Britain has just expelled the station chief in London of Mossad, the Israeli secret service. This is a fall-out from the recent assassination in Dubai of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, the man responsible for procuring arms for Hamas, the Palestinian terrorist organization. He was also responsible for the murder of two Israeli soldiers, which certainly made him more of a target in circumstances where — alas — the only law that exists is an eye for an eye. Several members of the squad that killed Mabhouh entered Dubai on falsified British passports evidently cloned from genuine passports in the possession of British subjects resident in Israel.
Now David Miliband is a young man who has suddenly risen from decent obscurity to become British Foreign Secretary. The issue of the passports therefore fell to him. Expulsion assumes that in the British view Mossad really did the hit, which is likely but not certain. Much of the evidence remains ambiguous. Miliband condemned the faking of the passports as “intolerable,” an infringement of British sovereignty, endangering British subjects, and the fact that Israel is a friend of Britain “adds insult to injury.”
The high-handed and petulant language of Miliband’s response is as absurd as the act of expulsion itself, and — again, alas — only underlining the insignificance of the Foreign Secretary and his ministry. What Miliband does or says doesn’t really matter, except that it coincides with President Obama’s determination to push Israel into a corner. Obama’s inept handling of Israel, his many-faceted fantasies about how to achieve peace in the Middle East, are dangerous, because he is forcing the Israelis to think in terms of existential survival.
Why are politicians so prone to stupidities where Israel is concerned? The answer, I think, lies in the refusal to understand that Islamism and terror are strengthening their hold throughout the Muslim world, and it is going to take a long time and much clear thinking and willpower to deal with this. The faking of passports, like the location of settlements in Jerusalem, is incidental in a much larger process with fateful implications, and to magnify such things out of all proportion only invites yet more Islamism and terror.