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    • CommentAuthorRon Edwards
    • CommentTimeJan 16th 2009 edited

    In his 2003 book Dishonest Broker: The U.S. Role in Israel and Palestine, Naseer H. Aruri (prof of political science, U Massachusetts) traces how alleged U.S. neutral arbiting has again and again effectively operated as a referee in the hard-line Israeli corner from the earliest days of the "peace process," beginning in the 1970s. He presents the breakdown of the 2000 Camp David negotiations as a kind of pinnacle of using the "peace process" as a strategy to further settlement policy and increasingly, continuously marginalizing Palestinian interests.

    Interviews with Washington aides who'd been present had supported this claim for a while, most famously Robert Malley, reported by him and Hussein Agha in a 2002 article in the Guardian, Why Barak is wrong.

    A few years ago, there was an article in The Economist (I know I saved it; I will provide the reference soon) discussing a concerted effort during 2002, using Mossad, to demonize Yassir Arafat following the negotiations among Arafat, Barak, and Clinton. The article described how the common narrative encountered in the U.S., that Arafat had rejected massive and generous overtures of peace and concession, was - well, no way to put it nicely - not only spin, but a forthright lie, effectively a blanket psyop over the Israeli, European, and American media.

    A new report from one of Israel's most distinguished journalists, Akiva Eldar, nails the issue down for good, I think. For the introductory/summary piece, see Does Israeli intelligence lie? (Foreign Policy in Focus); for the story this references, see Military Intelligence: Never expected Hamas victory in 2006 (al-Ha'aretz). It also goes into detail regarding the same issue in 2004. Eldar draws upon the retired MI officer Ephraim Lavie extensively, but the article is also heavily referenced and validated. Basically, the FPIF title is rhetorical: yes, Aman did lie, and in a particular way: it created a paper trail of analysis to cover its own ass for the future (information: Arafat had no intention of turning to violence and sought a solution), and reported to the administration exactly what it wanted to hear (Arafat the dastard was angling for an opportunity to strike).

    It's interesting how something like this can create understanding about all kinds of details.

    1. A couple of years ago, I read a book called Song of Spies by Mayn Katz, a novel (a) allegedly by a U.S. citizen, almost certainly using a pen name,* (b) sporting a crude and unidentifiable drawing instead of a photo on the back, and (c) claims (boasts really) that the author has been an asset for Israeli intelligence, even operations, in the U.S. The book heroizes the MI apparatus of the early 2000's and basically recounts the whole Barak claim (Yasser Arafat, foe of peace, "but what can one do with such people?") in a style very similar to Tom Clancy's. It pulls in a lot of stuff about Jonathan Pollard and includes all kinds of other fun details that intelligence-thriller readers enjoy, with the strong implication that the author had the real scoop through his super-secret contacts. It's hard for me not to conclude that this is basically another angle of the psyop.

    2. Ehud Barak was actually the Director of Aman, 1983-1985. Unsurprisingly, the record is a little cagey regarding whether he was an MI officer prior to that appointment.

    3. I am frustratedly trying to recall the extensive reference I found a while ago, discussing criticisms of a specific Aman director's policy-first methods and recommendations - when I remember and find it, I'll post it here. The point was that he was determined to treat the occupied territories as a military foe and possibly attack them pre-emptively, and his organization's "intelligence" always urged such policy. The reference was quite technical regarding the poor analysis practices involved, characterizing it as bush-league.

    Moshe Ya'alon was a career military officer and later head of Aman in the 1990s, whose views match with my description above, and who often clashed with the prime minister of the time, Shimon Peres. As with many high-level Israeli policy disagreements, people get shifted around to roughly equivalent posts; he became head of the military concerning the West Bank. After Sharon's election to prime minister, Ya'alon became Chief of Staff. (Here is Ya'alon's famous interview in al-Ha'aretz: The enemy within, and Part 2. Amos Malka was the Aman director during the Camp David negotiations period and Aharon Ze'evi-Farkash was director during the political rise of Hamas in 2004-2006. I need to review their careers and recover the references I mentioned above, but I know the picture is now clear.

    Overall, I'm still sorting it out, not the least because the details involved weren't my primary focus when reading the sources I'm recalling. Song of Spies is written as a "how it really happened" with some fake names taped over the real ones, so I should re-visit that too.

    Best, Ron

    * Meyer Myron Katz was a famous Jewish-American comedian who died in 1985; see Encyclopedia of Cleveland.

    P.S. Fun fact: you knew Tzipi Livni was a Mossad officer as a young woman, didn't you?

    edited to clarify a confusing link

    • CommentAuthorRon Edwards
    • CommentTimeFeb 10th 2009 edited

    Yeesh, that was harder to find than it should have been.

    Anyway, the Economist article is "A spymaster's story," a review of Efraim Halevy's Man in the Shadows, from the April 1st issue, 2006 (nb the author's name is an alternate spelling of Ephraim Lavie; same guy). To my knowledge, this book presented the first claim (or revelation) that Mossad had swung into action to demonize Arafat and shift blame for the 2000 Camp David failure to him. I own it now, but discovered the point in this article. I use it as the main reference because I figure more people saw it here than read the book.

    Still hunting the other reference.

    Best, Ron
    edited to clarify the name spellings


    Ha, found the rest of it! With only a few brain cells smeared about along the way.

    Not that anyone should forget about Ya'alon and the other guys I mentioned, but the person I was thinking about was Amos Gilad. The main two references were in Scott Ritter's recent book Target Iran, which you can preview free and on-line here (Ritter is that rare animal, a true expert on WMDs both technically and politically); and an article from al-Ha'aretz by Akiva Eldar, an extremely senior and respected Israeli journalist, Amos Gilad hunts politicians and rides them to the top. I consider both writers to be among the heaviest of reliable hitters for topics of this kind.

    The upshot is this: Gilad is the very worst thing any intelligence apparatus can feature, an enemy-fixated patriot who operates comfortably in the unspoken, fully common ground shared by all political leaders and administrative authorities regardless of their parties and platforms. Such a person can drive policy forward regardless of all democratic mechanisms, regardless of all laws or oversight, and regardless of the ostensible authorities over him in the executive. He's like a dysfunctional high-middle level manager: totally socked into "how things are done around here," accepted by those above as the man in the know, and accepted by those below as representing those above.

    Some other references include Jonathan Cook's Amos Gilad "running Israel" and Kawther Salam's Leaders of the Starvation War: Gilad and Tzadaka. Also, this brief summary from the Jerusalem Center of Public Affairs: Maj.-Gen. (res.) Amos Gilad is Director of Policy and Political-Military Affairs at the Israel Ministry of Defense. Gen. Gilad has also served as the Defense Ministry's Coordinator for the Administered Territories, Director of the Research Division of the IDF's Intelligence Branch, and as the IDF Spokesman.

    Some minor points: (1) don't mix him up with Gilad Shalit, the IDF soldier whose captivity in Gaza is soon approaching 1000 days (the name-similarity is very confusing when skimming and screws up web searches something fierce); and (2) a recent squabble between Gilad (this post's Gilad) and Ehud Olmert is burning up the news-pages, but given the current mosh-pit of the post-election coalition negotiations, I can't make head nor tail of its meaning, nor I suspect can anyone else. I mean, apart from the obvious, which is Gilad publicly announcing to Lieberman and Netanyahu that he's "not with this guy."

    Best, Ron