Hasbara Central appears to have sent out a directive instructing the social media brigade to point to the disgusting picture of Gazans dragging the body of a suspected collaborator through the streets of Gaza tied by a rope to a motorcycle. They circulate stories of others executed for such alleged ties to Israeli intelligence. These stories are supposed to document the savage, uncivilized nature of Hamas. They’re supposed to support the notion that any movement that would treat other human beings so despicably must be fought tooth and nail by Israel, which represents the epitome of decent western values. It also somehow justifies the 162 Gazan dead, over half of whom were civilians. Secondarily, we’re supposed to understand, I suppose, that Islam, which underpins Hamas, must be a religion of hate and violence to permit such behavior.
Before I address myself to these questions, let me point out that no human being should be summarily executed for any crime, even in wartime when the norms of civilization are sometimes dispensed with. To the extent that a society permits such actions, it indicates fundamental dysfunction. The rule of law must always be paramount, even when society is under greatest threat. Indeed, Hamas’ leadership published a statement excoriating these executions, saying they did not represent Hamas and “must never happen again.”
Now, let’s get back to Hamas’ supposed violations of the norms of western civilization, which render it a moral pariah. Is it true that only Hamas behaves in this way? No, of course not. During the 1948 War, both the Palmach and Lehi executed alleged spies. They did so at times without any form of justice. At times with haphazard, slipshod forms of due process. In the most infamous case of Capt. Meir Tobianski, the IDF executed someone who was completely innocent. Here is Wikipedia’s description of his capture and execution:
After arriving at Tel Aviv on 30 June 1948, Tobianski was taken into custody by Shmuel Granizi in the Carmel market. Contrary to the Chief Military Prosecutor’s order to arrest and interrogate Tobianski for 10 days, Tobianski was driven from Tel Aviv to Hulda and then to a deserted school building…where he was subject to a drumhead court-martial. During the court-martial, Tobianski was interrogated by Isser Be’eri, David Kron, Binyamin Gibli and Avraham Kidron…
Be’eri, who was late for the trial, had already prepared a firing squad of six soldiers from the Palmach Yiftach Brigade, which was in control of the Jerusalem corridor zone.
Tobianski was found guilty and executed in Bayt Jiz, where his body was buried. He had received neither a lawyer nor the right to appeal, and his case was not reviewed by a higher court.
Though Tobianski was later acquitted of any involvement in spying and his rank was restored, punishment was meted out to only one of those who carried out this heinous act: a single day in prison. The others subsequently rose to high political and military rank. Their deed was viewed as an unfortunate mistake done in the fog of war. This is one of the early examples of the flouting of law and due process in Israeli military and state justice. It hasn’t gotten much better.
Not to mention other instances in which Israelis suspected of spying were abused in a manner that flouted the rule of law. Marcus Klingberg was a distinguished professor of epidemiology and assistant director of Israel’s chemical and biological warfare institute at Ness Ziona. Suspected of being a Soviet agent, he was kidnapped by the Shin Bet, held incommunicado and interrogated brutally for ten days, then sentenced secretly to 20 years in prison. The secret police would not even allow the family to tell anyone what had happened to him. They were forced to stick to a cover story saying he was in a psychiatric hospital in Europe. Even after he was released from prison, he was put under modified house arrest and guarded by IDF military security and had the pay the salaries of his jailers.
Let’s return now to Hamas and the present day. As bad as the execution of collaborators is (and it is), how much worse is it than U.S. and Israeli targeted killings of militants in Palestine, Yemen or Pakistan? How much worse is it than the assassination of Iranian nuclear scientists? Do we know the crimes of which these people are suspected? The evidence against them? What right of appeal do they have? Do we seriously believe that they are all guilty of whatever secret evidence exists to condemn them? Remember Tobianski. How well did that episode turn out?
As bad as the murders of six collaborators by Gazan militants is, Israel and the U.S. murder thousands without any form of judicial process. Yet we are somehow civilized, while Hamas is brutal and uncivilized. What is this double-standard? Of course it’s hypocrisy and racism. But it’s even worse. It’s bad enough that we consider Gazans savages for such acts, but we’ve swept our own crimes under the rug. And our crimes are so much worse.
Matthew Graber says
This reminds me of the story of a member of Islamic Jihad which I read earlier today, and Israel’s assassination of him.
From the Electronic Intifada:
‘Since the morning, the killing of Tamer al-Hemry, a Palestinian Islamic Jihad member, a vast rage and anger at Israel has been stoked in Deir al-Balah. Though Tamer, 25-years-old, was involved in armed resistance, he was not involved in militant tasks or firing rockets when he was assassinated.
The Israeli jet located him by calling him on his cell-phone, which he answered, and hit him before he could escape death. Al-Hemry was a neighbor and relative and his funeral was held right in front of my front door.’
With such a sophisticated Israeli killing machine in Gaza, I can’t say that I wouldn’t try to systematically eliminate known infiltrators and intimidate the unknown. Then again, I can’t even imagine what life would be like in Gaza.
Taliban militants have long been executing people suspected of aiding drone strikes. This is the brutal reality of modern day war.
Also note that the west supports the same type of terror tactics in Syria that they oppose elsewhere. Just today another Syrian TV journalist was murdered.
Bob Mann says
Are you sure it was Hamas? I have read that Hamas leadership has in fact condemned this action and called for those guilty to face prosecution.
It was not Hamas. Israel is saying it was Hamas, and that is why Richard has entitled this piece as such.
Richard Silverstein says
Yes the claim that it was a Hamas execution was preceded by the words: “Hasbara Meme.”
Richard Silverstein says
No, we’re not sure who did it. There are many factions in Gaza. It could’ve been any one. It could’ve been relatives of Jabari or any Hamas leader who was killed by Israel.
I have a feeling the spokesperson who condemned the killings would’ve clearly dissociated Hamas from the executions if the killers weren’t Hamas.
On the other hand, Hamas is a pretty disciplined organization. So I have a hard time believing any Hamas cadre would do such a thing without getting approval from higher echelons, which I can’t believe would’ve approved this. After all, they control Gaza. They could’ve arrested & tried collaborators since they own the machinery of government there.
If Hamas was responsible for it, it would make more sense for them to admit it. Otherwise, it loses any value it may have had as a deterrent.
After the war, collaborators were dragged out of their houses in the Netherlands by unruly groups of civilians. Sometimes the resistance was involved but more often no organization was in charge, just mobs. In other words, Hamas need not have approved of this.
Another thing is that in the Netherlands this behavior was shown was AFTER the war/occupation. During the war, suspected traitors were simply executed by the resistance and no-on condemned that. People are always cruelest to traitors and collaborators (who can forhget the South African ‘necklacing’?). Sickening as it is, if Dutch people show their worst side after the nightmare has ended, a nightmare that lasted only a few years, I am not surprised that Gazan’s show their worst side while the nightmare is still being played out, during heavy bombardment, after an occupation of more than half a century.
In wartime emotions run high, along with the extreme need to maintain military security. Throughout history, collaborators, especially those who reveal troop positions and their actions resulting in massive casualties, are dealt with swiftly and harshly. During the Civil War in the US, collaborators were hanged forthwith.
I don’t think the point, however, is that a group of young men, enraged by Israeli bombing, unlawfully and brutally punished an alleged collaborator. I think it is more telling to look at how Israeli hasbara exploits a single incident to perpetuate a stereotype of the thuggish boogeyman Hamas and to continue to make peace and reconciliation impossible as a result. This tactic is identical to what the US government did in the 19th century to justify the continuation of the genocide of American Indians. After all, it’s easier to get public acceptance for war if you portray the enemy as evil and subhuman.
On a similar track, mainstream media is trotting out stories of Israeli kids wetting their beds but refusing to show photos of dead Gazan kids mangled by Israeli bombs. This PR stunt is cheesy damage control, cheapening the experiences of both the children experiencing fear, and the children experiencing injury and death just so that a lunatic Israeli prime minister can get re-elected.
Richard Silverstein says
Hey, let’s not forget those traumatized pooches featured by Jerusalem Post, who cower under beds at the sound of air raid sirens. Israeli media have more empathy for Jewish pet dogs than for Gazan human beings.
Richard, I wish people could see the photos and know who the people were, particularly the children. Because I know some Gazans I was able to find out who some of them were, and how they died. The one who haunts me the most is little Ahmed al Delou, one of the 12 in that family who perished when Israel bombed their home. His little angel face haunts me even more than what was done to his small body in that blast – from the chest down, it is nothing but mangled flesh. I know that Israel will excuse itself in those horrible deaths. I will do my best to make sure the world doesn’t excuse Israel, but the real goal is to make this never happen again.
It’s all so much simpler. The pot calls the kettle black.
USA and Israel call Hamas a “terrorist” organization and jail 5 American Muslims because they ran a charity which gave money to hospitals in Gaza — hospitals which Hamas also supports, hence (to USA prosecutors) Hamas “fronts”. This prosecution, and the designation of Hamas as a “terrorist” organization on the USA’s various legally-important “lists” of terrorist organization is aimed at terrorizing Muslims and others who would give humanitarian aid to Gazans. Israel also lists Hamas as “terrorist”.
The pot calls the kettle black.
It’s all about money. Designating an organization as “terrorist” enables governments to shut off your supply of money. By extension, it can also stop others from giving you money by making it a criminal offense to do so. In Hamas’ case, designating it a terrorist organization is a form of collective punishment since Hamas is the elected government in Gaza. Hamas is not just an armed group; it administers the police and schools, other civil institutions just as any other municipal government would. And yes, it includes hospitals. This absurdity has harmed individual donors as well; either they cannot donate to charities affiliated with Hamas, or they can find themselves going to jail or, in the case of celebrities such as Yusuf Islam and Tariq Ramadan, being denied entrance to the US.
Something I found about Hamas.. This is practically what I am trying to say.. Hamas is bad for Gaza..
Actually, I think the worse thing for Gaza is Israel.
So, for your opinion, Israel should be destroyed.. ?
Its like saying that the worst thing for France is Spain.. I don’t know why do I even replying to you..
I don’t know why you bother replying to me, either.
Your comment is just so incredibly cynical and outright stupid that I won’t even answer it.
Deïr Yassin says
Yeah, Igor is concerned about the people of Gaza. How come I doubt his sincerity ?
THIS is bad for Gaza: Israel broke the cease-fire this morning, killing a 20 years old man, Anwar Hadi Qudaih, within the Gaza Strip, east of Khan Younes with a live bullet in his head. Dozens of wouded too:
Today another dead body was found in the ruins of what used to be the Al-Dalou family home in Sheikh Radwan: 29 years old Muhammed Al-Dalou. People are still searching for the body of 17 years old Yara Al-Dalou.
Two more people died of their wounds….
Richard Silverstein says
One could make a FAR MORE plausible argument that Israel is bad for the Middle East.
The thing is, that Israel is here to stay.. Palestinians don’t choose Israel, Israel is here to stay.. Palestinians do choose Hamas… In this case they can take action at least for their internal affairs..
Blaming Israel won’t make Hamas better.. That’s what you’re trying to do in your comment.
Richard Silverstein says
Sorry, but Palestinians understand Israel is here to stay. It’s Israel’s leaders who insist that the Palestinians can be disappeared. As for choosing Hamas, Palestinians have as much right to choose Hamas as you have to choose Likud or even more extreme Israeli political parties. You don’t dictate to them who they can or can’t support.
The plain fact of the matter is that Israel will resolve its conflict with Palestine or it will die. If it dies, it will likely, like Samson, take Palestine & perhaps part of the rest of the region with it. A horrible thought. But it’s really your, & Israel’s choice. Die through rejectionism or live through compromise.
That’s exactly the point.. I wont choose Likkud, and I hope many others will follow me with the choise, as well as I hope Gazans will do something about Hammas.
Richard Silverstein says
@Igor: Why don’t you focus on your own country and let Gazans worry about Hamas? Your wishes for Gaza are about as useful as a Gazan saying he hoped Israelis wouldn’t vote Likud.
Fred Plester says
The Daily Mail says at least one of these executed had been in Hamas custody for quite some time:
Israeli spy he was not, though. Since he was an Islamist, and possibly the others were too, this might have been a secret part of the ceasefire deal: “We know it wasn’t really you who fired the rockets, lynch some of the group that were responsible and we’ll stop the bombing”… or something like that.
Either way, the little girl’s Dad has been brutally killed and falsely called a traitor.
— ” Indeed, Hamas’ leadership published a statement excoriating these executions,..”
and looking for the good news……. I follow the link and find out that it’s not even slightly an official Hamas leadership statement, but something on one officials personal facebook account.
c’mon Richard, stop with the hype.
Richard Silverstein says
I see, so if I’m a senior Hamas official and post on my Facebook pg that Hamas condemns the attacks, that means nothing? If Ehud Barak published on his Facebook page that he accepted the jurisdiction of the ICC to judge Israeli crimes in Gaza that wouldn’t mean anything?
Oh & btw when you can find any statements on Facebook or elsewhere with Israeli leaders expressing contrition for their murders in Gaza, let us know.
—- ” … Facebook pg that Hamas condemns the attacks, that means nothing?”–
nice attempt to avoid logic, Richard.
I didn’t say it meant “nothing”
I clearly stated that you greatly exaggerated the value of it.
I welcome the guy’s statement….but it’s simply not what you attempted to claim it to be.
and comments by Barak that are issued in his capacity as a private citizen are also neither totally valueless…NOR A STATEMENT ISSUED BY THE ISRAELI LEADERSHIP.
this is something that you have to learn as an undergrad, RS….and you and I are a little too old to have to debate it.
Richard Silverstein says
That’s bullshit. Comments made by Ehud Barak in any forum while he’s Israel defense minister carry enormous weight. If you don’t know or understand this you’re either a liar or dense or disingenuous (or all 3).
And don’t tell me what I have to learn. From you I have to learning nothing.
they have import, but they’re not statements of the positions of the Israeli government when they’re on a private facebook page.
you don’t have to learn, Richard. you can choose to remain ignorant and incorrect and illogical and very , very immature for an old dude.
it’s entirely up to you
The hypocrisy here is breathtaking. So much humanitarian concern over the deaths of collaborators, or alleged collaborators, but not a word about the 166 deaths of Gazans murdered in this most recent zioist temper tantrum/political ploy.
One thing you may not know about collaborators, @Dub. Many times Israel will blackmail Palestinians into collaboration, threatening them with prison, or the death of a relative. It is common for Palestinians seeking medical treatment in Israel to be made to spy as a condition for being allowed to go to an Israeli hospital. http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Middle-East/2010/1119/Gazans-shocked-at-how-many-neighbors-coworkers-officials-are-spying-for-Israel
So it is grossly unfair to vilify Hamas without acknowledging Israel’s role in the fate of collaborators who are caught spying for Israel.
That’s right.. The hypocrisy “there ⇧” is breathtaking..
Igor, nothing better to do today?