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Targeted assassination is suicide

The gag order on the Anat Kam story was finally lifted yesterday, but the interest in the Israeli press was in its own freedom in being able to report the case, the question of the severity of Kam's alleged crime in stealing secret army documents, and the possible damage to national security.

Regarding the Haaretz publication of evidence gathered from Kam ("License to kill") that Israel had continued targeted assassinations under conditions that contravened Israel's own supreme court ruling, the Channel 10 news anchor, Yaacov Elon said that the matter hadn't created a huge amount of interest at the time. That's true, but who is supposed to generate such interest? The media, of course.

The fact is, Israel's media isn't interested in crimes committed by the Army in the Occupied Territories. Even when the person responsible for them, according to a poll published in the same news program, would currently be the most favored candidate for prime minister.

Israelis care a lot about their freedom, and want to give their army, their air force and security services as much of the stuff as possible when dealing with Palestinians. Regardless of its continuing and drastic repercussions, the Mabhouh assassination has won only praise here.

Most Israelis are unable to perceive the devious influence of this attitude on their own society. Targeted assassinations? America does them too, and lately ordered one against an American-born citizen. Israel is not known to conduct targeted assassinations against its own citizens, but that might be less of a problem if the Chair of the Knesset's Constitution, Law and Justice Committee gets his way . Rotem wants to strip those who hurt state security of their citizenship.

Democracy, such as it is in Israel, is being stripped away by its security services, its lawmakers, and also by a compliant media that screams bloody murder when press freedoms are threatened but fails to alert its audience when actual murder goes unpunished. "License to kill" was the title of the original Haaretz story. In granting such a license, Israelis are really targeting the moral and judicial underpinnings of their own society - not to mention its already tarnished image as a fair and democratic society. They are targeting themselves.