In its assassination conspiracy against Mahmoud al-Mabouh, the Mossad cloned the legitimate passports of numerous Israeli dual-nationality citizens, among them several from Britain. As a result, Mossad station chiefs were ejected from several major western capitals. For the second time in the past twenty years or so (yes, it had done this earlier) Mossad promised the Brits that it wouldn’t abuse its sovereignty in the future.
Now Defense News brings word that an Israeli general has done almost precisely that, only a few months after the promise was made to Britain. The IDF’s chief spokesperson, Brig. Gen. Avi Benayahu traveled to England a few weeks ago in secret. He used a false name and (apparently) false papers to do so:
Q. EVEN IN FRIENDLY COUNTRIES LIKE BRITAIN, WHERE SOLDIERS ARE FIGHTING TERROR AT HOME AND ABROAD, YOU AND OTHER IDF OFFICERS ARE THREATENED WITH MASS PROTESTS AND EVEN ARREST WARRANTS. WHY?
A. It’s true. In my last visit to London, I had to assume a false name because well-funded anti-Israel activists are exploiting universal jurisdiction powers to wage lawfare against us.
I’d like some of my British readers to query Whitehall about whether its customary for generals of foreign militaries to use fake IDs to enter their country. Or did British authorities participate in this fiction? I know if I were a foreign minister I wouldn’t take too kindly to such shenanigans especially given Israel’s predilection for engaging in such fraud on a regular basis.
Benayahu is trying to wriggle out of his predicament by claiming that his security detail directed him to engage in such fraud. Further, in defending his behavior he attacked European nations like Britain which allow the issuance of warrants for the arrest of Israeli leaders on charges of war crimes. He made this espeically inflammatory statement in a Yediot Achronot interview:
It’s absurd. Britain and other European countries are no less concerned about terror than we. Their leaders understand that he who feeds the radical Islamist snake will get bitten by it.
I’m wondering what an Islamic snake looks like and what it has to do with anything. And why is issuing an arrest warrant against an Israeli general or defense minister “feeding the Islamist serpent?” Israel’s problems are not with radical Islamists, but with Palestinian nationalists. Despite all its attempts to raise the specter of Al Qaeda in Gaza, Israel would be hard-pressed to argue that it invaded Lebanon or Gaza in order to prevent Al Qaeda from taking over Palestine or Lebanon. Besides, this is just a rhetorical smokescreen to divert attention from Benayahu’s own act of duplicity.
Frankly, I don’t care what his reason for such behavior is. Other Israeli leaders have refused to travel to Britain for fear of arrest, why does Benayahu earn a right they don’t, to do so using a fraudulent passport and identity?
The interview also reveals other views toward the social networking revolution that are diametrically opposed to the prevailing wisdom. Benayahu frets that social media pose threats to “operational security” in urban areas (like Gaza), presumably because Palestinian victims can report on the location of Israeli forces. Perhaps this is why Gazans using cell phones were murdered during Cast Lead.
If you listen to this passage without know who said it, you might think it was Hosni Mubarahk or Muammar Qaddafi speaking:
Even more disturbing is the fact that anyone with a 3.5-generation camera and Internet access can outreach mainstream media to disseminate lies, distortions and calls for unlawful action. It’s ironic that technology developed in the West can be co-opted to serve the interests of decidedly anti-Western, anti-democratic forces.
What he means to say is that Palestinians (a number of whom were provided video cameras by B’Tselem to record IDF abuse) may use digital media to expose the crimes and injustices of Israel. Can anyone think of a single instance in which cameras or internet access was used during the Arab democratic revolts of the past month to “serve the interests of anti-western, anti-democratic forces??”
The interview is really a flackery masterpiece of its kind. The interviewer asks him generally probing questions and he replies without addressing the questions at all. Instead, he makes whatever point he wishes even if it has little or nothing to do with what he’s been asked. I recently wrote a post about Benayahu in which I expressed strong negative views about him. This was before I’d read a full interview with him. Now I find myself even more disgusted. One of my Israeli readers who is a retired IDF officer told me he knew Benayahu and that if I did I’d like him. Not on your life. In fact, the thought crossed my mind, given Benayahu’s announced plans to employ IDF internet geeks to expound pro-Israel hasbara online, thay my interlocutor might be Benayahu himself. But I’m afraid that the honorary general (whose rank was as well earned as “Colonel” Sanders), has bigger media fish to fry than me.
Many in the English-speaking world think Mark Regev is the most mendacious, oily IDF press representative. That’s because they haven’t read enough of Benayahu. He even has the chutzpah to tell the reporter interviewing him that as long as he’s “wearing the uniform” he’ll never express a political opinion!
This article first appeared at Tikun Olam