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.
Great piece. Especially liked your one-line summation of Dennis Ross: “the State Department’s resident WINEP/Aipac frontman.”
Let’s keep a tab on these trecherous, dual-loyalist warmongers before they succeed in manipulating our government into waging another illegal, horrible war. The whole world knows Israel will not lift a finger without the getting the green light from the US government. Therefore, the Lobby’s residents in the various branches of government are intent on lobbying US politicans to grant Israel permission to bomb. As CIA analyst Michael Scheuer commented: the Lobby like no other wants a war like no other.
I for one am more optimistic re. attack on Iran. The Likudniks are without Feith/OSP to produce bogus intel, and no WHIG to convince Obama to act on same. Question is : Who will Blair select to Freeman’s vacant chair, and even more interesting, will the Zionist -mob be able to fence off yet another free spirited appointee if he should chose to play hardball ?
Ashkenazi’s fail to obtain access is a positive sign that realism and pragmatism have returned to Washington.-with Dennis Ross acting as a lightning rod.
St. M. says
Tehran, Iran, the English Teacher
A recent article by Roger Cohen, International Herald Tribune, Published: March 15, 2009, “Iran, Jews and pragmatism” reminds me of the great poverty among most working Iranians and those who support the government. The following is my close association with one educated Iranian and his family in Tehran.
The last time I toured Iran was summer 1976. My intension was to see the country as it was, not as it was portrayed by the Western Press, or by the Shah’s regime. In contrast to the usual tourists, I had already seen the grandeur of the Iranian past in Persepolis and great mosques in Esfahan.
My teaching job in the Midwest allowed me to spend part of my summer vacation touring unusual places, this time was Tehran. I met Oscar through another American in Tehran. Oscar, a Tehrani, was high school English teacher in one of Tehran’s schools. He wanted to practice his English and earn a few dollars, and I needed a tour guide to see Tehran.
Oscar was mid-forties, like most Iranians had a large built, round head and big almond brown eyes. His chocolate brown hair was receding and showed sings of early baldness. He was not married and lived with his parents and one sister in a two- room house. He appeared good natured, shy and very polite.
I met his family, the father suffered from eye disease and until recently worked a small grocery store not to far from their house. The family had no medical insurance and nothing to call savings. His disability forced him to sell the store and retire. Oscar called him Agha. The entire family lived on Oscar’s monthly income of less than $40 from his teaching position.
Oscar’s mother had fair skin, plump, short, and a good nature smile. Her head was often covered with a scarf just over her glasses. Oscar called her Khanom. She appeared to be busy, going and coming. Oscar said his sister, Zee Nat was mentally sick. She was a second year student at Tehran University when she started to hear voices. She was studying to become a teacher too. Zee Nat had been in public mental hospital several times before. She appeared to be mid-thirties, very thin, visibly shy and avoiding all eye contacts. The Oscar’s family was Muslim. The only evidence of any religion was portraits, a man dressed in an Arabic garb, and the other picture of a woman. Oscar told the man was a saint to all Shia Muslim, Ali, and the other was Merriam the mother of Jesus.
Oscar’s family home was in one of the many narrow streets in a region called PaMenar. The region was a walking distance south of the old Iranian Parliament (Majlis). The house was very old, 12 feet tall ceilings, heavy doors with small window panes. The yard was relatively large and it was paved with large worn out bricks. It was void of any plants except a large bush. In the center of yard, a round pond had several gold fishes. Oscar told me that the toilet was typical of the bathroom in old Tehran. It was a large hole in the ground.
The house did not have a kitchen except a narrow covered space, no benches or cooking table, and for cooking it was furnished with only one simple kerosene gas burner. The family’s only source of water was a deep water storage cavern (cistern) below the structure. Oscar said that the water tank was filled with rain and snow water during fall, winter and spring.
My focus this time was Tehran, the area around the great Bazaars, and Shehre’ Reye. These sections of the city were untouched by the modernity; a reminder of the great disparity in the distribution of the wealth among the people. These southern parts of the city were home to the majority of the people crowded into very small quarters, narrow streets. Majority of these people were deprived of the most basic essentials of life. Iranian revolution, 1979, was a consequence of the misery of these Iranian people. Iran was a bipolar society, the very rich and many very poor people. After the revolution, many of the rich left Iran for places like Los Angles, still living in multi-million dollar Mc-mansions.
Roger Cohen states: “Exile, expropriation and, in some cases, executions have left bitter feelings among the revolution’s Jewish victims, as they have among the more than two million Muslims who have fled Iran since 1979.” These are mostly the rich who left Iran carrying their wealth and money stashed outside of the country. They lost their lavish life style on the back of the poor working class Iranians.
I spent most of my two months of the summer with Oscar touring Tehran and some of the villages nested in the mountain region. I kept correspondence with Oscar for years, hoping that some day he could visit me in the United States. Oscar passed away 6 years ago from lung cancer.
Iran has greatly advanced since 1976. The following article: Why the Islamic Republic Has Survived by Ervand Abrahamian, describes some of the changes in Iran since 1976. Now, after so many years and retired, I yearn to go back for another visit and place flower on the grave of my old friend Oscar.