The American investment bank, Goldman Sachs, is the finishing school for honchos who want to be US Treasury or Commerce Secretary or Head of the US Federal Reserve. This is notwithstanding the fact that over the past few decades, these Goldman alumni have successfully managed to bring the US economy to its knees.
There is another Goldman Sachs-like outfit which is a graduate school of a different kind. Its members go on to become the Israeli PM or Chief of their Military or Intelligence. It’s alumni have been just as notoriously successful in bringing mayhem to the middle east as Goldman Sachs’ ex-employees have been, in making sure ordinary Americans can never retire.
Welcome to Sayeret Matkal, a clandestine special forces unit of the Israeli Defense Forces.
Created along the same lines as the British Special Air Services(SAS), the Sayeret Matkal’s members are a fanatically committed bunch. They are seconded to the unit from the elite in the Israeli establishment and selected through known connections and family relations within the establishment, with other unit members or senior commanders and politicians vouching and standing as guarantors for them.
In fact, the recruitment process of a Sayeret fighter works along similar lines as that of an Al Qaida suicide bomber or a ‘made’ guy inside the American Mafia, with a blood oath. To get in, you don’t watch out for internal job postings on the bulletin board and then apply. There are never any job ads for this outfit.
The Sayeret has a history of spectacularly successful clandestine operations under its belt, some of which were such legendary feats of audacity and daring that Hollywood movies have been made, based on them. The 1973 raid on the Black September safe-house in Beirut, brought to life in the Spielberg movie, ‘Munich’, where more than half the Black September leadership was wiped out, was a Sayeret mission, code named ‘Operation Spring of life’. The Sarayet commando who went in dressed as a woman and walked along drunkenly with two other Sareyet commandos while they felt ‘her’ up, as they approached a check-post, was none other than Ehud Barak, who later went on to become Israel’s Army Chief, Defense Minister and then Prime Minister.
This is a for-profit business enterprise that literally pays for itself. With the Mossad acting as it’s marketing division, it charges millions to train members of commando units of friendly nations, though the word ‘friendly’ needs qualification. On one occasion, they were training both, the LTTE and the Sri Lankan commandos, at the same time and sometimes these two groups would pass within yards of each other while on their morning workout jogs, separated by just a thin partition. Later, in the privacy of their own barracks, the Sayeret trainers together with their Mossad colleagues, would have a good laugh over the two groups of ‘black monkeys’ they were training, to fight each other. I understand that even the elite Indian Marine Commando unit, MARCOS, has had training from the Sayeret.
The top positions within the Israeli political and military establishment are occupied by ex-Sayeret Matkal operatives. Every top official in Israel is hero of something. Ex-PM, Ehud Barak, is known as the hero of the 1967 six-day war, while another ex-PM, the late Ariel Sharon was the hero of the 1973 Yom Kippur War. The current Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu and the current Defense Minister, Moshe Yaalon, both led the Sayeret Matkal as its commander and are both heroes of separate Sareyet missions that remain classified.
Defense Minister, Moshe Yaalon, is a colorful hawkish loudmouth. Appointed head of AMAN, Israel’s Military Intelligence, in 1995 and commanding officer of the IDF’s Central Command, responsible for the West Bank in 1998, he was serving in this position when the Second Intifada (uprising) was launched by the Palestinians in September, 2000. It officially ended in 2005 but not before thousands of Palestinian protesters had been massacred by artillery fire, air raids and targeted killings choreographed ably by Yaalon.
After 2008, the Israelis have found another foe, the Obama White House. The animosity between the two is generated by Obama’s refusal to let the Israelis dictate how the US should conduct it’s foreign policy. The dislike overflows into the public sphere from time time to time. We remember that conversation between Nicolas Sarkozy and Obama, inadvertently broadcast over open mike to journalists during the 2011 G20 summit in Cannes, where the French President referred to Netanyahu as a ‘liar’.
“I cannot stand him. He’s a liar,” Sarkozy told Obama and the US president replied, “You’re fed up with him? I have to deal with him every day.” The degree of disgust in Obama’s tone can be felt quite clearly.
The same personal animosity was on view the other day, when Moshe Yaalon was quoted by the Tel Aviv newspaper, Yediot Ahronot, spewing sarcasm at the US Secretary of State, John Kerry, who has been engaged in a feverish round of diplomacy trying to find a common ground in the Arab-Israeli conflict. Yaalon’s outburst is reproduced below:-
“….The US Secretary of State, John Kerry’s security plan for the region is not worth the paper it was written on……John Kerry, who has come to us determined and is acting out of an incomprehensible obsession and messianic fervor, cannot teach me anything about the conflict with the Palestinians……..The only thing that might save us is if John Kerry wins the Nobel Prize and leaves us be…”
Yaalon apologized but the damage has been done. US-Israeli relations have never been so bad. Would you like it if you watch someone biting the very hand that feeds him and that hand happens to be yours? Is this historic friendship going to prove the adage that familiarity breeds contempt? That Israel has taken the US thoroughly for granted is now quite well known to anyone who follows the goings-on. US law makers are starting to question whether it is worthwhile to place this friendship above everything else any longer.
No matter how many holocaust museums and local chapters of the B’nai B’rith and the Anti-Defamation League they finance around the boulevards of the western world’s capitals, the Israelis will ultimately lose the battle to keep the collective memory of the holocaust alive and ultimately the hasbara (PR) battle. If mankind could forget far more horrifying genocides the world over, it will forget this one too. It is only a matter of time before the world begins suffering from holocaust sympathy fatigue.
The world in fact, could even be on the brink of a massive anti-Semitic backlash similar to the one that blanketed all of Europe and Russia in the late 19th century. This time it might just begin in the US and spread to Europe (Russia is already rabidly anti-Semitic).
A 2013 survey, conducted by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA), to gauge the levels of discrimination and hate crimes against Jewish people in Europe, suggests that Antisemitism is on the rise in Europe, with three-quarters of the 6000 Jews polled reporting an increase in the last five years and growing fears over online abuse and hate speech. 76% thought the situation was getting worse and that Antisemitism had increased over the last five years, and 46% said they worried about being verbally assaulted or harassed in public because they were Jewish. The Anti-Defamation League(ADC) have reported similar findings.
The situation in America is no better. The Antisemitism in the US is rooted less in contempt for the Jewish faith and more in envy and fear of the hidden power of Jewish wealth and influence. Robert Wuthrow, an American sociologist who is widely known for his work in the sociology of religions, says, “Three large clusters of traits are part of the Jewish stereotype. First, American Jews are seen as being powerful and manipulative. Second, they are accused of dividing their loyalties between the United States and Israel. A third set of traits concerns Jewish materialistic values, aggressiveness, clannishness.” I tend to agree.
If I was an ordinary Israeli, I would be actively looking at migration destinations far from the fertile crescent, should the US gradually lift its security umbrella sometime in the not too distant future. But of course, as time goes by and Israel continues to display its military arrogance, the choice of safe destinations may get severely impaired. They might once again face a time when they’ll need another Moses to ferry them to the safety of yet another ‘promised land’.
But if I was a smart Israeli, I’d stop depending on US largesse and start building bridges with my Arab neighbors.