When the largest donor to Republican political organizations urges the U.S. military to detonate a nuclear bomb in an Iranian desert with the explicit warning that “the next one is in the middle of Tehran,” you might expect that major American political figures and large U.S. media outlets would strongly denounce such genocidal blackmail.
After all, Tehran has a population of more than eight million people with millions more living in the suburbs. So, this threat to exterminate Tehran’s inhabitants from casino mogul Sheldon Adelson would be comparable to someone nuking an empty space in the United States as a warning that if Americans didn’t capitulate to some demand, a nuclear bomb would be dropped on New York City, the site of Adelson’s ugly threat.
The fact that the scattered outrage over Adelson’s remarks on Oct. 22 was mostly limited to the Internet and included no denunciations from prominent U.S. politicians, including leading Republicans who have benefited from Adelson’s largesse, suggests that many Muslims and especially Iranians are right to suspect that they are the object of obscene prejudice in some American power circles.
Indeed, HuffingtonPost published a vociferous defense of Adelson’s comments by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, who organized the event at Yeshiva University where Adelson spoke. Boteach, who has been hailed as the “most famous Rabbi in America,” treated Adelson’s nuke threat as innocent hyperbole only underscoring how aggressively the world should treat Iran.
Instead of apologizing for letting Adelson go unchallenged as he mused about murdering millions of Iranians, Boteach expressed outrage over the few expressions of outrage about Adelson’s plan.
“I found the reaction to his statement illuminating as to the double standards that are often employed on matters relating to Israel,” wrote Boteach, who then reprised the infamous false translation of former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad supposedly saying “that Israel must be wiped off the map.”
Boteach then added to the false quote the assumption that if Israel ceased to exist as a Jewish state, that would require “the murder of the six million Jews who live there [as] the precondition of such erasure.” However, there is the other possibility that Israel/Palestine could become like the United States, a country that has no official religion but that respects all religions.
To lay out only the two extremes – that Israel must be officially a Jewish state (with non-Jews made second-class citizens or stateless people) as one option and the other that all the Jews must be murdered – invites either apartheid or genocide.
Boteach also misrepresented recent comments by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei about destroying Tel Aviv and Haifa. The rabbi left out the context of Khamenei’s remark: the threat was predicated on Israel having first militarily attacked Iran. In other words, Khamenei was saying that if Israel destroyed Iranian cities, Iran had the right to retaliate against Israeli cities.
Israel’s Rogue Nuke Arsenal
But one thing that Iran has never threatened to do is to drop a nuclear bomb on Israel. First, Iran doesn’t have a nuclear bomb; has foresworn any interest in building one; has signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty allowing in inspectors; and has offered to accept even more intrusive inspections in exchange for removal of economic sanctions.
By contrast, Israel possesses one of the world’s most sophisticated nuclear arsenals, albeit one that is undeclared and existing outside international inspections since Israel has refused to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. I’ve also been told that Israel’s military contingency plan for possibly attacking Iran’s hardened nuclear sites includes use of low-yield nuclear weapons.
So, loose talk from a prominent American Zionist about the value of the United States launching a ballistic nuclear strike from Nebraska targeting an Iranian desert with the explicit follow-up threat that the next nuke would obliterate Iran’s capital could be read by the Iranians as a real possibility, especially considering Adelson’s close ties to prominent Republicans.
The fact that such a discussion was held in New York City with no meaningful repercussions for Adelson could be read further as a message to Iran that it might well need a nuclear deterrence to protect itself from such terroristic blackmail.
Boteach’s HuffingtonPost commentary also focused only on the part of Adelson’s remark about dropping a nuclear bomb in an unpopulated area of Iran, where only “a couple of rattlesnakes, and scorpions, or whatever” would be killed.
Treating the idea like some kind of humanitarian gesture, not a genocidal extortion threat, Boteach wrote, “Sheldon’s glib comments about nuking rattle snakes seemed to rattle many of the bloggers who were at our event even more than Ahmadinejad’s threats.”
But what made Adelson’s remark even more stunning than his idea of a demonstration nuclear attack in the desert was the follow-up warning: “Then you say, ‘See! The next one is in the middle of Tehran. So, we mean business. You want to be wiped out? Go ahead and take a tough position and continue with your nuclear development.”
At that point, the audience at Yeshiva University interrupted Adelson with applause.
The obvious problem with this kind of blackmail threat, of course, is that it requires the extortionist to follow through if the other side doesn’t capitulate. To be credible, you have to back up the warning – “you want to be wiped out?” – by actually wiping the other side out.
If Adelson were simply an eccentric old billionaire spouting threats of genocide at some university forum in New York City, that would be bad enough. But Adelson is an important behind-the-scenes figure in the Republican Party.
Nearly singlehandedly, Adelson kept afloat the 2012 presidential campaign of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and then threw his vast financial resources behind the Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who accompanied Adelson on a high-profile trip to Israel that was designed to highlight tensions between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Romney’s warm reception in Israel was seen as effectively an endorsement of his candidacy by Netanyahu, who has rattled many of his own military sabers at Iran. While in Israel, Romney delivered a belligerent speech suggesting that he, as U.S. president, would happily support an Israeli war against Iran.
Romney told an audience of Israelis and some wealthy pro-Israel Americans that he is prepared to employ “any and all measures” to stop Iran from gaining a nuclear weapons “capability,” a vague concept that arguably already exists.
Romney’s speech in Jerusalem was accompanied by a comment from his top foreign policy adviser Dan Senor seeming to endorse an Israeli unilateral strike against Iran. “If Israel has to take action on its own,” Senor said, “the governor would respect that decision.”
Romney said, “today, the regime in Iran is five years closer to developing nuclear weapons capability. Preventing that outcome must be our highest national security priority. … We must not delude ourselves into thinking that containment is an option. We must lead the effort to prevent Iran from building and possessing nuclear weapons capability.
“We should employ any and all measures to dissuade the Iranian regime from its nuclear course, and it is our fervent hope that diplomatic and economic measures will do so. In the final analysis, of course, no option should be excluded.”
By elevating Iran’s achievement of a nuclear weapons “capability” to America’s “highest national security priority” and vowing to “employ any and all measures” to prevent that eventuality, Romney was essentially threatening war against Iran under the current circumstances. In that, he went beyond the vague language used by President Obama, who himself has sounded belligerent with his phrasing about “all options on the table” to stop Iran if it moves to build a nuclear weapon.
However, the nuance was significant, since U.S. intelligence agencies – and even their Israeli counterparts – have concluded that Iran has not decided to build a nuclear weapon even as it makes progress in a nuclear program that Iranian leaders say is for peaceful purposes only. Still, those lessons from a peaceful nuclear program arguably can give a country a nuclear weapons “capability.” [See Consortiumnews.com’s “US/Israel: Iran NOT Building Nukes.”]
Though Romney lost the 2012 election, his point of view is common among pro-Israel hawks in Congress and throughout Official Washington’s think-tank and media communities. Adelson also wields real influence because he, along with his wife Miriam, has poured a fortune into the U.S. political process, calculated at $92.8 million to outside political groups during the 2012 election cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
And, it is his kind of crazy talk, not uncommon among extreme Zionists, that makes any political settlement of the Middle East disputes next to impossible.
Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his new book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).
- Adelson’s Deranged Iran Comments (II) (theamericanconservative.com)
By Sherwood Ross | October 26, 2013
At a time when a record 47-million Americans live in poverty, when cities are going bankrupt, when 10 million jobless can’t find work and millions more are too discouraged to look, when the infrastructure is crumbling, when schools are running down, when bridges,roads and water mains need urgent repair, and when the AP reports four out of five Americans are in the financial soup, President Obama’s plan to spend $60 billion to refurbish an aging nuclear weapons arsenal is an obscene waste of tax dollars.
This president, who campaigns like a progressive and governs like a reactionary, is about to modernize a costly nuclear arsenal that President Ronald Reagan, in his shining moment, called “totally irrational, totally inhumane, good for nothing but killing, possibly destructive of life on earth and civilization”. Reagan sensibly called for “a world free of nuclear weapons” and met with Soviet Russia’s Gorbachev at four summit conferences between 1985 and 1988 to draw down missile and nuclear stockpiles.
Yet Obama appears hell-bent on updating the seven aging hydrogen bomb designs (why, oh, why, in the name of god, why?) that would require construction of costly new facilities when millions of American families can’t find decent housing and small businesses can’t find money to expand! According to a report by Ralph Vartabedian of the Los Angeles Times, the new scheme “essentially violates the Obama administration’s pledge against developing nuclear weapons.” The reporter interviewed Philip Coyle, former head of the U.S. nuclear testing program no less, quoting him as saying the Obama plan “sends the wrong message to the rest of the world.”
It also puzzles a lot of Americans. Areport by the Union of Concerned Scientists, writes Vartabedian, “raises new objections that the plan would require construction of unnecessary facilities and introduce untested combinations of parts inside the bombs—which could erode confidence in their reliability and safety.” (A polite way of saying, “Holy Hell, Look Out!”)
Speaking of safety, in an article titled “Nukes of Hazard” in the Sept. 30th issue of The New Yorker, Louis Menand writes, “most of the danger that human beings faced from nuclear weapons after the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki had to do with inadvertence—with bombs dropped by mistake, bombers catching on fire or crashing, missiles exploding, and computers miscalculating and people jumping to the wrong conclusion. On most days (during the Cold War), the probability of a nuclear explosion happening by accident was far greater than the probability that someone would deliberately start a war.”
Yet, instead of destroying all nuclear weapons and calling upon the other members of the lunatic nuclear fraternity to do likewise, President Obama is setting the wrong example and raising the stakes of a nuclear accident that could far exceed the havoc that an accidental nuclear release is currently inflicting on Japan—and perhaps the rest of the world as well. Reviewing Eric Schlosser’s new book, “Command and Control,”(Penguin) Menand writes, there have been “hundreds” of incidents since 1945 “when accident, miscommunication, human error, mechanical malfunction, or some combination of glitches nearly resulted in the detonation of nuclear weapons.”
What’s more, “the more extensive, elaborate, and fine-tuned the nuclear-weapons system became, the greater its exposure to the effects of an accident,” Menand writes. “For the system to work,” he adds, “for the warnings to be timely, communications to be transparent, missiles to launch, explosives inside the warheads to detonate, and nuclear cores to fission—everything has to be virtually perfect. The margin for error is tiny. And nothing is perfect.” Also consider, if you will, that the new nukes will make those dropped on Japan look like cherry bombs.
To spend $60 billion on weapons that must never be used, and whose use Reagan warned can destroy civilization, is a horrific waste of taxpayers’ dollars when, as CNN Money reports, roughly “three quarters of Americans are living paycheck-to-paycheck, with little or no emergency savings.”
Menand warns not to give too much credit to Mr. Reagan for calling for an end to nuclear bombs, as he was only responding to pressure from the American public. Well, I think the American public would really prefer not to have nuclear weapons around today, just as polls show it wants out of the Middle East. President Reagan showed the way. If Obama goes through with this wild spending plan, the survivors may well refer to it as Obama’s Folly.
Sherwood Ross can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
- A Threat to Nuke Tehran (consortiumnews.com)
As scientific evidence shows that climate change is creating increasingly frequent and devastating storms, and with climate scientists declaring these extreme weather events as the new normal, we propose a new naming system. A system that names extreme storms caused by climate change, after the policy makers who deny climate change and obstruct climate policy.
Closing in on the November 30th ending of the 2013 hurricane season:
Atlantic Hurricane Season Quietest in Decades
With European auto sales near a 20-year low, it’s unthinkable that an automaker would willingly cut ties with its largest foreign client. But in February 2012 Peugeot did just that by severing ties with Iran. The move was forced by its new partner, General Motors, which had just been bailed out by the US government.
The decision has cost an estimated €4 billion in lost sales and helped force 8,000 job cuts. In France’s first such industrial closure in two decades, the last car has just rolled off the line at a plant located in a heavily-Muslim suburb of Paris.
Via a partnership with automaker Iran Khodro, in 2011 Iran accounted for 13% of Peugeot’s annual sales. The cars were assembled in Iran, giving domestic autoworkers valuable experience and helping Iran to become one of the world’s top 20 auto-producing countries.
The French press has largely remained silent on the key role Iran sanctions have played in damaging Peugeot, despite pleas from union leaders.
Ironically, giving up the Iranian market seems to have been in vain, as multiple sources have reported that GM has significantly scaled back its alliance with Peugeot. If the sanctions on Iran were designed to inflict the maximum amount of pain on Peugeot, they may have achieved their goal.
Absent greater transparency, Americans should assume the worst
In 1968 Director of Central Intelligence Richard Helms wrote urgently to Attorney General Ramsey Clark and President Lyndon B. Johnson that some highly enriched uranium fueling Israel’s Dimona nuclear reactor was stolen from America. LBJ reportedly uttered, “Don’t tell anyone else, even [Secretary of State] Dean Rusk and [Defense Secretary] Robert McNamara.” The FBI immediately launched a deep investigation into the inexplicably heavy losses at the Nuclear Materials and Equipment Corporation NUMEC in Pennsylvania and the highly suspicious activities and Israeli connections of the Americans running it. The CIA was tasked to find out what was going on in Israel, and compiled thousands of documents about the incident. (PDF) Although CIA officials in a position to now unofficially went on record claiming a diversion had occurred, for decades the CIA has thwarted declassification and release of the LBJ memos. On October 18, 2013 the only appeals panel with the power to overrule the CIA—the Inter-agency Security Classification Appeals Panel ISCAP—sent notification that Americans are not yet ready to know the contents of the memos (ISCAP decision PDF). This denial of public release of decades-old secrets concerning U.S.-Israel relations is far from unique. Although the Obama administration promised unprecedented transparency, it has emasculated the public’s ability to give informed consent on a wide range of key foreign policy issues. A review of ten particularly toxic U.S. secrets about Israel suggests stakeholders should start assuming the worst but most logical explanation.
In 2006 former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld famously told reporters at an Iraq war briefing “There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don’t know we don’t know.” Bush administration secrecy and Rumsfeld’s pithy quotes failed to quell gradual public awareness that the ill-fated invasion was launched on purposely fabricated pretexts. And yet the Iraq debacle could have been avoided if Americans had been better informed over time how government truly functions through greater access to the fourth category left unmentioned by Rumsfeld: “unknown knowns.”
“Unknown knowns” are the paradigm-shifting bits of information known only by a select few in government but kept from their fellow American citizens because they would reveal indefensible, secret policies and institution-level corruption that favor a special interest. By locking “unknown knowns” under heavy guard in document archives, covering them in secrecy classification stamps and making an example out of whistleblowers who release them without authorization, busy bureaucrats with the highest security clearances maintain a vast and growing trove of “unknown knowns.” Historians and watchdog organizations are continually thwarted in their mandate to contextualize and educate the public about relevant past events that could deeply inform the governed—and ultimately improve governance. Senator Carl Schurz said, “My country right or wrong, if right, to be kept right, and if wrong, to be set right.” “Unknown knowns” obliterate the public’s ability to execute the latter two-thirds of that sage advice.
Even the passage of time does not guarantee “unknown knowns” ever become “known knowns.” Under current government records preservation guidelines—particularly for information that researchers are not actively seeking to declassify— some “unknown knowns” quietly become “unknown unknowns” as they decay, are physically destroyed, erased or “lost.” Many knowledgeable former officials take their secrets to the grave. As a product of the ill-gotten power and influence of the Israel lobby, the pile of “unknown knowns” about U.S.-Israel policy is particularly large. Curious Americans who rightfully question official narratives about the U.S.-Israel “special relationship” have often requested “known unknowns” under the Freedom of Information Act. Former government insiders who know firsthand about explosive secrets often seek their public release to alert others using the Mandatory Declassification Review, even requesting documents by name, subject, location, author and date. After such “unknown knowns” (like the LBJ memos) are unsuccessfully sought for decades by multiple researchers, well-warranted suspicions arise about the reasons behind the impermeable government wall of refusal. The following ten US-Israel policy “unknown knowns” suggest the Israel lobby’s ongoing corrupt power is the only possible explanation for why they are still secret.
1. Henry Morgenthau Jr’s Israel policy is the stuff of legend in accounts about the birth of Israel. Some researchers claim that FDR’s former Treasury Secretary was present at the original 1945 meeting of American Zionists with Jewish Agency executive director David Ben-Gurion to set up the massive Haganah smuggling network to steal, illegally buy and smuggle surplus WWII arms from the U.S. to Jewish fighters in Palestine. (report PDF) This was the first major broadly organized Israel lobby challenge to U.S. sovereignty. It successfully overrode American policy enshrined in neutrality and arms export laws. Others claim Morgenthau was also instrumental in the illicit financing Israel’s clandestine nuclear weapons program in direct opposition to policy set by American presidents.
The FBI’s dusty 10,000 page file on Morgenthau, numbered 105-HQ-188123 (the 105 code signifies “foreign counterintelligence”) including intercepts to Morgenthau from Israel, could finally clear up many of these allegations, especially when compared to current research. Although the FBI—after a process that began in 2010—in September 2013 claims it has fully declassified the Morgenthau file, censors have blanked out nearly every page with a paint-roller of black ink (sample PDF). How do high officials with strong ties to Israel and its lobby who are politically appointed to the U.S. Treasury Department flout U.S. laws with their own foreign-coordinated foreign policy movements? The FBI and Justice Department do not believe Americans are quite yet ready to know.
2. Eisenhower and the Lavon Affair. In 1954, the Israeli government launched its “Operation Susannah” false flag terrorist attack on U.S. facilities in Egypt. Israel’s operatives were quickly arrested when bombs exploded prematurely. The operation’s utter failure resulted in a political crisis known as the Lavon Affair. President Dwight D. Eisenhower, periodically swarmed by American Zionist Council lobbyists urging him to send money and arms to Israel, must have learned some very hard lessons about U.S.-Israel relations from the incident. Yet the Eisenhower presidential archive—which is not subject to FOIA—has never released anything revelatory about the administration’s reaction to the attempted false flag attack. A narrow request for such files yielded only a single non-specific declassified opinion that the commander-in-chief believed the Israelis were “fanatics.” (National Security Council PDF) Yet the false flag operation‘s objective, attacking to keep U.S. troops stationed in the Suez Canal Zone to respond to “Egyptian militants,” seemed entirely rational to Israel, and possibly to some of its U.S. supporters who struggled for years afterwards to minimize the importance of the affair. Today Eisenhower library archivists claim that huge quantities of Eisenhower’s papers are still “unprocessed,” but may hold some private reflections or lessons learned.
3. Israeli theft of nuclear material from NUMEC. In 2013, the CIA continues to resist release of thousands of files about the NUMEC diversion by referring to CIA Deputy Director for Operations John H. Stein’s secret decision in 1979 (2013 FOIA denial PDF). Stein claimed that release of even a few of CIA’s closely-held files—especially if they were compared with Science Advisor of the Interior Commission Henry Meyer’s blunt allegations (PDF) to Congressman Morris Udall in 1979 that NUMEC was an Israeli smuggling front—was impossible “because of the need to have a coordinated Executive Branch position and our desire to protect a sensitive and valuable liaison equity.” In plain English, that appears to mean Americans still cannot have official CIA confirmation of the uranium theft because the U.S. president would have to drop the ongoing nonsense of “strategic ambiguity” and forgo intelligence Israel is funneling to America.
4. FBI files of Israeli (but not Russian) spies Russia’s dashing red-headed spy, Anna Chapman, was arrested in 2010 and sent packing back to Russia. Any interested American can now watch Chapman’s moves in surveillance videos and read the FBI counterintelligence files. Not so with most of Israel’s top spies who targeted American economic, nuclear and national defense infrastructure. The United States are still crawling with Israeli spies (our “constant companion” according to intelligence expert Jeff Stein). The 2010 revelations of nuclear equipment smuggling from Telogy (prohibited export smuggling PDF) in California and Stewart Nozette’s 1998-2008 Israel Aerospace Industries-funded penetrations of classified U.S. information storehouses around Washington reveal that while Israeli spying has never stopped, secret prosecution strategies now emphasize quietly rolling up Israeli operations via industry regulators, fines and penalties or isolating and entrapping American spies on lesser charges but steering around their Israeli handlers.
Unlike its treatment of information requests about Russian spies, the FBI and Justice Department have denied every individual FOIA request for the files of major Israeli spies. Access to Rafael Eitan’s many harmful exploits against U.S. targets are banned from release unless Eitan personally waives his privacy rights (FOIA denial). The FBI claimed it can no longer find files about deceased nuclear espionage mastermind Avraham Hermoni, even though his name appears across many previously released NUMEC files (FOIA denial PDF). Flooding from Hurricane Sandy is the excuse the FBI gives for not being able to find files on spy-for-Israel Ben Ami-Kadish (Flood FOIA denial PDF). One might argue it is merely a series of unfortunate events that keeps Israeli spy files out of public hands, except that the Justice Department has now issued a blanket ban on declassifying any files about the FBI’s decades-long counterintelligence tango with Israel’s Mossad. (Justice Department blanket denial PDF).
The results of the Justice Department’s kid-glove approach to Israel propagates into mandatory counterintelligence reports to Congress. Although Israel unambiguously ranked as a top economic and national defense intelligence threat in past assessments of agencies like the Office of National Counterintelligence Executive, because criminal prosecution strategies toward Israel (through not Iran, Russia or China) have been undermined from within, Israel has disappeared from the most current reports.
5. Jonathan J. Pollard’s most heinous crime. Israel’s only American spy ever to do serious time in jail—despite the best efforts of his many American and Israeli supporters to spring him—once confidently claimed before he was convicted that “…it was the established policy of the Department of Justice not to prosecute U.S. citizens for espionage activities on behalf of Israel.” Many believe it was only Defense Secretary Casper Weinberger’s classified briefing to sentencing Judge Aubry Robinson that made Pollard the near sole exception to that curious rule.
Some Pentagon insiders and national security reporters believe Pollard’s sentence was so harsh because Israel used stolen U.S. intelligence as “trade goods” with the Soviet Union to increase Russian émigrés to Israel. As Pollard’s sentence draws to a close, few know exactly what Weinberger told Robinson that caused him to deliver a life sentence. The recent partial releases of a CIA damage assessment and a DIA video about Pollard shed little light.
In 2010, the Department of Defense disclaimed all ownership of the still-classified “Weinberger declaration” passing the FOIA ball to the Justice Department’s Criminal Division (FOIA transfer PDF). In a novel approach, the Executive Office of US Attorneys now claims that it cannot find its own copy but that FOIA does not require EOUSA FOIA officers to travel two blocks to the DC District Court to retrieve a sealed copy of the memorandum for review (FOIA denial PDF) or even ask DOD for a copy. The National Archives and Records Administration Office of Government Information Services OGIS agrees that there is no “duty for agencies to retrieve records that are not physically present in their own files.” Although the 2008 case of Ben-Ami Kadish proves the Pollard espionage ring was much larger than was publicly disclosed in the late 1980s, the FBI has also not allowed release of its Jonathan Pollard investigation files (FOIA denial PDF) for overdue public review of how the investigation might have—like many others—been short-circuited by the Department of Justice because it involved Israel.
6. Wiretap of AIPAC pushing for a US war on Iran. When AIPAC executives Keith Weissman and Steven J. Rosen dialed up Washington Post reporter Glenn Kessler in 2004, they were determined to leverage purloined classified U.S. national defense information into a story that Iran was engaged in “total war” against the US in Iraq. FBI special agents played audio intercepts of their pitch to AIPAC’s legal counsel and AIPAC promptly fired the pair to distance itself from activities it had long supported. Rosen and Weisman were later indicted under the Espionage Act, although the case was later quashed under an intense Israel lobby pressure campaign shortly after President Obama entered office.
What exactly did AIPAC’s two officials tell the Washington Post in its unrelenting drive to gin up a U.S. war with Iran? A decade later, the U.S. Department of Justice doesn’t believe the American public is entitled to hear a tape long ago played to AIPAC’s lawyer Nathan Lewin, even as AIPAC continues to agitate for more wars. (MDR denial PDF)
7. Niger uranium forgery underwriters. Although Ike may or may not have worried much about the implications of Operation Susannah, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee certainly did. A secret memo touched off years of Senate and Justice Department investigations into Israel lobbying over fears that American operatives might engage in other overseas clandestine provocations aimed at duping the U.S. into ill-advised conflicts that would benefit Israel (the short memo references the Lavon affair twice). The Iraq war proves those fears were well-founded.
Many have long suspected that the Niger uranium forgeries, fake documents the Bush administration trumpeted to falsely accuse Iraq of buying uranium from Africa for nuclear weapons, were chartered by American neoconservatives in order to provide a pretext they desperately needed for war. Perhaps the FBI’s investigation into the matter definitively proves it. However, despite years of requests for the 1,000 pages of that investigation, the FBI after initially duly proceeding with a FOIA, has now suddenly clammed up. (Niger uranium denial PDF)
8. Israel lobbyists embedded in the Treasury and Justice Departments. Israel lobbying organizations have been very effective at embedding their operatives in key positions across the Federal government, such as Stuart Levey in the Treasury Department’s economic warfare unit, or former AIPAC director Tom Dine as a contractor at the floundering US government-funded Arabic-language broadcaster Alhurra. It used to be possible to get a phone directory or conduct a comprehensive audit of which key political appointees (and the people they brought in) were running critical divisions of federal agencies by obtaining detailed Office of Personnel Management and other public records. Not anymore. (FOIA response PDF) Leveraging heightened post-911 sensitivities, the US Treasury Department now claims the same protections against disclosure formerly enjoyed only by intelligence agency employees.
Since the 1940s, the U.S. Department of Justice has earned a reputation as a place where Israel lobby criminal investigations go to die. Justice is also where an AIPAC official like Neil Sher can while away a few years on pet projects at taxpayer expense before moving on to more lucrative outside work. DOJ also routinely denies files about its past official decisions not to pursue criminal cases on the basis that doing so could jeopardize privacy, ongoing investigations, or factors underlying its coveted “prosecutorial discretion” (e.g. charging the disenfranchised but not powerful insiders for wrongdoing). Like Treasury, it is now almost impossible to survey and produce an organization chart of the Israel lobby’s political appointees embedded at high and mid-level Justice Department posts or the biographies of the staff and contractors they bring in with them.
9. Unclassified IDA report about US charities funding the Israeli nuclear weapons program. Sensitive reports need not be classified for the government to hang on to them indefinitely. In 1987 the Institute for Defense Analyses delivered an unclassified report to the Department of Defense titled “Critical Technology Issues in Israel.” The study implicates the Israeli Weizmann Institute for Science and Technology in nuclear weapons research, raising deep questions about the group’s U.S. tax-exempt charitable fundraising and U.S. commitment to enforce the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The Department of Defense withheld the IDA report from release on the basis of FOIA exemptions covering trade secrets and “intra-agency communications protected by the deliberative process privilege,” among others. (FOIA denial PDF)
10. Justification for NSA funneling raw intelligence on Americans to Israel. If former NSA contractor Edward Snowden has taught Americans anything, it is that “unknown knowns” are usually even worse than many might have first imagined. Some careful observers knew about massive NSA surveillance, while others alerted the public about the danger of “backdoor” U.S. intelligence flows to Israel. But who ever suspected the NSA was shipping wholesale raw intercepts gathered on Americans to Israel under a secret deal struck in 2009? No government that wholly denies such relevant information can claim legitimacy via consent of the governed. There can be little doubt why these ten files are kept closed: it serves the Israel lobby. The means by which this closure is sustained is also no secret. The millions of dollars that line politician’s pockets, promote media pundits and quietly spirit political appointees into key gatekeeper positions maintain closed files and prevent informed public debate.
Because of this, Americans should proceed assuming the worst conceivable, most logical explanation for any given U.S.-Israel “unknown known” is correct—until proven otherwise. Under this guideline, it is prudent to believe that LBJ—properly warned by his intelligence services and advisors that Israel was stealing the most precious military material on earth from America—was simply too marinated in Israel lobby campaign cash to faithfully uphold his oath of office. It is similarly reasonable to believe the Justice Department and FBI won’t release Israeli spy files because Americans would finally understand that, despite massive ongoing harm to America, political appointees in the Justice Department thwart warranted prosecutions. DOJ finds it much easier to stay “on message” through a long line of lobby-approved but mostly bogus “Islamic terrorism cases” (many made via sketchy undercover informants goading members of targeted minority communities into “terror” plots). According to its own records, every time it tried to uphold the law in the 1940s the DOJ suddenly found itself internally and externally swarmed by Israel lobbyists with inexhaustible financial war chests and legal experts working to quash warranted prosecutions in secret coordination with Israel. The DOJ now likely believes it can never win against Israel lobby generated media and political agitation when it moves to prosecute, and has now simply given up.
It is logical to assume that Israel was found selling out America to the Soviets in Pollard’s case, since little else explains the unusually harsh impact of Weinberger’s secret memo. It is similarly likely that the FBI’s AIPAC wiretaps would, if released today, accurately reveal Rosen and Weissman to be what they actually were—unregistered foreign agents operating on behalf of and in ongoing contact with the Israeli government rather than legitimate domestic lobbyists. It is similarly more productive to assume that at least one neoconservative operative with strong ties to the involved entities in Italy—such as Michael Ledeen—served as barker to the Italian sideshow that disseminated forged documents.
According to documents released by Edward Snowden, the transfer of raw NSA intercepts on American citizens to Israel was authorized under a secret doctrine that “the survival of the state of Israel is a paramount goal of US Middle East policy.” This “prime directive” was probably a secret because it is a blank check obligating American blood and treasure to a cause American citizens never approved via advise and consent. But why did the Obama administration—even as it dismissed espionage charges against AIPAC staff in 2009—so deeply betray American privacy? Under “unknown known” doctrine, most would assume that like LBJ before him, Obama sold out America because his Israel lobby handlers secretly demanded and paid for it on behalf of a foreign country. What other goodies Obama doled out to Israel in exchange for help gaining the highest office remain to emerge.
The official process for obtaining official public disclosure of “known unknowns”—the Freedom of Information Act—does not function when the stakes in disclosure are high and Israeli interests are involved. Agencies (and ISCAP) correctly perceive government credibility is at stake when there is real openness, and that bona fide transparency would positively impact how government behaves. Visibly corrupt federal government officials and institutions are counting on continued secrecy to accumulate illegitimate power by undermining public accountability.
A precise definition of the term “Jewish values” seems curiously absent from the public sphere. But maybe we can come up with one of our own…
We often hear the term “Jewish values” bandied about these days (primarily by Jews, it seems) yet seldom, if ever, do we hear it defined. What exactly does it mean? Are people who use it trying to imply that the moral values of Jews are somehow superior to those held by the rest of us?
Type the term “Jewish values” into Google and you get back more than 24 million results. At the top of the list is a website called JewishValuesOnline.org. The site is taglined “multi Jewish perspectives on morals and ethics” and offers rabbinical opinions on a variety of political and social issues, such as gun control, but nowhere on the site does there seem to be an actual definition of the term.
Wikipedia has no entry on “Jewish values”—however, there is a Wikipedia entry on “Jewish ethics.” The article starts off with the following somewhat convoluted paragraph:
Jewish ethics are considered to be at the intersection of Judaism and the Western philosophical tradition of ethics. Like other types of religious ethics, the diverse literature of Jewish ethics primarily aims to answer a broad range of moral questions and, hence, may be classified as a normative ethics. For two millennia, Jewish thought has also grappled with the dynamic interplay between law and ethics. The tradition of rabbinic religious law (known as halakhah) addresses numerous problems often associated with ethics, including its semi-permeable relation with duties that are usually not punished under law.
A few years ago an Israeli rabbi by the name of Yitzhak Shapira published a book entitled The King’s Torah, in which he justified the killing of non-Jewish children. “There is justification in harming [non-Jewish] infants if it is clear that they will grow up to harm us,” Shapira writes. “Under such circumstances the blow can be directed at them and not only by targeting adults.” Perhaps that’s what Wikipedia means by the “semi-permeable relation” between Jewish ethics and “duties that are usually not punished under law.” So far as I’m aware, not a single Israeli soldier has ever been prosecuted for killing a Palestinian child.
A few days ago the Jewish JTA website published an article on a one million dollar “Jewish Nobel Prize” that is to be handed out to New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Termed “the Genesis Prize,” the award is to be presented by the Genesis Prize Foundation. A relatively new outfit, established only last year, the Genesis Foundation is an offshoot of the Genesis Philanthropy Group, described as “a consortium of mega-wealthy philanthropist-businessmen from the former Soviet Union including Mikhail Fridman, Pyotr Aven and German Khan; the Office of the Prime Minister of Israel; and the Jewish Agency for Israel.”
Fridman, Aven, and Khan apparently go back a good many years together. All three have been involved with Alfa Group, a Russian banking and investment consortium, and in 2005 Fridman found himself caught up in a privitazation scandal in which property belonging to the Russian government was sold at prices significantly below market value.
The website Russian Mafia contains “dossiers” on all three men (see Fridman, Aven, and Khan respectively), with Khan being named as “Herman” Khan (though still apparently the same man). Naturally I can’t vouch for the accuracy of the information there, but the dossiers do make interesting reading.
The award to be presented to Bloomberg is the first annual Genesis Prize ever awarded. The article doesn’t exactly specify why the New York mayor was selected—but it does offer a quote from him:
“Many years ago, my parents instilled in me Jewish values and ethics that I have carried with me throughout my life, and which have guided every aspect of my work in business, government, and philanthropy,” he said.
Just why Mr. Bloomberg would think it important to mention this can perhaps be gleaned from a New York Times article on the Geneis Prize published back in June. “A charity founded by Russian Jewish billionaires is establishing a $1 million annual award for excellence in virtually any field, to honor those people who attribute their success to Jewish values.”—thus reads the opening sentence. The fact that the reporter, David M. Herzenhorn, would fail to enclose the words “Jewish values” in quotes would suggest he takes it for granted his readers know what the term means and that presumably they all understand that Jews have the most superlative values on earth. Who after all would doubt it?
But hey—take note! Here we have a whole prize (worth a cool $1 million no less) to be offered on an annual basis to that one lucky soul on earth deemed to exemplify “Jewish values” moreso than any other.
Perhaps the people of New York will breathe a sigh of relief now, knowing their mayor was singled out for such an honor. Yet still, sadly, we have no definition of the term (read Herzenhorn’s article from top to bottom and you’ll not fine one), and thus our quest is not over. But take heart! Perhaps a clue can be gleaned from a recent article in the Jewish newspaper, The Forward.
On October 21, The Forward published a story on a series of scandals that have engulfed Jewish charities and institutions over the past year. None of this is new. Each scandal, one after the other, had been reported previously on an individual, piecemeal basis, but what The Forward does is provide an overview of the whole mishmash as it has glissaded through the Jewish socio/cultural landscape:
The worst year for Jewish charities since the Madoff debacle in 2008 started in late December 2012, when the Forward reported that Yeshiva University’s longtime former president Rabbi Norman Lamm had admitted to covering up allegations of sex abuse of high school students from the 1970s through the ’90s. Alleged victims soon filed a $380 million lawsuit against the school.
Then, in May, the Forward reported that top officials at the Conference of Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, which distributes aid to Holocaust victims, had been warned of fraud being perpetrated by employees eight years before a full investigation uncovered a multi-million dollar scam.
Things got even darker over the summer. In July, the 92nd Street Y fired its executive director, Sol Adler, after learning of Adler’s affair with his assistant, Catherine Marto. His affair, though embarrassing, wasn’t the worst of it. Marto’s son-in-law was the Y’s head of facilities, and was accused of taking kickbacks from vendors on construction projects. The Y shouldn’t have been surprised: He had pleaded guilty in 1999 in a Mafia-backed Wall Street fraud.
All those scandals were just a warm-up for the firing in August of William Rapfogel, CEO of the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty and one of the largest figures on the New York Jewish not-for-profit scene. Rapfogel was charged in September with stealing $5 million from Met Council in a two-decade kickback scheme. His predecessor at Met Council, Rabbi Dovid Cohen, resigned in September from his current job running the Jewish ambulance service Hatzolah.
The story also quotes an official who heads a “Center for Jewish Ethics” at a Pennsylvania rabbinical college who seems quite pained about the whole thing. “It (the series of scandals) has definitely shaken a lot of people’s confidence,” he comments before going on to express the view that “greater controls and better training” are needed for the people who run these Jewish institutions.
Yes, perhaps that will solve the whole problem.
A little bit more on the looting of the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty can be found here:
Allegedly, Rapfogel and the Met Council diverted truckloads of food meant to feed the poor to a politically powerful Williamsburg hasidic businessman who owns a very large kosher supermarket. That hasidic businessman sold the food; the poor got none of it. It is unclear how much the businessman allegedly paid the Met Council under the table for the food or what percentage of profits was allegedly used to grease politicians. This businessman’s supermarket was also allegedly the only supermarket in Williamsburg authorized to take Met Council food vouchers. What the businessman had to pay Rapfogel for that monopoly is unclear.
The 92nd Street Y, one of the other scandal funnel clouds mentioned in The Forward article, apparently was formed as the Jewish equivalent to the YMCA, and much like the latter, it offers fitness programs, rooms for rent, cultural events, and the like. Its formal name is The Young Men’s and Young Women’s Hebrew Association. Go here and you can see a list of famous people who have visited its facilities in New York.
All in all, what are we to make of it? Scandals galore—almost on the magnitude of a volcanic eruption—a spewing lava of corruption cascading down the slopes of what ostensibly are the most “noble” components of the Jewish community in America? Do the people connected in one way or another to these activities still regard themselves as God’s “chosen people”? If the answer to that is yes, then does this view of themselves persist in spite of their involvement in these exploitive self-enrichment schemes—or perhaps because of it?
Knowing the answer to that would help us to develop a clear definition of the term “Jewish values.”
Committee to Stop FBI Repression | October 23, 2013
She is charged with immigration fraud. Allegedly, in her application for citizenship, she didn’t mention that she was arrested in Palestine 45 years ago by an Israeli military court that detains Palestinians without charge – a court that has over 200 children in prison today and does not recognize the rights of Palestinians to due process.
The arrest today appears to be related to the case of the 23 anti-war activists subpoenaed to a grand jury in 2010. Well-known labor, community and international solidarity activists around the Midwest had their homes raided by the FBI when the U.S. attorney alleged that they had provided material support to foreign terrorist organizations in Palestine and Colombia.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Barry Jonas is leading the investigation against the 23. He was at the courtroom in Chicago this morning, consulting with the assistant U.S. attorney who was presenting the indictment to the judge. Jonas was also the prosecutor in the case of the Holy Land Five, the heads of the largest Muslim charity in the U.S. before 9/11. He was successful in getting prison sentences for as long as 65 years for the five men, who provided charity to children in Gaza.
The Committee to Stop FBI Repression (CSFR) denounces this attack as another example of the continuing repression of Palestinians and people who stand in solidarity with them. Homeland Security, the FBI, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the U.S. Attorney’s office now are carrying out enforcement of the Israeli occupation of Palestine.
Odeh will appear in court in Detroit on Nov. 1, where she will be represented by Jim Fennerty of the National Lawyers Guild. CSFR urges people to attend the proceedings at the Federal Court in Detroit in her defense.
Glenn Greenwald has published in LeMonde, yet another eye-popping story about the NSA. But in this case, it turns out the NSA was not the culprit. Look no farther than the Mossad for the presumably guilty party. In 2012, during the French presidential elections, which Nicolas Sarkozy would go on to lose to Francois Hollande, French counter-intelligence discovered that a foreign intelligence agency had penetrated the computer systems of the Elysee Palace, the French White House. A French magazine blared that it was an NSA job. French intelligence apparently believed this and took the NSA to the woodshed. Relations were very tense between these otherwise strong allies.
But given Snowden’s recent revelations about the all-seeing NSA, this case was different. The NSA began investigating and discovered that none of its operatives had been responsible (at least in this particular case). Because the case threatened to endanger relations with a U.S. ally, they went so far as to query the intelligence agencies of twenty U.S. allies, who all professed ignorance of the operation. In meetings with their French counterparts, NSA officials revealed all this and swore they were not the culprits. But they tellingly noted that among the nations they had not queried was Israel because, in their words, discussion of matters related to France was not within the purview of the NSA-Mossad relationship. This is the equivalent of what Monty Python called, “Wink-wink, nudge-nudge.”
What specifically did Unit 8200 want to learn about French policy from such an intrusion? According to my own Israeli source, there was no specific mission. Spying was indiscriminate and opportunistic. He would not speaking directly to this particular incident because he did not want to expose a specific operation if there was one. But he would say this:
Unit 8200 and Mossad hack everyone they technically can. You can never know what interesting intelligence will come from a phone call/email of any foreign leader or official – so they spy on anyone possible.
In other words, Israeli intelligence has no restraints, unlike (we hope) spy agencies of other western nations. Where the NSA got into trouble (after Snowden’s revelations were published) was that it was operating as if it were Unit 8200, rather than an American agency restrained by American laws and constitutional practice. At least until recently, the NSA and Israeli cyber-intelligence could’ve been twins.
That is why the recently revealed agreement between the NSA and Unit 8200 to share intelligence (even about U.S. citizens) was no surprise at all. And what 8200 didn’t learn directly from data supplied to them by the NSA it could derive from its own intelligence operations here in the U.S., where the FBI finds Israel to the be the third-most active spy operation of all foreign countries active here.
Mossad’s intelligence method of “flooding the zone” to get whatever information it can from whatever sources it can, further cements the notion that it is not an agency of a truly democratic nation with checks and balances and protections for citizens and non-citizens. There are, or should be, things that allies just don’t do to each other. But for Israel, there is no such thing as an ally. There are nations that further its interests (known in most other countries as ‘allies’) and nations which oppose its interests (enemies). Israel spies on its greatest ally (as we’ve seen) and its greatest enemy. There is hardly a distinction made except that the nature of the information sought is different.
On April 8, 2009, ten billboards went up in the Albuquerque area saying “Tell Congress: Stop Killing Children. No More Military Aid to Israel.” On April 28, Lamar Advertising, with whom the ads had been placed by the Coalition to stop $30 Billion, tore down the ads due to pressure, presumably from other clients with larger accounts.
In June, 2012, twenty-three billboards went up in the Los Angeles area, also calling for an end to US aid to Israel. One week later, the billboard company, CBS Outdoor, also took down the ads.
We have come a long way since then. Ads that are critical of giving billions of US tax dollars to Israel, of Israeli human rights violations and of the creation of the Jewish state at Palestinian expense have appeared in Detroit, Seattle, New York, San Francisco, Sacramento, Albuquerque, and other locations.
In Denver, another free speech struggle has achieved its objective. A partnership of NoTaxDollarsToIsrael.com and ColoradoBDSCampaign.com initially failed twice to get approval for a billboard. First, CBS Outdoor placed the restriction that the ad must not use the words Jew and Israel, so the coalition offered the wording “Want peace? Stop ethnic cleansing in Palestine.” CBS Outdoor rejected it without explanation.
The groups then tried Lamar Advertising, with the same result. Finally, they borrowed a technique tried and tested by an anti-Muslim group, the Freedom Defense Institute. FDI chose public transit advertising space to place anti-Muslim ads in New York and San Francisco. After initial rejection in New York, FDI’s Pamela Geller sued and won a court order to permit her ads, based on the fact that the ad space was publicly owned and therefore subject to constitutional free speech principles. While the use of privately owned ad space is largely at the discretion of the owner, publicly owned space is not, and must conform to First Amendment principles. The court also decided that in the absence of clear evidence that the ad used hate speech, it could also not be restricted by such criteria.
The Denver groups pursued the same strategy. They resubmitted the ad to Lamar, but this time for space on the public transit system (inside the Denver light rail vehicles and outside the 16th street mall buses). After a long delay, the ads were approved, with no change at all in the message or graphics. As of this writing, the ads are available for all to see, both Denver residents and visitors to the city, like the hundreds of delegates to the convention of the Jewish National Fund, 1½ blocks from the 16th street mall.
What was going on during the delay? One may speculate that much deliberation was taking place, possibly in consultation with lawyers from the ADL (Anti-Discrimination League) and AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee). The only possible challenge would be that the ad constituted hate speech or was libelous. In both cases, however, the challenge would depend upon proving the falsity of the “ethnic cleansing” label.
Apparently, these august jurists decided that a discussion of “ethnic cleansing” as a description of Israel’s actions was potentially far more dangerous to Israel than the placement of an ad to that effect. After all, there was no assurance that the court would rule in their favor, in which case a terrible precedent would be set. Better to allow a bit of uncomfortable truth to appear in public than a legal ruling certifying such a truth. How Palestinians disappeared from much of Palestine is a question that the Israel lobby would prefer to leave unanswered.