Alternative Reading of the Al-Mabhouh Murder

The
killing of Palestinian activist Mahmoud al-Mabhouh on January 19, 2010
was clearly a well-planned, violent and sadistic act, committed by
Israeli assassins in the supposed safety of a sovereign country.

Yes,
Mahmoud al-Mabhouh was a Palestinian activist. We have no reason to
believe otherwise. He spent years of his life in Israeli prison - and
one year in an Egyptian jail - for his political activism. This,
however, gives no credibility to Israel's accusation that al-Mabhouh
was a killer of Israelis. This assertion becomes even more problematic
when considering that al-Mabhouh's assassination was, according to
British media, ordered by accused Israeli war criminals and rightwing
politicians.

According
to the Sunday Times, Meir Dagan, the current director of Mossad briefed
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the assassination plan
during a meeting in early January. "The people of Israel trust you. Good luck," Netanyahu reportedly said at the end of this meeting.

It
is disgraceful enough that the assassins used 'fraudulent' European
passports, as well as credit cards linked to an American bank to carry
out their plans. But more upsetting is the fact that this cruel and
calculated action has inspired little more than expressions of
'outrage'. Have we become this resigned to Israeli impunity?

What
about the sanctity of life, the sovereignty of nations and the respect
for international law? Are these immediately disposable when the victim
is Palestinian and the location of the crime an Arab country?

Al-Mabhouh
has also been callously deprived of his own relevance to the story. We
don't really know much about the man aside from what Israeli wants us
to know - a senior Hamas operative who was responsible for the
abduction and killings of two Israeli soldiers; one of the founders of
the militant arm of Hamas, Izz al-Din al-Qassam; the middleman between
Hamas in Gaza and al-Quds Force of the Revolutionary Guard in Iran.

Who
has weaved this fascinatingly reductionist account of al-Mabhouh's life
in such a short span of time? His family? Hamas? The Palestinian media?
No, none of these. The creator of this biography is Israel, the very
country that assassinated him. Now that is truly outrageous: the
murderer writes and convinces the world of the story of the murder
victim. And the media gladly runs with it.

Expectedly,
a Palestinian would tell al-Mabhouh's story in entirely different
terms. He was born in Jabalia, one of Gaza's poorest and most crowded
refugee camps. These key words alone - Gaza, poor, crowded, refugee -
helps to unravel the real story of al-Mabhouh. It is the story shared
by so many people who still live a life of utter anguish, poverty and
resistance in the Gaza Strip - and elsewhere - which is under inhumane
siege and successive wars by the world's fourth strongest army. The
story is not about abducted occupation soldiers, but about millions of
refugees, not about Iran, but about Gaza and Palestine, not about
luxury hotels, but about horrifyingly desolate refugee camps.

But
Palestinians - like many oppressed peoples around the world - have no
right to their own narrative. Their story is negligible, if not wholly
irrelevant. Israel commits the murder, Israel offers the explanation,
and eventually Israel gets away with both the crime and the lie.
Al-Mabhouh's murder might eventually inspire several documentaries that
highlight the murderous nature of Palestinian militants, and the
unequalled brilliance of Israeli retaliation. Another Steven
Spielberg's Munich might already be in the making. The first scene of
this would not be al-Mabhouh's family forced to flee their village in
Palestinian after untold butchery by Zionist militants in 1948. Instead
it might show a dark-skinned, menacing Palestinian slaughtering two
helpless Israeli soldiers pleading for their lives.

We
are, more or less, told to forget about al-Mabhouh. After all, his name
is used along with Hamas and Iran in the same sentence. That should be
enough to tell us that his life is dispensable - just like the lives of
over 1,400 Palestinians who were killed by the Israeli army in Gaza
between December 2008 and January 2009. Israel may well be preparing
for yet another attack on the impoverished Strip. The tunnels that
represent the lifeline for the vast majority of Palestinians in Gaza
are being routinely blown up by Israeli warplanes, detonated by
dynamites and blocked by an Egyptian steel wall. Gazans cannot be
allowed any weapons to defend themselves either. The 'international
community' has held many meetings to ensure that no weapons find their
way to Gaza. The US in particular is utterly firm regarding this issue
- although not at all firm about ensuring that food or medicine reach
the Strip. Al-Mabhouh may have been killed due to Israel's belief he
was arming the resistance. This partly explains why the 'international
community' is not at all moved by the murder. Al-Mabhouh might have
been involved in breaking the Western consensus on denying Gaza both
food and arms.

The
EU is only worried about its link to the story, and not the murder
itself. An EU statement issued in Brussels on February 22 condemned the
"fact that those involved in this action used fraudulent EU
member-states passports." They didn't name Israel though. As the
Financial Times resolved, "criticism of Israel was as strongly worded
as the EU could manage, given that Germany, Italy and several other
countries place great emphasis on close relations with Israel."

One
can only imagine what would happen if Hamas decides to strike back,
expanding the battleground from Gaza to the rest of the world. Would
the EU express disapproval of Hamas' use of fraudulent passport, but
then refrain from actually naming the group - due to a fear, say, of
upsetting Muslim countries?

No.
But when the victim is a Palestinian and the murderers are Israelis -
27 of them so far - it's an entirely different story, and an entirely
different concept of justice.