For One Democratic State
in the whole of Palestine (Israel)


FOR One Man, One Vote



There’s something “Stinky” in Cuba

By Mary Rizzo


Jul 14, 2006, 00:59     

There seem to be few certainties in life, and in politics, such a thing as a certainty is non-existent and surprises are always in store. …

Nothing in politics is written in stone, and politicians have become chameleons and masters in fluidity, going where they think the consensus will take them, or going there in gross defiance of it, yet generally maintaining a general direction that is consistent. When it seems like politicians change their colours according to convenience, one could somehow look to Cuba to believe that there was steadfast support for the Palestinian people and their struggle for liberation. There is no shortage of speeches where Cuba’s leader Fidel Castro expresses support and friendship towards them. How far these speeches were translated into actions, I can’t say, but at any rate, a certain image has been promoted of Cuba publicly condemning Israel.

“Cuba reaffirms its total and unshrinking solidarity with the Palestinian people in their just struggle for the establishment of an independent and sovereign state and for the return of all occupied Arab territories; exhorts the international community to energetically denounce these crimes; and pronounces itself decidedly against the dilatory tactics used by Israel to continue imposing its arrogant annexationist policy in violation of the most basic norms of coexistence and international law, for which it has always counted on Washington's unrestricted support.” [1]

Imagine my surprise when I read the Ynet dispatch about Castro lighting a gigantic Menoráh in Havana together with Rafi Eitan to inaugurate the Holocaust Memorial that was being built in Cuba. One can have a positive, neutral or negative opinion about the construction of Holocaust memorials in lands far distant from the actual places where these events occurred, but the element that stuck out in my mind wasn’t so much the memorial, but that name, Rafi Eitan. . . . Rafi Eitan, it was so familiar, but it was hard to precisely place who it was. I reflected on it, but it took a few moments later, and an email from Jeff Blankfort to his list to clarify it all:

“What I neglected to mention in my post (and was unable to stop it before it went out) on Fidel Castro's lighting a menoráh in Havana was Rafi Eitan, the large Israeli landowner mentioned in the story, was the former head of Mossad's European operations and the "handler" for convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard. One wonders if he is carrying out espionage activities in Cuba and for which country?” [2]

That’s right, it was starting to come to me . . . Rafi Eitan, neo-minister elected in the ranks of the Pensioners’ Party in the latest Israeli elections. Rafi Eitan the Mossad and Shin Bet man, famous for his capture of Eichmann, but also for the planning of the Israeli bombing of the Osirak nuclear plant in Iraq, and more than anything, for the Jonathan Pollard Affair, the American he recruited to spy for Israel.

Rafi Eitan, “known in Israel's intelligence community by his nickname, "Stinky" (he fell into a sewage ditch when he was in the Palmach, the strike force of Israel's pre-1948 defense organization)” regrets nothing and makes one claim: “As was the case my entire life, I thought I was doing the best thing for the State of Israel."

The Ynet article seems to suggest Eitan has massive economic interests in Cuba. I was surprised by that, since I thought there was an interruption of economic relations between the two states, so I started to take a look to see what I could find.

“For the last decade, Eitan, a reported multimillionaire, has been involved in several large business ventures in Cuba in the field of agriculture and construction.”

In an interview published on 3 July by Haaretz we read: “Eitan is a partner in a company that owns vast orchards in Cuba, but when asked about the secret of his ties to Castro, he answers: 'There is no secret. It's simply not true. I don't work with Castro. I'm a farmer in Cuba. All the rest are bluffs by the press.'  'The company deals with agriculture in Cuba, mainly with growing vegetables and producing citrus juice concentrate at the world's largest plant. I met Castro a few times, but we're not friends.'”

As to the construction; here is some interesting material from 2001: “Israel is the only country in the world that has consistently backed the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba whenever the issue comes up in the United Nations.

”Ironically, Israel is also becoming one of the leading foreign investors in Cuba, with private Jewish businessmen involving themselves in everything from Cuban citrus exports to real-estate projects.

"Now, in a move sure to infuriate Cuban exile groups and the Bush administration, a group of Israeli investors is sinking tens of millions of dollars into what they're calling Cuba's first "intelligent office building complex" -- a suburban Havana office park that, when completed, will consist of 18 six-floor office buildings located on 180,000 square meters (nearly two million square feet).

"The Miramar Trade Center (MTC) is the brainchild of Inmobiliaria Monte Barreto S.A., a joint venture between Cuban state agency Cubalse S.A. and Grupo BM, an Israeli entity headed by former Mossad spy chief Rafi Eitan.”

In 1994, Israel Shahak wrote several articles about Eitan and Cuba (Israeli Cultivation of Cuba Reflects Contempt for U.S. Policies and The Pro-Israeli Lobby in the U.S. and the Inman Affair. Here are a few of the things he said:

“Israeli trade with Cuba is coordinated by 'Business Enterprises Corporations' (BEC), which has its main offices in Tel Aviv. Eitan's position within BEC has never been defined, [Shlomo] Slutzky writes, because, 'as usual, Rafi Eitan likes to hide behind the scenes.' Nor 'has he ever actually visited Cuba.' Instead, Slutzky reports, he 'has sent other Israelis, some of whom remained there as major advisers.' In order to impress the Cubans, Rafi Eitan arranged the visits of some of their experts and high officials to Israel. Their visits took place early this year, ostensibly in order to let them see an agricultural exhibition then being held in Tel Aviv, really in order for them to meet Minister of Agriculture Ya'akov Tsur.

"As Israel has become increasingly involved in Cuba, management of Cuban citrus plantations has fallen into Israeli hands. Of several such areas, one alone exceeds the total area of citrus groves in Israel. According to Slutzky, the Israeli experts sent by Rafi Eitan found that Cuba's citrus yield was 'less than one-tenth of Israel's.' They were expected to raise it, and are working to increase the efficiency of the Cuban economy, especially its agriculture.

"Despite never having visited Cuba, Slutzky reports, Rafi Eitan 'represents in Cuba a large number of Israeli trading companies. The high esteem accorded by the Cuban regime to an unofficial representative of the Israeli intelligence establishment can only prove -- as a proverb puts it -- that 'money never stinks.'”

Here is where the question begs: How can a leader who is on record stating support of the Palestinians allow one of the leaders of the Mossad to co-own “the world’s largest” citrus juice plant, coordinate massive investments for Israeli companies and build the largest commercial and office complex in the country? Isn’t it simply inconsistent? Eitan is not just an ordinary Israeli citizen. He himself states that everything he has done, he has done for the good of Israel.

If nothing else, an examination of conscience is in order for Castro. If he is “ignorant” of his partner, someone provide him with Internet service and he can look it up in five minutes and learn all he wants to know about Eitan and more. If he “knew,” that is nothing short of criminal, since what is done for the good of Israel only has severe repercussions on the lives of Palestinians, and adds to their suffering, since Israel has no interests in the Palestinian people. Money is important; you can't do anything without it. But everything has its price, and one hopes that Cuba, like almost all the rest of the world, has not sold out the Palestinians to the highest bidder.



 [1] Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Cuba, official statement issued Havana, 3 October 2000. See "Declaración del Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores de la República de Cuba," Granma, 4 October 2000. English translation by staff, Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies, University of Miami.

2. From Jeff Blankfort’s mailing list.