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In Brussels whodunnit, Netanyahu irresponsibly claims anti-Zionist, anti-Semitic motive

on 48 Comments

As you can see on the video above, at 3:27 p.m. last Saturday afternoon May 24, a young man in a baseball cap and sunglasses entered the Brussels Jewish museum, produced a Kalashnikov from a bag, and calmly fired into a gallery from a doorway before departing the museum on foot, unhurried. He killed an Israeli couple in their 50s along with a Frenchwoman. (A fourth victim died the next day.)

The case has drawn international expressions of concern as possibly being an anti-Semitic act in the midst of far-right gains in European elections. And true to form, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu is milking the case for all it’s worth. But the latest reports suggest that the attack may have been an assassination targeting the couple, who were posted to the Israeli embassy in Berlin– the Frenchwoman being collateral damage.

The case is interesting to me (and Scott Roth, who landed on it first) because of the daring and irresponsible assumptions that Netanyahu has made about it. This man cannot open his mouth without damaging his reputation. (And still he gets to boss our president.)

Here’s a wrapup of responses…

The killings happened on May 24. That night the Israeli government issued this statement from Netanyahu explaining why the killings had occurred: “because of constant incitement against Jews and their state”:

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, this evening, strongly condemns the murder that was perpetrated at the Jewish Museum in Brussels and shares in the grief of the families of the victims. “This act of murder is the result of constant incitement against Jews and their state. Slander and lies against the State of Israel continue to be heard on European soil even as the crimes against humanity and acts of murder being perpetrated in our region are systematically ignored. Our response to this hypocrisy is to constantly state the truth, continue a relentless fight against terrorism and build up our strength,” the Prime Minister said.

But on Sunday the 25th, a Belgian investigator was agnostic about the motive. She is also on the videotape above– which Belgians released to try and get help in finding the killer:

The deputy public prosecutor, Ine Van Wymersch…  said there was no claim of responsibility and added: “I cannot confirm that it is a terrorist or antisemitic act.”

That Sunday, even as he was hosting the Pope, Netanyahu repeatedly took to twitter to explain and condemn the killings as anti-Semitic, anti-Zionist attack.

Netanyahu got a call from the Belgian Prime Minister. 

Then Netanyahu faulted other European leaders for Not getting in touch with him over the murders! 

The State Department briefing on Wednesday led off with a condemnation of the killings, but Jen Psaki was careful not to say explicitly that they were anti-Semitic.

The United States strongly condemns Saturday’s deadly attack at the Jewish Museum in Brussels. We express our deepest condolences to the families of the victims. There is never any justification for these hateful attacks against innocent civilians, nor for prejudice against the Jewish people or the state of Israel.

The Turkish foreign ministry also expressed concern about anti-Semitism. From the J Post:

The ministry expressed its concern over the violent incident and its possible anti-Semitic motives in light of the results of the EU parliamentary elections that saw seats gained by far-right parties, known for their radical nationalistic policies.

The Jewish Telegraphic Agency ran an alarmist piece calling the murders a terrorist act, suggesting that “Islamists” were behind it, and quoting members of “a beleaguered Belgian Jewish community” who said they expected such an attack:

Mischael Modrikamen, the Jewish leader of Belgium’s small, centrist Parti Populaire [said]… “Sadly, however, the actual attack comes as no surprise to us after years of living in an atmosphere of rampant anti-Semitism that often leads to violence.”…

Within hours of the attack, the local Jewish community and the European Jewish Congress’ Brussels-based Security and Crisis Center were operating a crisis management room complete with a telephone hotline and website — testament to years of preparation for a terrorist attack on one of Europe’s most at-risk communities.

The UN Security Council condemned the attack and said it might have an anti-Semitic motivation.

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has condemned “in the strongest terms” the recent terrorist attack against the Jewish Museum in Brussels, which resulted in loss of life and injuries and may have had a possible anti-Semitic motivation behind it….

“The members of the Security Council strongly condemned all forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, especially against an institution whose mission has always been to promote openness and tolerance,” stated the 15-member body.

Now let’s move on to the spook theories. That guy in the video sure looks like a spook to me. The Guardian has now run a story saying that the attack may have been a targeted assassination on the two Israelis:

Experts in Israel and elsewhere have said the manner of the killings suggested planning and execution by a trained specialist.

Here’s what’s known about the Israeli couple:

Israeli media reports said the Rivas were accountants formerly in government service. Emmanuel Riva worked for an official agency called Nativ, which dealt with the emigration of Jews from the former Soviet Union. Mira Riva was employed by the prime minister’s office – often a euphemism for the Mossad and Shin Bet secret services. Both had been posted to Israel’s embassy in Berlin.

And today the JTA is running a story that cites a Haaretz theory that the couple were undercover agents and the attack was aimed at settling scores.

Belgian Interior Minister Joelle Milquet and French President Francois Hollande said they believed the attack was anti-Semitic…

On Monday, the Israeli daily Haaretz published an analysis on the shooting titled “The Brussels Jewish museum shooting: score-settling or coincidence?”

In it, columnist Amir Oren wrote that the two Israelis were former government employees. Emmanuel Riva worked as an accountant for the Ministry of Finance and Nativ, a government body that facilitates immigration from the former Soviet Union. His wife worked as an accountant for the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office.

Oren suggested Mira Riva’s real employer was the Mossad, although another Israeli journalist known for his deep sources in the intelligence establishment, Yossi Melman, wrote in the Jerusalem Post that such a conclusion was purely speculative.

Oren wrote that “there was no reason for a hostile country like Iran or an enemy organization like Hezbollah to target either Riva in Brussels,” but added: “Still, perhaps the murder in Brussels was no ‘hate crime’ or ‘anti-Semitic attack’ but a deliberate assassination. This possible hypothesis is supported by the documentation of the killer’s actions. The cameras recorded what seems like professional score-settling.”

Fascinating. I return to my main theme. Why is Netanyahu making such irresponsible wild declarations about the case? For one thing, because Zionism justifies itself by citing persistent anti-Semitism and is eager to find evidence of same. I remind you that Netanyahu jumped on this case within hours of the killings last Saturday. As to his other possible motivations, I leave that to the authors of thrillers.

Postscript: Richard Silverstein was on this story days ago.

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of

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48 Responses

  1. piotr on May 30, 2014, 11:42 am

    Perhaps in Belgium such speculations may damage one’s reputation, but here between Canada and Mexico it is perfectly normal. To be noticed, you should attribute the behavior of a mother killing her two small children to the decline in morality caused by liberals, as I recall Newt Gingrich spouting in the capacity of the Speaker of Congress. That was tad unusual and it prompted reporters to find out that the women was from a Republican family, but I do not recall any resulting decline of reputation.

  2. amigo on May 30, 2014, 12:10 pm

    Gee, I wonder if the Other EU leaders got in touch with nietanyahoo about his most moral soldiers murdering Palestinian Children.

    If so I bet he told them it is an internal Israeli affair.

    Only Jewish deaths deserve the worlds undivided , (distraction from Israel,s ongoing crimes) attention.

    The zionist mode of thinking.

    Sooner we are rid of these slimey trouble makers , the sooner the world will improve.

  3. bilal a on May 30, 2014, 12:10 pm

    A shout out to solidarity between the European youth and the brave Israelis defending their joint culture against the antisemitic horde (eerily familiar): Cui bono?

  4. lysias on May 30, 2014, 12:27 pm

    The fact that the murderer got away suggests this was an expert. On the other hand, would an expert have shot two bystanders?

    • Egbert on May 31, 2014, 6:54 am

      If there was any chance they could identify him, then yes.

  5. Feathers on May 30, 2014, 12:42 pm

    The shooter walks.
    Iranians walk.
    The shooter walks like an Iranian.

    case closed.

  6. Justpassingby on May 30, 2014, 12:42 pm

    Planned? I dont know,
    isnt it a bit complicated to do it inside a jewish museum?
    If this couple were agents the murder could sure find a better place to commit the killings?

    Allegedly the guy had a camera on his chest covering the murders.

  7. annie on May 30, 2014, 1:19 pm

    we were discussing this the other day in the comment section.

    i had mentioned at that time i read on reuters she had worked for the PM’s office. i wish i had linked to it. not sure if i can find that article anymore. the whole thing is very fishy. if she had worked for netanyahu office he may have known her. unless she worked for the PM’s office before he was PM.

    edit, here it is from the 25th

    Miriam Riva also formerly worked for the prime minister’s office, the official said without elaborating.

    • marc b. on May 30, 2014, 1:42 pm

      I missed the mondo discussion but have followed silverstein and his links, annie. per usual, I think most ‘responsible’ commentary has it ass backwards. if two persons with government/intelligence ties are executed, the initial presumption should be that the motive was political, not random or racist. that’s the real bit of subterfuge on the Israeli BM’s part: the ‘anti-semtism’ argument is a reflex, but the intent is to blur any link between Zionism’s war on all, and the inevitable blow back.

  8. James Canning on May 30, 2014, 2:17 pm

    “And still [Netanyahu] gets to boss the President.” Very true ,and very dangerous.

  9. David Doppler on May 30, 2014, 3:48 pm

    I suppose that another possible explanation consistent with what has been reported is that the assassin was Israeli, and the Rivas had somehow created powerful enemies within their own government. The choice of Jewish Museum, and the quick (and therefore ill-informed or based on secret information) blaming on the global common enemy Anti-Semitism, would serve a false flag attack purpose. They could be whistleblowers. They could have been blackmailing someone with inside knowledge of corruption.

    That’s just speculative, but I agree it looked like a professional hit, drawing our interest to who they were, and the loud and too-quick blaming of the enemy of choice is consistent with not having a true interest in getting to the bottom of who done it, the foreclosure of discussion of that possibility a potential “cover.” Especially the part about complaining that other European leaders hadn’t yet reached out to offer condolences, with the thinly veiled quasi-accusation that failure to call to offer condolences for Anti-Semitism itself demonstrates Anti-Semitism. He’s announced the reason, and any one who doesn’t jump into line is an Anti-Semite.

    Compare this video with that of the IDF soldier firing a round as the Palestinian youth went down on Nakba Day. Both shooters looked detached and dispassionate, with what to do after firing already orchestrated, although this shooter was obviously faster and more assured with what he was doing.

    But it could be Anti-Semitism, we just won’t know until the shooter is caught and/or better evidence is gathered.

  10. just on May 30, 2014, 3:49 pm

    Netanyahu and his minions will co-opt anything on the planet as long as they can somehow/someway link it to a Jewish person(s)/experience/tragedy/history. I obviously don’t know, but this looks like a professional hit to me– the guy looked dead calm. No fumbling. Cool as a cucumber. Interpol and everybody else has stills and video of him, and they haven’t apprehended him yet??? It screams covert all over the place. With Israel involved, we won’t know the truth, so Netanyahu will milk it for every single drop…alleging ‘incitement’, ‘antisemitism’, and he’ll give fulsome voice to his carefully nurtured Islamophobia.

    But they take zero responsibility for their evil/illegal acts. They deny the truth and lie while murdering/kidnapping/thieving.

    He co-opted Pope Francis’ visit. He’s a schmuck of the first order. He is also extremely dangerous to the region, and our relationship with him and his minions is a grave threat to our national security and any standing that we have left in this world.

  11. Shmuel on May 30, 2014, 4:21 pm

    Why is Netanyahu making such irresponsible wild declarations about the case? For one thing, because Zionism justifies itself by citing persistent anti-Semitism and is eager to find evidence of same.

    There’s far more to it than that. It’s about neutralising all criticism of Israel – especially in Europe; and fanning the flames of Islamophobia – especially in Europe. In that sense, Netanyahu is a staunch ally of the European right that did so well in European parliamentary elections, which is far more anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim than anti-Semitic.

  12. just on May 30, 2014, 4:27 pm

    “Israeli forces detained on Friday a young Palestinian man in the West Bank who was wearing a suicide belt. A bomb disposal unit which was sent to the scene confirmed that it contained standard explosive powder.

    At about 10:30 A.M., a Border Police force stationed near Tapuah Junction, south of Nablus, noticed a Palestinian man approaching their location. Despite the high temperatures on Friday, the man was wearing a heavy coat. The force then ordered the Palestinian to halt and to remove his coat, at which point they noticed that some iron pipes were placed inside the jacket.

    After the man was apprehended the Border Police said he admitted to wearing an explosive belt. The suspect, a resident of a refugee camp near Nablus in his 20s, was immediately arrested and sent to be interrogated. The man arrived at the junction from Hawara by taxi. ”


    “Later on Friday, two shots were fired at a vehicle near the Adam settlement in the West Bank. At least one of the shots hit the car, but no injuries were reported. Security forces were searching the area after the incident.”

    True or False? What to believe, if anything?

    This is the conundrum that compulsive/pathological liars face…just as in Aesop’s fable ‘The Boy Who Cried Wolf’

  13. Palikari on May 30, 2014, 5:30 pm

    Bibi is right.

    • just on May 30, 2014, 5:38 pm

      Pitiful and ineffectual rubbish repeated ad nauseam by a loyal lackey of Netanyahu.

    • Kay24 on May 30, 2014, 6:07 pm

      There’s none so blind as those who will not see.

    • Shingo on May 30, 2014, 9:44 pm

      Bibbi is always wrong and always lying.

      • Walid on May 30, 2014, 10:39 pm

        “Bibbi is always wrong and always lying.”

        Shingo, time for a beer and a laugh; you’d remember this one from Reuters:

        Sarkozy tells Obama Netanyahu is a “liar”
        PARIS Tue Nov 8, 2011

        (Reuters) – French President Nicolas Sarkozy branded Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “a liar” in a private conversation with U.S. President Barack Obama that was accidentally broadcast to journalists during last week’s G20 summit in Cannes.

        “I cannot bear Netanyahu, he’s a liar,” Sarkozy told Obama, unaware that the microphones in their meeting room had been switched on, enabling reporters in a separate location to listen in to a simultaneous translation.

        “You’re fed up with him, but I have to deal with him even more often than you,” Obama replied, according to the French interpreter.

      • Shingo on May 30, 2014, 10:59 pm

        How could I forget Walid?

  14. wondering jew on May 30, 2014, 6:20 pm

    Benjamin Netanyahu’s rhetoric aside, to attribute the attack to Jew hatred seems pretty natural, although any crime detective would withhold judgment until there is more evidence. (And any fan of crime fiction would speculate.) But the responsibility of officials and evidence collectors is different than the layman response, which is that an attack on a Jewish museum was motivated by antiJewish feelings. In Europe antiJewish feelings and antiZionist feelings might have surprising intertwining possibilities and to delve into a man’s antiJewish feelings and attribute them to the specifics of antiZionism, without a suspect in hand, is certainly irresponsible and political. That is one leap too many. (But strictly as a consumer of news: Brussels is not Oklahoma City and the man in the video did not look like Timothy McVeigh, but more like Mohammad Ata, so the leap is not a leap too far. But I’m not on tv or a government official and I can tell you my reaction without worrying about the ripple effect of my assumptions affecting the opinions of others.)

    • Woody Tanaka on May 30, 2014, 9:37 pm

      “the man in the video did not look like Timothy McVeigh, but more like Mohammad Ata, ”

      You’re crazy! He looks exactly — like a twin — of Baruch Goldstein, minus the beard.

    • Xpat on May 30, 2014, 10:06 pm

      Yonah, your piece is an exercise in irresponsibility as a layman or as any man. First you defend the anti-Semitic theory as perhaps not worthy of a professional but good enough for you (and for the rest us). Then you rely on your theory as fact. Then you retreat into humility.
      Why bother?

    • Shmuel on May 31, 2014, 2:12 am


      At the beginning, based on the information available to the “layman”, attributing the attack to Jew hatred did seem natural, but when new information surfaced (the surveillance film + a little more about the two Israelis killed), it seemed natural to take a step back and reserve judgement.

      In Europe antiJewish feelings and antiZionist feelings might have surprising intertwining possibilities and to delve into a man’s antiJewish feelings and attribute them to the specifics of antiZionism, without a suspect in hand, is certainly irresponsible and political.

      So which is it: “surprising intertwining possibilities” or “irresponsible and political [and] one leap to many” or is “the leap … not too far” after all? And is it really your [non]-expert, news-consumer, layman’s opinion that the unclear, hat-covered face in the surveillance video looks like that of a Muslim terrorist?

      Surely even laymen commenting on a blog have bear some responsibility for the things they say.

      • wondering jew on May 31, 2014, 8:24 am

        Shmuel- The identity of two of the victims certainly adds doubt to the equation, but it is not enough in my case to cast sufficient doubt on the probability that the motive was Jew hatred. As far as the darkness of the hair or skin of the assailant, it is not sufficient to identify his ethnic origin. I read somewhere that he had a lens on his shirt that recorded the event. That is not the mark of a professional killing, but of an individual without a specific target. (Bar stool speculation on my part.)

        When people sit in a bar or in a barber shop and talk politics, do they need to put limits on what they say? Yes, some limits. But not an awful lot. Am I allowed to express my own reactions to the event? Apparently, only if they agree with yours. I assume the motive was Jew hatred. It was 99% assumed motive before the identity of the 2 victims, and is now my 51-80% assumed motive. How many hate murders of Jews have occurred in the streets of Europe within the past ten years? How many of those were by Arabs who hated Zionism and thus justified killing Jews in the streets of Europe? I don’t know the number. Maybe you do. I am not doing research on the exact number in order to ascertain the mathematical probability of the motivation. I am merely talking like a man in a bar. But I feel that I have as much right to express my reaction to the event as Phil has a right to express a speculation about a spy novel motive. But apparently, I don’t have the right to express my opinion without being policed by the likes of you and Elliot.

        here is larry derfner’s description of the event: Every decent, intelligent person can see what this is: Israel’s leaders are using the most horrible sort of anti-Jewish attack as a shield against criticism of their anti-Palestinian policies.

        Leaving out the context of his attack on Bibi, he calls it “the most horrible sort of antiJewish attack”. did he reach that opinion before the news of the identities and occupations of the Israeli victims? No. Was he being irresponsible? Did you write his blog to tell him he was being irresponsible or are you merely a policeman on MW?

  15. anthonybellchambers on May 31, 2014, 1:27 am

    In the wake of the horrific killings in Brussels the question is again asked, ‘Do Israel’s illegal settlements drive global anti-Semitism?’

    The president of the Belgian League against AntiSemitism is this week quoted as stating that, “There is a poisonous atmosphere for Jews. After Operation Cast Lead you saw the climax in Jew-hate ..”

    The above statement would appear to confirm the long-held suspicion that anti-Semitism, particularly in Europe, is driven by the Israeli government’s aggression against the Palestinian Arab that encourages the expropriation of land, demolition of property and the continued killing of Arab militants, men, women and children.

    Operation Cast Lead was a reprisal attack by the IDF in December 2008 against a predominately civilian population in Gaza. It resulted in 1417 Palestinian deaths, of which 926 were civilians many of them children under the age of 16, by Israeli strikes against the densely populated cities of Gaza, Khan Yunis and Rafah. Another 5303 Palestinians were wounded and 50,800 Gaza residents displaced. Over 4,000 homes were destroyed and around $2bn worth of damage caused by heavily-armed Israeli troops. A UNHRC Report of 2009 alleged that war crimes had been committed.

    Since then, the Israeli government has continued to demolish Arab houses in the West Bank and East Jerusalem whilst authorising yet more illegal settlements in violation of international law and in contempt of the will of the EU, the US and the United Nations.

    This comment from Brussels is an apparent confirmation of the alleged role of the Israeli government in driving the frightening rise in anti-Semitism in Europe and around the world and, if substantiated, is a damaging indictment of Israeli government policies in the Occupied Territories and their appalling consequences.

    • Shingo on May 31, 2014, 2:49 am

      Operation Cast Lead was a reprisal attack by the IDF in December 2008 against a predominately civilian population in Gaza.

      It wasn’t a reprisal attack. It was an escalation by Israel after they broke the ceasefire in November 4th of that year, which incites a reaction from Gaza that Israel then used to justify an all out bombing campaign.

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