The horrific story of murder and dismemberment of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi is continually being changed by Saudi officials. First they claimed that nothing happened and that he went out of the Saudi embassy in Istanbul. Then they claimed he died in a “fist fight” under “discussions”. Immediately after, a Saudi official said that a team of 15 Saudi nationals sent to confront Khashoggi on October 2 had threatened him with being drugged and kidnapped and then killed him in a chokehold when he resisted.
It goes on and on. After weeks of denial, the Saudis admitted his killing, but tried to frame it as a “rogue operation”.
Donald Trump first said he thought the “rogue operation” explanation was “credible”, but now he has begun to shift. In an interview published yesterday in The Wall Street Journal, Trump was asked whether he believed Mohammed Bin Salman’s narrative about the operation having started “in the lower levels”. While Trump said, “I really want to believe them”, when asked directly about the crown prince’s possible involvement, he said: “Well, the prince is running things over there more so at this stage. He’s running things and so if anybody were going to be, it would be him.”
So even Trump is beginning to realize that his wishful thinking about Bin Salman is not really going to hold water here, and he is beginning to remove his support.
Compare this response to that in Israel, where there have been apologetic calls to ease the pressure on Bin Salman. These have even appeared in the liberal paper Haaretz, even authored by left Zionists.
I had earlier mentioned a smear piece against Khashoggi which appeared in Haaretz, albeit with the qualification that there is “no justification for his murder”, as if promoting the Trumpist “many sides” notion (opinion by Petra Marquardt-Bigman):
“Don’t whitewash what [Khashoggi] believed – his commitment to Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, his hope that Israel would ‘die by force’, and the anti-Semitic Islamists with whom he spent his final days.”
Two days ago another opinion appeared in Haaretz, by a prominent left-Zionist Meretz member, Tzvia Greenfield, a former Meretz lawmaker and member of human rights organization B’tselem. Her piece is literally titled “Why We Should Go Easy on the Saudi Crown Prince”.
Greenfield essentially argues that it’s a ‘bad neighborhood’, so we can’t be too picky, because
“[f]or 50 years we’ve prayed for a key Arab leader who agrees to sign a significant pact with Israel. Such a leader has finally arrived”.
Greenfield goes further than many others, to suggest that it’s possible that
“the Saudi royal house cannot tolerate any criticism, which is why it decided to eliminate the rogue journalist in an acid bath”,
and yet, she concludes:
“However, this time it’s necessary to treat the suspect with kid gloves. Trump’s peace initiative, if it is ever put on the table, is apparently the direct result of pressure by Mohammed bin Salman, who wishes to legitimize Israel before embarking on open cooperation with it. For 50 years we’ve prayed for a key Arab leader who agrees to sign a significant pact with Israel. Such a leader has finally arrived, and calls to depose him, such as those by former U.S. Ambassador Dan Shapiro in an op-ed in Haaretz (October 21) are destructive and in keeping with the best Obama tradition. Anyone waiting for a world of the purely just will have to struggle all his life with the purely evil.”
In other words, even a murderous despot who might even make people disappear in acid baths, is an evil means towards a good purpose, because that good purpose is “peace” – that is, under the “pact with Israel” by a “key Arab leader”.
Netanyahu has generally been silent about this whole horrendous saga. It’s embarrassing, to say the least. But here we have a Israeli Zionist liberal, protecting the murderer.
The horrible truth is, that Zionists from right and from left have been involved in the most horrendous acts against Palestinians, involving their assassination and making them disappear. These means are not foreign to Zionists. Why should they reject a leader who applies such tactics if it is in their favor?
But this is not looking good. Even without an acid bath.
Back to Trump, he said to reporters in the Oval Office about the Saudi murder plot:
“They had a very bad original concept. It was carried out poorly and the cover-up was one of the worst in the history of cover-ups.”
Later at a dinner with military leaders, Trump said
“I’m saying they should have never thought about it. Once they thought about it, everything else they did was bad too … It should have never happened.”
But liberal Zionists like Zvia Greenfield have thought about it, long and hard. And she doesn’t mind too much.
H/t Ofer Neiman