on El Al counters at the Rome and Vienna airports, attacks on synagogues, and assassinations of Palestinian moderates.
What is curious is that Israel has never punished Abu Nidal's organization.Israel has a long-standing policy of launching immediate and massive retaliation against any terrorist attack. While Israeli forces have bombed, shelled and raided Palestinian and Shi'ite positions in Lebanon, and have sent hit teams to kill Palestinian guerrilla leaders in other countries, they have never attacked
Abu Nidal. Given Israel's harsh and unrelenting policy of retribution against terrorist attacks, this seems more than a bit bizarre. As Seale concludes: Abu Nidal is a professional killer who has sold his deadly services certainly to the Arabs and perhaps to the Israelis as well. His genius has been to understand that states will commit any crime in the name of national interest. A criminal
like Abu Nidal can flourish doing their dirty work.(1315) Former DEA agent

A curious feature of Abu Nidal's terrorism is that more than 50 percent of it has been directed against Arab and Palestinian rivals. The ANO's vicious war against the PLO has led to Arab claims that it was secretly manipulated by Israel's Mossad secret service. According to this seemingly far-fetched hypothesis, the Mossad penetrated Abu Nidal's organization and has manipulated Abu Nidal to carry out atrocities that would discredit the Palestinian cause.

The hypothesis is based on four main points:

1. Abu Nidal killings have damaged the Palestinian cause to Israel's advantage
2. the suspicious behavior of some of Abu Nidal's officials
3. the lack of attacks on Israel and lack of involvement in the Intifada,
4. and Israel's failure to retaliate against Abu Nidal's groups.

Another distinctive feature of Abu Nidal's terrorism is that the ANO has generally not concerned itself with captured ANO members, preferring to abandon them to their fate rather than to attempt to bargain for their release. These traits would seem to suggest that the ANO has been more a product of its leader's paranoid psychopathology than his ideology

Another interesting speculation on Abu Nidal is here. If you follow the link, you will see, that this was posted by Gordon Thomas in September 2001, probably before 9/11 since it was not mentioned:

Abu Nidal is back
Branded by Western intelligence services as the “grandmaster of terrorism”, who vanished from their tracking computer screens a year ago, has surfaced - and sent a surge of fear around the world.
Abu Nidal is alive and well in one of Saddam Hussein’s magnificent villas on the outskirts of Baghdad - according to intelligence reports received this week by the CIA, Mossad and French intelligence.
All three services conclude that this most feared of terrorists who has remained out of sight for a year - and has not attacked a Western target for ten years - is planning some new outrage for his new host paymaster: Saddam Hussein............
Now his confirmed presence in Baghdad has sent a collective shiver through Western capitals.
Recent killings - including the murder of an Egyptian cleric in Yemen last month - bear the hallmark of Abu Nidal. Counter-terrorism experts say their ground intelligence suggests that Nidal has solved a problem for Saddam: giving him what he lacks - a ready-made terrorist organisation able to operate world-wide.
Nidal’s ANO is believed to now number no more than 200 followers. Mossad believe that over the past few months they have slipped into Iraq via Jordan.
Many of them are veterans of terrorist attacks in Europe, Africa and the Middle East.
Ari Ben-Menashe, a former senior adviser to the Israeli government on counter-terrorism, told me: “Nidal and Saddam have a tortured history and their relationship is hardly based on mutual trust. Saddam financed Nidal’s early activities - only to discover that Nidal was also working with Syria - to Iraq’s disadvantage. Nidal left Baghdad in a hurry.”
But now he is back. And, for the moment at least, Nidal’s well-known history of conducting terrorist acts on behalf of his host, almost certainly has led Saddam to welcome him.

Now Gordon Thomas, the author, has written a book about the Mossad and is said to have excellent connections into the Mossad and into British intelligence.
So Mr Thomas´sources have told him that Abu Nidal was in Baghdad with Saddam ready to use his organisation for major terrorist attacks.
And after 9/11 most neocons wanted to attack Iraq right away, but were stopped by others to go after Afghanistan first.
Could it be that Abu Nidal, with him the Palestinians together with Saddam were supposed to be framed for 9/11 first? But then they were forced by the oil-interest backers into a change of plan and frame Osama to get into Afghanisthan?
Remember the cheering Israelis who gave each other high fives will filming the collaps of the WTC buildings. When they were arrested they told the police "we are Israelis, we are not your problems, the Palestinians are."
The question of course is, why did they not use the Abu Nidal story to frame Saddam? Why did they have to cook up some story of an Iraqi agent meeting Mohammed Attah in Prague?

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Thoughts about Ariel Sharon


When I heard that Ariel Sharon had had a stroke, my first thoughts were, to be quite honest, God let him go to hell now.
For Palestinians Sharon is the posterman for oppression and mass-killings of their people. He was
"the mass murderer who led the assault on the West Bank village of Qibya, on October 14, 1953, in which his troops blew up 45 houses and killed 69 Palestinian civilians -- about half of them women and children, the butcher of Sabra and Shatila, Beirut, Tal Alzaatar,Ain Alroumanah, Jenin"

Read comments on Umkhalil´s blog.
Read there also an article by Karma Nabulsi first published in the British paper the Guardian.

Nabulsi writes:

Sharon has shaped everything for us: young, or old, in exile, or at
home in an Israeli prison under occupation. He is emblematic of our
condition; worse than emblematic, it is his very fist we feel. To this
day I have not been able to watch him on television, but must avert my
eyes at the immense presence of this avatar - there is no one else who
evokes this terrible reaction.

I know this is shared by Palestinians everywhere, especially the
survivors of the Sabra and Shatila massacres, for which, let us not
forget, he was culpable, according even to an Israeli tribunal, the
Kahane Commission. They recommended that he never be allowed to return
to public office....

To us, to me, his mission had always been thus: to kill our
resistance, our organisations, our solidarity, our institutions, and
above all our national liberation movement....

This he did through the iron tools of military rule: assassination,
imprisonment, violent military invasion...

His great skill was breaking ceasefires whenever he felt cornered to
make a political concession towards peace, he sought to provoke an
inevitable response, which could then be used to advance his military
aims, and free his hands to expand settlements, expropriate land in
Arab East Jerusalem and the West Bank. He never cared for Gaza, it was
a military asset. Indeed he won internationally uncontested control of
the West Bank (which was always his goal), by returning it. An empty
gesture anyway: in practice it is still owned and run by Israel...

Two summers ago, I went back to Shatila Camp where I had lived and
worked for so many years, the first time since 1982, and I have
returned many times in the past two-and-a-half years. Twenty-three
years ago we had been evacuated from the city, with the rest of the
PLO, at the end of the siege of Beirut, and only two weeks before the
massacres. But we only agreed to leave with international guarantees
that the civilian refugee camps would be protected from the fascist
Lebanese militias. Instead Sharon invaded Beirut (that he could not
take while we were there), surrounded the refugee camps, and had his
forces light up the night sky with flares, while the Lebanese militia
did their work with knives and axes and guns, day after day. He let
busloads of them in, no Palestinians allowed out.......

For Egyptians Sharon, who was head of the 9th brigade of the Israeli army in the 1967 war, was responsible for the murder of hundred´s of POW and civil workers in the Sinai.

The Israeli newspaper Maariv published accounts given by two Israeli officers, Arye Biro and Mordechai Brown. They confessed, giving facts and figures, that they and other officers had carried out collective massacres of Egyptian POWs during both wars. Biro and his unit killed 49 unarmed POWs in Sinai during the 1956 war, and Brown, commander of battalion 890, was responsible for the deaths of more than 500 POWs, including civil workers, during the 1967 war.
The pair also revealed that the murdered POWs were forced to dig their own graves using only their hands. They were then shot in the back.

For me Sharon is the proto-type of a man without a conscience and the most prominent representative of not only Nihilist theory but practice.
Power for himself and power for Israel are the only aims of his politics. And for this he walks over thousands of dead bodies.

For me Sharon is a character straigt out of Orwell' 1984. He says peace when he means war. His lies flood the main-line media and have taken in all mainline politicians in America and in Europe.
Just yesterday the German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, a Social Democrat, said: "Even in difficult times, we stand steadfastly on the side of Israel".

He is the man who has so much influence within the American government, that he can walk into the Pentagon without restrictions making demands of any kind.
He is most likely one of those pressuring America into the Iraq war.

And still, while I cannot fault anybody who has suffered under Sharon, or see his family and friends suffer under him to hate him, it will not do for me.
For I know this hatred would spread in my mind.
Sharon´s attitude and politics are not unique in Israel. And although most Israelis know about his crimes against humanity, far too many see him as a hero.
If I hate Sharon, I will start to hate others as well.
But I know deep in my heart, that hatred even of the most guilty is counterproductive in a quest for peace.
Hatred will cause fear in those who are hated, not insight in what they have done to deserve this hatred.
Hatred and fear are the greatest obstacles in coming to a mutual agreement of living together, for a beginning of reconciliation and forgiveness.
Hatred asks for aggressive revenge and fear for protection through violent aggression.
The circle of violence will never end in a framework of hatred and fear.

So all I can do is repeating the prayer, Jesus said on the cross: "Father forgive him, for he knew not what he did." For his mind was clouded, by lies told to him, and lies he told to himself, clouded by an ideology, which makes murderes out of men.
And Father forgive those, who have followed his command, his orders and his lead, for they knew not what they did. For their minds were clouded by fear and hatred towards those they feared and still in reality were never a danger to them.
And Father forgive us, the rest of the world, for standing by and doing nothing to prevent the murders and the terrible sufferings, for we knew not what we did. For our minds were clouded by ignorance and cowardice.