Perhaps in reaction to the damaging report from the Palestine Center for Human Rights that revealed previously unknown facts about his kidnapping, Israeli authorities have leaked to the press that they expect to charge Dirar Abusisi “within days.” If you’re a student of the ways of Israel’s security establishment, it’s very much a tit for tat routine. If the detainee manages to strike a blow for himself in the public domain, they are ready to cut him down to size and consider it their sacred duty as part of their eternal war against sedition and Arab hatred.
I also think the Israelis realize that the longer the case is in the news, the worse it will look for them and the more explaining they will have to do. They believe that by putting forward a narrative that portrays Abusisi as a spy, terrorist or general bad seed, that they will be able to blunt the bad press.
And bad press there is. Yossi Melman reports in today’s Haaretz that Ukraine has finally released a public statement by its intelligence services and Interior Ministry that it had nothing to do with the kidnapping. They rather pathetically denied that they had any knowledge of how he was kidnapped and had “more questions than answers.” Can you imagine the top intelligence and police officials of a country claiming after a foreign national is kidnapped on their own soil that they know nothing, hear nothing, see nothing. What are they? Monkeys or men?
Their claim of course is very likely to be a lie. Can they explain how two men in Ukrainian military uniforms boarded a train, kidnapped Abusisi, took him to an apartment in Kiev, then to the airport, boarded a plane and took off from Ukrainian soil? Did Israel do all this without even a whisper of knowledge or suspicion on the part of the Ukrainians? If so, some heads should roll. Ukraine’s security is in the hands of men even more incompetent than anyone would’ve thought possible.
Melman explains that the Ukrainians have released the statement in an attempt to take the heat off them generated by the strong statements of Ukrainian human rights organizations and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees representative in the country. The reporter also notes that the explanations of responsible government agencies doesn’t seem to be satisfying anyone, which is to be expected.
Melman does however get one major fact wrong. In saying that Ukraine has not explained what it intended to do to get to the bottom of the incident, he says that country has not yet said whether it will approach Israel for an explanation. In fact, AFP says it has done precisely that, demanding a meeting with the Israeli ambassador to Ukraine. This of course is laughable and reminds me of one of those Marx Brothers movies in which Groucho, Lord High Mucky Muck of Fredonia, meets with his opposite number and in solemn tones says something like this: “Mr. Ambassador, what could you have been thinking?” To which the ambassador would reply: “My dear Lord High Mucky-Muck, what could YOU have been thinking??”
They either said something like that, or more likely they met simply to get their stories straight. Like co-conspirators they no doubt have much to hide and need to coordinate so they do as little damage to their own reputations as possible in this affair–or at least don’t do even greater violence to their already poor reputations for upholding human rights.
Melman also mischaracterizes the visit of Ukrainian Prime Minister Azarov to Israel, claiming he never addressed the incident while in the country and refused to take questions about it. In fact, an interview with him published I believe in Haaretz asked that question to which he replied in rather mealy-mouthed fashion that it would be inconceivable for any nation to have done what was claimed on Ukrainian soil. But he did reply.
Melman also misses an important detail in his report, in which Abusisi claimed in his PCHR interview, that the Mossad plane that rendered him to Israel touched down in a third country before it reached there, thus potentially making this case even more problematic for Israel than it would otherwise be.
This article first appeared at Tikun Olam