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April 18, 2014 / 18 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘assassination’

Owner, Publisher of Atlanta Jewish Times Resigns over Obama Assassination Column

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

Andrew Adler, the owner and publisher of the Atlanta Jewish Times announced Monday that he is “relinquishing all day-to-day activities effective immediately,” in the aftermath of the publication of an opinion piece in which he wrote that assassinating President Obama was one of Israel’s options in thwarting a nuclear Iran.

In the January 13 column, Adler listed what he believed were three possible options for Israel if Iran acquired a nuclear weapon: a strike on Iran; a pre-emptive strike against Iranian proxies Hamas and Hizbollah; or “give the go-ahead for U.S.-based Mossad agents to take out a president deemed unfriendly to Israel in order for the current vice president to take his place, and forcefully dictate that the United States policy includes its helping the Jewish state obliterate its enemies.”

Iran UPDATE: ‘Arrests have been made’ in Assassination of Nuclear Scientist

Tuesday, January 17th, 2012

Iran has arrested a number of individuals in the assassination of an Iranian nuclear scientist, parliament speaker Ali Larijani said Tuesday.

“We have discovered some clues and some arrests have been made,” Larijani was quoted as saying by the Tehran Times daily. He did not provide additional details on the arrests.

 

Iran Passes Letter to US: You Killed Our Scientist

Sunday, January 15th, 2012

In a letter handed to the Swiss ambassador in Tehran, the Iranian foreign ministry relayed to the United States that it believes the CIA was behind the recent assassination of another Iranian nuclear scientist.  Mostafa Ahmadi-Roshan’s car exploded after a magnetic bomb was attached to the side of it during rush hour traffic on Wednesday by a speeding motorcyclist.

The United States and Iran have no formal diplomatic relations.  The Swiss embassy represents US interests in the country, and received the letter from the Iranian foreign ministry on behalf of the United States.

“We have reliable documents and evidence that this terrorist act was planned, guided and supported by the CIA,” the letter said, according to a Reuters report.  US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has denied US responsibility for the attack, the fifth such assassination in 2 years.

Western intelligence sources told Time magazine on Friday that Israel’s Mossad is responsible for the scientist’s death.

The Wall Street Journal on Saturday reported that the U.S. is preparing for the increasing possibility of an Israeli military assault on Iran.

President Peres Denies Israeli Role in Iran Assassination

Friday, January 13th, 2012

President Shimon Peres, speaking in an interview with CNN Thursday, denied reports that Israel was responsible for the assassination of an Iranian nuclear scientist on Wednesday.

When asked whether Israel was involved in the hit, he responded: “Not to the best of my knowledge.”

His comments were the first by an Israeli official regarding the allegations that Israel was behind the assassination.

“I know that it is fashionable that whatever wrong happens in Iran, it is the United States and Israel. There is nothing new in this approach,” Peres added.

 

Iran Calls on UN to Condemn Assassination of Nuclear Scientist

Thursday, January 12th, 2012

Iran’s Ambassador Mohammad Khazaee wrote a letter to the UN secretary general, calling on him to condemn the assassination of an Iranian nuclear scientist as a “terrorist attack,” and blaming the act on foreign powers.

Assassinating Terrorist Leaders: The Killing of Osama Bin-Laden As a Matter of International Law

Wednesday, May 18th, 2011
             Osama bin Laden was assassinated by U.S. Special Forces on May 1, 2011. Although media emphasis thus far has been focused almost entirely on the pertinent operational and political issues surrounding this “high value” killing, there are also important jurisprudential aspects to the case that require similar attention. Whether or not killing Osama was a genuinely purposeful assassination from a strategic perspective, a question that will be debated for years to come, we should now also inquire:  Was it legal?
             Assassination is ordinarily a crime under international law. Still, in certain residual circumstances, the targeted killing of principal terrorist leaders can be defended as a fully permissible example of law enforcement. In the best of all possible worlds, there would never be any need for such decentralized or vigilante expressions of international justice, but we don’t yet live in such a world. Rather, in our present and still anarchic global legal order, as President Obama correctly understood, the only real alternative to precise self-defense actions against terrorists is apt to be a worsening global instability, and also escalating terrorist violence against the innocent.
            Almost by definition, the idea of assassination as remediation seems an oxymoron. At a minimum, this idea seemingly precludes all normal due processes of law. Yet, since the current state system’s inception in the seventeenth century, following the Thirty Years’ War and the resultant Peace of Westphalia (1648), international relations have not been governed by the same civil protections as individual states. In this world legal system, which lacks effective supra-national authority, Al Qaeda leader bin Laden was indisputably responsible for the mass killings of many noncombatant men, women and children. Had he not been assassinated by the United States, his egregious crimes would almost certainly have gone entirely unpunished.
             The indiscriminacy of Al Qaeda operations under bin Laden was never the result of inadvertence. It was, instead, the intentional outcome of profoundly murderous principles that lay deeply embedded in the leader’s view of Jihad. For bin Laden, there could never be any meaningful distinction between civilians and non-civilians, innocents and non-innocents. For bin Laden, all that mattered was the distinction between Muslims and “unbelievers.”
            As for the lives of unbelievers, it was all very simple.  These lives had no value. They had no sanctity. 
            Every government has the right and obligationto protect its own citizens. In certain circumstances, this may even extend to assassination. The point has long been understood in Washington, where every president in recent memory has given nodding or more direct approval to high value assassination operations. Of course, lower-value or more tactical assassination efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan have become a very regular feature of U.S. special operations.
            There are some points of legal comparison with the recent NATO strike that killed Moammar Gadhafi’s second-youngest son and his three grandchildren. While this was a thinly disguised assassination attempt that went awry, the target, although certainly a supporter of his own brand of terrorists, had effectively been immunized from any deliberate NATO harms by the U.N. Security Council’s limited definition of humanitarian intervention.
            It is generally true that assassination is a crime under international law. Yet, in our decentralized system of world law, self-help by individual states is often necessary, and the only alternative to suffering terrorist crimes. In the absence of particular assassinations, terrorists could continue to plan havoc against defenseless civilians in America and elsewhere, and could do so with impunity. To be sure, they would be generally immune to the more orthodox legal expectations of extradition and prosecution. This is not to suggest that assassination will always work, but only that disallowing such killing out of hand could never be gainful.
            Assassinating bin Laden was consistent with the ancient legal principle of Nullum crimen sine poena, “No crime without a punishment.” Earlier, this core principle had been cited as a rationale for both the Tokyo and Nuremberg war crime tribunals, and was subsequently incorporated into binding customary international law. As to the foreign venue of the assassination, President Obama can find adequate legal support in certain relevant bilateral agreements with Pakistan, and also in pertinent provisions of the 1974 General Assembly Definition of Aggression. Although extra-territorial jurisdiction in any such matters would normally be unlawful, there are critical exceptions when a particular country (here, Pakistan) more or less allows its territory to be used as a base of operation for future terrorist crimes.
            By the codified and customary standards of contemporary international law, terrorists are Hostes humani generis or “Common enemies of humankind.”  In the fashion of pirates, who were to be hanged by the first persons into whose hands they fell, terrorists are international outlaws who fall within the scope of universal jurisdiction.  That bin Laden’s terror-crimes were plainly directed at the United States in particular removes any doubts about the geo-strategic reasonableness of America’s primary jurisdiction.
             Limited support for assassination can be found in the classical writings of Aristotle, Plutarch and Cicero, and even in American history.  Should the community of nations ever reject this right altogether, it would have to recognize, as a corollary, that such rejection could be at the expense of innocent human life. The existing law of nations must, at least on occasion, continue to rely on even the most objectionable forms of self-defense.
            International law is not a suicide pact. Assassination, always subject to the applicable legal rules of discrimination, proportionality and military necessity (it is vital that assassinations always seek to avoid collateral casualties) may sometimes be the least injurious form of defense and punishment.  Wherever additional terrorist crimes are still being planned, as was certainly the case with Osama bin Laden, the permissibility of assassination may be far greater.  
            In a better world, assassination could have no defensible place as counterterrorism. But we do not yet live in the best of all possible worlds, and the obviously negative aspects of assassination should never be evaluated apart from the foreseeable costs of all other options.  Such aspects should always be compared to what would be expected of these alternative choices.
            Assassination, even of a terrorist mastermind like Osama bin Laden, will almost always elicit some indignation, ironically, even by those who would likely find full-scale warfare appropriate.  Yet, the civilizational promise of universal reasonableness is unrealized, and imperiled states, including our own, must inevitably confront stark choices between employing assassination in limited circumstances, or renouncing such tactics at the expense of justice and security.  In facing such choices, these countries, including the United States, will always discover that viable alternatives to the assassination option also include large-scale violence, and that these alternatives may ultimately exact a substantially larger long-term toll in human life and suffering.

 

LOUIS RENÉ BERES was educated at Princeton (Ph.D., 1971), and is the author of many books and scholarly articles dealing with international law and terrorism.  His more than forty-years’ work on counterterrorism is well-known to America’s military and intelligence communities.  Professor Beres is Strategic and Military Affairs columnist for The Jewish Press.

Yet Another Case Of Leftist Treason

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010
              It was even before the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin by Yigal Amir that the Israeli Left, led by the Haaretz newspaper, chanted in unison what has become one of its fundamental political axioms: political violence is a congenital inclination of the Israeli Right and is committed exclusively by right-wingers.
Naturally, after the assassination of Rabin the assertion became a matter of unchallengeable theology.
The media obsession with the alleged violent inclination of the Israeli Right long served to obscure the congenital inclination towards treason and espionage by a great many members of the Israeli Left. The simple fact of the matter is that every single incident of anti-Israel espionage has involved left-wing Israelis.
The scandal that was just made public in Israel, after a local court order prohibiting its publicity was lifted, involves Anat Kamm (spelled Kam in some news accounts), a young leftist who leaked classified military documents to Haaretz. She stole more than 2,000 such documents and passed them on to her Haaretz handler, a leftist journalist named Uri Blau, now in hiding in the UK. Haaretz ran some stories using information extracted from some of the material.
            As alluded to above, Kamm is far from the first Israeli leftist to be involved in treason and espionage. In the 1950s the Israeli communist parties were rife with Soviet collaborationists. Closer to our own time, Mordecai Vanunu, the notorious nuclear spy, was a member of the Israeli communist party. Marcus Klinberg spied in Israel on behalf of the Soviets for years. Azmi Bishara, who spied for Hizbullah, was a leading member of Israel’s Arab Left.
            The worst espionage-cum-terror ring that operated in Israel was organized in the 1970s by kibbutz-born communist Udi Adiv. Leftist Tali Fahima was imprisoned for helping her Palestinian boyfriend plan terror attacks.
And of course there are hundreds of Israeli academic leftists who currently promote boycotts of Israel as well as mutiny and insurrection by Israeli soldiers.
Haaretzhasnever run editorials about the inclinations of leftists to engage in treason and espionage. The Right almost universally denounced Yigal Amir. The Left is celebrating Anat Kamm as a great patriot.
After the assassination of Rabin, every Israeli newspaper and leftist commentator denounced Bar-Ilan University, where Yigal Amir had been a law student. Many even called for shutting the university down. Not one of those same people has called for closing down Tel Aviv University, where Kamm was a student in the history and philosophy departments and where, together with the sociology and political science departments at TAU, one would have to search long and hard to find faculty members who are not leftists or out and out communists.
Not a single mainstream media outlet in Israel is denouncing the radicals at Tel Aviv University for inspiring and breeding Anat Kamm, nor are pundits calling for the university to undertake a complete “critical self-examination” to understand its own guilt, which is what they had demanded of Bar-Ilan.
             In 1940 Winston Churchill shut down all the newspapers and media operated by the British Union of Fascists, the pro-German party led by Oswald Mosley. It was one of his first acts as prime minister. Some 740 leading members of the party, including Mosley, spent the duration of the war in prison. Like Haaretz, their newspapers had launched a “peace campaign” (with Nazi Germany) and reflexively supported the enemies of their country in just about everything.
Until now, Haaretzwas a newspaper given to political stands many deemed treasonous but not a newspaper actually involved in treason and espionage. It has a market share in Israel of 6 or 7 percent, and I suspect that at least half its subscribers get the paper in spite of its anti-Israel ideology and thanks to its business supplement The Marker, the best in Israel. (I am one such subscriber.)
              But now we have discovered that Haaretz has gone beyond merely championing dangerous appeasement. Will Prime Minister Netanyahu have the courage of Churchill and shut down the newspaper for the duration of Israel’s war with Arab jihadists? (At least two Knesset members have called on Netanyahu to do just that.) Will he imprison extremists supporting the country’s enemies in time of war?
            What Kamm did was worse than what Jonathan Pollard was convicted of in the U.S., so Kamm and Blau should be sentenced to a prison term at least as long as that being served by Pollard.
Haaretz for its part is bragging about its role in the espionage and trying to spin it as a great act of patriotism. Really. After all, among the classified documents stolen by Kamm and passed on to Haaretz were a couple that described Israeli military plans to continue targeted assassinations against Hamas terrorists despite an Israeli Supreme Court order commanding the military and executive branch to stop those assassinations.
            Now, if the Israeli military was indeed planning to ignore the Supreme Court’s ruling, it should be cheered for doing so. Because the ruling that prohibited targeted assassinations of terrorists was itself grossly illegal and unconstitutional. It was one of the worst outrages by Israeli Supreme Court justices dedicated to “judicial activism,” the anti-democratic doctrine of judicial tyranny that insists that the court need not base its rulings on actual laws or constitutional powers.
          There is absolutely no legal basis for the Israeli Supreme Court to interfere in the management of Israel’s war against terrorism. The court has no legitimate standing to dictate to the military how it should pursue its tasks.

But that, of course, is not how Haaretz is spinning it. Haaretz strongly supports judicial activism because judicial activists in their rulings usually impose items from the leftist agenda upon the country.

            Kamm, meanwhile, has become the poster girl of Israel’s Far Left, which is increasingly open and brazen in its treasonous political positions. For years now, all too many Israeli leftists have supported the enfoldment of Israel into a Palestinian “bi-national” state, promoted the Palestinian “Right of Return,” organized lawbreaking and insurrection by soldiers, vandalized Israel’s security wall, engaged in violent hooliganism against soldiers and police, and in some cases even cheered on acts of Arab terror and served as human shields for murderers.

Actual espionage is but a mere baby step beyond all that.

 

Steven Plaut is a professor at Haifa University. His book “The Scout” is available at Amazon.com. He can be contacted at steveneplaut@yahoo.com.

Yael And Sisera In Art And Propaganda

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2009

The Art of Power: Royal Armor and Portraits from Imperial Spain

Through November 1, 2009

The National Gallery of Art

4th and Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, D.C.

http://www.nga.gov/

 

 

When charged by the Prophetess Deborah, in Judges to free the Jews from the tyranny of Sisera, general of the Canaanite king Jacin’s army, Barak the son of Abinoam famously responded with the biblical equivalent of “I’m right behind you.” Deborah agreed to accompany Barak to Kedesh but told him Sisera would die by a woman’s hand. Barak accepted the terms, and Sisera was eventually lured into Yael’s tent, where she fed him milk to make him drowsy and drove a tent peg through his head.

 

Rather than treating the assassination as obscene (literally “off stage” in Greek drama), Judges 4:21 is intentionally gruesome. Not only did Sisera get pegged, Yael also hammered the nail right through the general’s head and the tip became lodged in the ground. Yet, the narrative is short on other details, allowing for many different artistic depictions of the story.

 

 

Heterogeneous suit of armor of Charles V. Desiderius Helmschmid. C. 1543.

 

 

The first illustration of Judges 4 of which I’m aware is a watercolor by Pietro Cavallini dated to the 13th-14th centuries. The work is at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, whose website calls the work “Jael and Tisseran” – though the work contains an inscription, “Jael and Siserah (Tiseran).” In the piece, Sisera lies in a courtyard with his head resting on a pillow as Yael holds a peg to his head and readies the hammer. An older woman, of Cavallini’s invention, covers Sisera with a cloth, and the general raises his arms defensively, semi-aware of his fate. Perhaps Cavallini included the extra-biblical woman because he thought the lowly wife of Heber the Kenite needed an accomplice to manage a political assassination, or maybe the woman is Sisera’s mother, who worries in Judges 5:28 that her son’s chariot is delayed.

 

Several other 15th century pieces treat the scene a bit differently. A c. 1430 miniature by the Netherlandish Master of Otto van Moerdrecht shows Sisera, clad in ochre, lying in a bed covered by a bright red blanket in a house with a black-and-white checkerboard floor. Yael, dressed in deep blue, stands behind the sleeping general and leans over him, holding a nail to his head and raising the hammer. An illumination from the 15th-century German manuscript “Speculum humanae salvationis” (Mirror of Human Salvation) shows Sisera lying outdoors on a grassy slope bearing a shield with a cheveron (v-shape).

 

 

Pedro N??ez del Valle. “Jael and Sisera.” C. 1630. Oil on canvas. 48 13/16 x 52 3/8 in. National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin.

 

 

The several dozen other works that precede Pedro N??ez del Valle’s 1630 “Jael and Sisera,” currently on exhibit at the National Gallery, feature other oddities. Some have pillars, some show large pegs and others small nails, one shows Sisera in bed with a wine goblet, and in some Sisera wears a crown. A late 14th century manuscript juxtaposes Yael and Sisera with Judith and the beheaded Holofernes, and Sisera’s shield is decorated with a human face. Medieval artists tended to depict with Yael posing with the hammer, about to strike the general, or the aftermath of the assassination. In a 1481 wood cut, one unknown artist somehow figured Yael would manage to drive the peg through the side of Sisera’s helmet!

 

What is unique about Pedro N??ez del Valle’s work though is its function not only as biblical interpretation, but also as political propaganda. The National Gallery exhibit, in an unprecedented fashion, matches Spanish imperial portraits with the corresponding suits of armor, so viewers can actually see the armor and the paintings depicting the armor side by side. Needless to say, this ingenious curatorial decision helps collapse the several thousand years that have passed since the works were created.

 

In N??ez del Valle’s work, the curators notice that Sisera wears armor of the Roman-pagan style (Image Two). Sisera’s breastplate features a head of medusa and his armor and shin guards evoke a suit of armor presented to Phillip II as a gift. Barak’s armor, meanwhile, is in the Spanish style, so N??ez del Valle has literally cast the good guys (Spain) in the heroic pose (Barak’s), and the bad guys (Romans, pagans) as Sisera’s corpse.

 

 

 

Roman-style armor of Guiobaldo della Rovere, Duke of Urbino, presented as a gift to Phillip II. Bartolomeo Campi, 1546.

 

 

Writing in the catalog, Carmen Garcia-Frias Checa quotes a scholar who argues the painting features “a parallel between the theme of Jael as liberator of the people of Israel from Canaanite oppression and the allegory of Spain as the great succorer of the Catholic faith against heretics.”

 

The Catholic reference might be a plausible (albeit symbolic) read of the work, but Garcia-Frias Checa should have also discussed another work on Yael and Sisera that shows Sisera in Roman-style armor. Dirck Volkertsz Coornhert’s 1551 engraving shows a rather muscular Yael about to hammer the nail into Sisera’s head. Sisera, who lies on a bed, wears the same armor with the same medusa and leg guards, and he lies in virtually the same position (though inverted) as he does in N??ez del Valle’s work. Whether N??ez del Valle would have been familiar with Coornhert’s engraving is debatable, but the engraving does show that not only was Roman-style armor used in biblical scenes nearly a century before N??ez del Valle, but they were even used in interpretations of the Yael and Sisera story. N??ez del Valle might have introduced the Barak figure in Spanish armor, but Sisera’s pagan attire was already an artistic tradition.

 

Dirck Volkertsz Coornhert, after Maarten van Heemskerck. “Jael Slaying Sisera.” From “The Power of Women,” 1551. Engraving and etching.

 

If Garcia-Frias Checa is right, Spain would be presented not as the victor per se, but as the male leader showing up to take credit after the heroine had done all the dirty work. Yael still holds the murder weapon in her hand, and the peg is clearly visible piercing Sisera’s skull. Perhaps this is reading the scene too literally, but one would expect that N??ez del Valle could have picked a better narrative to illustrate the might of the Catholic Church, if that was his aim, like David and Goliath or Samson killing a Philistine.

 

Either way, that the Catholic Church would identify itself with a Jewish general like Barak less than 150 years after expelling the Jews from Spain is surely noteworthy, even if it is just a symbolic comparison. For that, we can thank the National Gallery for its brilliant curatorial decision to examine both the paintings and the armor.

 

Menachem Wecker welcomes comments at mwecker@gmail.com. He is a painter and writer, residing in Washington, D.C.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/arts//2009/09/02/

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