These two contradictory headlines both appeared in this morning’s papers and managed to raise my blood pressure in an unhealthy way.
The spying scandal is extremely offensive on a number of levels: firstly, that the US would spy on an ally, yet wastes no effort in trying to entrap Jewish Americans into offering to spy for Israel, and then arresting and indicting them with great fanfare.
Secondly, the spy, Shamai Leibowitz, recieved a sentence of only 20 months in jail. Compare this to the life sentence without parole of Jonathan Pollard.
(Note: Shamai Leibowitz is the grandson of the notorious Yeshayahu Leibowitz, who once compared IDF soldiers to Nazis. Enough said).
Thirdly, Leibowitz didn’t pass the documents on to Israel. He passed Israeli documents on to a notoriously anti-Israel blogger, Richard Silverstein. (Read Israellycool for lots of information about Silverstein). Silverstein then proceeded to burn the original documents. Shouldn’t he be indicted for destruction of evidence?
The New York Times reported on Tuesday that the espionage conviction of Shamai Leibowitz, and Israeli-American who was sentenced to 20 months in jail for intelligence offences in 2010, was linked to FBI wiretapping of the Israeli Embassy in Washington.
According to the report, Leibowitz – who worked as a Hebrew translator for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, leaked transcripts of material derived from the wiretaps to a blogger, as part of his efforts to diminish what he believed to be Israel’s influence in Congress.
Right. Because he knows better than everyone else how malign is Israel’s influence in Congress. Unlike the Saudi lobby for example. Typical hard-left arrogance.
it seems that Leibowitz leaked transcripts of FBI wiretaps of the Israeli Embassy in Washington, according to the blogger Richard Silverstein.
Silverstein told the NYT how he burnt the secret documents Leibowitz – the grandson of renowned Israeli philosopher Yeshayahu Leibowitz – had given him after he came under investigation in mid-2009.
The story in the New York Times quoted by Ynet has more details and sounds almost approving of the actions of all the protagonists in this scandal.
Mr. Leibowitz, who declined to comment for this article, released the documents because of concerns about Israel’s aggressive efforts to influence Congress and public opinion, and fears that Israel might strike nuclear facilities in Iran, a move he saw as potentially disastrous, according to Mr. Silverstein.
Again – who was he to decide? If he was so worried about Israel’s possible actions, why did he not come back to Israel and vote in the elections and lobby our own politicians instead of subverting the country from outside? His behaviour is traitorous.
Mr. Silverstein, 59, writes a blog called Tikun Olam, named after a Hebrew phrase that he said means “repairing the world.” The blog gives a liberal perspective on Israel and Israeli-American relations. He said he had decided to speak out to make clear that Mr. Leibowitz, though charged under the Espionage Act, was acting out of noble motives. The Espionage Act has been used by the Justice Department in nearly all prosecutions of government employees for disclosing classified information to the news media, including the record-setting five such cases under President Obama.
Mr. Silverstein said he got to know Mr. Leibowitz, a lawyer with a history of political activism, after noticing that he, too, had a liberal-minded blog, called Pursuing Justice. The men shared a concern about repercussions from a possible Israeli airstrike on nuclear facilities in Iran. From his F.B.I. work from January to August of 2009, Mr. Leibowitz also believed that Israeli diplomats’ efforts to influence Congress and shape American public opinion were excessive and improper, Mr. Silverstein said.
And again, who was he to decide? Surely that was Congress’ decision? He was not only undermining Israel’s interests, he was trying to usurp American administration prerogatives.
“I see him as an American patriot and a whistle-blower, and I’d like his actions to be seen in that context,” Mr. Silverstein said. “What really concerned Shamai at the time was the possibility of an Israeli strike on Iran, which he thought would be damaging to both Israel and the United States.”
One post reports that the Israeli Embassy provided “regular written briefings” on Israel’s war with Hamas in Gaza to President Obama in the weeks between his election and inauguration. Another describes calls involving Israeli officials in Jerusalem, Chicago and Washington to discuss the views of members of Congress on Israel. A third describes a call between an unnamed Jewish activist in Minnesota and the Israeli Embassy about an embassy official’s meeting with Representative Keith Ellison, Democrat of Minnesota, who was planning an official trip to Gaza.
Oh no! Fancy that! Israel briefs the Americans about their negotiations with the enemy. How subversive! Israeli officials discuss the views of American officials. How treasonous! And a Jewish activist discusses a meeting with a Democratic Representative. How utterly offensive!
For more detailed coverage of this outrage, read Israel Matzav’s excellent article.
To all this injury to Israel committed by those two vile self-appointed anti-Israel hard-left activists, injury is added by no lesser a personality than the former US Secretary of Defense, who calls Israel an ungrateful ally.
In a meeting of the National Security Council Principals Committee held not long before his retirement this summer, Gates coldly laid out the many steps the administration has taken to guarantee Israel’s security — access to top- quality weapons, assistance developing missile-defense systems, high-level intelligence sharing — and then stated bluntly that the U.S. has received nothing in return, particularly with regard to the peace process.
Senior administration officials told me that Gates argued to the president directly that Netanyahu is not only ungrateful, but also endangering his country by refusing to grapple with Israel’s growing isolation and with the demographic challenges it faces if it keeps control of the West Bank. According to these sources, Gates’s analysis met with no resistance from other members of the committee.
Gates has expressed his frustration with Netanyahu’s government before. Last year, when Vice President Joe Biden’s visit to Israel was marred by an announcement of plans to build new housing units for Jews in East Jerusalem, Gates told several people that if he had been Biden, he would have returned to Washington immediately and told the prime minister to call Obama when he was serious about negotiations.
Gates’s frustration also stems from squabbling with Netanyahu over U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia and other Arab allies. In an encounter in Israel in March, according to U.S. and Israeli sources, Netanyahu lectured Gates at length on the possible dangers posed to Israel by such sales, as well as by Turkey and other regional U.S. allies. Gates, a veteran intelligence officer, resented Netanyahu’s tone, and reminded him that the sales were organized in consultation with Israel and pro-Israel members of Congress.
The reason the administration’s hard feelings toward Netanyahu matter now — and the reason several officials spoke to me on this subject last week — is that the U.S. is once again going to the mat for Israel at the United Nations, where Palestinians intend to seek recognition of an independent state in September.
The White House plans to contest this resolution in the General Assembly (where the move already has majority support), and the U.S. would most likely veto it in the Security Council. The Obama administration is right to oppose this ploy, which would undermine the chances of reconciliation and could lead to an explosion of violence on the West Bank. But they’ll oppose it in spite of Netanyahu, not to help him.
Dislike of Netanyahu has deepened in a way that could ultimately be dangerous for Israel. Time after time, the White House has taken Israel’s side in international disputes — over the UN’s Goldstone Report, which accused Israel of committing war crimes in Gaza; over Israel’s confrontation with the pro-Hamas Turkish “flotilla,” in which nine people were killed; and on many other issues.
The chutzpah of these words is breathtaking.
The access to top quality weapons – this serves America’s benefit as much as Israel’s. Israel tests those weapons in real time, and makes adjustments to them to suit desert warfare about which the Americans seemed to have little clue. Those top quality weapons are also paid for in hard-earned cash – and spent right there in the US. Denying access to Israel would not help America’s bank balance.
The same applies to missile-defense systems.
As for high-level intelligence sharing, read the story about the spying and eavesdropping and then get back to me.
Gates “stated bluntly that the U.S. has received nothing in return, particularly with regard to the peace process”. So it’s Israel’s fault that their “peace partner” is either a terrorist group (declared as such by the Americans themselves) – Hamas – or a “moderate” group – Fatah/PLO – who refuse to recognize Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people, and who will not negotiate with Israel but are instead moving directly to the UN.
Gates is upset over squabbling with Netanyahu over U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia and other Arab allies. That is rich considering how that much vaunted Arab Spring has turned so sour and anti-Israel, not to mention anti-American. Is Israel forbidden to express its opinion over who gets arms from America? After all, America allows itself to forbid certain arms sales from Israel – e.g. China or India? The hypocrisy is blinding.
As for America’s defense of Israel against the “UN’s Goldstone Report, which accused Israel of committing war crimes in Gaza”, this was as much self-serving as altruistic. If Israel were found guilty of war crimes in Gaza, America and its allies would equally be found guilty over much worse “crimes” in Iraq and Afghanistan, not to mention Libya.
As for helping with “Israel’s confrontation with the pro-Hamas Turkish “flotilla,” the US has been suspiciously silent since the Palmer Report exonerating Israel was published this week. Could it be that the Americans wanted Israel to apologize to Turkey davka to prevent that positive Palmer Report from being published. Once again, Israel Matzav, one of whose sources proposes this possibility, has an extensively researched article which is well-worth reading
Does the American Administration want Israel to be embarrassed and humiliated? Mr. Gates ought to read Ambassador Michael Oren’s article “Israel – the ultimate ally“.