After reading about Israel’s most recent Man of the Year Award recipient, I did not know whether to laugh or cry. It looks like the judging panel at the Israeli television station Channel 2 is in need of a public relations consultant. The recipient of this year’s award was Meir Dagan, the Chief of Mossad, the Israeli foreign intelligence agency. Meir Dagan is an unindicted war criminal with Arab blood on his hands.
Major Israeli daily newspapers Ha’aretz and Yedioth Aharonot immediately denounced the choice and described it as an embarrassment to Israelis. Ha’aretz ran an editorial on Mr. Dagan that was titled “Killer of the Year.” Yedioth Aharonot described Dagan as an opportunist who does not know the meaning of humanity or sympathy.
It is amazing that a media outlet would select such a man for this prestigious title that does not make Israelis feel proud at home and respected abroad. There are several noted and noble Israeli men that come to mind who would be worthy of this distinction. Here is my short list:
- Gideon Levy, an honest and sincere Israeli journalist for the Ha’aretz, whom the French newspaper Le Monde described as a “thorn in Israel’s flank.” He once suggested that Israel does not need to give Palestinians anything to achieve peace — just return what is rightfully theirs.
- Rami Elhanan, a graphic designer, whose 14 year-old daughter, Smadar, was killed in 1997 in Jerusalem in a suicide attack. Instead of seeking revenge, he and his family turned their energy toward advocating peace. He and his wife have traveled the world lecturing about the need to end the suffering on both sides.
- Jeff Halper, a professor of anthropology, who was the only Israeli to join 43 other international peace activists last August by sailing from Cyprus into Gaza to help break the inhumane siege of 1.5 million Palestinians. Risking his life, he was able to help deliver 200 hearing aids for Palestinian children.
Man of the Year should be reserved for those whose work and contributions help positively impact the quality of life for others and enhance the image of their country. Not Meir Dagan!
Dagan was born in 1945 in the former Soviet Union. The Dagans migrated to Israel in 1950, and at age 18, Meir Dagan enlisted in the IDF.
According to Channel 2 News political analyst, Emmanuel Rosen, Dagan has a long list of achievements that is unparalleled. He is right, and here is a brief summary:
- Meir Dagan was behind the targeted assassinations of two Lebanese businessmen and several car bombings in Beirut and Damascus.
- In the 1970s, while a unit commander in Gaza under the command of Ariel Sharon, he was given orders to hunt down Palestinian resistance fighters, capture them, and then kill them. He did. But worse than that, he personally executed prisoners of war, a war crime under the Geneva Convention. Not only that, he beheaded captives using a Japanese knife or a box cutter, the same kind of weapon used by 9/11 highjackers. The head of the Southern Command at that time, Ariel Sharon supervised the atrocities.
- In the1980s, during the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, Sharon, then in the position of Defense Minister, appointed Dagan Commander of Israeli forces in South Lebanon. His mission was to liquidate Lebanese resistance against the Israeli occupation army. Once again, the same savage and barbaric method was used by Dagan against captured Lebanese resistance fighters.
How on earth is this man not on the U.S. State Department’s “no-fly list” or “terrorist watch list”? Why did no one know of these crimes before? What did Dagan do with severed heads of his victims?
Are there witness still alive who would verify these crimes? The answer is yes. According to stories in the Israeli press, the Israeli military censored the publication of an expose by two Israeli journalists on Dagan’s shocking atrocities.
Major Gen. [Res.] Yossi Ben Hanan is on record as having witnessed Dagan killing his captives in a heinous way. Also, after their release from duty, several Israeli soldiers who committed serious crimes stated they were influenced by the horror of what they saw and what they were ordered to do by Dagan.
Thanks to Channel 2 News for blowing Meir Dagan’s cover. Now Arab and Western human rights organizations can add the name of Meir Dagan to the list of Israeli military officers charged with war crimes in a European court on the basis of universal jurisdiction.
It is ironic that Israel has been engaged in hunting down Nazi war criminals all over the world for the last 60 years, but it now protects one of its own citizens who committed war crimes against Arabs and hails him as a hero.
Meir Dagan has eluded justice for nearly four decades after committing a crime against humanity. It is time for him to face the appropriate justice. His crimes will remain a stain of disgrace on the forehead of Israel.
Mahmoud El-Yousseph is a retired USAF veteran in Ohio. He may be contacted at <firstname.lastname@example.org>.