Former Mossad director Shabtai Shavit had a most notable opinion piece printed in the liberal Israeli newspaper Haaretz this week. Entitled, “For the first time, I fear for the future of Zionism,” there are several lessons to learn from this article.
Not the lessons Shavit wants readers to learn of course. He is in no position to instruct anyone in ethics or morality.
One of the world’s foremost terrorist organisations, the Mossad is Israel’s international spy agency. It is adept at kidnapping and murdering Palestinian activists, writers and scientists. It has also had some successes killing Palestinian political leaders and resistance fighters.
This is the group that in 1972 murdered Palestinian author, playwright and activist Ghassan Kanafani using a car bomb in Beirut. This is the group that in 2011 kidnapped Dirar Abu Sisi, an engineer from Gaza who was visiting family in the Ukraine at the time.
It also kidnapped Mordechai Vanunu, the heroic Israeli dissident who exposed Israel’s nuclear programme to the world on the pages of The Sunday Times. For his efforts he was abducted by Mossad thugs off the streets of Rome and, after a show trial, served 18 years in an Israeli jail – most of it in solitary confinement.
The first lesson one can take from Shabtai Shavit’s new Haaretz piece is this: Israel is seriously worred about the impact of the Palestinian-led global movement to boycott, divest from and and sanction Israel. Israel has no idea how to address this “threat” to its occupation.
“The global BDS movement,” Shavit writes, “has grown, and quite a few Jews are members.” This is a significant admission on two fronts. Firstly, this former Israeli intelligence chief is admitting that the movement is having a growing impact on combating Israel’s war crimes, racism and various other forms of injustice against the Palestinian people.
Second, the fact that he noted the “increasing number of Jewish students [that] are turning away from Israel.” This is important, since “university campuses in the West … are hothouses for the future leadership of their countries.”
The point about Jewish participation in the BDS movement is important, since it undermines Israel’s arrogant and false claim to represent all Jewish people, worldwide. Netanyahu even once (in 2011, speaking to the US Congress) claimed that, as prime minister “I speak on behalf of the Jewish people” – rather that of all Israeli citizens (since that would have to include some 1.5 million Palestinians with ostensible Israeli citizenship). It also undermines the typical (and increasingly un-believed) Israeli propaganda line about Palestinian solidarity activists being motivated by anti-Semitism.
Shavit’s paragraph conceding the power of BDS is directly followed by a sinister insinuation that: “In this age of asymmetrical warfare we are not using all our force, and this has a detrimental effect on our deterrent power.” The meaning here is vague, but it is not too much of a leap to imagine that Shavit is hinting that Israel should start to use force more often in order to deter Palestinian and international BDS activists.
This is not so much of an outlandish notion as it may sound. It is already well documented that Israeli spy agencies are involved in the systematic monitoring, and probably the infiltration, of Palestine solidarity activism around the world.
The Mossad also has the resources and networks of various Zionist organizations to draw on around the world. Groups such as California’s “Amacha Initiative” which I and my colleague at The Electronic Intifada Nora Barrows-Friedman exposed at the beginning of this year as having infiltrated and spied on a student delegation to Palestine.
While an Amcha representative refused to comment when we asked if they were sending the information they collected on activists to any Israeli government agencies, there are other groups have have a far more intimate relationship with Israel’s international death squads.
Shurat HaDin, led by Israeli lawyer Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, presents itself in international media (including in some gullible British papers, such as the Guardian) as a plucky group of “civil rights” lawyers which is “bankrupting terror, one law suit at a time,” the reality is far more sinister.
Last year it was revealed that the group is closely linked to Mossad, and acts as a proxy for law suits the Israeli government would like to carry out around the world, but is not able to do so directly due to political considerations.
“The Israeli government has some constraints,” Darshan-Leitner explained to a Washington, DC panel in 2012: it “has some problems: they have to be politically correct. They have foreign relationships, they have international treaties they are signed of and they cannot do what private lawyers can do.”
Last year it was revealed (thanks to political prisoner and leaker Chelsea Manning) in a US embassy cable that Nitsana Darshan-Leitner in 2007 confided that her group “took direction … on which cases to pursue” and “receives evidence” from the Mossad and from Israel’s National Security Council.
This is in direct contradiction to public claims, such as on its website which states it is a “fully independent” organization “unaffiliated with any political party or governmental body.”
Whether or not Shavit is really advocating a more aggressive strategy against international solidarity with Palestine, and whether or not his advice is listened to, only time will tell.
My next column will address the second notable aspect of Shavit’s piece.
An associate editor with The Electronic Intifada, Asa Winstanley is an investigative journalist who lives in London.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.