By Rabbi Dow Marmur
JERUSALEM–Are the Dubai police for real? They report to have identified another 15 suspects in the killing of Hamas terrorist Mahmoud al-Mabhouh bringing the total to 26. Most, if not all, are said to have had Israeli identities, European and Australian passports, and American credit cards. The police still insist that the passports couldn’t have been forged. Had that been the case, the Dubai airport scanning system would have spotted them.
But how can the passports be real, when the rightful owners have theirs in safe keeping and insist that they had nothing to do with the plot? In one case, the man in whose name a German passport was obtained had never been a German citizen, even though his parents were born in Germany. He’s an ultra-Orthodox Jew and father of a dozen children – not the usual profile of a Mossad operative.
Because of the nature of the affair and the inconclusive information we’re being fed, it has provided a welcome opportunity for a lot of people to blame those they like to see guilty. At the same time, those who admire heists have enthusiastically approved the perpetrators. Few, if any, seem to know the facts.
Israel, though by no means the only suspect, figures prominently among detractors and admirers alike. Its enemies have castigated the Jewish state for yet another act of “state-sponsored terrorism” while many Israelis as well as supporters abroad have assumed that this was another praiseworthy Israeli bravado of the Entebbe variety.
Understandably, Israel neither admits nor denies involvement. To start with, there’s still no evidence that Israelis did it. Al-Mabhouh is said to have had many enemies and the Dubai police report that two of the new suspects fled by boat to Iran, not a likely hiding place for Israelis. But even if it was an Israeli Mossad production, there would be no reason to admit it. Nor would there be reason to deny it as Israel believes that the fear of its long arm acts as a deterrent. The thought that every Hamas operative may pay with his life for his misdeeds is said to inhibit many more from getting involved.
There are precedents. Thus, for example, all the terrorists who carried out the deadly attack on Israelis at the Munich Olympics were systematically “eliminated.”
And then there’s fantasy. Inglourious Basterds, to cite a current example, is a horror film I couldn’t sit through. But many people I know enjoyed it – and the chair of the US Anti-Defamation League praised it – because it’s a fantasy: the day dream of victims, perhaps. Though it has been described as one of the three “Jewish” movies nominated for an Oscar, I fail to see anything Jewish in it, despite the characters. That may also be why I fail to get excited about the Dubai affair. Though it would be hypocritical to shed tears over the demise of arch-murderer al-Mabhouh – and his assassination may indeed save lives – that kind of activity doesn’t go well with my Zionist idealism. An execution may have been necessary in the eyes of some, but that doesn’t make it a virtue.
It does, however, feed my ghetto paranoia. I’m always afraid that they (whoever “they” may be) will make us pay for our alleged cleverness. That’s why I’m so eager to find clues that would put the blame for the assassination on some place other than Israel. The absence of conclusive evidence of Israeli involvement is helpful to the squeamish among us like me who prefer innocence to bravery.
Rabbi Marmur is spiritual leader emeritus of Holy Blossom Temple in Toronto. He now divides his time between Canada and Israel.