The Israel Lobby and GOP have made a huge geschrei about Iran sanctions. They’re the magic bullet that purportedly brought Iran to its knees. They advocate tightening the noose ever further. If only we took the sanctions regime to the end, Iran would completely acquiesce to western demands concerning its nuclear program. Or so the argument goes.
The U.S. screams bloody murder when it catches a foreign company violating the sanctions regime. U.S. media made sure to note that Pres. Obama lectured Francois Hollande when he was here about a French trade delegation that recently visited Iran.
How curious then, that Israel itself would be found to be in violation of U.S. sanctions law. Not once, not twice, but tens of times over the years. But did we hear about this latest incident from the NY Times or Washington Post? Did the administration hold a press conference to announce the Israeli violation as they would if it were a Pakistani, North Korean or Chinese company? Are you kidding. We had to learn about it in the pages of an obscure Greek media outlet, which reported that an Israeli arms dealer sent spare parts for Iranian F-4 Phantom jets to Iran via Greece.
A U.S. Homeland Security investigation cooperated with Greek officials to foil the transaction:
…The operation was carried out in two phases – one in December 2012 and the second in April 2013…Officials traced containers packed with the F-4 parts on Greek territory. The cargo had been sent by courier from the Israeli town of Binyamina-Giv’at Ada and had been destined for Iran, which has a large fleet of F-4 aircraft, via a Greek company registered under the name Tassos Karras SA in Votanikos, near central Athens. SDOE officials established that the firm was a ghost company…
According to HSI memos, the cargo appears to have been sent by arms dealers based in Israel, seeking to supply Iran in contravention of an arms embargo, and using Greece as a transit nation.
The location of the Israeli company gave away the identity of the arms dealer to my Israeli source. This serial violator of the Iranian arms embargo is a devout Jew, Avichai Weinstein, whose companies QPS and PAD, have had numerous brushes with the law, both Israeli and U.S. I am the first media source revealing Weinstein’s involvement in this affair.
In 2003, Weinstein and his brother-in-law Eli Cohen were accused of procuring parts for Iranian F-4 jets and Hawk missiles using a U.S. Jewish arms dealer, Leib Kohn. In that case, the weapons systems were to be exported from the U.S. to Israel. There was no word on how Weinstein intended to get them to Iran, though it likely would’ve been through a third-party.
Yossi Melman reported here that the pair were also suspected of trying to ship armored personnel carriers to Iran in 2002. He noted in his article that this was the third time they were suspected of shipping illegal arms to Iran in the past decade.
In none of these cases were they even charged with a crime, let alone prosecuted. There can be no doubt that they are colluding with Israeli intelligence. Channel 2’s military reporter, who didn’t reveal Weinstein’s identity, said:
…Whoever did this, did not do so in opposition to Israeli interests.
How might such a scenario play out? For example, it’s known Iran was deliberately sold defective centrifuges which caused damage and delays to Iran’s nuclear program. Was Weinstein involved? Further, Israel needs to supply its MEK allies inside Iran with munitions and communications equipment for its sabotage campaign against that country’s nuclear and missile program. Was Weinstein involved? Israel is reported to be supplying Syrian rebels in the Golan with weapons in their fight against the Assad regime. They might want to do this via a third-party to conceal official involvement.
These are all speculative questions meant to suggest the type of shady dealings and relationships that might prove useful to Israel’s military-intelligence apparatus. They might explain how such dirty arms dealers could keep themselves out of prison despite supplying weapons to a sworn Israeli enemy.
If this was the only Israeli weapons dealer who’d done this, you could chalk it up to a single rotten apple. But there have been many other knowing and unknowing violations by Israeli arms merchants and defense contractors. Only a few months ago, the U.S. summoned the Israeli defense ministry official charged with monitoring arms exports for a dressing down. He’d approved the export of sophisticated cooling systems that can be used in Iranian nuclear facilities. The U.S. suspected that the equipment, which originated from the Israeli affiliate of Ricor, traveled via several European countries, then to China, and then to Iran.
Concerning the latest Weinstein arms deal, it was far more straight-forward. The F-4 parts went directly from Israel to Greece and from there were to go directly to Iran. One wonders whether the U.S. plans to take any action in this case. Clearly, Israel will not since this is at least the fourth time this pair have tried to sell weapons to Iran. You have to ask yourself: if Weinstein has been willing to sell arms to Iran which might be used to kill Israeli soldiers in a possible war, why wouldn’t Israel throw the book at them?
That brings us into the sordid underbelly of the Israeli defense industry in which billions are exchanged in bribes, in which brutal dictators are sold weapons systems used to maintain their blood-soaked rule, in which the shadiest of former Israeli intelligence agents and generals do favors for their former colleagues to advance Israeli intelligence interests. In fact, I have little doubt that even in this incident, Israeli intelligence would prefer us to believe that Weinstein was serving the interests of his country. How could anyone justify this swine unless he was doing you dirty favors? The question is what is he doing for them and where?
Israel of course has a long history of supplying Iran with weapons, going back to the era of the Shah. Even after he was toppled, Israel sold the Islamic Republic spare parts for U.S.-made planes when we imposed an arms embargo on the new Islamist regime. Infamously, Israel shipped U.S. missiles to Iran in return for freeing the Lebanese hostages. Israeli arms dealers don’t care about international arms embargos when there’s a profit to be made–even if the target country is Israel’s arch-enemy.
I also reported that Israeli oil companies were transshiping oil to Iran. The U.S. also penalized the Ofer shipping conglomerate for selling its tankers to Iran. In fact, Ofer had carried Israeli secret agents to Iran on some of these ships.
All this is incredibly ironic in light of Bibi’s shameful performance before the Conference of Presidents today in which he thundered that the west must not give an inch in Iran negotiations; and that the only path is relentless pressure, punishment and ostracism. How does Israel’s leader get off telling the world to up the pressure when he refuses to prosecute a citizen who’s attempted multiple times to violate precisely the same sanctions regime? His motto must be: do as I say, not as I do.