September 23, 2018

“Harpoon” – A Book Review

“Follow the money!” So realized the late and great leader of Mossad, Meir Dagan (1945-2016), who twenty years ago recognized that terrorism against Israelis and Jews in Israel and around the world by Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas, the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, and the PLO depends upon a complex and convoluted web of drug money. The drugs come from South America and are shipped to West Africa, then to Lebanon, and sold in Europe. Legitimate banks around the world transfer the money that’s supplied to the above terrorist organizations.

The target are Israelis on buses, at Passover Seders, at the Mount Scopus Hebrew University cafeteria, and Israeli bus stops. The money funded the tens of thousands of missiles launched from Gaza into Sderot and Ashdod, as well as the kidnapping and murder of the three young Israeli hitch-hikers near Hebron that sparked the 2014 Gaza War.

Dagan concluded and showed that the surest way to stop terrorist actions is to dry up the money that sustains it.

The story of money financing terror is told in “Harpoon – Inside the Covert War Against Terrorism’s Money Masters” by Israeli civil rights attorney and activist Nitsana Darshan-Leitner and her co-author Samuel M. Katz (publ. New York: Hatchell Books, 2017).

Ms. Darshan-Leitner is the President of Shurat HaDin, an Israeli law center based in Tel Aviv. She has represented hundreds of terror victims in lawsuits worldwide. Samuel Katz is the co-author of the New York Times bestseller “Under Fire: The Untold Story of the Attack in Benghazi” and the author of “The Ghost Warriors: Inside Israel’s Undercover War Against Terrorism.”

This book (301 pages) is a non-fiction thriller, a page-turner that reads like an action novel. What’s remarkable is that it didn’t take a talented fiction writer to ruminate from the imagination to write this story. It’s all true. Everything reported happened.

For those unaware of the covert intelligence and Israel’s Mossad and Shin Bet response to that intelligence (at times in coordination with the CIA) need to read this volume to understand better the deeper security concerns of Israelis.

“Harpoon” (the name given by Mossad to this clandestine operation) is a must-read for those especially in the middle-left of Israeli politics, who despise the current Israeli government’s policies and attacks on NGOs and democratic norms (i.e. against the authority of the High Court of Justice), the expansion of settlements in the West Bank, and the Trump Administration’s right-wing support of the most right-wing government in the history of the State of Israel.

It’s also a must-read before judging what Israel did in the recent Gaza War, for despite Bernie Sanders’ recent videos attacking Israeli policy and shining a light on the legitimate suffering of Palestinians living in Gaza, his version of events is only part of what is happening. Hamas was very much behind much of the violence at the fence as evidenced by the large number of dead who Hamas admitted were Hamas fighters.

Understanding context in the Middle East is everything. Anyone who claims to “know” what is really happening there and what Israel ought to do in that complex and dangerous part of the world really knows nothing at all.

This book is for everyone, but especially for liberal Jews (I count myself among them) who love Israel, who believe in Israel’s goodness and potential despite its imperfections and its soul-numbing occupation of the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, and who want to understand what Israel is really up against in the netherworld of terror.

This book was an eye-opener to me. As I marveled at the brilliance and daring of Meir Dagan, it needs to be noted that Dagan supported a two-states for two peoples resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. His position suggests that one can be highly security conscious and at the same time be for a two-state solution. What’s disheartening is that at the moment there is no one in Israel’s government or in the Palestinian Authority or certainly in Hamas or in the White House that is willing to come to an agreement that assures Israel’s security and sovereignty and the Palestinians yearning for national self-determination.

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