Thanks to reader Walter Ballin for pointing me to Robert Dreyfuss’ new Nation piece about Gabi Askhenazi’s first visit to Washington, D.C. as Israeli chief of staff. He’d hoped to meet at least with defense secretary Gates, if not Obama or Biden themselves to enlist their support for an Israeli confrontation with Iran. Apparently, he was shut down. Not only did he not meet with them, those he did meet with like national security advisor James Jones reminded him that the U.S. is far more interested in discussing progress on the Palestinian issue than Iran.
Ashkenazi’s one consolation prize was a meeting with Dennis Ross, the State Department’s resident WINEP/Aipac frontman. While many of us were distressed to hear of Ross’ appointment, it turns out he can be useful when an Israeli official comes to town who the higher ups don’t want to see. Just foist him off on Dennis, and the Israeli can say he met a friendly face who listened sympathetically without promising anything.
According to Dreyfuss, Eli Lake is doing some interesting reporting as well. The latter discovered that Bibi Netanyahu’s new national security advisor, Uzi Arad, has been barred from the U.S. since 2007 for his involvement in the Rosen–Weissman-Franklin Aipac spying scandal. Interestingly, Israel claims Arad resigned from his senior role in the Mossad in 1997. Yet the Franklin spy affair was in 2005 and Arad was long out of the spy service–or so he claims. I wonder if Arad was serving the same role as Rafi Eitan, a current minister in the outgoing government, served in “running” Jonathan Pollack?
This Haaretz story tends to support this notion:
U.S. officials believe Franklin met with Arad during his frequent trips to Israel.
In the original indictment which was later annulled, Franklin is said to have met with Arad in the cafeteria of the Pentagon in February 2004. Franklin is also believed to have met with an Israeli diplomat serving in the Washington embassy who suggested that he meet with Arad.
During Arad’s last visit to the United States, FBI agents sought to question him. Arad, who was on his way to the airport to catch a return flight to Israel, suggested the investigators accompany him on the flight and question him on board the airplane. The agents agreed and conducted the questioning in flight.
The above story validates why an Israeli diplomat left the U.S. rather hastily just after the Franklin affair was reported by the news media.
An Israeli friend with some professional knowledge on these matters writes even more alarmingly about Arad:
Uzi Arad’s involvement in running espionage and spying rings is just the tip of the iceberg in a massive intelligence operation involving many Israeli diplomats and high-ranking American Jews. You cannot scare Israelis; they think they are invincible. And as Uzi Arad’s comment in the Washington Times article shows, he thinks it’s just a matter of time before the current diplomats/intelligence officers are able to make the right connections to lift the ban.
But Americans generally are not so arrogant. When more cases like Rosen and Weissman are exposed, American Jews will think twice before they sell their souls to a foreign power, reveal American secrets, and undermine US interests. That’s another reason why the Freeman operation was a disaster of unimaginable proportions. Steve Rosen’s involvement showed not only that he’s still walking free despite aiding and abetting a massive espionage operation against the US, but that he wields power and can successfully derail an Obama appointment. Think how that empowers the others who are currently involved in this type of activity or considering it.
All of which begs another question–if Arad was still working in some capacity for the Mossad in 2005, why should the U.S. trust that he won’t be working in a similar capacity even as national security advisor for Netanyahu? Here in the U.S. we tend to bifurcate such roles. Once you leave the CIA you can assume new government portfolios, but few assume that you might still have links to the agency. Otherwise, things could get very messy very fast as they have for Arad.
One wonders how Israel’s national security advisor can do his job while barred from this country. Not only that, what type of relationship can Arad expect to have with U.S. intelligence agencies who he presumably tried to burn by running Franklin?
On a different matter, Arad’s views on Iran seem a disaster waiting to happen:
As for what Israel should do about Iran, Arad argued for “maximum deterrence” during a 2006 panel discussion in Tel Aviv, according to a dispatch from UPI’s Joshua Brilliant.Israel should threaten to strike “everything and anything of value,” Arad said, including its leadership and “holiest sites.”“Everything together? Yes, Arad recommended,” according to UPI.
Speaking of Iran and Israeli disasters in the making, the new coalition agreement signed by Netanyahu and Lieberman guarantees that the latter will have custody of Israel’s Iran policy. In fact, it assign him responsibility to coordinate such policy with the U.S. Given that Akiva Eldar said that the U.S. is considering barring Lieberman for past membership in a Kahane group since banned as affiliated with terror, one wonders how closely our government will want to associate with Lieberman.
Lieberman held a similar role when he served in Olmert’s last government. Dreyfuss notes that a Labor politician remarked on Lieberman being appointed minister for strategic affairs that it was “a joke:”
“Lieberman is himself a strategic threat.”
Barack Obama seems to have a clearer understanding of this than does Bibi Netanyahu.
Some of Dreyfuss’ reporting relies on a piece from the World Tribune, an online intelligence news source whose reliability I cannot vouch for. So take that possibly with a grain of salt until the source is proven true.