Text size

Yes, Khaled Meshal is alive and Mahmoud al-Mabhouh is dead, and that's no small difference. But in many other respects, the two affairs are as similar as any two strokes of bad luck and bad planning.

Can we already label last month's assassination an "affair"? In 1997, immediately after the botched hit on Meshal - after which Jordan compelled Israel to send over an antidote to save the Hamas leader's life - the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee appointed a special subcommittee to investigate the fiasco.

There were five members on the subcommittee; I was one of them. For months we combed through the methods the hit men employed, questioning all those involved, from the Mossad chief to the last of the operatives.

The testimony we heard was simply too fantastic to believe. It was impossible that things really happened like that, that the planning and execution could be so clumsy.

There is no point in elaborating here on all the details that emerged, certainly not those that remain classified.

Let us take one detail as an example of the judgment employed in the Meshal incident. Is it conceivable that in the pre-mission consultations, the question of whether the hit should be carried out in Jordan was never raised? Was it appropriate to attempt the elimination of any Palestinian on the sovereign soil of a neighboring Arab state that happens to have particularly friendly, yet tenuous, ties with us? And how would the loyal king react after Israel was revealed to have acted in such a harmful and arrogant way?

Benjamin Netanyahu didn't ask those questions, and the Mossad wasn't asked to respond. Taking the minority opinion, I recommended the dismissal of the Mossad chief at the time. What a shame it is that a parliamentary panel lacks the authority to recommend the ouster of the prime minister himself.

The present Mossad chief, Meir Dagan, is widely lauded for having restored the espionage agency to its glory days. He has been spared no plaudit: daring, innovative, original.

Dagan is waging a war against terrorism and rogue nuclear programs, we are told; just wait and see. Not for nothing was his term recently extended with nary a voice of dissent, and Dagan will continue in his post for at least eight more years.

In monitoring reports from the foreign press in the wake of the Dubai misadventure, we may conclude that there is nothing new under the cameras' lights. What was still is, with the ludicrous scheming in Dubai seemingly appropriated from classic detective novels.

Forged passports are nothing new, but living, breathing, innocent Israelis were astonished see their names mentioned in various media reports.

When we read in some newspaper somewhere that a minister or a general or a head of this or that is unanimously considered excellent, we would do best to form our own opinions. Even in this day and age, it turns out, even universally held axioms do occasionally require proof.