WikiLeaks: not 'shielding' Israel?
I've been reading columns by pro-Arab commentators pointing a finger at the whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks for not publishing US diplomatic cables that could embarrass Israel. Some have even gone as far to suggest WikiLeaks is a Zionist-backed organisation that acted selectively when issuing its revelations.
The anti-Assange brigade went to great extremes to extrapolate in their keenness to brand Assange as a Zionist in left-winger/anti-war clothing. They cited the fact that his firm of London solicitors is also employed by the Rothschild Waddesdon Trust and that The Economist, in which the Rothschild Family holds shares, gave Assange a Freedom of Expression Award in 2008.
In a city that probably has more Jewish lawyers than Tel Aviv and where most large law firms act for pro-Israel Jewish companies or individuals, that extrapolation was sheer nonsense. It should also be noted that the Rothschilds own substantially less than 50 per cent in The Economist.
Most of all they held up Benjamin Netanyahu's glee that leaked diplomatic cables exposed how fearful Iran's neighbours are of that country's nuclear programme and would like something to be done to prevent Tehran obtaining a nuclear weapon capability.
While I, like so many others, duly noted that there seemed to be an absence of published cables that could be construed as being detrimental to Israel's interests, I was reluctant to join the conspiracy theorists. Instead, I put the scarcity of cables on Israel as being due to the natural hesitancy of US diplomats to write anything about the Jewish state that would be read as less than flattering by American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) supporters who throng the corridors of American power.
Now it appears that the legions of conspiracy theorists will have to eat their words.
On December 23, in an interview with Al Jazeera, Assange disclosed that 3,700 documents relating to Israel, mostly emanating from the US Embassy in Tel Aviv, are due to be released over the next six months. He also said that many Israel-related documents already released were deliberately not published by the mainstream media.
"The Guardian, El Pais and Le Monde have published only two per cent of the files related to Israel due to the sensitive relations between Germany, France and Israel," he said. "Even the New York Times could not publish more due to the sensitivities related to the Jewish community in the US."
Assange was also adamant that WikiLeaks has had no direct or indirect talks with the Israeli authorities and no deal has been done.
One thing is sure. Netanyahu's glee is likely to be short-lived. Yet to be published material marked 'Top Secret' is said to cover the 2006 Israel-Lebanon War and the Mossad's role in the killing of a Lebanese military leader in Damascus by sniper fire. It will also implicate Israel in the assassination of Hamas commander Mahmoud Al Mabhouh, who was murdered in a Dubai hotel room on January 19 last year.
That comes as no surprise to Dubai's Police Chief Lieutenant General Dahi Khalfan Tamim who has commented: "Those documents will surely prove to those who doubted us..."
Until now, Israel has refused to comment on the Al Mabhouh assassination but, according to the Daily Telegraph, the incoming head of the Mossad Tamir Pardo is set to apologise to Britain for forging the British passports that were used by members of the hit squad and will promise never to use British documents in any future operation overseas.
One can only wonder whether this apologetic turnaround, which is tantamount to an admission of guilt, was devised to preempt the fallout that the eventual publication of US diplomatic cables would elicit.
If Britain was a true friend and ally of the UAE, the Cameron-led government should insist that any such apology should be accompanied by an apology to Dubai for spilling blood on its soil. The real crime is not that the Mossad is forging or cloning foreign passports. A far greater crime is that it operates outside international law by sending squads of killers around the world to murder Israel's enemies. Instead, David Cameron is championing an amendment to his country's Universal Jurisdiction law that will allow alleged Israeli war criminals to visit Britain without fear of prosecution.
Assange, who remains under house arrest despite being charged with nothing at all, fears for his life following what he claims to be death threats from members of the American military.
He is also worried that in the event he is extradited from either the UK or Sweden to the US, he has no chance of receiving a fair trial and, if jailed there, he says he may be targeted by fellow prisoners or killed 'Jack Ruby-style'. His life is in the hands of the British prime minister, he says.
It seems to me that if David Cameron is so keen to protect war criminals, then he should extend his protection to a man who has been bullied, threatened and characterised as a 'traitor', 'spy' and 'terrorist' for nothing more than doing what good journalists are supposed to do — exposing the truth.
- Linda S. Heard is a specialist writer on Middle East affairs. She can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org.