Kamal Nasser was a much-admired Palestinian poet, who due to his renowned integrity was known as "The Conscience." He was a member of Jordan's parliament in 1956. He was murdered in 1973 by an Israeli death squad whose most notorious member was future Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak. This is one of his poems:
by Kamal Nasser
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch
I will tell you a story ...
a story that lived in the dreams of my people,
a story that comes from the world of tents.
It is a story inspired by hunger and embellished by dark nights of terror.
It is the story of my country, a handful of refugees.
Every twenty of them have a pound of flour between them
and a few promises of relief ... gifts and parcels.
It is the story of the suffering ones
who stood waiting in line ten years,
in tears and agony,
in hardship and yearning.
It is a story of a people who were misled,
who were thrown into the mazes of the years.
And yet they stood defiant,
disrobed yet united
as they trudged from the light to their tents:
the revolution of return
into the world of darkness.
Kamal Nasser was a Palestinian Christian who was murdered by an Israeli death squad in 1973. One of the members of the death squad was Ehud Barak (born Ehud Brog), who ruled as Israel’s tenth Prime Minister from 1999 to 2001. His adopted Hebrew name Barak means "lightning." As a younger man, Brog/Barak was a member of a secret assassination unit that liquidated Palestinians in Lebanon and the occupied territories. In the 1973 covert mission Operation Spring of Youth in Beirut, which was part of the larger Operation Wrath of God, he disguised himself as a woman in order to assassinate Palestinians. The raid resulted in the deaths of two women, one of them an elderly Italian. Two Lebanese policemen were also killed, along with the poet Kamal Nasser.
Nasser was the PLO's most prominent Christian and he enjoyed "great appeal" in Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq "both as a distinguished poet and likeable personality." He was the “conscience of the Palestinian revolution,” according to Nazih Abul-Nidal, who worked with him on the magazine Filastin al-Thawra. Nasser “had the most democratic outlook of all Palestinian leaders at the time,” he recalls. He respected opposing views, admired the commitment of young people, and was a major recruitment asset for the Palestinian revolution. “That is why he was put high on the hit-list.” The previous year, the Israelis had murdered another renowned Palestinian writer and activist in Beirut, Ghassan Kanafani, by booby-trapping his car. Nasser’s successor, Majed Abu Sharar, was also assassinated by Israelis, in Rome in 1981 while attending a conference in solidarity with the Palestinian people.
According to Maan Bashour, a member of the PLO information committee and a representative of the Arab Liberation Front, the Israelis targeted Nasser specifically because he was seen as "the freedom fighter from Ramallah" and as "a cultural and media star with his popular and especially Christian credentials."
The funeral of Nasser and his fallen comrades was attended by the full spectrum of Lebanese and Palestinian political leaders, including those of the “isolationist right,” notably the late Pierre Gemayel. Karim Mroue describes it as having been “the biggest funeral in Lebanon’s history” with around half a million people mourning in the streets.
Barak was rewarded for his acts of terrorism by rising quickly through the ranks to become the youngest army chief of staff in Israeli history. He currently holds the posts of Minister of Defense and Deputy Prime Minister in Binyamin Netanyahu's government.
In his book Striking Back, Aaron Klein (who says he based his book in large part on interviews with key Mossad officers involved in the reprisal missions) contends that the Mossad got only one man directly connected to the Munich Olympics. That man, Atef Bseiso, was killed in Paris in 1992. Klein says that the intelligence on Wael Zwaiter, the first Palestinian to die, was "uncorroborated and improperly cross-referenced. Looking back, his assassination was a mistake." Klein says that the real planners and executors of Munich had gone into hiding along with bodyguards in the Eastern bloc and Arab world, where Israel could not reach them. Most of those killed were minor Palestinian figures who happened to be wandering unprotected around Western Europe. "Israeli security officials claimed these dead men were responsible for Munich; PLO pronouncements made them out to be important figures; and so the image of the Mossad as capable of delivering death at will grew and grew." The operation functioned not just to punish the perpetrators of Munich but also to disrupt and deter future terrorist acts, writes Klein. "For the second goal, one dead PLO operative was as good as another." Klein quotes a senior intelligence source: "Our blood was boiling. When there was information implicating someone, we didn't inspect it with a magnifying glass."
Abu Daoud, one of the main planners of the Munich massacre, said in interviews before the release of the movie Munich that "I returned to Ramallah in 1995, and Israel knew that I was the planner of the Munich operation." The leader of Black September, Abu Iyad, was also not killed by Israel. Former Mossad chief Zvi Zamir said that Israel was more interested in striking the "infrastructure of the terrorist organizations in Europe" than those directly responsible for Munich. "We had no choice but to start with preventive measures."
As the campaign continued, relatives of the Israeli victims were kept informed. The wife of assassinated Mossad agent Baruch Cohen called the operation, especially a side operation directed against those who had murdered her husband, sickening.
According to Ronen Bergman (security correspondent for the Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahronoth and expert on Mossad): "This campaign stopped most PLO terrorism outside the borders of Israel. Did it help in any way to bring peace to the Middle East? No. Strategically it was a complete failure."
Victor Ostrovsky has said that the direction Meir set the Mossad on, namely that of focusing heavily on the people and operations of the PLO, took energy away from intelligence gathering on Israel's neighbors. This led the Mossad to miss the warning signs of the 1973 Yom Kippur War, which caught Israeli defenses by surprise.
"The Palestinians are like crocodiles, the more you give them meat, they want more."—Ehud Barak (Jerusalem Post, August 30, 2000)
"If I were a Palestinian, I would be a terrorist."—Barak (speaking about Ariel Sharon's policies toward the Palestinians)
"I would have joined a terrorist organization."—Barak (to Gideon Levy, a columnist for Ha'aretz, when was asked what he would have done if he had been born a Palestinian)
Keywords/Tags: Kamal Nasser, Palestinian, Palestine, PLO, Conscience, Ramallah, Christian, poet
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