Friday, June 15, 2018

Targeted Killings: Rise and Kill First by Ronen Bergman

A look at the world of politics, statecraft, diplomacy and books

Rise and Kill First: The Secret History of Israel's Targeted Assasinations
Ronen Bergman
New York: Random House 2018

Israel was born of a horrendous historical and political reality that of the Holocaust in which around 7 million Jews were killed in gas chambers spread across Germany and Eastern Europe. This singular event has cast a long, and some might even say a deadly shadow, on Israel as a Sate and Society. The words "Never Again" emblaozoned on the Holocaust Memorial in Tel Aviv is more than a mere rhetorical declaration of intent: it is also a guide to the very conduct of State Policy. The Holocaust was both a moral and political disaster: Moral because it marked an end to the very notion of a civilized human existence and the world woke up to the horror of Extermination and Genocide as state policies and a Political disater because all the Allied Powers, though aware of the infernal extermination camps took no effort either to liberate the imprisoned people or to create awareness among the population through propaganda about the horrors of genocide. Only the Soviet Union made the Liberation of the Jews a WarAim and succeeded.

The book under review must be read against the backdrop of what we have stated above. The decades immediately following World War I and the Balfour Declaration witnessed the migration of Jews from Europe to Palestine. The dissolution of the Ottoman Empire created the conditions for the rise of Israel and the Arabs who faught for the Allies soon found that their utility as an ally lay in the huge deposits of petroleum found in Arabia. The Allies were now very keen on keeping the Arab sates within their orbit of influence as the major source of Oil lay in Arabia. Under these circumstances Israel could neither depend on its"natural" allies the Western Powers nor was it powerful enough to ward off the ever spiraling danger to its very existence. The Arabs were dispalced from their lands as the Jews migrated to Israel and the fellow Arab nations instead of helping the Arabs resettle in Arab lands promptly  stuck the fleeing Arabs in specially created camps and thereby created the Palestenian problem. There was no Palestineian problem before the Arabs attacked Israel in 1948 and instead of crushing the nascent state of Israel in the cradle as they hoped only succeeded in strengthening the verve and resolve of Israel.

Shin Bet and MOSSAD were two very powerful organizations that emerged from the ashes of the Holocaust. The early recruits into these highly specialised Intelligence Units came from familes that had lost family members in the Holocaust. A high sense of motivation and skill were needed to join these units. Right from the very beginning Israel had made it a state policy to "Identify, Isolate and Eliminate" enemies of the State. Arab states like Egypt were keen to employ German scientists to help launch the Rocket programme. Of course, Israel would have none of that and the Germans were forced to withdraw. Intimidation through letter bombs and targeted assasinations have both been deployed by Israel security agencies against those working against Israel or have shed Jewish or Israeli blood. Thus all those who took part in the infamous 1972 Massacre of Israeli atheletes at Munich, Germany, were hunted down and the last one killed just 5 years back.

It must be noted that the special operations are carried out only on the written directives of the Prime Minister. The CIA has rouge elements, guns on hire, who operate outside the limits of the law. The Israeli agencies have shown restraint and there have been situations when assasinations have been called off due to the presence of civilians in the area. There are some who say that targeted killing is illegal. To them, I say that  the Law and Constitution acts as restrins only when people accept the limits set ny the Law of the Land and the Constitution. If we have terrorists who are not bound to the law and do not respect the Constitution and indeed, boast of overthrowing it, the State is well within iy=ts rights to seek challenge and destroy such elements.

Thias is a very interesting book and must be read by all those interested in Isreal, Secret Espionage Agencies and are looking for ways to destroy terrorism. Israel has shown that its policy is effective.

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