Milne and Morals

Seumas Milne’s CiF article of February 18th on the subject of the assassination of Mahmoud al Mabhouh absolutely oozes with precisely the kind of self-righteous moral indignation one would expect. There are no doubts at all in Milne’s mind; he knows exactly who did what.

“A senior Hamas official, Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, was murdered in his hotel room in what was widely assumed from the start to be an operation by the Israeli intelligence service Mossad. Less than a month later, strong suspicion has turned to as good as certainty with the revelation that the hit team had used the passport identities of six Britons with dual nationality and currently living in Israel.”

In a manner so typical of many of his fellow travellers on that particular end of the political spectrum, Milne chastises the British government for not reacting forcefully enough to the incident and the rest of the British media for not taking the subject sufficiently seriously for his liking. He then proceeds to lecture us on the morals and practicalities of targeted assassinations.
Of course none of us – not even Agatha Milne – know what really happened in Dubai and this and all the many other Guardian articles on the subject are pure speculation. Al Mabhouh died on January 20th, and Hamas promptly issued a press release declaring that he had died of terminal disease. Some sources even report that the original Hamas press release came out the day before al Mabhouh died! According to later assorted reports he had been electrocuted, poisoned, strangled and also suffocated! The conflicting reports of this incident are enough alone to suggest that there is more to it than meets the eye. And one month on we are none the wiser.
Whether the hit was carried out by the Mossad, Iran, Hamas, Fatah, disgruntled arms dealers or whoever else, what Milne and company appear to have forgotten is that the man was a terrorist. Al Mabhouh was the co-founder of the Izz ad Din al Qassam brigades, an arms trafficker and the self-confessed murderer of Ilan Sa’adon and Avi Sasportas; but we hear no similar moral outcry from Milne on behalf of his victims.
Something else which Milne, other journalists and indeed the British government seem to be conveniently ‘forgetting’ in the heat of their moral outrage at the use of British passports in this incident is their own lax security. It is hardly surprising that UK passports are used in international spy-ops if the British can’t even keep tabs on them inside Britain.

“Around 3,000 blank British passports due to be sent to embassies around the world have been stolen from a van that was hijacked near Manchester, in what the Government admits was a major security breach. The Foreign Office admitted that 24 parcels containing blank passports and vignettes – the stickers used for visa stamps – were taken from a vehicle that was travelling from the printers in Oldham to RAF Northolt yesterday. Security experts have suggested that the cargo, which has a street value of up to £5 million, was probably targeted deliberately.”

As is to be expected, Milne’s righteous indignation fell on fertile ground at CiF and his article generated a whopping 687 comments. Here’s a small selection (most of which are undeleted) of some of over six thousand words worth of comments which illustrate the GWV in action.


18 Feb 2010, 3:20PM
Britain must go to war with Israel. It is the only sensible option.


18 Feb 2010, 8:04AM

Why are we not hearing from the diaspora about this breach of the sixth commandment?
It is becoming increasingly clear that since the second world war the good guys have become the bad guys.


18 Feb 2010, 1:21PM

Murder is murder.
Murder is wrong.
No matter who does the job.
Even if the victim is deemed to be of a lesser race.


18 Feb 2010, 1:14PM

Like a broken record, Seumas will ever target Israel, a government that actually prefers to go for murderers rather than just dissenting citizens and politicians.
It’s the fact that Israel pretends to be a modern Western democracy and is accepted by many of our politicians as such that makes it a legitimate target for criticism. Come clean and admit that it’s really a psuedo-democratic theocratic racist state with an apartheid system and an ongoing suppression and murder of civilian populations and the articles will probably stop.

18 Feb 2010, 8:06AM
UPinARMs Who is arguing that they don’t? They resist and Israel reacts. The problem for Hamas is that their resistance is like a flea climbing an elephant’s leg with rape on its mind.
Er…the west? The US arms Israel so it obviously doesn’t mind the subjugation of the Palestinian people and the stealing of their lands and extra-judicial murders. Neither does Europe because Europe giives Israel favourable trade deals. However, the same countries call any resistance Palestinian resistance movement that tries to emulate Israeli behaviour, as a terrorist movement. That means the west approves of Israeli terrorist behaviour and doesn’t approve of Palestinian terrorist behaviour. But then, the west has always been hypocritical because the west has always been made up of the countries that jackboot their way around the world.

18 Feb 2010, 7:57AM
Mabhuh earned his murder. He boasted about kidnapping 2 soldiers – inside Israel, not the OT – and murdering them.
How do you think the rest of the world should deal with Sharon and Livni then for their countless crimes and murders against the innocent Palestinans? Any suggestion?

18 Feb 2010, 8:10AM
isotope They are anti-Semitic (as opposed to anti-zionist), misogynistic (when was the last time you saw a woman at any of their rallies?) , violent, anti-enlightenment and unwilling to engage in negotiation ( as their charter makes clear – it is all or nothing) What do you honestly suggest the Israelis do when faced with such opposition?
How can the Palestinians be anti-semetic when they are a semetic people? The irony is that many of the Palestinians were actually originally Jews that converted to Islam in the 7th century, while many Jews are actually European Khazars that converted to judiaism in the 10 century or converts from the Iberian peninsula that converted in the 1st century. Such is the thread woven by history.

18 Feb 2010, 8:13AM
The playground bully of the Middle East was wise to choose UK passports; few allegedly independent governments are as timid as ours. Poor old patsy Gordon and his Minister for Israel (I mean the Middle East) are in the pockets of the spoiled brats of Tel Aviv.
At least there can be no further claims for immunity from this nasty bunch.

18 Feb 2010, 4:22PM
Sorry Petrified for not being clear. I was disagreeing with the post saying that the Palestinian resistance was about elimination. The resistance is a justified response to the aggression suffered, and describing it in terms of an aggressive act by the victims of the original injustice is disingenuous.

18 Feb 2010, 4:36PM
18 Feb 2010, 7:23AM

“Good article. If this doesn’t lead to a serious fallout in UK-Israel relations (which it won’t), a dangerous precedent will be set.”
What precedent? They’ve been doing it for years. Just remember that all three main UK political parties are led by ‘Friends of Israel’.
In the international pecking-order the UK comes after Israel, well after.

18 Feb 2010, 5:00PM
18 Feb 2010, 4:47PM

“Economic sanctions on Israel”
TwoSwords, please, don’t be so naive, as has been said, the leadership of all the three main parties in the UK are ‘Friends of Israel’. You haen’t got a hope in Hell.

18 Feb 2010, 6:02PM
To anyone who thinks this is a wild or crazy assertion just go and read the Hamas Covenant.
Yes I have done in the original Arabic. Have you read it in the original Arabic?
If you have, you will know that it doesn’t in any way call for the genocide of Jews. It simply cites a tradition of the Prophet (a hadith), which authorises the killing of individual Jews. If that was not there, Hamas militia could not legally fire back at Israeli soldiers.
In fact I can go further and say that every single well known supposed statement from the Middle East threatening the genocide of Jews is a deliberate misquotation by Israeli sources. I’ve checked out the Arabic and Persian of all the major ones, and it never conforms to Israeli claims. I challenge anyone to come up with an example, and I’ll show you why it is a misquotation or a mistranslation. Of course I don’t spend all my time on CiF, so the answer may be on the next thread.

18 Feb 2010, 6:05PM
the israelis carried out their hit by fraudulently using British passports. they have no right to do so and have violated our soeverignty and diplomatic relations with us because of this.
they deserve no less than the expulsion of their ambassador and economic sanctions.
i imagine they will get an apology from us for fear of being accused of anti-semitism.
The british government should be looking out for the interests of british citizens not israel.

18 Feb 2010, 8:32AM
What is truly alarming is that if Israel were to harvest the organs of Palestinians,whom it had murdered no one would actually be suprised anymore.
[deleted -recreated from Isotope 8:36)]

18 Feb 2010, 8:50AM
Open question to my fellow posters,
Would you support Iraq, Iran and/or Aghanistan if any one of them were invovled in arranging and carrying out the murders of Bush Jr., Cheyney, Rumsfeld, Rice, Blair etc.? If the US can try to kill Castro, why shouldn’t other countries do the same to the US.

18 Feb 2010, 9:01AM
Is there anything more disgusting than a member of the Israel right or wrong brigade? Assassinate someone? Well done. Carpet bomb a densely packed civilian area killing women and children? Good job.
I’m sick of even bothering with these people. They have no morals.

18 Feb 2010, 1:52PM
The world has forgotten that the Israelis were terrorists once . Remember the King David Hotel !!! The murdering of their enemies all over the world dosnt do them much good . It only means that Hammas will hit back, and kill many Israelis that dissagree with this policy . Israel is held together by the Jewish lobby inside the USA ,it gets billions from there . as long as America codones everything that the israelis do , no matter what , there will never be peace in the middle east . They deserve evrything that they get

18 Feb 2010, 9:04AM
I think there is far more to this than meets the eye.
Israel is looking for an excuse to attack Gaza and probably Lebanon again. When Hamas respond to this state sponsored murder by shooting a couple of their fireworks a few miles into Israel then they will have that excuse.
I have no doubt that the UK and the US knew of this plan to assassinate Mahmoud al-Mabhouh months ago so we shouldn’t expect much condemnation of Israel from them.


18 Feb 2010, 7:49AM

isotope – “..whereas Mahmoud al-Mabhouh and those charming chaps from Hamas only ever wanted to peacefully debate I/P with Israel and would never dream of threatening Israeli citizens. I mean just look at their delightful charter – a manifesto of non-violent peaceful activism that would shame Gandhi. Or look at their marches…peaceful, celebratory gatherings reminiscent of the 60s peace marches..”
What unearth makes you think that if people get treated like the Palestinians that they don’t have a right to armed resistance. Last time I checked there’s not a country in the world that wouldn’t react with violence if people started to steal it land. I mean we have nukes if we are threatened, these aren’t designed to not kill civilians. The problem with this conflict is the situation of the Palestinians legitimises armed resistance, though it’s largely counter productive.
“Its time that many on CiF started seeing the world as it is, rather than the way they wish it was. Israel is dealing with a threat to its existence on a daily basis.”
Palestinias are kept in a Getto in Gaza and are having their land stolen in the west bank and are denied the right to exist. Claims of Isreali victimhood while this goes on are pathetic. You need to live in the real world if you think that people can be treated like the Palestinians and that violent resistance won’t happen.

18 Feb 2010, 11:11AM
And let’s not forget that Israel uses as a flimsy pretext the to massacre thousands of people whenever one of its goons get assassinated. If Israel’s behavior is justified, then Hamas would be too if it retaliated in comparable ways
When, in early June 1982, terrorists of the Abu Nidal organization, a PLO splinter group, badly wounded the Israeli ambassador in London during an assassination attempt, Israel seized the pretext for launching its long-planned offensive.


18 Feb 2010, 3:27PM

It’s unfortunate this incident isn’t likely to lead to a spotlight being focused on earlier incidents that took place in the U.S. just before and at the very beginning of the War on Terror.

Christopher Ketcham wrote two excellent and carefully researched articles on this topic: “The Israeli Art Student Mystery” which appeared at in May, 2002, and “What Did Israel Know in Advance of the 9/11 Attacks” which appeared at in March, 2007. Both can be found at — see “Israeli Espionage Stories” on the sidebar to the right, which also includes the Gerald Shea Memo in its entirety.
You might compare the Guardian’s light and empty treatment of the first story, found in the Guardian’s archives, to Ketcham’s version. Unlike the Guardian’s article writer, Ketcham did his homework, digging deeply and corroborating the facts he presents.
The second article is very disturbing in its implications. Based on U.S. government reports and interviews with U.S. intelligence sources, it places Israeli spies — skilled at surveillance and translation — in the same two locations where, per the FBI, the 9/11 hijackers resided, before 9/11.
The FBI’s investigation was halted, apparently owing to potential political ramifications, while the story itself was successfully buried after intense lobbying efforts.
The behavior of government spies and assassins is always justified by the sponsoring government even when it is truly unjustifiable, illegal, immoral, and ultimately completely counterproductive, even self defeating.
That would be the case here, if enough people became aware of the activities in question, as a good number of Americans, were they willing to look at these activities (many aren’t) would likely become extremely angry; Israel is supposedly a client state or at least an important ally, yet here we have Israeli spies operating in the U.S., but the implications go much further, as anyone who reads Ketcham’s second article and ponders it for a bit must realize.
It really is well past the time to focus a powerful spotlight on such activities (and these in particular), instead of sweeping them under the rug.
Certainly any state must be concerned with its survival, but when certain lines are crossed, inevitably justified by Raison d’Etat, the antidotes of transparency and illumination must be applied. If not, we may as well acknowledge that the rule of law and even representative democracy are sham concepts, practiced only when seen fit by those who choose to ignore them at all other moments.
Bill I.


18 Feb 2010, 3:33PM


“Hamfisted”; what a perfect word for that gang of goons. 911 has Mossad written all over it. Could they possibly have made their involvement more obvious.

It is interesting to contrast the attitudes of so many of CiF’s readers with those of people who read other British newspapers and to consider the type of climate of opinion CiF is cultivating by publishing articles such as this one by Milne. The most popular comments on this thread were these two:

FalseConsciousness (352 recommendations)

18 Feb 2010, 7:23AM
Good article. If this doesn’t lead to a serious fallout in UK-Israel relations (which it won’t), a dangerous precedent will be set.

petrifiedprozac (361 recommendations)

18 Feb 2010, 7:28AM
I’ve never considered that the west was ever morally better than the so called terrorists, after all, it is the west that has meddled, overthrown governments and occupied lands which provoked the terrorism in the first place. This latest episode will once again expose a moral blind spot of the west and how it supports Israel’s crimes as though they are somehow morally superior to the crimes of other rogues states. They kill what they call a terrorist leader and a member of Hamas. Why does Hamas exist? Because Israel stole Arab land. In any other scenario, the west would support a people who have been driven from their land and are subjugated by a brutal power that carries out extra-judicial murders. The guilt of the holocaust goes a long way in Europe, way too far, to the point of accepting the widespread discrimination and brutal subjugation of another people.

The most popular comments from an article in the Times on the same subject were these:

Durward Saar wrote:
Right on Mossad, doing what the cowards in Britain and the western world refuse to do…killing terrorists.
I salute their efforts!
February 18, 2010 5:33 PM GMT RECOMMEND? (288)

Eric Horde wrote:
A terrorist killed by assassins. Hah! I love it! If you can’t stand the heat get out of the kitchen, and don’t be startin’ nuthin’ you can’t finish!
February 18, 2010 5:34 PM GMT RECOMMEND? (250)

C.G. Galloway wrote:
Hamas has no reservations or conscience in targeting civilians/noncombatants in their “war” against Israel. Their outrage at one of their senior militant criminal members being surgically taken out is laughable. Assuming it was the Mossad, the only action I find objectionable was the use of an ally’s passports. Next time, add some satire — use Iranian passports. 😉
February 18, 2010 5:47 PM GMT RECOMMEND? (248)

As the old adage goes, many a true word is spoken in jest, but here’s one possible view of the obvious contrast between the types of ‘most recommended’ comments above which certainly appeals to me.

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