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WINEP ‘Outs’ Shin Bet Deputy Director

Haaretz revealed yesterday that a U.S. website uncovered the identity of a hitherto secret senior Shin Bet operative.  Thanks to Sol Salbe, we’ve ascertained that the Aipac-oriented think tank, WINEP, published a piece by Yoram Cohen about Hamas.  WINEP even reveals Cohen’s Shin Bet affiliation.

It should be emphasized that both Cohen and WINEP  have done this with their eyes open and no U.S. law has been violated in publishing his name.  But due to the hidebound nature of Israeli military censorship, no Israeli publication can report this news even though we’ve reported here ourselves.  To do so might risk prosecution under Israel’s Shin Bet law.  So much for Israeli democracy and freedom of the press.  Anything I can do to subvert the Israeli military censor I’m happy to do.  It’s cold, heavy hand clamps down on the free exchange of ideas through the media and all in the name of national security.

Why shouldn’t the average Israeli know by name that Shin Bet operatives have trogdolytic views of some of Israel’s enemies? Why should the Shin Bet hide behind the veil of secrecy and refuse to name the officers who make Delphic, anonymous, and vapid utterances in the Israeli press about Syria or Iran’s desire to annihilate Israel, or Hamas’s goal of throwing the Jews into the Mediterranean; especially when the same officers are willing to attach their names to the same garbage when they publish it abroad?

Haaretz reports that when the current Shin Bet director, Yuval Diskin retires that Cohen will put his hat into the ring to succeed him.  If and when the latter became director, then his identity would become public record.  Till then, he’s supposed to be secret.  Oh well, I guess we’ve unmasked him (though what have we really unmasked?) for any Israeli who visits our website.

As for Cohen’s analysis of Hamas’ intentions and goals, it’s pretty much the standard recycled garbage that emanates from some in Israeli intelligence circles.  You’ve heard it all before ad nauseum, but here’s another taste:

Last week, Israeli forces entered Gaza, destroyed an underground border tunnel, and battled Hamas fighters, leaving several militants dead. In response, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad fired around eighty rockets into southern Israel, including the Israeli city of Ashkelon. Despite this breach of the tahdiya, or ceasefire, both Hamas and Israeli leaders have stressed their desire to deescalate the situation. But considering Hamas’s history of violence against Israel, the organization’s commitment to the tahdiya is open to serious question.

Only an Israeli pol, IDF general, Shin Bet spook or Alan Dershowitz would have the chutzpah to admit that Israel violated a ceasefire and then in the same breath claim Hamas’ commitment to it is in doubt.    It wouldn’t occur to them to think that it’s the Israelis whose commitment is in doubt since they initiated the first violation last week.

Let’s review what happened here. The IDF claimed (with no proof provided) that Hamas was building a tunnel to kidnap an IDF soldier.  Then, instead of destroying the tunnel with any manner of less invasive weapons choices, it decided on U.S. election day to mount a full-scale infantry assault.  This guaranteed a serious firefight with Palestinian defenders four of which were killed.  It is clear to any fair observer that the IDF deliberately violated the ceasefire and did so on a day when U.S. and world attention would clearly be diverted and unable to mount any protest whatever.  Cohen conveniently omits all the back story to this event which is so inconvenient to the Israeli version.

And here’s yet more of Cohen’s Stone Age wisdom:

Hamas’s primary long-term goal is the liberation of historic Palestine “from the sea to the river” and the foundation of an independent state based on sharia, or Islamic religious law. This would require the destruction of the state of Israel and control over Palestinian institutions, including the Palestinian Authority (PA), the Palestine Liberation Organization, and all of the Palestinian Diaspora groups. To this end, Hamas seeks a powerful modern army to continue its armed struggle against Israel, a goal that is aided by Israel’s enemies, Iran, Syria, and Hizballah.

Should Cohen become Shin Bet director this tells you that the same tired old thinking will continue to reign over the intelligence apparatus.  And don’t expect anyone there to advocate any bold, original or creative thinking when it comes to dealing with Hamas.  Undoubtedly, with this publication Cohen was hoping to burnish his credentials with his betters back home in preparation for the battle for his chief’s job.  Instead, he’s shown us how tired thinking is at the top levels of the Shin Bet.  And it’s all there for the world to see.

The fact that Cohen chose to be a visiting fellow at WINEP and to publish his analysis at its website indicates the cozy relationship between the think tank and Israeli military/intelligence circles.  It should be noted that Dennis Ross, who is angling for a major Middle East position in the Obama administration has been a senior WINEP fellow and is currently listed as “consultant.”  Makes you wonder a bit which side his bread is buttered on, doesn’t it?

Similarly, the Aipac spy charges against Keith Weissman and Steven Rosen reinforce the notion of that group being a conduit to and from Israeli military intelligence circles.  Both WINEP and Aipac have an interlocking and close relationship by which the former serves as the think tank and intellectual incubator for the latter.

{ 9 comments… add one }
  • gene schulman November 16, 2008, 10:38 PM

    Thanks for putting the blame where it belongs, Richard. Just makes one wonder when the other shoe is going to drop – Iran! Dennis Ross and AIPAC are just waiting for the opportunity. When everybody’s attention is elsewhere -inauguration day in the U.S.?

  • Alex Stein November 17, 2008, 1:01 AM

    Gene – I’m not sure there’s any evidence to prove that the IDF deliberately carried out this attack because it was US election day.

  • Richard Silverstein November 17, 2008, 1:34 AM

    @Alex Stein: “Evidence?” You want a phone transcript or e mail fr. the chief of staff? Puh-leeze. That’s not the way it works. Read Zvi Barel’s piece in Haaretz which lays out all the reasons the IDF deliberately provoked the breakdown in the ceasefire. Clearly, doing so on Election Day meant the attention of the world was focussed elsewhere & therefore wouldn’t lay blame as vociferously at Israel’s doorstep as otherwise might happen.

  • Alex Stein November 17, 2008, 1:37 AM

    Please post the link to the Barel piece.

  • Art Lieber November 17, 2008, 4:12 AM

    Gene – you wrongly predicted U.S. elections wouldn’t be held. Now you’re predicting an Israeli strike on Iran on 20 Jan. C’mon, buy a pair of rose colored glasses to help you see the world in a better light…

  • Richard Silverstein November 17, 2008, 3:24 PM

    @Alex Stein: http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1037571.html

    And here is Sol Salbe’s (of the Australian Jewish Democratic Society) very wise analysis:

    The timing of Israel’s raid on Gaza, which set force the chain reaction leading to the likely unravelling of the tahadiyeh was sufficient to raise the eyebrows. Launching a raid four hours before the US Networks began their main coverage of the presidential election certainly appeared designed to avoid the media’s glare.

    It is not as if the case for acting there and then was tight. Veteran Israeli journalist Menachem Ben, not exactly one of the usual suspects wrote in the right-wing Ma’ariv : “Somebody at the top of our defence establishment, certainly the Chief of Staff and Defence Minister, made a particularly bad error when they decided to attack that not-so-obvious tunnel in Gaza and kill six Palestinians in the process. That broke the blessed ceasefire. It broke it on the back of the residents of Sderot and Ashkelon and the whole Gaza-enveloping region.

    “And what for? In order to destroy a tunnel that even the IDEF spokespeople contend that it was ‘apparently’ designed to kidnap an IDF soldier. Let’s assume that it was indeed the case. Was there no other way to deal with the estimated danger? Couldn’t for example have warned the Egyptian that the intention of the tunnel diggers are clear and if Hamas were not to take any action against, Israel would? Did you have to attack immediately? Kill immediately?”

    Ben wasn’t the only Israeli to lament the “utter stupidity” of the move. Others were also horrified at the end of the ceasefire that has given both Israelis and Palestinians in the region, peace and quiet. But there was method to the madness and none explained it as clearly as Zvi Bar’el below. Israel did not want the ceasefire extended to the West Bank and it certainly did not want to see its ally, Palestinian President Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas) politically undermined. No article is ever a must read, but this one comes close to essential reading to anyone who wants to understand the dynamics of the situation – Sol Salbe.]

  • John Dickerson November 17, 2008, 5:45 PM

    Mr. Yoram Cohen (like Dick Cheney) had better be very careful about visiting foreign countries. I hear that Denmark is a beautiful country; well worthy of a several week tour!

  • Alex Stein November 17, 2008, 9:56 PM

    The Barel piece is excellent.

  • Richard Silverstein November 17, 2008, 11:48 PM

    @Alex Stein: Glad you liked it.

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