The Patrimony

In politics, everything is relatives

Tag: Palestine

The spy who came in from the cold

by fpman

Some blogging-scarce days are past me. Family matters (I mean, blogging about them) had to wait. Now hopefully I’m back to some more regular posting.

For a while it looked like I might write to you about this developing story in Tanzania where the government was apparently considering evicting some 40,000 people from an area that the royal family from Dubai (UAE) was interested in using as hunting ground. But then it turned out people in government can still get back to their senses or at least can be pressured not to go all the way when thinking out loud about carrying out such an atrocity.

Additionally, I then came across an even crazier story. Just take a look at the headline and you’ll see what I’m talking about:

“Palestinian state is a ‘fantasy’, says son of Hamas founder.”

You would think of anyone having anything to do with Hamas as being in favour of an Islamic state in the territory of “all of Palestine,” basically, as far as their known position is concerned. But Mosab Hassan Yousef is special. His father, Sheikh Hassan Yousef was one of seven founders of the Hamas movement in 1987. And Mosab, as Sheikh Hassan’s son, was part of the movement, too. But, as the story goes, he eventually became disillusioned with what he saw in Hamas’ prisons.* He says he couldn’t stomach the regular torturing of people who were accused of being collaborators with Israel. Eventually he was approached by Israel’s Shin Bet security service and started working with them. He did so for a decade although not quite all the way under the perfect cover – his ties to Shin Bet eventually became known to Hamas’ leaders who were embarrassed by this and feared mostly that news of this would get out. Mosab left Ramallah in time to make it, and currently lives in the United States. He can thank that in part to Gonen Ben Yitzhak, his former Shin Bet handler and a personal good friend by this stage. Ben Yitzhak broke Shin Bet’s code of secrecy and came out to speak in public in Mosab’s defence when the United States was about to deport him from the country “for his Hamas ties.”

* Remark added on December 6: apparently, this happened in an Israeli prison’s effectively Hamas-controlled wing where mostly only Hamas members were held at the time.

Watch this video to hear some of the story directly from Mosab. Bonus crazy twist alert: a lady asks him at the end basically (though not in these exact words) about whether he might be like Nicholas Brody of “Homeland,” like, trying to infiltrate the West with a sophisticated cover story and all that. Mosab manages to answer with a straight face. Crazy questions most likely are a form of compliment when it comes to a crazy story such as this.

Being close to war

by fpman

We’re travelling, and posting is light these days here at the Patrimony.

But this shouldn’t stop us from pointing out some noteworthy analysis produced by others, tangentially relevant to our focus over here. Travelling in the virtual world of the internet we have come across this report on Malala Yousafzai’s donation of $50,000 to rebuild schools in Gaza. She is the little girl who started an activist career at a young age in Pakistan, blogging in favour of women’s right to be educated, who was then shot in the head by the Taliban but survived, and has by now won all kinds of awards, including the Nobel Peace Prize and the World Children’s Prize. The money she is giving for education in Gaza comes from the latter source, actually.

Perusing articles even loosely related to this, on the Middle East, we have then found this article from almost a month ago in the Jerusalem Post. An Israeli perspective, you might say, or rather a perspective on the difference between Israeli and other perspectives, actually, on the most recent round of conflict related to Gaza. It contains some important observations about the emotional impact of how close to one, specifically in terms of human relations, a conflict happens to be.

Two key excerpts should be lifted over here. Firstly, regarding the view of the general public in Israel: It might be difficult for an outsider to understand, but when your child is spending their summer vacation running to find shelter—with merely a 15-second warning in the south, 90 seconds in Tel Aviv—one has limited emotional capacity to see what is happening to the children on the other side.

And secondly, regarding the elite’s perspective: In this war Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon’s close friend lost his son, the grandson of a prominent left-wing politician was severely injured, and every anchor or reporter knew someone who was fighting in Gaza. In Israel there is often only one degree of separation.

Even in an airport lounge one sometimes has the time to trace back information and so we found this report which reveals that the soldier killed in action was Hadar Goldin, and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon’s close friend in question is Simcha Goldin. Minister Moshe Ya’alon indeed knew Simcha Goldin well: “Ya’alon knew Simcha Goldin, the dead soldier’s father, from childhood and had known Hadar since his birth. Ya’alon once lectured at Hadar Goldin’s high school at his request.” In fact they are related, too, as Ya’alon’s grandfather was in fact the brother of Simcha Goldin’s grandmother. This means that Hadar Goldin was Moshe Ya’alon’s second cousin once removed.

The prominent left-wing politician alluded to above is most likely Haim Oron, a politician formerly from the left-wing Meretz Party, and a leader of the kibbutz movement in Israel – his grandson was injured on the Gaza border, some time in the second half of July. His name is Adi Zimri, and he was hit in the leg in the explosion of a rocket propelled grenade while searching for Hamas-built tunnels reaching into Israeli territory. By the way, the second link goes to an article that also reveals Haim Oron’s son Oded as being a helicopter pilot, his firstborn son Uri as being a Brigadier-General in the air force, and his granddaughter Omer Zimri as being a reservist officer. Which is obviously not all that uncommon a situation (for a family to have so many members in the military, either on active duty or in reserve) in Israel.

Now, before somebody confuses this brief post on a very specific issue (degree of one’s separation in terms of human/family relations from a conflict, on one particular side involved in said conflict) with a thorough analysis of the background of the Middle East conflict and some kind of justification for anything or its opposite, let us state that it is not. Our point is simply what the author of the article quoted above is also saying: degree of one’s separation in terms of human/family relations from a conflict (as a variable) matters somehow.