Hypocrisy of Ofergate
It seems there’s a tempest brewing in Israel over what the media has dubbed Ofergate, the scandal over ongoing trade links between Israel’s largest conglomerate and Iran in violation of international sanctions. This led to the Obama administration blacklisting the company. All the major Israeli TV and print media (except Haaretz, whose security correspondent, Yossi Melman, has placed me on his blacklist over an earlier story) have noted the scoop I reported yesterday, that Ofer Brothers ships had docked in Iran dozens of times bringing a bit more than crude oil. To wit, Mossad agents conducting secret missions inside the country.
Today, the company itself conceded that it had performed services in the national interest at the request of Israeli intelligence:
According to the source close to the Ofer family, who asked to remain anonymous because of the sensitivity of the matter, Israeli officials have been assisted in a number of cases in recent years by the Ofer family’s business activities in the Persian Gulf for “national needs.”
“It’s no secret that the State of Israel sometimes seeks the help of business people,” the source said. “Some agree and some don’t.”
As I’ve reported, it’s not so much that Ofer Brothers is an independent company which happened to agree to help Israeli intelligence. It’s more like the company that is completely intertwined with the military and intelligence, with senior officers of both the IDF and Mossad in key corporate leadership roles. It might be more likely to say that Ofer Brothers is an Israeli intelligence asset, a company at the service of the security forces.
I wrote yesterday of the distinct possibility of the current Israeli national security advisor, Yaakov Amidror, one of the company’s former board members who was handsomely paid for his services as well, having caused the adjournment of a Knesset committee hearing into the illegal Iran trade. It pays to have friends in high, and the right places when you need them.
Former Mossad chief, Meir Dagan, continued for the second day, his publicity blitz on behalf of Ofer, saying that while he wasn’t shilling for the company, it didn’t do anything illegal anyway:
…The former Mossad chief said that he was “not the Ofer family’s defender, I am not their representative, I’m just concerned about the State of Israel.”
“There’s no law saying you can’t dock in Iran. I’m worried about the thousands of Ofer family workers who could get hurt by the issue and their livelihood means a lot to me,” Dagan said, adding: “They did not trade with Iran. They’re a transportation company. And besides, there’s no boycott on Iran.”
Tell it to the Obama administration which seems to think otherwise. Besides, isn’t this being too clever by half? Of course, it’s legal to dock a ship in Iran. But it isn’t legal to trade with Iran. And saying Ofer Brothers didn’t trade with Iran ignores the fact that they owned the ship that was docked in Iran and doing the trading. The fact that the ship was leased to a third-party, which was responsible for the actual commercial transaction is again, too cute by half.
If you make a mockery of the international sanctions which Israel professes to support. But the most important issue is if you believe that Iran is an existential threat to Israel and that the world should do everything in its power to eliminate that threat, what are you doing trading with the enemy, thereby bolstering his economy? Or as Ynetnews says in its portrayal of a report from one of Israel’s leading finance publications:
A Calcalist report revealed this week that between 2004-2010 at least seven oil tankers belonging to Sami Ofer’s Tanker Pacific docked in an Iranian port on Kharg Island. According to the report, the ships frequented the port eight times, all while Israel was massively lobbying the US to sanction trade with Iran, and even after said sanctions were announced.
There’s another important underlying issue here as well: what real purpose is served by the espionage against Iran? So you offload a few assassins or bomb makers and kill a few nuclear scientists or sabotage a rocket complex, perhaps setting back various military programs. What is your long-term goal? Do you expect to be Iran’s enemy for eternity or the next six generations? Or is there a way you can learn to co-exist peacefully without each country crying murder against the other? And is the benefit of the espionage or sabotage greater than the harm caused to Israel’s reputation and the international sanctions regime by exposure of such behavior?
Meir Dagan, the ex-intelligence head who seems not to want to go quietly into that good night, made even more headlines today in his first public speech in which he derided current Israeli government policy which has tacitly advocated a military strike against Iran. He also predicted a costly regional war if Israel attempts to wipe out Iran’s nuclear facilities with an armed strike:
Israel doesn’t “have the capability to stop the Iranian nuclear program, only to delay it.”
“If anyone seriously considers [a strike] he needs to understand that he’s dragging Israel into a regional war that it would not know how to get out of. The security challenge would become unbearable,” Dagan said.
He said as much recently so that part of his speech wasn’t new. What was new was Dagan’s statement that Israel cannot prevent Iran from attaining a nuclear weapon. It can at most delay the prospect. Though Israeli think tanks have said as much, no one at as senior a level as he has ever said this as explicitly.
So I repeat my question, if you’re not going to stop Iran what’s the point of the skullduggery? What’s the point of the secret rendezvous in Iranian ports? Why not come to terms with what might happen and make the best deal you can get with the Iranians so that their nuclear program can be properly monitored by international inspectors?
Isn’t it amazing that politicians and spooks who are sons of bitches when they’re in office all of sudden become elder statesmen when they’re not. Amazing how much Dagan’s political IQ has risen since he was booted out of the director’s chair by Bibi. He makes so much more sense now than he did back then when he directed the assassination of Mahmoud al-Mabouh, which blew up in Dagan’s and Israel’s face internationally.
Returning to Ofer Brothers and the U.S. blacklist, given the company’s major interests in shipping and oil trading (the brothers are the richest individuals in Israel), losing the U.S. as a trade partner has to put a huge dent in the corporate bottom line.
The last word on this hypocritical charade goes to the infamous Nahum Manbar, the Israeli businessman convicted of supposedly trafficking in materials that could be used by Iran to produce chemical weapons:
Nahum Manbar, who is serving a 16-year sentence on charges of espionage and treason for trading with Iran, yesterday…lashed out at the disproportianate treatment enjoyed by the Ofers.
Manbar was convicted of selling Iran chemicals an Israeli court said were intended to produce chemical weapons.
“The establishment took revenge on me while they, the Ofer Brothers have connections in government and nobody’s touching them,” Manbar said…
…”I don’t…understand why and how I was convicted for trading with Iran – with which I traded [with the authorities’ permission]–while there was no law forbidding it at all. Meanwhile when it comes to the Ofer brothers they’re deliberating whether to even investigate them. Obviously there’s discrimination here,” he said.
Gee, d’ya think?
PERSONAL NOTE: If there are any degenerate individuals who think that by threatening the lives of my children that this will scare me, intimidate me, or cause me to change what I do, how I write or what I write about…think again. On the contrary, it will convince me that anyone so threatened that he must resort to this sort of aberrant behavior–means I am on precisely the right track. It will only make me redouble my efforts to cover the stories I do, to expose wrongdoing and injustice. You cannot grapple with my ideas and so you brag that you will debase my children. I can’t imagine how this person believes he is advancing Israel’s interests by doing this. On the contrary, it makes the country and policies you support look as sick and wicked as you are. I will not be intimidated. In fact, it will only make me stronger.
To my other readers, I am sorry to add such a discordant note to this post. Unfortunately, it was imperative that I do so.
23 thoughts on “Hypocrisy of Ofergate – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم”
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It is not only ships and oil which Israel “forgets” in this macabre trade war against Iran. Israel has also imported from Iran pistachios. In November 2007 USA demanded Israel to stop importing pistachios grown in Iran. Interestingly the spokesman of the US Embassy in Tel Aviv demanded Israelis to eat US pistachios instead of Iranian. Israelis are the world leading pistachio eaters.
Still halve a year later USA had to give an other warning to Israel. In June 2008. For 10 years USA had demanded Israel to stop that Iranian nut trade. For almost 20 years Nuclear-Israel (without brackets) has demanded others to stop trading with “Nuclear-Iran”.
Israel demands others to behave as it wants, not as it itself does. Making money and getting cheap goods is more important to state than the “moral” it demands others to obey.
I wonder if anybody else sees how comically ridiculous this pistachio business is. I mean, I don’t disagree, the importers violated Israeli law, but I think even this “diabolical” $20m market pales in comparison to the hundreds of millions of dollars Iran gets from its much more cardinal markets (such as, but not exclusively, crude oil).
By the way, unlike in the Ofer case, I don’t see the hypocrasy in this case. This is a violation of Israeli law, not of international sanctions. Furthermore, I never heard an Israeli official demanding neither an overall boycott of Iranian goods nor a particular boycott on Iranian nuts. The demand for international sancions is centred mostly on Weapons and equipment for the nuclear project, certain banking institutions, IRISL and the energy market.
The sum of the Israel uses to buy pistachios is not relevant? It is the “example” of the most vocal Iran isolation demander. If it is only comical to import for $20m Iranian nuts then what is wrong if others do trade with Iran?
Comparing any imported or exported goods / service category to the sums of Iranian crude and or gas export would give your result = “not relevant” or even “comical”. Selling chemical weapons elements to Iran with lets say 15 million dollars would be irrelevant or selling some special parts which in theory could be used in nuclear research would be naturally also irrelevant.
When a Finnish company tried to offer weather observation equipment (Vaisala HydroMet™ System MAWS100) to Iran, USA kicked at once the Finnish government on their but (see Wikileaks papers) and there was never a deal. USA claimed that those automatic weather stations would be used in Iranian UAVs. It is dangerous that Iranians could use automatic weather stations? Really dangerous “nuclear research”.
Read your cable again. It explicitly states that according to American sources the supposed front company shares its mailing address with the UAV division of the Quds forces. Even if this equipment isn’t supposed to be used in the building of a UAV (and I think neither you nor I are experts on UAVs and their mechanical parts) the beneficiary is a company which is part of an Iranian millitary conglomerate. As such it is subjected to internationsl sanctions. The Iranian pistachio exporters, however, are subjected only to de-jura Israeli boycott. Thus the first sale (very much like the Ofers’ ship sale) was internationally illegal, while the second was not.
And my point comparing the two markets wasn’t that. Importing Iranian oil products is an act which is not harmful by itself. It is harmful because the hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue are used to the benefit of the Iran’s military programms (very much like the chemical weapons u mentioned- and that’s why the sale of these weapons to Iran is illegal). Even if the revenue of the nuts market goes to the same programmes (and unlike in the oil buisness we have no proof of that) it is insignificant at best. To claim that the Iranian’s could finance the nuclear weapons programme on the pistachio buisness would be nuts (pun intended).
Even if Israel would buy 100 kg dates from Iran it would be against Israeli law and against the sanction policy Israel DEMANDS from others. Buy the way are you certain that the Iranian nut sellers do not have the same address as the Quds ?
Come-on Job a weather station is a weather station. Even if you would put one in the top of a rocket or UAV. USA uses sanctions against Iran on so broad level that in reality it has been all the time an attempt to block Iran’s industrial development. We all can imagine the real power of a big nation, with such raw material treasures Iran has, could achieve. USA and its patron Israel try to make Iran small, not because the claimed nukes or its religious “system”. They do it because Iran is the natural leader of the region. Israel’s superiority and “leadership” in the region is not natural.
The country which an real overblown nuclear research, aggressive religious nature and nuclear arming is not Iran, it is Israel. Job with what has Israel financed its nuclear program and hundreds of ready nukes, bacteriological and chemical weapons? With mini tomatoes, oranges, weapons sales to Burma, diamonds (bought from African warlords), eustacy, heroin etc. ?
By the way Job it is easy to find from the net technical specifications of that Vaisala’s weather station. The weather measuring systems are not secret weapons.
“Pistachios?” Is that what you call trading shiploads full of oil to & from Iran in violation of international sanctions?? Shiploads which support & strengthen the Iranian economy, which Israel claims to wish to bring to its knees. And if you think these oil shipments are worth $20 million you’re out of your mind. The sanctions cover trade as well.
No. I agree with you on the subjects of the ships and oil. I was refering only to the comedy braught forth by Simon.
As an Israeli who often disagree with you and clearly have different opinion on many things, I have to express my disgust from the people who threatened of harming either you or your family. Keep doing what you have been doing and I hope those criminals will be caught and brought to justice.
I second that.
Thank you. I appreciate that.
I second that too! It is sad and shows how cruel some of these people are.
Be strong Richard, but also be careful!
What utter nonsense, obviously the author of this blog has no inner knowledge of the Shipping industry in general and certainly has no knowledge of the Ofer brothers shipping company in particular.
Non of the Ofer Brother ships anchored in Iran had any israeli on them as a part of the boat crew, how do i know that ? any Israeli on a boat anchored in an Iranian port will be arrested immediately, In fact the crew of most vessels is a mix of east European / Indian officers, and far east man as crew members.
Expecting such a mix, with no loyalties or ties to the state of Israel, to endanger their lives for the state of Israel (or just to keep their moth shut) is a notion taken out of a Hans Christian Andersen book.
but hey, if you can hoist your imagination (you have no knowledge of the subject) and accuse Israel’s of mischief, why not ? after all it fits your agenda.
as for those who threatened you, They should be ashamed, first for the threats, and second for being so dumb as to think that you actually cause any real damage to the state of Israel. if anything after the exposure your story gets, the Iranian will beef up their security measures at their ports (because you have a “source”) and will deviate their efforts from other places. It’s as almost someone in the Mossad itself is uses the author of this blog to spread rumors, to keep the Iranians, extra busy, who ever it is Good Job.
All well and good, but Ofer Brothers have essentially conceded the truth of what I’ve written. So I guess you should take up your doubts with them. Maybe they can explain specifically what they did, when, with whom, & why.
“There is no law” has an amusing twist.
Presumably, there is no Israeli law against trade with Iran (nuclear concerns being merely concerns, not laws) (and plans or announced possible plans to attack Iran being, again, not laws). So, OK, no Israeli laws.
Also, no international law. But if there were international law, Israel would feel free to ignore it (and to call it “no law”) as it does with Fourth Geneva Convention (occasionally recognized by Israel’s courts, but never by Israel’s government, which is not subservient to its courts). so, again, no law.
And if there is some sort of UNSC resolution authorizing a voluntary trade sanction, well so what, and if it sets forth a mandatory trade sanction, well, again, so what, a UNSC resolution — whatever its puissance — is not a “law”, so, again, “as I said, harumpfff, there is no law against Israeli trade with Iran”.
Mr. Silverstein, if by “conceded the truth of what I’ve written” you mean the anonymous source what stated that the offer shipping company assisted the Israeli government with it’s adventures in the Persian golf then my reaction to that would be – PLEASE, anyone can state whatever they want hiding behind anonymity, and that statement by this anonymous source was so open ended, anyone can make out of it whatever they want as well. There are many ways the ofer’s could have assisted the government without exposing the crew to all the complexity of boarding Mossad agents, from carrying surveillance equipment on the boats, to reporting on the harbor structure. to simply taking pictures of few places.
You chose to let your imagination run free and that’s fine, based on your source, but googeling your stories i came to another scoop you had: The Iranian General who presumably died in an Israeli Prison, and since in both cases you referred to the same “source” (a veteran politician) i assume the quality of both scoops is similar.
I would recommend you’d read the great article by the 7th eye: http://www.energianews.com/article.php?id=9707
Keep up the good work, your stories are very entertaining second only to the adventures of Baron Münchausen. same credibility to both.
You omitted the most important portion of the identification of the source. A source “close to Ofer Brothers” said… In other words a source that spoke on behalf of Ofer Brothers. So if you choose to believe that Ofer Brothers chosen press representative was lying, that’s your problem. I think the rest of us understand who was speaking. It’s convenient that people choose, when convenient to claim that anonymous sources have no value, but when anonymous sources say things that they like, then the source suddenly jumps by leaps & bounds in credibility.
As for the Mossad agents, my source is a senior Israeli politician, your source is–yourself. We’ll let the readers decide who has more credibiity. A well-place source is NOT “imagination.” As for Asgari, no one has disproven the claim of my source. And you’ve neglected to mention all the other scoops my sources have reported which have been dead on accurate. Or did you forget: Anat Kamm, Ameer Makhoul, Doron Zahavi, Meir Rotter, Yoav Even, Ofergate, Mr. X, etc. I guess you missed those.
I can’t stand snark. If you publish another comment here that substitutes snark for analysis or substance, it may be yr last.
Mr. Silverstein, reading a bit i realized that you don’t even know who your source is, and you conduct communication via a 3rd party in Israel.
as for your scoops, give me a brake, the Israeli media is using you to violate gag orders, it’s not that you are an investigative reporter / blogger, you are located on the other side of the world, and whenever people wants to publish something they can’t, they let you have the story first and then link to it, claiming the foreign sources said… it’s the oldest play in the game book.
i read that you had few other scoops, i read that you were loaded with information, which you published you then published that someone was fooling you.
so excuse me for not giving you much credibility.
I’m not going to argue w u. If u don’t believe my source or don’t trust me u can go to hell as far as I’m concerned.
I don’t answer to u nor do I need to prove anything to u. 8 major Israeli media outlets ran stories on my report. They’re not in the habit of running flights of bloggers’ imagination. They know that what I’ve reported is accurate because they have their own reporters w their own sources.
I have a trusted source who is right about this story as he’s been right about 90+% of the other stories s/he’s conveyed to me. As for u & yr sense of judgment, I wouldn’t trust it as far as I could throw it.
Richard don’t get so upset, you obviously missed the most important msg. which came out of the ofer family, who denied the massage of the anonymous assiciate:
שלמה צנה וחזי שטרנהלט
כמה שעות לפני הדיון בכנסת, אחרי שתיקה ארוכה, משפחת עופר פרסמה הודעה:” אנו מכבדים את הודעת משרד ראש הממשלה, ומשרד הביטחון. אמירות של מקורבים לכאורה למשפחה בפרשה זו, אינן על דעת המשפחה, ובוודאי שאינן מקובלות עלינו, וצר לנו שהובאו כך”.
Several hours before the debate in the Knesset, after a long silence, Ofer family issued a statement: “We respect the statements of the Prime Minister office and the Ministry of Defense. Massages carried by alleged associates of the family in this case, are not the opinion of the family, and certainly not acceptable to us, and we are sorry they brought it” .
as for your wish that i will got to hell, this is not any different that the idiots who wished bad things to your family.
i, even now, do not wish any bad things to you or to them, i am just saying again, that you lack any credibility, we will let the audience be the judge.
So let me get this straight. Channel 2 goes to Ofer Brothers & asks for its response to my story & the company says: “No comment,” which essentially confirms it. Then Haaretz (I think) runs a story with a statement from “a source close to the family” which confirms my rpt. Then Bibiton runs a more official statement saying what? That my rpt is wrong? No. The more official statement doesn’t even deny the validity of the earlier statement, but rather says: “Gee, they didn’t have our approval to say that & we wish they hadn’t.”
A sick person said he would sodomize my daughter & you say my telling you to go to Hell is “not any different??” I guess we have diff. standards.
As for my credibility, I’ll compare it favorably to yours any day of the wk. And yes, we’ll let my audience, which keeps growing, be the judge.
Since you’re a good Hebrew reader, be sure to read the profile of my blog that will be published in Yediot Sunday (I think). I guess they agree with you that I lack credibility too.
Wow, a all profile, in Yediot non the less, what an great achievement. Rivchi Rintisi is a guest of honor in Gali Zahal, which shows you that even the worst of Israel’s enemies gets a free speech ride, if they do, surely a Jewish guy from Seattle can, regardless of his agenda.
as for your hell wishes, i doubt that someone email you saying he will sodomize your little girl ( i am sorry if they actually did)
could you please forward the email ? you published here emails of folks who did much less then that. also i am sure you filed a complaint with the FBI, can you please provide a reference to that ?
and yes Hell wishes are not as disgusting as that, but you get second base, if that’s comfort you.
as for what the ofer family stated, go learn hebrew.
You’re getting on my nerves. And you’re moderated & if you continue confusing snark for wit you’ll lose even more comment privileges.
You’ve just compared me to the worst of Israel’s enemies. A major comment rule violation. You read the rules, carefully. Your next violation might be your last.
That’s it. YOu’re done. I don’t lie about things like that. And I find this comment of yours DEEPLY offensive. The offense was bad enough reading the threatening message. Your comment almost as bad. And you needn’t have said you’re sorry if it is true. I’m sorry to say, it is. And you’re a low form of humanity to believe I’d make something like that up.
You’re insane. You have no idea how nuts this comment is.
Blame your translation. Maybe you should tell yrself to learn Hebrew. I based what I wrote on your translation.
I am open to reinstating you. But only after you read the comment rules & agree to respect them (& that includes toning down the snark & not implying my views are anti Israel). If that is something you’re willing to do write to me through the Contact button & I will reinstate you.
Sami Ofer, was found dead this morning in his Home in Tel-Aviv.