Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Books: "Vengeance"

I was in a course recently in which I learned that after the 1972 murder of the Israeli Olympic team (11 of the athletes were killed in cold blood by "Black September", a sort of PLO offshoot organization) in Munich, Germany, Israel sent out what was basically a hit squad to kill 11 high-level terrorists who were associated with the planning of this operation.  "Vengeance" tells this story in a novel-like fashion, with a third-person point of view.  The author extensively interviewed the leader of this 5-man team, along with others who were in-the-know, years later and wrote the story.  In 2005 Steven Spielberg retold the story in his film "Munich".  I haven't yet seen the movie but will soon.

Golda Meir herself personally authorized this team and its mission just a few weeks afterward.  I am mostly through the story and the team has completed most of its "hits".  I assume they will complete their mission as best as they can by the book's end.

I am not going to critique the story, its writing, my "interpretations", my thoughts on the author's research, the supposed veracity of the facts, etc.  I think that critics are idiots and completely useless.  DON'T GET ME STARTED!!!!...

I will say that the story is compelling.  I do like the "style" in which it is written (a novel), as it does help to "get inside the mind" of at least one of the team members.  It is an early-1970s spy story, with all of the mandatory international intrigue, governmental intelligence and security agencies, numerous and various bad guys whom the team have enlisted, unbeknownst to them, to get information, weapons, safe houses, contacts, and all of the other necessary spy fare.  What I like most, however, are the thoughts of the author and the team leader from whose point of view this is written.  In the Introduction and Forward and Preface and such (unfortunately GoogleBooks cuts out some pages), they both briefly expound on their opinions on issues such as terrorism, the causes of terrorism, the possible mitigations against terrorism, and, most importantly, the idea of state-sponsored murder, which is what Israel conducted.  They go briefly into the philosophies of "An eye for an eye" and "One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter".

The former, which is derived from the Code of Hammurabi (or here), more closely translates to
"If a man put out the eye of another man, his eye shall be put out."
This is essentially what Israel was running toward, in self-defense, in retribution, in justice.  We all know that these battles in the Middle East have been ongoing for thousands of years, based solely on religion and geography.  Israel, in this case, did what it saw that it needed to do in retaliation to this particular incident.

The latter ("One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter") is an idea which I first heard shortly after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks here in the U.S.  Some international news agency (AP maybe??) put out word that they would no longer call the bad guys terrorists, because "One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter".  As soon as I heard that I began to realize the idiocy of how some of these people think.  A bunch of crazies intentionally killed 3,000 people, but they are "freedom fighters".  How stupid.

Regardless, it is a good book which I am enjoying, and hope to through its end, which should happen very shortly.

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