Kamis, 06 Agustus 2009

A Chapter That Was Painful to Read

Wed, 05 August 2009
Jihad el-Khazen
What is in common between the two books “Kill Khalid” and “Zionism, the real enemy of the Jews”?

Of course, there is the obvious political common feature of being related to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. However, what quickly caught my attention in the two books was this: while I was reading an article written by Alan Hart - the author of the second book - in which he complains about not being able to publish his book in the United States, I received a letter from Brother Naim Atallah, the chairman of Quartet Books (publisher of the book about the assassination attempt against Khalid Mishal). In the letter, Mr. Atallah similarly complained about how the British media ignored the book, with the latter only receiving two reviews in the British Press (Al-Hayat in London, however, dedicated a decent space for a review of the book, written by colleague Susannah Tarbush.)

I would like to extend my gratitude to Brother Naim for informing me about this issue. In fact, I had been noticed of the book’s release, but did not order it, believing that there would be nothing in it I do not already know about the assassination attempt against Abu al-Walid, or about Hamas, its roots and its policies. Actually, I meet with the head of Hamas’s Political Bureau quite often, and he is not stingy with the information that he gives me.

Kill Khalid was written by Paul McGeogh, a prominent Australian journalist and a genuine award-winning expert on the Middle East, and particularly the Palestinian issue.

I want to admit here that the book has in fact enriched my knowledge about the subject, which means that the non-specialized reader will benefit even more.

On 25/9/1997, Mr. Khalid Mishal suffered an assassination attempt, through the use of chemical toxins, as he was entering his office in Amman. The chapter narrating the attempt reads more like a mystery novel, with Abu Saif, Abu al-Walid’s bodyguard, chasing two Israeli spies, and then engaging in hand combat with one then the other. He was then joined by Saad Naeem al-Khatib, an officer in the liberation army, who witnessed the chase and eventually managed to capture the Mossad agents.

We all know that following these events, King Hussein threatened to execute the Israeli spies if Netanyahu’s government did not send the antidote. The book explains the mediation role played by the Americans in this issue, and how the Israelis relented in the end, and Abu al-Walid survived. Nonetheless, the book includes very precise details, and I consider it to be a historical reference in its subject matter, since it is documented and corroborated by parties directly involved in the attempt.

On the other hand, there was a chapter in the book that was painful to read, concerning the conflict between Hamas and Fatah in the Gaza Strip, which ended with Hamas taking control of the sector in June 2007. In the book, the author takes Hamas’s side, and reveals that Fatah received four or five arm shipments on the eve of the confrontation. He also revealed that the Americans were siding with Fatah, since it was to them the sole recognized and legitimate authority, according to Keith Dayton’s testimony before the Committee on the Middle East and South Asia - a subcommittee of the US House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs.

Meanwhile, the details of the fighting recounted in the book include names and precise locations, especially about the sombre day of the 6th of October, when tens of Palestinians were killed at the hands of their brethren. If there is anything worth noting here, it would be the absence of Mohammed Dahlan from the Gaza Strip, and his ineffectiveness in the battles evident from the fighting. In this vein, McGeogh mentions that in the end, Hamas issued a general pardon, but it was one that excluded Mohammed Dahlan. This corroborates what I had heard from Brother Khalid Mishal and Dr. Ramadan Shallah, and the other leaders of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, that there is “bad blood between us” [i.e. Hamas and Dahlan]

As for Alan Hart, the author of the above mentioned book on Zionism, he is a Briton, and is one of the highest calibre experts on the Middle East. He was the correspondent of the BBC and the ITN television in the region, and his sources of information are innumerable and unparalleled. Two volumes of his book on his Zionism have already been published, while the third is already in the works.

In the book, Hart makes the distinction between Zionism as a Jewish identity or political Zionism on one hand, and religious Zionism on the other. Hart says that the tragic irony is that half a century after the Holocaust, anti-Semitism is now on the rise in Europe and America, and that the reason behind is the actions of Israel, the daughter of political Zionism, and the place of residence of a minority of the Jews of the world. Furthermore, the author considers political Zionism to be a colonial project, while he believes that by its abuse of the Palestinians, Israel is actually fuelling anti-Semitism around the world.

Hart did not find a publishing house that would publish his book, and thus founded his own in Britain to publish it. In fact, he mentioned two reasons why this happened despite his professional reputation: the first reason was the publishers’ fear of reprisal by the Zionists, and possibly losing advertisements and endorsements, while the second reason was that Hart’s peer journalists did not want to be accused of anti-Semitism, should they express views in favour of the book.

Personally, I found useful information in every single page of the book, such as the author’s narration of how Abraham Feinberg, the father of the Israeli nuclear bomb, financed Lyndon Johnson’s campaign in the elections. It should be mentioned here that I had written in this column once about the story of Lyndon Johnson’s Jewish mistress, Mathilde Krim, in the White House, on the day the 1967 war started.

The whole book is worth reading, as it is a sea of precious information. Chapter 41 for instance, is rich with details about the conspiring of Ariel Sharon, the ignorance of George W. Bush, the story of the reoccupation of Palestinian cities, and how the attempt to topple Abu Ammar took place, in addition to details about Abu Mazen’s ascent to the post of prime minister in the summer of 2003. Nevertheless, I want to say that the latter did not forfeit any Palestinian rights, nor did he ever compromise.

In any case, I believe that the history of conspiracy, terrorism and extremism is repeating itself today with Benjamin Netanyahu and his gang. Most likely, we will not learn the lessons of the recent past in order to deal with the present.

I shall continue tomorrow

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