“Wipe Out a Neighborhood”: Life By Mafia Rules in the Israeli-US Domain.

I happened to learn about the car-bomb assassination of Imad Mughniyeh, the Hezbollah commander, while talking to a Palestinian Fatah man who is a confidante of Mohammed Dahlan, who is famously reputed in the press to have been both a torturer and the CIA’s man in Gaza, until the Hamas ousted him.

The Fatah/ Dahlan man who imparted the assassination news hates Hamas with a passion — he said that in last year’s rival security forces showdown they grabbed and tortured him with knives for four hours (he was earlier tortured by the Israelis far longer, and worse, but views that as par for the course)– and is no fan of Hezbollah, but he viewed the killing with irony. He said he was hearing that the Israelis were saying “we cleared the account with him (Mughniyeh)” (Palestinian Authority security forces, like those Dahlan ran, now have regular coordination meetings with their ostensible enemies, Israeli intelligence), yet he claimed that Mughniyeh’s major killings had been more against other Arabs (eg. Saudi, Kuwait) than against Israelis.

The Israeli killing men are trying to contain their grins. The government issued a non-denial denial “Israel rejects the attempt by terror groups to attribute to it any involvement in this incident. We have nothing further to add” — i.e. they reject terror groups saying they were involved, but do not say that they were not involved.

The US, which had a $25 million bounty on Mughniyeh’s head (he’s implicated, in, among other things, the Lebanon Marine barracks bombing, the kidnap/ holding of AP reporter Terry Anderson, a TWA hijacking) felt no need to show restraint, saying, through the State Department: “The world is a better place without this man in it. He was a cold-blooded killer, a mass murderer and a terrorist responsible for countless innocent lives lost.”

In a world of proportionality and full enforcement of the murder laws — or even, rough justice-style “what goes around comes around” — George Bush’s men would not want to make that statement, since they (and Israel) are responsible for vastly more, and vastly more civilian, killings, don’t have Mughniyeh’s sometime excuse of responding to invasion, and don’t want to start up their cars tomorrow morning and wind up blown to bits.

But that is not this world. This is mafia world. If you’re big enough, you can whack guys.

It so happened that, hours before, another Palestinian man had used that mafia term as we wove through scrolls of barbed wire, checkpoints, walls, and Galil/M-16 toting Occupation men as Jewish settlers/occupiers zipped through the West Bank on ethnically/religiously segregated superhighways.

Two days before, a fairly typical day in Israeli politics, the lead front page headline in the Haaretz newspaper was “IDF (Israel Defense Forces) to step up Gaza assassinations,” in response to homemade rockets from besieged, hungry, bombed Gaza that had recently wounded Israelis.

“The IDF needs to wipe out a neighborhood in Gaza,” said the Israeli Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit, “We need to target all those responsible for terrorism without asking who they are” — suggesting a broad definition of “responsible” that encompasses those whose actions are unknown, but who do, at least, fit the criterion of being Palestinians living in Gaza. (Haaretz English Edition, February 11, 2008).

Dani Yatom, the former Shin Bet internal security chief, now a parliamentarian for what constitutes Israel’s establishment left, the Labor Party, said on TV of blowing up the smaller killer Mughniyeh that “the free and democratic world today achieved a very important goal” — suggesting that freedom and democracy do not have law and order (as opposed to whacking) as a prerequisite, which seems to undercut the whole US worldwide project of building up heavily-armed security forces, along with non-troublesome courts — in places including occupied Palestine — on the claimed premise that you can’t have freedom and democracy until you’ve first established the rule of law.

The politics are pretty clear. The US Republicans want terrorism — other people’s — on the US electoral front burner (see posting re. the just-announced 9/11 tribunals, February 11, 2008, “The Guantanamo Gambit. A Smart But Vulnerable Establishment. Tactical Options in US Politics.”), and Israel’s Olmert administration is still smarting from a new official report (the Winograd Commission) saying they lost the ’06 Lebanon war with Hezbollah (and with the precision-carpet-bombed civilian populations of southern Leabanon, and southern Beirut), and are simultaneously facing a fierce Israeli public clamor to go in and kill more Gazans.

There’s always a certain — weak — case to be made for just taking out a killer if nice, legal courts can’t do it (its the kind of thing that leftist guerrilla/liberation movements, or the French Resistance, did all the time). That was basically the case — apart from the weapons/ Al Qeada lies — that the US made for taking out Saddam Hussein. But the weak case becomes dangerously unserious when the one proposing to do the ajusticiamiento (delivery of justice, as they used to say in rebel Central America), has, like, say, the US or Israeli leadership, killed and murdered far more prolifically than has the proposed target. Then, though you remove a smaller killer from the face of the earth, you make the bigger killer still stronger, thus making life even more dangerous for regular people who are still walking around.

Surprisingly enough, for a man based in the New York area — an old mob stronghold and recently the fictional home of HBO’s Tony Soprano — Malcom Hoenlein, head of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations seemed to express surprise, at a Tuesday Jerusalem press conference, at his group’s poll findings that American popular support for Israel is “broad” but “also thin, and most Americans see Israel as a dark and militaristic place.”

Evidently they shouldn’t. When an assassination car bomb explodes, it gives off a lot of light.

(For the Hoenlein press conference see Anshel Pfeffer, “Hoenlein: Obama’s spirit of change could harm Israel,” Haaretz, February 13, 2008; despite the headline, he wasn’t criticizing Obama, who like all the big 3 candidates, is already pledged to the official US/Israeli government line, including on Gaza. He was merely fretting that “[t]here is a legitimate concern over the zeitgeist around the campaign… All the talk about change, but without defining that that change should be, is an opening for all kind of mischief.”).

Allan Nairn is an award-winning U.S. investigative journalist whose writings have focused on US foreign policy in such countries as Indonesia, East Timor, Guatemala, El Salvador and Haiti. Vist his blog.Allan Nairn is an award-winning U.S. investigative journalist whose writings have focused on US foreign policy in such countries as Indonesia, East Timor, Guatemala, El Salvador and Haiti. Vist his blog. Read other articles by Allan, or visit Allan's website.

23 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. dan e said on February 16th, 2008 at 6:47pm #

    Thank you Mr Nairn,

    You have applied the appropriate nomenclature: Mafia.

    Funny, for so long I knew these zionists were politically noxious, but somehow I didn’t quite put it together that they are basically a bunch of gangsters. To paraphrase Proudhon, Zionism Is Theft.

    And “Israel” is a racket.

    A highly profitable one for entrepreneur Godfathers like Ed Teller, Mssrs. Templesman, Gertler, Adelson, Milchan, et al & top level gunsels like Olmert, Nut&yahoo, Scharansky, both Liebermans, Ms Feinstein, the late unlamented Mr Lantos, etc etc.

    Thanks Again,


    Thanks again,


  2. Ray Ralph said on February 17th, 2008 at 7:30am #

    One of Ehud Olmert’s “greatest accomplishments,” Jaime, was the wanton slaughter of over 1000 innocent civilians during Israel’s 2006 criminal invasion of Lebanon. How like a defender of the evil Zionist state to denounce the lesser veil (Mughniyeh’s killing of 100 innocents) and to remain silent about the greater evil (Olmert’s and the IDF’s slaughter of over 1000 Lebanese innocent civilians). All terrorism is evil, Jaime. But you denounce the small scale terrorists and defend the big time Zionist killing machine. Shame on you, hypocrite! Zionism= evil! Zionism = murder! Zionism=theft! Jaime and other defenders of the evil Zionist state= hypocrisy on a collosal scale!

  3. D.R. Munro said on February 17th, 2008 at 9:57am #

    I will never understand humans. The things they do and the foolish games they play . . . I’ll never understand.

  4. sk said on February 17th, 2008 at 10:38am #

    Here’s one way to “to wipe out a neighborhood”: turn people’s houses into cages.

  5. maryb said on February 18th, 2008 at 2:16am #

    Sunil Sharma said on February 4th, 2008 at 7:54 pm #
    The only “peace” you’re interested in is the peace of a Palestinian graveyard
    This was a comment on an article on this site written by Professor Makdisi entitled ‘The Strangulation of Gaza’. The statement about the peace of a Palestinian graveyard isn’t even true. On Uruknet today there is a piece about such a graveyard being desecrated.

    February 17, 2008
    NAZARETH, (PIC)– The Aqsa foundation for the reconstruction of Islamic holy shrines strongly denounced Sunday the Jewish fanatics who assaulted the Islamic Hirbij cemetery in the Ibten town in the Palestinian lands occupied in 1948 and smashed many gravestones, considering this act as a desecration of the living and the dead Muslims.

    The foundation stated that it would be working soon on refurbishing the smashed gravestones and fencing the graveyard.

    A Palestinian citizen who works as a janitor near the graveyard discovered this assault and told the Ibten people who in their turn called the Haifa police to conduct its investigations.

    This is the third assault on the graveyard in the last two years, where Jewish extremists had previously written slurs on the graves against Arabs and Muslims and the Haifa police investigated into the assault but to no avail.

  6. Ray Ralph said on February 18th, 2008 at 6:21am #

    Jaime says “Everybody knows that Hezbollah started the war.” Baloney!! I don’t “know” any such thing. Anybody informed enough to have an opinion worth listening to knows that water-starved Israel started the war in order to grab the Litani River and divert its water to Israel. They still have not given up on this attempted theft. Dropping the million of cluster bombs, in violation of International Law (yes, Jaime, it was a war “crime”), was an attempt to make the area around the Litani unliveable and thus further facilitate Israel’s plans.

  7. jaime said on February 18th, 2008 at 8:58am #

    MaryB, desecration of anybody’s graveyard is a criminal act. And if such a thing occured I hope they catch the perps and bring them to justice. The “peace” I’m interested in is 2 states Israel and Palestine living side by side.

    Unfortunately, the Hamas bozos are less interested in establishing a state for themselves then they are at trying to exterminate Israel. Notice how since the Israelis left 2005 everything has gone downhill for them? You look at news photos and videos of Gaza. It’s a mess. They won’t collect garbage or provide basic services.
    Just hate hate hate.

    Ray, the Israelis don’t want the Litani River. You’re dreaming in technicolor. In 2006 they pushed the Hez. forces back to the Litani, then returned to Israel. Now the area is at least theoretically patrolled by UN peacekeeping troops.

    Where did you get your information for that little gem?

  8. alex said on February 18th, 2008 at 11:20am #

    A recent report (only a day or so ago) by the Israeli Peace-Now-Movement indicated that according to a study carried out in Israel, ONE-THIRD of Israeli settlements in the west bank was built on private Palestinian lands. The israeli army first took the land from its owners for security reasons, then handed it over to Zionist Agencies for settlement purposes. The term MAFIA fits like a glove.

  9. Ray Ralph said on February 18th, 2008 at 4:42pm #

    Jaime, I said that anyone informed enough to have an opinion worth listening to knows that Israel started their failed but brutally murderous 2006 war to steal the Litani River but they never got that far (Hezbollah prevented it). You obviously are not one of the people who is informed enough to have an opinion worth listening to. In fact, you are the one who is “dreaming” (is that just another name for “fibbing”) when you say that the IDF did get as far north as the Litani. Why do you continue to post here when you clearly almost always do not know what you are talking about? Why are the ignoramuses like you always the loudest and foulest mouths?

  10. jaime said on February 18th, 2008 at 6:14pm #


    August 12, 2006
    IDF reaches Litani River


    JERUSALEM – Israeli army units reached the Litani River on Saturday, less than 24 hours after the government ordered an operation to march toward the river in a final push against entrenched Hezbollah guerrillas, Israel Radio reported.

    The units were part of a massive force that flooded into Lebanon, trying to seize as much territory as possible before a U.N. cease-fire comes into effect. The objective was to control southern Lebanon up to the Litani River, about 18 miles from the Israeli border, before handing over the area to the Lebanese army and U.N. troops.

  11. D.R. Munro said on February 18th, 2008 at 8:06pm #

    Ah, I ALWAYS believe what I read from the press. Thanks for that.

    I belive it was you, actually, who said this:

    “anybody with a camera can do a close-up human interest story and depending upon their chosen emphasis, make one side or the other “look bad.”

  12. jaime said on February 18th, 2008 at 8:39pm #

    Uh huh…here photoshop this….!


    “…Under cover of intense artillery fire, IDF forces reached the Litani River…”


    “There are forces that have already reached the Litani, but arrival of the general IDF forces to the river is expected to take another few days.”


    The Israel Defense Forces 162nd Armor Division, also known as the “Ha-Plada”/”Steel” Formation, is a regular-service armor division in the IDF.
    Although attached to the Central Command, the 162nd Division participated in battles against Hezbollah, from July to August 2006, in the western sector of southern Lebanon and north of Bint Jbail. The division reached the strategic Litani River, that separates Hezbollah-controlled Lebanon from central Lebanon.

  13. jaime said on February 19th, 2008 at 9:18am #


    The Operation Changing Direction 11was the final push by the Israeli Defense Forces during the 2006 Lebanon War that began on August 11, 2006, and ended 3 days later when the ceasefire came into effect. It involved a major force entering Lebanon that reached as far as the Litani river, and aimed to clear the area of Southern Lebanon of Hezbollah militants as best as possible before the ceasefire began.


    ‘Changing Direction 11″ is the nickname given by the IDF to the ground offensive undertaken during the final 60 hours of the Second Lebanon War.

  14. Ray Ralph said on February 19th, 2008 at 3:57pm #

    Jaime, All of the reports you cite are based on the dubious claim by the IDF (who, like you, are notorious “fibbers,” to say the least) that a few of them actually reached the Litani River before being driven out by Hezbollah. There are no idependent and trustworthy sources (apart from Israeli propaganda, which only the very naive ever believe) who can verify that the IDF actually reached the Litani. With the Israeli government’s long record of lies and deception, why should anyone believe them? However, the fact that the Zionist state wasn’t able to steal the Litani’s precious water from Lebanon in 2006 does not mean that Israel has abandoned this nefarious goal. They will find another pretext. As for you, Jaime, stop “fibbing.” Your nose must be longer than Pinochio’s.

  15. Ray Ralph said on February 19th, 2008 at 4:59pm #

    The photo, Jaime, also comes from the IDF. The stream the IDF is crossing could be anywhere. Who says it is the Litani? Who knows when the photo was taken? The IDF is the source. They are even bigger fibbers than you!! And you believe such obvious propaganda. I have a bridge in Brooklyn for sale. Are you interested?

  16. jaime said on February 19th, 2008 at 6:46pm #

    This is stupid.

    It’s common knowledge that the IDF reached the Litani during the 2006 Lebanon war, and that they pulled out as they were replaced by French UN troops. Hezbollah did not “drive them out.”

    The first story that I excerpted concerning this was from ASSOCIATED PRESS which not an Israeli source.

    Why can’t Ray accept that this happened?

  17. Ray Ralph said on February 20th, 2008 at 7:19am #

    The Associate Press story got its information from Israeli sources. In other words, it accepted as true a dubious piece of Israeli propaganda. What is common knowledge, Jaime, is that the IDF got its butt kicked by Hezbollah in 2006 and had to retreat. Why can’t you accept the truth?

  18. jaime said on February 20th, 2008 at 8:36am #

    Oh geez, I’m sorry! I didn’t know that Ray Ralph is the Middle Bureau Chief for Associated Press.

    Until now I just thought he was another DV crank.

  19. jaime said on February 20th, 2008 at 12:33pm #


    As DV’s Associated Press’s Middle East Bureau Chief Ray Ralph pointed out…. THE REAL MISSION of the IDF in Lebanon in 2006 was to STEAL the Litani River for Israel.

    Please note this photo:

    Caption: IDF Soldiers entering Lebanon in 2006 were all issued buckets with which to empty the Litani River. The water was packed back to Israel and poured into Lake Kinneret.

  20. Ray Ralph said on February 20th, 2008 at 4:28pm #

    Talk about dishonest, Jaime! Are there no limits to the depths to which you will descend in your efforts to decieve? The photo you show is of an American seriviceman on Tarawa Island in the South Pacific during WW II. Tarawa is a long ways from the mideast and the Litani River. Who did you think you were fooling?

  21. Hue Longer said on February 21st, 2008 at 1:01am #

    it’s common knowledge that anyone who appeals to common knowledge is either a professional sophist or a novice fuckwit

  22. Mike McNiven said on February 21st, 2008 at 2:49am #


  23. jaime said on February 21st, 2008 at 10:23am #

    American servicemen on Tarawa didn’t wear knitted balaclavas, Ray.


    Check your facts.

    The Litani River is now 40% lower than it was in early summer of 2006 as a direct result of all those IDF infantrymen returning to Israel with buckets of water.