Yesterday night, the Israeli secret police and their judicial subordinates announced the indictments of Ameer Makhoul and Omar Said. And I’m sorry to say both for the victims and the State of Israel that the bill of particulars is a laughingstock. Nevertheless, the Shin Bet, with these lurid, barely supportable charges has put blood in the water of the body politic. Now Israelis, prone to see “the Arabs” as a fifth column already, will be like sharks circling for the kill. Get them, burn them, hang them, expel them. You will hear all this and more from Israeli Jews.
You’ll see from the breathless account below, the news media (and Haaretz is unfortunately about as good as you’re going to get in the Israeli Jewish media) have convicted them both before trial or conviction.
But let’s let Jack Khoury, the Shin Bet’s reporter-stenographer, report it as the Shin Bet wants you to hear it:
…Ameer Makhoul, has been charged with secretly meeting Hezbollah agents in Denmark in 2008. There, prosecutors allege, Makhoul agreed to spy on Israel for the Shi’a Muslim group, which gave him specific missions and equipped him with computer programs to send encrypted information over the internet.
One task was to gather information on bases of the Shin Bet security service in the north of Israel.
In other missions, Makhoul was allegedly asked to supply details of security surrounding Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin, a Mossad base in central Israel, a defense factory owned by state arms manufacturer Rafael and a Haifa site hit by Hezbollah rockets during its month-long war with Israel in 2006.
Makhoul is also accused of carrying out reconnaissance on an IDF base. Prosecutors say the suspected spy passed his Lebanese contacts a list of names of six Israeli citizens, marked as potential agents, as well as providing Hezbollah with analysis on trends in Israeli politics and society. The IDF’s information security unit claims Makhoul delivered high-value material to his Hezbollah handlers.
A senior Shin Bet official told Haaretz: “Part of the information that Makhoul transferred could be delivered by anyone with a pair of eyes and Google Earth.
For further entertainment read the breathless charges of treason by the Jerusalem Post’s security stenographer er, correspondent, Yaakov Katz. Note we’ve dispensed with alleged or purported or any language that presumes the possibility of innocence:
Makhoul was recruited as a spy for Hizbullah and transferred, via a specially-designed computer encryption system, strategic intelligence information on Israeli security services to the Lebanese guerrilla organization.
…During his interrogation with the Shin Bet…Makhoul confessed to having met a Hizbullah operative during a trip to Denmark in 2008. During the meeting, Makhoul agreed to become an agent for Hizbullah in Israel and to begin collecting what was described as “strategic intelligence” on Israeli security services.
He later received an encryption system so he could transfer the information by computer to Hizbullah.
Per request of his Hizbullah handlers, Makhoul, the Shin Bet said, transferred names and details of additional men and women throughout Israel who he believed could also serve as spies for Hizbullah.
Makhoul received a list of topics that he was asked to collect intelligence on. During his period of operations, Makhoul allegedly transferred details and the exact location on two Shin Bet facilities in the North, including the security arrangements surrounding them, reporting on security arrangements at Shin Bet head Yuval Diskin’s house as well. He also provided Hizbullah with details about the Rafael defense industry facility in the North as well as a Mossad office located in northern Israel.
He was also asked by Hizbullah to collect information on the security surrounding the convoys of Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, although, according to a senior security official, he did not succeed.
Hizbullah also tried to use Makhoul to gather accurate information on the effect its rocket attacks against Israel had during the Second Lebanon War in 2006. The group was mostly interested in the targets that were hit by the statistical Katyusha rockets of which it fired some 4,000 into Israel during the month-long war.
This was done as part of Hizbullah efforts to more effectively utilize its rockets in a future war.
During his interrogation, Makhoul said that the connection with the Hizbullah operative was made by Hassan Jaja, a Lebanese businessman who lives in Jordan and who he has been in touch with for a number of years. In 2008, Makhoul accepted Jaja’s proposal to meet with the Hizbullah operative in Denmark.
Makhoul said that he took extra precaution after a number of other Hizbullah agents were captured in Israel
If Makhoul met with a Hezbollah operative in Denmark, that country’s intelligence services should know about it. I’d much prefer hearing what they have to say about such a meeting, if it occurred. Further, the “senior Shin Bet official” himself conceded that a good deal of the supposedly secret information Makhoul collected for Hezbollah “could be delivered by anyone with a pair of eyes and Google Earth.” So what do they have? Evidence that Makhoul or someone in his family using Google Earth on his computer looked up a location in Israel that might have some security significance. Or might have passed such a location on the road once.
As for the “highly incriminating” information about top-secret espionage equipment, let’s hear from Israeli journalist Dimi Reider in his blog today:
It strikes me there’s a familiar feature running through the indictments of Rawi Soltani (a Balad activist who got 5 1/2 years for bragging to a “Hezbollah recruiter” [that] he worked out in the same gym as the Chief of Staff), Omar Said and Ameer Mahoul. All three are Palestinian Israeli activists, which means most tourists visiting Israel would have better access to state secrets than they do. Nevertheless…they are all approached by a “Hezbollah agent” who installs or tries to install an “encoding program” on their laptops. The laptops are then seized several months later.
Is it me, or could a set-up have been started a lot earlier than the “investigation” by the GSS?…Planting evidence on political activists – physical, forensic, digital or otherwise- is a secret police trick hundreds of years old, if not older; and the fact the Shin Bet already said it intends to subvert political activity and activists [who are] in favor of a less exclusivist “Jewish” Israel.
So to sum up, this sounds like an open and shut case. The evidence is overwhelming. The suspects have betrayed the State, their homeland. They are guilty. Guilty as sin. No doubt about it.
But let’s take a step back. What have the authorities proven? That they can tell a good story. Let us see evidence. And I don’t mean the kind of “evidence” secret police habitually offer in such cases. I mean real evidence. Evidence that could not have been tampered with. Evidence that proves guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
I would place the likelihood of these two individuals being guilty of the crimes they’re charged with as being infinitesimal. It’s very important to note that Yuval Diskin publicly told Haaretz in 2007 that he would use EVERY MEANS AT HIS DISPOSAL to destroy the Arab nationalist movement in Israel. Every means. Not every legal means. Every means. And that is what he’s done here. These are the Israeli equivalent of Malcolm X’s ugly chickens coming home to roost. I have no doubt of it.
Returning to Israel’s yellow journalism in this case, it is the height of journalistic irresponsibility to refuse to carry any current statement from the accused in the face of such charges. Instead, Khoury makes do with this bit of rhetorical imprecision to describe the gag placed on the defense:
The sensitivity of the case has prevented the suspect’s lawyers, Hussein Abu Hasin…Hasan Jabareen and Orna Kohn of the civil rights NGO Adalah, from commenting on the matter in closed forums due to strict confidentiality limitations imposed by the courts.
NO, the “sensitivity of the case” hasn’t prevented the lawyers from speaking. It is the goons of the secret police and their accomplices in the judiciary who have taped their mouths shut. Let’s tell it like it is and not sugar coat things as Khoury does. The defense is gagged. They cannot defend their client properly either in court or in the court of public opinion. Not to mention Makhoul was subjected to conditions and treatment illegal even under Israeli Supreme Court rulings, let alone international law. This is a travesty. This is not democracy. This is what we expect in Iran or North Korea, not (or at least many of don’t) Israel.
As conservative an Israeli columnist as Matti Golan in the finance-economics internet portal, Globes, points out that what Makhoul is charged with is something that virtually any good journalist does regularly:
If all of these are considered crimes, we’d have to bring all the Israeli media to justice.
A final note on Omar Said’s indictment. Even the Shin Bet admits that when Said was alleged recruited to spy he refused to do so. So the Shin Bet is making do with criminalizing a meeting at which an Israeli citizen refused to betray his country. Yes, there is a claim that Said offered the names of others who might spy in his place, but as none of us were there, the Shin Bet can characterize a conversation any way it wishes. I’d like to hear the video or audiotape which the Shin Bet undoubtedly has of the occasion before accepting the secret police version.
Further, the Shin Bet alleges the meeting occured in August 2008! Why did it take nearly two years to charge Said with a crime when even the spooks confirm that he took no further action after the meeting that would lead them to believe he was willing to spy for Hezbollah?