The publication by Al Jazeera and The Guardian this week of a cache of cables leaked from the files of the South African intelligence services has been enlightening.
Some of the stories that have come out so far only confirm things that were already known. However, these are still valuable for the extra detail they provide and the way they verify certain stories with independent sourcing.
For example, it was already well-known that the Palestinian Authority led an extensive diplomatic campaign against the promotion and adoption of the Goldstone report in international forums like the UN Human Rights Council.
Although the PA publicly claimed to support it, the Palestine Papers in 2011 revealed that behind the scenes they buckled to American and Israeli pressure to ensure the report's recommendations were never implemented.
The report ultimately accused Israel and Hamas of war crimes during Israel's devastating and bloody assault on the Gaza Strip in 2008-09. Hamas, for its part, fully cooperated with the South African judge's report, although it disagreed with the part of the conclusions that accused its armed wing of war crimes.
The new revelations in the Spy Cables confirm the story that Palestine Papers tell. One cable shows how Mossad chief Meir Dagan personally called the head of South Africa's State Security Agency on his mobile phone. The number had not been given out: the agents expressed concern, and launched an internal investigation into how the number was obtained by Israeli spies.
Once Dagan's identity had been confirmed, the South Africans promised to pass his message onto the political echelon, warning they would have little influence there. Dagan sent the message that the Goldstone report should be effectively scrapped, and claimed that PA leader Mahmoud Abbas agreed with him.
Dagan could have been lying or exaggerating about that, but the anti-Goldstone record of the PA is clear enough to suggest he was probably telling the truth in this case.
Another one of the leaked cables recounts a meeting between South African and CIA officers in east Jerusalem in 2012. The South African says that the CIA was "desperate" to make contact with Hamas in Gaza. For what purposes we do not know for sure, as the cables is not clear.
While Hamas spokesperson Ghazi Hamad denied to Al Jazeera yesterday that any such official contact had been made between the US and Hamas, it's not impossible that the US has sought to establish some sort of back-channel negotiations with the Islamic resistance movement.
After all, even Israel had to create such a line of communication in order to negotiate (via third parties) for the release of prisoner of war Gilad Shalit in 2011, in exchange for more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners (may of whom it has since outrageously re-captured).
If the South African spy's account is accurate, it only goes to show the hypocritical nature of American policy on Hamas. Although in public the US states its refusal to negotiate with Hamas, the reality on the ground may force them to do so in secret. Hamas is a part of Palestinian society, runs many charitable and social programmes and was voted into power in landslide PA elections in 2006.
America sought to establish communication with Hamas on one hand, while persecuting via massive court cases entirely peaceful activists and charity workers in the United States who were accused of supporting charitable organizations that had never been listed by the US as banned groups.
The "Holy Land Five" case is one of the most outrageous miscarriages of justice in US history, even by the hysterical standards of the post-9/11 Wester world. Ghassan Elashi is serving a 65-year prison sentence related to his charitable work in Palestine, despite the fact that US governmental agencies also provided funding to the same organisations in Palestine without investigation.
But the case brought by the US Attorney's office relied on Israeli claims that the charitable organisations were somehow tied to Hamas.
What these cables show, once again, is that is is one rule for American spies and another for American citizens.