Wednesday, January 13, 2016

It’s Dangerous to be the Israeli Prime Minister - Amnon Lord

by Amnon Lord

Translated from Hebrew by Sally Zahav

The Obama administration spied obsessively on Netanyahu not only to know about his discussions with members of Congress or Israel’s plans to attack Iran. It was a concerted effort to overturn Netanyahu’s rule in Israel.

Recently, the Washington Post made the accusation that Israeli democracy is in danger. This was the title of its editorial article. One could say with a fair amount of confidence that the article expresses Obama’s opinion of Israel. He actually said this immediately following the most recent elections here [in Israel], which were a great surprise and disappointment for him. He claimed that Netanyahu’s call to the voters of the Right to go to the polls because the Arabs were being bused in and swarming to the polls was a blow to democracy.

But now we know that the greatest threat to Israeli democracy comes from the American administration and its intelligence agents. This sensational revelation was exposed in the Wall Street Journal’s research article of a week and a half ago, which did not get very much attention in Israel. Following that, a few more astounding revelations were revealed in an interview that Ronen Bergman conducted with a senior figure from the American intelligence community who agreed to have his words published under a false name. In the Journal, as well as in Bergman’s article in Yediot Aharonot, it was revealed that the Americans invested unprecedented efforts in spying against Prime Minister Netanyahu. It is hard to believe that they invest as much of an effort to spy on and track the leader of Da’esh, Abu-Bakr Baghdadi. Certainly not any potential suspect of terrorism within the United States. 

These  spying operations directed toward Netanyahu have crossed red lines. Clearly, the Americans have collected information on Israeli systems in the past as well, in any way they could. But in recent years they have been trying to penetrate Israel’s most classified communications systems, and at the highest levels. “This is how you behave toward your enemies”, the American intelligence figure said. He wanted to clarify that “the situation today (regarding relations between the two countries) is much worse than in the past”, and to warn against the disastrous results of tension in the relations between the leaders. “Obama hates Netanyahu, and this influences the entire system”, he said, painfully.

It seems that following Snowden’s revelations about the dimensions of the spying that was done on leaders of allied countries, Obama issued instructions to stop spying on friendly leaders, “but he instructed to continue, and even more intensively, to spy on several leaders, especially Netanyahu. We all understood what this meant: Obama does not see Netanyahu as a friendly leader”. The Americans invest tremendous efforts in spying on the prime minister, “much more than against any other Israeli leader in the past”.

The worst part: according to Bergman and his interlocutor, Intelligence got instructions from the commander – from Obama – to view Netanyahu’s aggressive steps (against the nuclear agreement) as a threat to the essential interests of the United States, and to act accordingly”. Israeli leaders such as Yair Lapid and Buji Herzog, as well as former senior figures in the [Israeli] security apparatus, expressed the same view when they claimed that Netanyahu was endangering the Israeli-US relationship. Now it is clear that they were coordinating with the American regime, and that their declarations were meant to sow fear within the Israeli public and stop Netanyahu [Emphasis added].

This concentrated effort was made not only to know what Netanyahu was saying to members of Congress, and not just about potential plans to attack nuclear installations in Iran. An effort such as this  is made when your goal is to bring about a regime change against Salvador Allende. Since in Israel there is no option to move tank battalions to Jerusalem, the efforts are aimed toward activating public systems that will bring about the fall of the government. In Eli Klotshtein’s article in the Musaf section, Diokan, on Hillary Clinton’s private email, there is information hinting about how the Americans might deal with the Israeli media and the link between the government and radical leftist organizations, which are considered to be capable of destabilizing Israel. 

The United States, as an imperialist superpower, even in the current era of Obama’s retreat, is not willing to have its allies and countries within its sphere of influence fight for their independence as regional superpowers. Israel, in the Netanyahu era, is a country that seeks to reinforce its independence as a Jewish state, maintaining its identity and its culture. It continually projects the resolve to deal with its security independently, and not to depend on American patronage or protection.

The War of Independence

And then there is a superpower like Russia, which also demonstrates its capability in the area. Surprisingly, Israel shares a common language with Russia under Putin’s leadership; and these understandings relate to the school of Andrew Gromyko of many years ago. This view sees the Jewish state as a power that can partially check Anglo-American imperialism. Ironically, now, as a result] of America’s hostile acts, Israel has managed to find a friendly partner in Moscow. In contrast to the Americans, the Russians have an interest in a strong and independent Israel. This was not so in the past.

The vision of the Middle East with the waning American influence, is perhaps not wonderful, but it is more dangerous to be dependent on the Americans if they themselves are not willing to invest in what, in the past, was considered to be their national interest. So because of her insistence on her position as a regional superpower, Israel now becomes an agent that is pushing the United States out. This is the truth, which very much angers the Obama administration. It is also very dangerous to be the prime minister of Israel in this situation.

In the past year, several respected columnists have noted that there is a growing gap in foundational values between the United States and Israel, a gap that might even cause a tear in Israel’s relationship with American Jewry as well. But this gap does not stem from the deterioration of values in Israel. The source of this gap is that Israel continues to cling to national values, and has a feisty society that seeks to defend the country’s foundational values and its Zionism.

The United States under Obama, like the countries of Western Europe, is in decline. The events of the past year create a worrying picture of the Western world that is not capable of defending its values and its free societies, and providing them with physical security against Islamic jihadist attacks. Israel is different from Western countries in that she insists on fighting back against jihad in all of its forms, and also against those within Israeli society who indirectly collaborate with jihad. 

Actually, it is the United States that has turned its back on its founding values, as someone who used to be an American security person wrote to me: “The founding fathers of America shaped the United States on the basis of the biblical principles of Mount Sinai. Meaning that America and Israel were founded on the same basic principles. But the American government-establishment apparently thinks that these principles are obsolete and that they belong to the white man – read: middle-aged, white men – who are, of course, the most despicable creatures on the face of the earth. If America still believes in those principles, then it would not be logical for the government to trust Iran more than Israel, which is the reality that becomes apparent from these articles. Does the message also include that actually that American Jews are not full citizens? That they cannot be trusted?”

The American government is now investing in trying to improve the image of the Israeli Arabs’ new leadership headed by Ayman Odeh, along with organizations that supposedly work for human rights. This is an ideological battle to de-legitimize the State of Israel as a majority of its citizens want it to be. After all, the government of Israel was elected democratically. A concentrated American intelligence effort against the prime minister, even if it does not entail bloodshed, is of course, not one of the legitimate tools of Israeli democracy. And not American democracy either. 

Amnon Lord

Source: Makor Rishon Newspaper, Yoman Section, Issue 961, 8.1.2016

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

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