Note: I’ve decided that the name I’ve hitherto been spelling Geagea should be spelled ‘Jaja.’ There is a Hassan Jaja on Facebook (as well as a separate Hassan ‘Geagea’) who lists Razan Zuayter as a Friend. She is the actual wife of Geagea/Jaja, which convinces me I should change the spelling of his name to Jaja.
Thanks to some intrepid sources, who’ve done some great research for this post on the ties between Hassan Jaja and Omar Said, which the Shin Bet lamely claims dealt with recruiting the latter to spy for Hezbollah against Israel.
Jaja founded the Arab Group for the Protection of Nature, whose mission is to the repair environmental damage caused by Israel’s wars in Lebanon and Gaza. He also maintains a professional interest in farming and Arab traditional medicine and owns Sanabel, a Jordanian nursery and landscape design business. As part of his engagement with herbal medicine, he spoke at First Regional Scientific Conference on Traditional Arab and Islamic Medicine (Amman, Jordan August 8-10, 2007). Said Omar also presented a talk at the same meeting. This could be the contact the Shin Bet is lamely calling Said’s recruitment into the dastardly clutches of Hezbollah.
Rechavia Berman and I have been joking that the danger Jaja presents to Israel must have something to do with his deadly abilities with a garden shear. Something like the IDF’s krav maga in the garden. Or perhaps he’s an Arab Edward Scissorhands.
It just occurred to me that Israel’s spookerati would have us believe that Hassan Jaja is recruiting Hezbollah spies in Jordan under the noses of the Jordanian security services. Why, in heaven’s name would King Abdullah let that happen? Why would Jordan have any interest in allowing anything on its soil that would assist Hezbollah? Is Hassan Nasrallah opening a new Jordanian beachhead in his campaign to obliterate the Jewish entity?? The very notion is preposterous.
Another point of interest is that the meeting between Jamal Juma’a and Jaja which led to the former’s arrest by the S.B. took place shortly after this in October, 2007.
Hassan Jaja’s wife is Razan Zuayter. She is also the daughter of distinguished Palestinian historian Akram Zaitar. Zuayter published a letter in the Arab newspaper, Al Ghad, in which she categorically denies any connection between her husband and Hezbollah:
…This [the Shin Bet’s claim that Jaja is a Hezbollah agent] is completely and totally false and the relationship with [Makhoul and Said] is a professional one with the Arab Group for the Protection of Nature that I head, and whose message is the protection of natural and agricultural resources in the Arab nation especially in areas suffering from wars and occupation. All its [APN] projects are openly announced in its monthly media publication and provided on its website. The claim that Hassan Ja’Ja’,…is in contact with Hizbullah is a…lie whose…goal is to cut off peaceful cooperation between us and occupied Palestine. It is also part of the narrowing [of political space inflicted by the security services] on members of civil society in Palestine and stopping their peaceful defense of their people’s rights and freedom. (translation Rechavia Berman)
One of the potential goals of this harassment is to break any sense of solidarity between Palestinians living within Israel and those in the Diaspora. Once again, this appears of a piece with Yuval Diskin’s long-term goal, publicly announced in 2007 of breaking the back of the Israeli Palestinian nationalist movement. I’d like my American readers to imagine a scenario in which the FBI investigated and criminalized American Jewish contacts with Israeli NGOs. We simply wouldn’t stand for it. Why should Israeli Palestinians? Of course, the difference between here and there is that our system has checks and balances and we have a Congress (or at least some members of that body) who would frown on such spook activism. In Israel, no Knesset member would criticize such persecution. Have you heard of any Jewish Knesset member who has expressed a shred of concern for the welfare of these two Israeli citizens?
A number of readers and observers of this case have remarked about their fear that the S.B. has another more damaging rabbit up its sleeve than Hassan Geagea (my apologies to Mr. Jaja for using such a metaphor but it is intended as a comment on the S.B.’s attitudes and not on him). Rechavia Berman has joked about Nasrallah’s cousin being their ace in the hole, which they’ll trot out with a huge puff of smoke. Personally, I haven’t been that impressed with the manner of S.B. investigations. They don’t seem to have that level of sophistication. Their M.O. seems to throw everything at the victim and hope something sticks. Then when it doesn’t they go after the next hapless victim.
Haaretz’s excised passage did note that the security agency did have a series of forbidden contacts with which it might charge Makhoul. I’d dearly like to know who those might be if there are indeed any others (there may not be).
If anyone wants to see an example of half-assed journalism, you can read Jackie Khoury’s Haaretz report (Hebrew) about the letter by Razan Zuayter which I reported above. Of course, since it’s under gag he can’t report Jaja’s or Zuayter’s name. But apparently, he can’t report that half the world and many Israelis included already know these names because of YouPost and this blog. I’ve complained to Khoury, but most editors and reporters at Haaretz don’t really seem to give a damn about what their readers (or at least THIS reader) think about anything.