The Passionate Attachment

America's unrequited love for Israel

Archive for July 2012

CIA considers Israel one of its biggest spy threats

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­By Maidhc Ó Cathail
The Passionate Attachment
July 29, 2012

In “Best of friends? CIA considers Israel one of its biggest spy threats,” Russia Today reports:

While US politicians boast strong ties with Israel, CIA officials suggest Israel is one of its biggest counter-intelligence threats. With spyware that rivals that of American agencies, it is extremely difficult to detect the extent of its spying.

In a CIA ranking of the world’s intelligence agencies and their willingness to help the US fight the War on Terror, Israel fell below Libya.

Speaking to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity, current and former US intelligence officials blame Israel for incidents that indicate attempts to acquire secret information.

One CIA station chief noticed that the communication equipment that he used to contact CIA headquarters from Israel had been tampered with, even though it was in a locked box. Another CIA officer based in Israel had his home broken into. While nothing was stolen, the officer noticed his food had been rearranged.

In addition to home intrusions and equipment tampering, CIA officials also suspect that a leak by Israel led to the capture and presumed death of an important US agent inside Syria’s chemical weapons program.

The US suspects that Israel’s foreign intelligence service, Mossad, and its FBI equivalent, the Shin Bet, have been trying to steal American counter-intelligence secrets. In the CIA’s Near East Division, which oversees spying across the Middle East, Israel is considered the main counter-intelligence threat. This suggests that counter-intelligence secrets are thus safer from other Middle Eastern governments than from Israel.

Having purged Foggy Bottom and the GOP of its “Arabists,” it seems the Lobby still has some work to do to make Langley safe for Israel.

Written by Maidhc Ó Cathail

July 29, 2012 at 6:19 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Israel’s Connector to Romney

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­By Maidhc Ó Cathail
The Passionate Attachment
July 29, 2012

In a July 27 article in Tablet magazine entitled “Romney’s Jewish Connector,” Allison Hoffman explains how close adviser Dan Senor became the GOP candidate’s “key emissary” not only to Washington’s pro-Israel neoconservative policy scene but also to a group of influential Israelis, including Ron Dermer, Netanyahu’s chief strategist and speechwriter, with whom Senor quietly planned Romney’s recent trip to Israel:

But, in a year when Israel has emerged as a central foreign-policy litmus test, Senor also brings an unusual advantage to the governor’s campaign: his close relationships with a small, influential group of American expats clustered in Jerusalem’s German Colony who operate at the highest levels of Israeli public life. Much has been made of Romney’s pre-political acquaintance with Netanyahu, dating to when they were both young men working for the Boston Consulting Group. But Senor, who travels to Israel several times a year, has ties to Jerusalem’s elite that are unusually personal and that are magnified by the uniquely Anglo-inflected nature of Netanyahu’s current government.

There is Dermer, whom Senor emails with and speaks to regularly. Senor’s sister Wendy, a former Democratic congressional staffer who heads the Jerusalem office of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, has the ear, and the direct phone number, of just about everyone in the Israeli government. Saul Singer, Wendy’s husband, is a former Republican congressional staffer and a longtime columnist for the Jerusalem Post who is now a fellow at the Israel Democracy Institute. (Singer is also the older brother of Alex Singer, whose death in IDF service has been memorialized by their parents, Max and Suzanne, in the book Building a Life.) They are, in turn, friendly with Michael Oren, the American-born historian who now serves as Netanyahu’s ambassador to Washington. “This is a group that speaks American and, to a large extent, understands Israeli,” said Yossi Klein Halevi, a writer and fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute.

Whatever about the advantage Romney’s Jewish connector brings to the governor’s campaign, it pales in comparison with how great a boon Senor’s connections will be to Israeli interests if his advisee gets into the White House.

Written by Maidhc Ó Cathail

July 29, 2012 at 3:48 am

Posted in Uncategorized

The Hate Mongers Among Us (Part 1/4)

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Written by Maidhc Ó Cathail

July 27, 2012 at 4:01 pm

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Pro-Israel think-tanker calls for ‘aid conditionality’ to encourage Egyptian democratisation

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­By Maidhc Ó Cathail
The Passionate Attachment
July 26, 2012

In a July 20 opinion piece, Shadi Hamid claims there’s a need for “aid conditionality” to rescue the troubled democratic transition in Egypt. Hamid, a fellow at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy, argues:

In short, if the goal is to pressure recalcitrant governments and encourage real, sustained democratisation, then the current strategy will not do. First, when it comes to Egypt, the US and the European Union should coordinate policy and seriously consider temporarily suspending military aid. Second, any future economic assistance should depend on demonstrating progress on key political indicators, including transfer of power to civilian rule and respect for civil society. Those benchmarks should be clearly defined and announced in public as part of a broader public diplomacy strategy. SCAF’s violations have been and continue to be rather egregious. In the span of one week in June, it reinstated martial law, dissolved a democratically elected parliament, and imposed an eleventh hour decree which stripped the presidency of its powers. If this is not a red line for the United States and Europe, then what is?

As you note Hamid’s clear preference for civilian over military rule — i.e. rule by the Muslim Brotherhood — bear in mind that the think tank he works for was specifically established “to protect Israel.”

Maidhc Ó Cathail has written extensively on Israel’s key role in U.S. democracy promotion.

Written by Maidhc Ó Cathail

July 26, 2012 at 1:59 pm

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Celebrating imminent ‘fall of Assad’s pro-Iranian regime,’ pro-Israel neocon compares Alawites to Nazis

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­By Maidhc Ó Cathail
The Passionate Attachment
July 26, 2012

Writing in Tablet, a daily online Jewish magazine, Foundation for Defense of Democracies fellow Lee Smith provocatively compares Syria’s increasingly imperiled Alawite minority to the most reviled group in modern history. In a piece revealingly entitled “Cause for Celebration in Syria,” the senior editor of the neoconservative Weekly Standard advises:

Many have noted the increasing presence of Islamists in the armed opposition and are warning that the United States might need to intervene to protect the Alawites and other minorities, like Christians, from being targeted. For instance, former CIA analyst Bruce Riedel has written that “one of the priorities of the international community after Assad falls will be to protect the Alawite community and its allies from vengeance.” Some in the Obama Administration have echoed Riedel, speaking of a “positive democratic transition that is inclusive, that is tolerant, that creates a place for all Syrians.” But that’s not going to happen right now—not after the Alawites have slaughtered thousands of Sunnis. The White House did not move a finger to save them, so why should step in to protect those who hunted them?

The idea that the Assad regime and its supporters warrant American protection simply because they are a minority group is not only strategically incoherent but immoral. During the course of four decades, the Assads have supported terrorist groups that targeted the United States and American allies in Israel, Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan, Turkey, and the Gulf Arab states. The Assads have allied with virtually every anti-American power for 40 years, from the Soviet Union to Iran. Does anyone believe that in the aftermath of World War II it was the role of the United States to save the Nazis and their allies from the Red Army? Of course not. Political wisdom begins with being able to distinguish enemies from friends, even if those allies are only temporary. (emphasis added)

In light of Smith’s invidious analogy, it’s worth recalling what Norman Finkelstein said to Yoav Shamir in Defamation, the Israeli filmmaker’s brilliant 2009 documentary on anti-Semitism: “The irony is that the Nazi Holocaust has now become the main ideological weapon for launching wars of aggression,” Finkelstein tells Shamir. “Every time you want to launch a war of aggression, drag in the Nazi Holocaust.”

With Tel Aviv having succeeded, in great part through the effective deployment of its American lobby, in inducing Washington and other lesser proxies — euphemistically known as the “international community” — to launch the latest war of aggression on its behalf against another Arab neighbour, Smith and his ilk will no doubt before long advocate a Nuremberg-style trial for the newest “Hitler” and his Nazi-like supporters.

Meanwhile, they will not cease to remind us of the “existential threat” posed to the ever besieged “Jewish state” as the secular regime it worked so hard to topple is replaced by supposedly Israel-threatening “Islamist elements.”

Maidhc Ó Cathail has written extensively on Israel’s key role in promoting regime change in Syria.

Written by Maidhc Ó Cathail

July 26, 2012 at 12:08 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Why I don’t like Mondays

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By Philip Giraldi
The Passionate Attachment
July 26, 2012

Sometimes it’s better to sleep in on Monday morning. I had carefully avoided two appearances on FOX and CBS by Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday morning talk shows but should have expected that the wisdom imparted by the great Israeli statesman would continue to resonate. Sure enough, the Washington Post featured a story describing Bibi’s disappointment that the Iranian nuclear program has not been destroyed since the election of Barack Obama. Netanyahu also threatened to take military action against Syria to seize its chemical weapons lest they fall into the hands of Hezbollah.

Okay, I get it, but the real kicker was the additional insights provided in the article. It explained “The comment by one of the nation’s closest allies–who has heavy political influence among the US electorate–hinted at a reproach of President Obama…” The article then notes that “Romney and the Israeli leader have a long friendship stemming from their brief overlap in the 1970s at Boston Consulting Group.” First of all, Israel is not an ally of the United States even if the statement is repeated ad nauseam. Second, Bibi is the government leader of a foreign nation that has its own agenda which is contrary to US interests, something noted nowhere in the article. His heavy political influence in the US is asserted through the traitors in Congress and the media, and also via Pastor John Hagee, who would like to see the second coming of Christ, at which point all the Jews who do not convert will be killed. And finally, Netanyahu himself has denied any “long friendship” from the “brief overlap” with Romney. Romney would like to convince the John Hagee crowd that such a relationship exists, but it is a convenient fiction.

And then flipping a few pages over there was a treat from the Post’s designated right wing blogger Jennifer Rubin. If you wondered how the tragedy in Aurora Colorado could possibly relate to the Middle East Jennifer can enlighten you. Take twelve deaths in Colorado coming from a country of 312 million and think about 5 Israeli deaths in Bulgaria coming from a nation of only 7.8 million. Crunching the numbers, the impact for Israelis was as if 200 had died in Colorado. I know it’s confusing but Jennifer is real smart. And, Jennifer added, meanwhile think of all those Syrians whom the Israelis so desperately want to help by invading their country. Jennifer’s estimate that Assad has killed 14,000 of his own people in a nation of 20 million would have the same relative impact as 210,000 dead Americans.

Ironically, Jennifer’s blog came out on a day when the news was also reporting 145 killed in Iraq in one day. As Iraq has 33 million people, that works out to the equivalent of 1,371 dead Americans using Jennifer’s curious metric to establish equivalencies. But, of course, Jennifer does not mention Iraq as that was a neocon-initiated war on behalf of Israel which she helped promote.

Philip Giraldi is the executive director of the Council for the National Interest and a regular contributor to The Passionate Attachment.

Written by Maidhc Ó Cathail

July 26, 2012 at 7:34 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Israel’s real fear of Syria’s chemical weapons

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­By Maidhc Ó Cathail
The Passionate Attachment
July 24, 2012

Yaakov Katz, defense analyst for the Jerusalem Post, wonders what’s behind Tel Aviv’s sabre rattling over Syria’s chemical weapons. Citing public declarations by senior IDF officers that Hezbollah is “deterred from acting against Israel today,” Katz suggests:

Therefore, it might be the case that if Hezbollah obtains chemical weapons or advanced surface-to-air missiles, the opposite will happen – Israel will be the one deterred from taking action, losing the operational freedom it has today.

Take, for example, the following scenario – a soldier is abducted along the border with Lebanon and Israel wants to retaliate. Hezbollah warns that if the IDF invades it will launch chemical weapons into Israel. This has been one of Israel’s traditional arguments against allowing Iran to obtain a nuclear capability. It is not a threat just because of the possibility that one day a long-range ballistic missile with a nuclear warhead will be fired into downtown Tel Aviv, but due to the nuclear arms race it will set off in the region and because it will impair and undermine Israel’s operational freedom.

That argument is now being used regarding Syria and Hezbollah.

So the next time Benjamin Netanyahu asks you to imagine the people who are supposedly “conducting with Iran all these terror attacks around the world” having chemical weapons, try to imagine a world where Israel’s freedom to attack its neighbours with impunity whenever it chooses to do so is impaired.

Written by Maidhc Ó Cathail

July 24, 2012 at 10:14 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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