The Israeli government has an obligation to its emissaries, certainly those in a difficult and dangerous posting like Amman. It’s good that the security guard in the Israeli Embassy in Jordan’s capital, who was stabbed and shot his assailant and landlord to death, was not given up to Jordanian justice. It’s also good that the need for a quid pro quo to resolve the crisis led to the removal of the metal detectors from the Temple Mount. But the glorifying of the guard’s heroism, presided over by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, is simply too much.
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In the incident, whose circumstances are still not clear, the security guard struggled with a local youth who had come to his apartment to do some carpentry work. The facts as published to date are that the Jordanian youth stabbed the security guard with a screwdriver, and the guard shot the youth with his pistol, killing him, and also shot and killed the landlord who was present. The rented apartment is located on the embassy compound, and Jordanian police were not allowed access quickly enough to freeze the situation after the incident.
It could be that the security guard’s version of events is correct, but to confirm it there needs to be a criminal investigation by the Israel Police in cooperation with the Jordanian police. Political considerations in diplomatic garb must not prevent an effort to get at the truth.
It’s easy to imagine how Israel would have responded if the situation was reversed – if a security guard at the Jordanian consulate in Tel Aviv who got into a fight or, as he said, was attacked by him, would have killed him and another Israeli. One can assume there would have been an aggressive police investigation, since Israeli blood will not be spilled idly. Woe unto the Hashemite kingdom if it had dared portray a security guard after Netanyahu’s example, as a hero who defended himself against attack and foiled his enemies.
Netanyahu acted as if the return of the embassy staff to Israel was a successful rescue mission by the elite fighters of Sayeret Matkal at the end of a heroic military operation. The forward commanders monitored the situation on high alert. Here’s the convoy of embassy staff, evacuated in Netanyahu’s typical haste, heading for the border. There, they’ve crossed it. After the border was crossed, there was an immediate phone call to the “commander in chief” and a warm embrace the next morning. “We knew you’d be back,” said the prime minister. A poor man’s Entebbe.
Out of his longing for applause from the right and to offset the embarrassment of what rightists saw as defeatism on the Temple Mount, Netanyahu demonstrated insensitivity to the situation of the Jordanian regime, which is under extreme pressure from the Muslim Brotherhood, the tribes in the south and the Palestinians. Now, as if that wasn’t enough, it must explain why the security guard was allowed to leave before the Jordanian investigation was completed.
Israel and the entire region need leadership that is thoughtful in its actions and moderate in its messages, which is the opposite of how Netanyahu behaves.
The above article is Haaretz's lead editorial, as published in the Hebrew and English newspapers in Israel.