Yesterday, I reported that Haaretz had inadvertently published secret information revealing that Ameer Makhoul and Omar Said met with a Lebanese, Hassan Jaja, who the Shin Bet claimed was a Hezbollah agent. Based on his family name Rechavia Berman and I assumed Hassan was a Maronite Christian and a family relation of Samir Geagea. Through the assistance of a friend of this blog, I’ve been able to ascertain why Hassan Jaja is considered a forbidden person for Israeli Palestinian citizens to contact.
First, let me correct the record: Hassan Jaja is not related to Samir Geagea. While I do not yet know Jaja’s political orientation within Lebanese politics, it’s highly unlikely his Shin Bet status has anything to do with Hezbollah. Rather, Jaja is married to the daughter of noted Palestinian historian Akram Zaitar. Together, they founded a Jordanian environmental NGO, the Arab Group for the Protection of Nature (APN), whose mission is to repair environmental damage caused by the Israel’s wars in Lebanon and Gaza. APN has signed an agreement to develop strategies to develop indigenous Palestinian farming. Further, Geagea provided funding for Ittijah to buy the Haifa building which houses the organization’s offices. He is also a noted human rights activist.
So there you have it: yet another attempt by the Israeli security services to drive a wedge between Israeli Palestinians and Palestinians outside Israel. The Shin Bet seems to be frightened of indigenous leaders like Makhoul becoming too chummy with, and developing political alliances with external NGOs that might advance pan-Palestinianism, the notion that Palestinians on both sides of the Green Line may have common interests.
An Ittijah activist noted in Ynetnews that Makhoul’s arrest may have had something to do with his fundraising activities on behalf of the group. So the fact that Jaja helped arrange for the funding to buy the Ittijah building is enough to make him an enemy of the State and Hezbollah agent.
When I found out Jaja was essentially an environmentalist I thought: “What possible danger could this man pose to Israeli security?” But I guess if Spanish clowns and coriander can endanger the security of the State, why not a Lebanese environmentalist and food activist?
After you read this statement by Israel’s foreign minister, you tell me who is more of a danger to Israeli democracy (such as it is) Ameer Makhoul or Yvet Lieberman:
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Tuesday commented on the arrest of two Arab public figures suspected of spying for Hezbollah. “There is far more than decisive evidence,” he said of the Shin Bet investigation of Ameer Makhoul and Omar Said.
“Our intelligence services are of the best in the world and are also very, very responsible people,” Lieberman said during a visit to Japan.
“Without serious, decisive evidence, they would not have taken such a step. I suggest all those countries and people who accuse us take a look in the mirror and a look at the norms of democracy in Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and all the other countries. No one can preach morals to us.”
He added, “There is far more than general suspicions, and I suggest we really understand that there are quite a few people even here among us with the same values and world view as Iran, Hezbollah, and North Korea. They are much closer to the values of these countries that the values of a free democratic state like Israel. These people should be isolated from society.”
I hereby throw down the gauntlet to the foreign minister and security spooks and their supporters: provide a shred of evidence to support this lunacy or the claim that Hassan Jaja is affiliated with Hezbollah. I’ll be waiting.
Michael Santomauro says
Fantastic work you do. And this scoop proves it!!!
I hope your detective work and reporting are correct.
If so, it will be interesting to discover whether accusing an environmentalist of being a Hezbollah warrior gets any egg on shin Bet’s face.
But don’t be too hopeful. Maybe Geagea gave a quarter to a beggar on the street who was a Hezbollah fighter, and thus (if Israel copies USA terrorism law) gave “material support” to a terrorist.
uncle joe mccarthy says
you posted unsubstantiated internet rumor, yet you ask me why i wait for confirmation on anything associated with this case?
and then you want confirmation to negate internet rumor?
Richard Silverstein says
I have no idea what you’re talking about. What “unsubstantiated internet rumor?” The information I’ve published about the Makhoul gag & Hassan Geagea has been solidly confirmed. Next time you want to dispute something make sure you specify what you’re objecting to otherwise no one will have a clue what you’re talking about.
uncle joe mccarthy says
you assumed the person who was allegedly contacted by the individuals in custody was a member of a certain family….he isnt…yet you are going to stand by your statement that all the information you have put out has been confirmed? by who? other bloggers? the families of those currently in custody?
and why am i to believe that any of this information is correct
instead of jumping the gun, why dont you wait until all relevant information is put out.
as far as i can tell…here are the only things that can be confirmed
makhoul and sayid were arrrested. there was a gag order placed over the arrests. neither man was allowed to consult with an atty. the gag order was partially lifted and the charges are of spying for hezbollah.
you should also mention that a rally of about 1000 was held for makhoul in kafr kana
Richard Silverstein says
I made the statement about Geagea’s family relation to Samir Geagea based on a claim made by an Israeli journalist I trust. He didn’t know for sure but made an educated guess. I did further research by turning to a better informed source and she provided more substantiated information about Hassan Geagea’s background & activist interests. If you doubt what I’ve published please debunk it. I like to see people like you make fools of themselves. So go right ahead & report back on what you learn. My source has provided ground rules for use of the information she provided and I’m honoring them. If you don’t like it, I frankly could care less.
I don’t wait for goons to tell me what they want me to know. I find the information out for myself & force their hand. That’s what a good journalist does.
You too are done in this thread & on this subject. Find something else to comment on if you wish. Don’t return to this thread.
Wissam, Lebanon says
Richard, I appreciate your work, but do note that there are also Muslim Geagea (probably Shia) in Lebanon.
Richard Silverstein says
There is a Hassan Geagea who has a Facebook page. One of the figures he “likes” is a Shiite imam. So it is possible that the Hassan Geagea who met w. Makhoul is Shiite & this might draw him closer to Hezbollah. But the Geagea in Facebook also signed a statement to break the electoral deadlock, a statement sponsored by a civil society coalition. This doesn’t sound like anything remotely symapthetic to Hezbollah. So there you go. Lebanese politics are complicated.