What Alberto Nisman’s Wiretaps Reveal about Backdoor Dealings between Iran and Argentina

In the course of his investigation of Hizballah’s 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, the Argentinian prosecutor Alberto Nisman, who died in mysterious circumstances in January, obtained extensive copies of wiretapped phone calls. Eamonn MacDonagh writes that the recordings present damning evidence of individuals with close ties to the Argentinian and Iranian governments discussing ways the former could cover up the role of the latter in the attack:

In both political and legal terms, the government’s response to the release of the recordings . . . has been both simple and successful. The government claims that the conversations are just the ramblings of political nobodies, people with no influence or role at the highest levels of the state, and that the very idea of them conducting back-channel negotiations with Iran is absurd.

This defense, successful though it has been, includes a rather obvious weakness: if one wanted to set up a back-channel negotiation with a foreign power, then who better to do so than [those who were recorded]? They provide the resource most coveted by governments everywhere that get involved in illicit activities—deniability.

Had even the most basic steps to investigate Nisman’s complaint been taken, it would have been easy to find [more conclusive information]. . . . But nothing like that is going to happen now, at least while the current Argentine government remains in power and even afterward, until its loyalists placed in the legal system have been removed or they resign. With Nisman dead, the driving force behind the investigation into the AMIA attack and the cover-up that followed has been removed from the scene. . . .

There is unlikely to be any justice for the AMIA dead, or for Nisman, either, until their cases are internationalized. . . . The least that could be done . . . is to make it impossible for Argentina’s next president and future ministers to have normal relations with democratic nations without the AMIA issue and the death of Nisman being raised at every opportunity. This would at least have the effect of keeping up the morale of those inside Argentina who continue to struggle for justice, while waiting for the political circumstances that will allow justice to be done.

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More about: Alberto Nisman, AMIA bombing, Argentina, Hizballah, Iran, Politics & Current Affairs

Gaza’s Quiet Dissenters

Last year, the Dubai-based television channel Al-Arabiya, the Times of Israel, and several other media organizations worked together to conduct numerous interviews with residents of the Gaza Strip, taking great pains to protect their identities. The result is a video series titled Whispers in Gaza, which presents a picture of life under Hamas’s tyranny unlike anything that can be found in the press. Jeff Jacoby writes:

Through official intimidation or social pressure, Gazans may face intense pressure to show support for Hamas and its murderous policies. So when Hamas organizes gaudy street revels to celebrate a terrorist attack—like the fireworks and sweets it arranged after a gunman murdered seven Israelis outside a Jerusalem synagogue Friday night—it can be a challenge to remember that there are many Palestinians who don’t rejoice at the murder of innocent Jews.

In one [interview], “Fatima” describes the persecution endured by her brother, a humble vegetable seller, after he refused to pay protection money to Hamas. The police arrested him on a trumped-up drug charge and locked him in prison. “They beat him repeatedly to make him confess to things he had nothing to do with,” she says. Then they threatened to kill him. Eventually he fled the country, leaving behind a family devastated by his absence.

For those of us who detest Hamas no less than for those who defend it, it is powerful to hear the voices of Palestinians like “Layla,” who is sickened by the constant exaltation of war and “resistance” in the Palestinian media. “If you’re a Gazan citizen who opposes war and says, ‘I don’t want war,’ you’re branded a traitor,” she tells her interviewer. “It’s forbidden to say you don’t want war.” So people keep quiet, she explains, for fear of being tarred as disloyal.

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More about: Gaza Strip, Hamas, Palestinian dissidents, Palestinian public opinion