Friday, July 27, 2012

"With Friends Like These," Things You Won't Read in the New York Times, or The Washington Post.

Like, who knew Israel became a nuclear state after "spiriting" away from the United States "an estimated 200 lbs. of weapons-grade uranium for its secret nuclear arms programme in the 1960s." Spiriting would be like stealing, yes, except I'm sure here somebody got paid.

October 1, 2004, The Middle East, With friends like these...The Israeli government has strenuously denied involvement in the current spy scandal in the United States but the episode has undoubtedly opened up old wounds.

According to Duncan Clarke of the American University's School of International Service in Washington, who wrote a damning paper on Israel's industrial espionage in the US: "The United States and Israel agreed in 1951 not to spy on each other. There is little evidence that the United States has conducted economic espionage against Israel, but the agreement has been flouted repeatedly and flagrantly by Israel.

"Israeli economic espionage has infuriated the US intelligence community, especially the FBI and the Customs Service and has left a legacy of distrust in that community ...The greater concern, however, is not Israel's behaviour. Rather it is with those senior US officials and legislators who tolerate it.

"This aspect of the 'special relationship' with Israel annoys, even embitters, much of the permanent national security bureaucracy. It is also a latent domestic political issue with divisive overtones. Whatever immediate advantages Israel's illicit practices may bring, they could eventually weaken the long-running relationship that is the ultimate guarantee of Israel's security," Clarke adds.

In the latest episode, FBI officials allege that Lawrence A. Franklin, a former Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) analyst attached to the Office of Special Plans run by leading neocon Douglas Feith, the under-secretary of defence, passed confidential documents, including a draft policy paper, on US policy on Iran to two lobbyists affiliated with AIPAC, who--the rumour goes--relayed them to Israeli intelligence.

US policy towards Iran is crucial to the Israelis, who have threatened to launch preemptive strikes against Iran's nuclear installations to prevent the Islamic Republic acquiring nuclear weapons they say could be used against the Jewish state. US officials are concerned because the draft document was being debated by policy-makers at the time, possibly putting the Israeli government in a position to influence the final directive.

Franklin is an ideological comrade of Feith, an outspoken supporter of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's Likud Party, and a disciple of Paul Wolfowitz, the deputy secretary of defence. Wolfowitz and Feith were the most forceful promoters of invading Iraq and have long advocated regime change in two of Israel's primary adversaries, Iran and Syria. Feith served as a Middle East specialist with the National Security Council during the Reagan administration.

The Franklin case is part of a more extensive, two-year-old investigation by the FBI into whether AIPAC has systematically funnelled classified US material, including National Security Agency electronic intercepts, to Israel.

In the only major case of Israeli espionage that went to court in the US, Jonathan Pollard, a civilian intelligence analyst with the US Navy, was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1987 for spying for Israel. During his 18 months of betrayal, for $2,500 a month and other inducements, Pollard, a Jew, stole at least 1,800 classified documents amounting to 800,000 pages. The case caused immense damage to US-Israeli relations.

Pollard's Israeli handlers from the highly secretive Lakam, set up by Shimon Peres in the 1960s, evaded arrest. But ever since then, the FBI has been looking for a high-level mole in the US government who provided the numbers and dates of the secret documents Pollard's handlers instructed him to steal during their weekly meetings in an apartment near the Israeli Embassy in Washington.

Pollard pleaded guilty and thus never appeared in open court where Israeli intelligence activities could be exposed to the light of day. But the case was considered a breakthrough for the FBI. "Until then," The Washington Times wrote on 16 November 1998, "its agents had been forced by US policy to turn a blind eye to Israeli spying the United States. Said one counter-intelligence agent: 'We would often catch the Israelis and then be told to let them go'."

The full extent of the damage caused by Pollard's treason remains unknown to this day because the Israelis have refused to return the most sensitive documents he passed to them. For years after Pollard's arrest, the Israelis claimed his spying was an unsanctioned rogue operation. But in January 1996 Israel granted Pollard citizenship. In May 1998, after more than a decade of denials, Binyamin Netanyahu's government admitted that Pollard had operated as an Israeli agent against the US "handled by high-ranking officials".

Whether there is any link there with the Franklin case is not known, although given the intervening years it is unlikely. But because AIPAC has been implicated in the Franklin case, diplomatic sources say it could, if prosecutions ensue, turn out to be far more damaging to US-Israel relations than Pollard's treason. Indeed, the signs are that other leading neocons could be dragged into the FBI probe.

Suspicions about a highly placed Israeli mole in the US government resurfaced in May 1997. US National Security Agency surveillance and wiretapping of the Mossad station in Washington intercepted a telephone conversation between senior Israeli agents in January of that year in which they mentioned someone codenamed "Mega" in relation to obtaining a copy of a confidential letter then-Secretary of State Warren Christopher had sent to Yasser Arafat regarding the Arab-Israeli peace process.

That suggested to counter-intelligence officials that "Mega" could be a senior figure in the Clinton administration who was passing secrets to the Israelis. Israel denied the allegations and said the eavesdroppers had mistranslated the codeword "Elga", used to refer to the CIA, and that there was no such person as "Mega".

The Clinton administration did not pursue the case, in public at least, and apparently accepted the glib Israeli explanation, although, apparently, with some misgivings. At that time, relations between Washington and Israel were in serious trouble over the efforts by Netanyahu to sabotage the peace process, and both sides wanted to avoid an open rift.

It remains to be seen whether Franklin or others will be charged with espionage, which would be deeply embarrassing for Israel, AIPAC and the Bush administration. But he has also been the subject of another investigation, this time by the Senate Intelligence Committee, involving alleged "rogue" intelligence activities. These include clandestine contacts with opponents of the Tehran regime and the prospects of overthrowing it.

May 11, 2012 , Israpundit, Congress passes U.S.-Israel Enhanced Security Cooperation Act,

ZOA Praises House for Passing it

NEW YORK, May 11, 2012 — The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) strongly praised the House of Representatives for passing the U.S.-Israel Enhanced Security Cooperation Act (H.R. 4133) by an almost unanimous vote. The bi-partisan bill was introduced by Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD), and passed by a vote of 411-2. Voting against were Rep. John Dingell, (D-MI) and Rep, Ron Paul (R-TX).

Nine members did not vote for the bill, but simply voted ‘PRESENT,” including Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), AndrĂ© Carson (D-IN), Donna Edwards (D-MD), Keith Ellison (D-MN), Walter Jones (R-NC), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Betty McCollum (D-MN), Pete Stark (D-CA) and Lynn Woolsey (D-CA).The U.S. Senate is considering similar legislation that is sponsored by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA), along with 32 co-sponsors so far. AIPAC and ZOA’s Government Relations Department have been engaged in both houses in educating members about issues relating to Israel’s Defense, and the common threats the US and Israel face in the region.

All but one of the eleven representatives who made a point of not voting for the bill are aligned with the extremist, far-left, pro-Arab ‘J-Street.’ ZOA is distressed and disappointed that according to Adam Kredo of the Washington Free Beacon, J-Street itself remained “neutral” on the bill, and declined an opportunity to comment further on this matter.

This bipartisan legislation reaffirms and strengthens the deep military and security relationship between the United States and Israel, and reflects the bi-partisan consensus of the US Congress that this relationship must continue to thrive. It also reaffirms Israel’s right to defend itself against threats and reiterates America's unshakable commitment to Israel’s security, recognizing that a secure Israel will always be in America’s national interest. Additionally, this House legislation strengthens strategic cooperation between the US and Israel in missile defense, homeland security, intelligence, energy security and cyber-warfare. The aim is to maintain and protect Israel’s Qualitative Military Edge and ensure that Israel remains the preeminent military power in the region, where it is threatened by Iran and others. The Administration is required by this bill to report to Congress within 180 days on the status of Israel’s qualitative superiority “in light of current trends and instability in the region.”

Specifically, the legislation encourages the President to provide additional assistance to support US-Israel joint missile defense efforts; allocates additional weaponry and munitions to the forward-deployed US stockpile located in Israel; strengthens multilateral efforts to prevent weapons smuggling into Gaza and to protect against terrorist attacks from the Sinai peninsula; expands already close intelligence cooperation between the US and Israel. The bill also establishes as policy that the US will veto any one-sided anti-Israel resolutions at the United Nations.

The bill is beneficial to both Israel and the US. The intelligence the U.S. receives from Israel exceeds that which the U.S. receives from all NATO countries combined. The U.S. has also benefitted greatly from Israeli innovation and technology in the military realm. In fact, Israel often makes sacrifices of its own for the security relationship between the two countries.

Majority Leader Cantor stated: “This bill re-affirms Israel’s right to defend itself against threats and puts Congress on the record about America’s long-standing commitment to the US-Israel strategic relationship, a unique and special relationship founded on shared interests and shared democratic values.” On the floor of the House, Rep. Hoyer added: “Democrats and Republicans stand together when it comes to supporting our friend and ally Israel…. There needs to be a clear understanding by all those who would threaten Israel that the United States stands with her, because it is in our – the United States’ – security interest to do so, and because it is morally and ethically the right thing to do as well.”

ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said “It is gratifying to see the efforts of ZOA, AIPAC, and supporters of Israel in the Congress result in such an important piece of legislation. America is safer and the Middle East Region is safer when all of our potential enemies realize that there is close military and political cooperation between Israel and the US. Once again the House of Representatives has led the way, and ZOA expects the Senate will also do everything necessary to maintain Israel’s qualitative edge in the region.”

ZOA Government Relations Co-Directors Daniel Pollak and Joshua London stated, “The passage of this bill is a milestone in demonstrating the importance that the US Congress places on the security relationship with Israel. If direct action should become necessary to prevent Iran from achieving a military nuclear capability, the detailed improvements in Israel’s refueling capability, missile defense, and specialized munitions could well prove decisive in the resolution of the crisis. Every joint exercise between US and Israeli forces demonstrates to our common adversaries that there is no hope of prevailing in a conflict with either democracy. We expect the Senate to take up and pass this important legislation as soon as possible, and ZOA will work to educate Senators about the vital nature of each of the provisions in this law.

February 22, 2010, Newsweek, Too Close For Comfort? (United States of America and Israel)

Reassessing America's special relationship with Israel.

Eleven minutes after Israel announced its independence in 1948, President Harry Truman recognized the new state, and American support has been crucial to -Israel's survival and a cornerstone of U.S. foreign policy ever since. But as Washington's focus has shifted toward Iraq and Afghanistan, and as President Obama has begun new overtures toward moderate Arab states such as Egypt, some are questioning whether that policy still serves the national interest. Should the U.S. step back from its special relationship with Israel? That was the topic of last week's Intelligence Squared U.S. debate at New York University.

Arguing in favor of reassessing the relationship were Roger Cohen, a former foreign editor and a columnist for The New York Times, and Rashid Khalidi, professor of Arab studies at Columbia University and an adviser to the Palestinian delegation at the 1991-93 peace talks.

Arguing for keeping the relationship intact were Stuart Eizenstat, former U.S. ambassador to the European Union and undersecretary of state, and Itamar Rabinovich, former Israeli ambassador to the United States and professor of Hebrew and Judaic studies at New York University.

The moderator was John Donvan of ABC News. Edited excerpts of the debate:

COHEN: In life, when we fail, we call it stupidity to burrow deeper into failure. Measured by any standard, American policy toward Israel has failed. We are no closer to peace. Israelis and Palestinians are farther apart than ever. What makes America's relationship with Israel special is its uncritical nature, even when U.S. interests are being hurt, and also the incredible largesse that the United States shows toward Israel--over the past decade, almost $60 billion. To what end is this money being used? The ongoing Israeli settlement program in the West Bank has grown to 450,000 Israelis beyond the [1967] borders, a repressive apparatus of settler-only highways, reserved military areas, and a "separation wall"; of Israelis in their fast cars booming down these superhighways, while Palestinians on their donkey carts make their way on dirt tracks to their orchards.

"Two states for two peoples" is the declared U.S. objective, [but] the U.S. is bankrolling the very Israeli policies that are dashing these hopes by making two states almost unimaginable.

America's perceived complicity in Israeli violence carries a heavy price. It is a potent terrorist recruitment tool. If America is to pay the blood, the treasure, and lost peace of mind that comes with supporting Israel, it should be ready to speak openly and critically of Israeli mistakes when needed. For if there are not two states, there will be one state, and, sooner or later, the number of Palestinians in it will outnumber the number of Jews, and what then will remain of the Zionist dream?

EIZENSTAT: For the United States to stand back from its special relationship with Israel would betray the very principles of morality upon which U.S. foreign policy is based. It would mean abandoning the only democratic, reliable ally in the region. What message would this send to other allies? America has to stand behind its allies, or it will not have many left anywhere. It's a specious argument that President Obama's outreach to the Muslim world is inconsistent with a special relationship with Israel. This is not a zero-sum game; we can and do have both. The Arab states know that Israel can make concessions because it has a dependable American ally. To step back from that relationship would undercut the very basis of the only bipartisan foreign policy we have in this country.

KHALIDI: Let me list a couple of the problems that result from this special relationship. One is an almost total deafness to public opinion in Palestine and in the Arab world. Everybody knows there is a big fat U.S. thumb on the scales when the United States acts as a mediator. In the recent war in Gaza, it wasn't really a war: there were 1,400 people killed on one side and 14 on the other. Everybody knows we are funding, financing, supporting diplomatically, and selling the weapons that do these things. The United States has to pull away from this special relationship with Israel if it is to play an effective role in making peace.

RABINOVICH: What does "special relationship" mean? It does not mean the tail is wagging the dog. I was an ambassador to Washington and a peace negotiator [who] worked very closely with the United States. And I know how many disagreements we have had. I saw Bill Clinton, a close friend of [Israeli Prime Minister] Yitzhak Rabin, argue fiercely, and I've seen Rabin yield to Clinton because he was the president of the United States, the senior partner.

[Our] very close military and strategic alliance is defined, among other things, by the fact that Israel does not want American troops in Israel. Not having to station troops in that part of the Middle East because Israel is there is a huge advantage to the United States. Remember, when Al Qaeda attacked the World Trade Center, the first reason they cited for attacking the U.S. [was] that the U.S. [had] troops on sacred Muslim soil.

DONVAN: Stuart Eizenstat argued that turning away from Israel would be an immoral act because Israel has been such a loyal ally for so long. I want to ask him, what would actually happen to Israel if the U.S. created more distance?

EIZENSTAT: The United States would lose the influence it has used to encourage Israel to make the concessions it has made. And Israel would be completely alone. I can tell you, it would send a chill down the spine of every ally we have in Europe and around the world if this relationship were abandoned. Because they would say, we will be next.

COHEN: Nobody is arguing that Israel should cease being an ally. We are just saying that when President Obama says he wants settlements to stop, and settlements continue, and Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu declares that some settlements are Israel's for all eternity, there should be consequences. President Obama [has] gone a long way in words. But when it comes to actions, the Palestinians see more of the same. Can we be imaginative? The Hamas charter, calling for the annihilation of Israel, is vile; it is unacceptable. But can we look for new forms of engagement? Can we think outside the box?

RABINOVICH: You know, President Obama [has begun] distancing from Israel. His expectation was that the Muslim and Arab world would applaud. The real reaction was, give us more, we will not come to the negotiations, you have to deliver Israel. And Roger, when you say, think out of the box about the Hamas charter, I don't know how to think outside the box about that. I would rather be in the box. You can negotiate with a secular nationalist movement like the Fatah. Hamas is a radical religious fundamentalist organization, and you cannot negotiate with it.

COHEN: Our policies up to now have failed. But any adjustment in U.S. policy toward Israel is extremely difficult. There is a state called Florida, with a large Jewish community, a calculation not lost on America's leadership. President Obama, I understand, has been told by some Jewish congressmen, if you want your health bill, step back on Israel.

EIZENSTAT: This is a dangerous canard, that 2 percent of the U.S. population has somehow got its hand around the neck of American foreign policy. American policy toward Israel is supported by a bi-partisan majority because the American public recognizes that Israel and the United States share common interests and common values. And those are always counterbalanced by the oil interests, defense interests, [and] major business interests.

RABINOVICH: Maybe you should elect a president from Alaska, where there are no Jews.

KHALIDI: [Laughs] You would like that.

Intelligence Squared U.S. polls the audience twice--before and after the debate--and the winner is determined by which side swung more votes to its position. In the first poll, 33 percent favored a pullback in American relations with Israel, 42 percent were opposed, and 25 percent undecided. After the debate, 49 percent favored a pullback, 47 percent were opposed, with 4 percent undecided. The side arguing for a reassessment won.

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