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Israel honours terrorists

Andy Newman

Surely after 9/11 only Israel would have the bare-faced cheek to honour terrorists who deliberately committed bomb attacks on American and British targets. But that is exactly what happened a few days ago when Marcelle Ninio, Robert Dassa and Meir Zafran, the three survivors of the so-called "Lavon affair", received letters of thanks from Israeli President Moshe Katsav who also handed similar letters to the families of six other murderers.

Mohamed El-Sayed Said, deputy director of Al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies in Egypt, said. "It is ironic that while Israel keeps on trying to win the international community by portraying itself as a victim of what it calls terrorism, it proudly honours terrorists, and calls them heroes." Said attributed the ceremony to the desire of Israel's Likud party to "show how powerful it is to the world. Such a commemoration constitutes an internal and external message that the ruling party has the power to do whatever it decides to do, with no force to stop it."

In 1954 a terrorist cell of Egyptian Jews started an incompetent but brutal bombing campaign in Egypt, on behalf of the Israeli intelligence services. First targeting the United States Information Services Libraries in Cairo, the Cairo train station, and several movie theatres in Cairo and Alexandria frequented by Westerners. They were caught in bizarre circumstances, which have led some analysts to conclude that the Israelis wanted them to be discovered. On 14 July 1954, Philippe Natanson, who planned to attack a movie theatre, had a bomb explode in his pocket, setting his clothes on fire. Natanson was caught by Egyptian police and was found to have a full written list of his accomplices on him. This led to the arrest of 11 out of the 13 members of the ring. One of them committed suicide while in jail, two were executed and the rest were sentenced to prison terms ranging from seven years to life. Four were later exchanged with Egyptian POWs following the 1967 war. Although Israel disowned the attacks at the time they have since admitted responsibility (indeed why else would they have traded to get their agents back)

The significance of the Lavon affair - also known as Operation Susannah" - was threefold. Firstly, it was a deliberate move by hawkish supporters of retired prime minister David Ben-Gurion to scupper secret peace talks between Abdel Gamal Nasser of Egypt and the urbane liberal Israeli prime minister Moshe Sharrett.

Secondly it deliberately created a strategy of tension to destabilise Egypt's relations with the west - American targets were picked to make Egypt look too unstable for investment. Indeed it may have been a contributory factor in the American decision to withdraw funding for the High Aswan dam, that itself forced Nasser to nationalize the Suez Canal - the only asset he had - to fund the dam, providing the pretext for the British French and Israeli attack on Egypt in 1956.

Thirdly it deliberately poisoned relations for Egypt's well established Jewish community, leading to an exodus. The extreme Zionist dream of establishing Israel as a racial supremacist, colonialist, citadel required undermining the traditional integration and tolerance of Arab societies. Egyptian Jews had always constituted a vibrant part of Egyptian society. Mass migration to Egypt began in the early 19th century. In 1947 the Egyptian Jewish community was made up of 75,000 who came from the world over. Unlike their counterparts in Europe who often lived in small ghettos, Egyptian Jews lived alongside Muslims and Copts. By the 1960s, over 65,000 Egyptian Jews had already left Egypt; and by 1977 there were only 300 Egyptian Jews, mostly elderly, left in Egypt. There are no accurate figures for the number of Egyptian Jews who live in Egypt today, some say they do not exceed 100 individuals.

The fact that these terrorists who promoted ethnic cleansing are now honoured by Israel, and not a single word of protest is raised from London or Washington - proves that the "war on terror" is a fig leaf to cover naked self interest from the US state department.


April 2005


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