Is Israel really a U.S. ally?
The answer is most definitely no.
I would like to go a bit beyond the comments that both of my colleagues have made and suggest not only that Israel is no ally, but also that it is not actually a friend, because it does actual damage to the United States through using its considerable access to Congress and the media to promote policies that are neither good for the United States nor for Israel. I’m sure you’ve all heard the expression that a friend does not let a friend drive drunk. Well, the United States has been driving drunk for quite some time, and that dangerous behavior has to some extent been caused by Israel and its many supporters in Washington.
Israel might or might not have been an actual enabler of the disastrous American invasion of Iraq but it is undeniably true that the American officials extremely close to the Israeli government were behind the rush to war and the forgery of phony intelligence that fed the process. If the Washington goes to war with Iran in the near future it will not be because Tehran actually threatens America, it will be because Israel and its powerful lobby in the U.S. have succeeded in creating an essentially false casus belli to mandate such action.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who once commented that 9/11 was good for Israel, has repeatedly sought to commit our government to draw red lines that would narrow options for the White House and de facto require it to take action with the military against Iran. Congress is meanwhile advancing legislation that would commit the United States to intervene militarily in support of a unilateral Israeli attack, meaning that Israel could easily be empowered to make the decision on whether or not the US goes to war.
Nothing relating to Israel is quite like the US interaction with other countries. Delinda and Janet have outlined the dollar costs and special financing arrangements that go to support Israel, measures that are not in place for any other nation. Congress also approved on Wednesday as part of the United States Israel Strategic Partnership Act by a vote of 410-1 an Israeli exemption from the reciprocity mandated by the so-called visa waiver program. Israelis will be able to travel freely to the United States while their government will be allowed to refuse entry to American citizens.This is a privilege that is granted to no other country. One congressman has recently even introduced a bill to cut off federal funding for any academic organization that engages in boycotting Israel. Boycotting other countries is okay.
Israel interferes in American elections, most recently on behalf of Mitt Romney, it has corrupted our congress, its head of government publicly rebukes our own head of state, [its] government ministers insult and ridicule John Kerry, and its intelligence officers actually provide alarmist and inaccurate private briefings for American Senators on Capitol Hill. I also would not doubt, that accustomed to behaving with impunity toward its alleged friend and patron in Washington, might manufacture a pretext to draw the U.S. into a new conflict. Something reminiscent of the Lavon Affair in Alexandria Egypt in 1954 or the false flag attack on the USS Liberty in 1967. Israel currently strongly supports using force to intervene in Syria, a proposition that is opposed overwhelmingly by the American public. In short, Israel has no reluctance to use its enormous political and media clout in the US to pressure successive administrations to conform to its own foreign and security policy views.
One other very good reason why Israel should not receive billions of dollars in military assistance annually is its persistent espionage against the United States. Grant Smith has described how friends of Israel stole enriched uranium from a Pennsylvania refinery to create a nuclear arsenal. More recently we have learned how Arnon Milchan, a Hollywood producer born in Israel, arranged for the illegal purchase of 800 nuclear triggers. Milchan picked an Oscar last Sunday without any interference from the FBI.
The existence of a large scale Israeli spying effort at the time of 9/11 has been widely reported, incorporating Israeli companies in New Jersey and Florida as well as hundreds of “art students” nationwide. Five Israelis from one of the companies were observed celebrating against the backdrop of the twin towers going down.
While it is often observed that everyone spies on everyone else, particularly true when one is referring to our own NSA, espionage is a high-risk business that most countries are extremely careful when spying on friends for fear of blowback. Israel, which relies on Washington for billions of dollars in aid and also for political cover in international fora like the United Nations, does not spy discreetly, largely because it knows that few in Washington will seek to hold it to account. There were, for example, no consequences for the Israelis when Israeli Mossad intelligence officers using [US] passports and pretending to be Americans recruited terrorists to carry out attacks inside Iran, as noted by Mark Perry this morning. Israelis using US passports in that fashion put every American traveler at risk.
Admitted Israeli Spy Milchan does not hide; Instead he ‘Shows Up for Oscars’ and Wins.
Israel, where government and business work hand in hand, has obtained significant advantage by systematically stealing American technology with both military and civilian applications. The US developed technology is then reverse engineered and used by the Israelis to support their own exports. Sometimes, when the technology is military in nature and winds up in the hands of an adversary, the consequences can be serious. Israel has sold advanced weapons systems to China that are believed to incorporate technology developed by American companies, including the Python-3 air-to-air missile and the Delilah cruise missile. There is evidence that Israel has also stolen Patriot missile avionics to incorporate into its own Arrow system and that it used US technology obtained in its Lavi fighter development program, which was funded by the US taxpayers to help the Chinese develop their own J-10 [fighter].
The reality of Israeli spying is indisputable. I might cite the names of Jonathan Pollard, Ben-Ami Kadish, Stuart Nozette and Larry Franklin as spies for Israel who have been caught, but they are only the tip of the iceberg. Israel always features prominently in the annual FBI report called “Foreign Economic Collection and Industrial Espionage.” The 2005 report states “Israel has an active program to gather proprietary information within the United States. These collection activities are primarily directed at obtaining information on military systems and advanced computing applications that can be used in Israel’s sizable armaments industry.” It adds that Israel recruits spies, uses electronic methods, and carries out computer intrusion to gain the information.
A 1996 Defense Investigative Service report noted that Israel has great success stealing technology by exploiting the numerous co-production projects that it has with the Pentagon. It says “Placing Israeli nationals in key industries …is a technique utilized with great success.” A General Accounting Office (GAO) examination of espionage directed against American defense and security industries described how Israeli citizens residing in the US had stolen sensitive technology to manufacture artillery gun tubes, obtained classified plans for reconnaissance systems, and passed sensitive aerospace designs to unauthorized users.
The GAO has concluded that Israel “conducts the most aggressive espionage operation against the United States of any US ally.” In June 2006, a Pentagon administrative judge overruled an appeal by an Israeli who had been denied a security clearance—if you can imagine that, an Israeli with a security clearance at the Pentagon, but any way, they overruled it what he appealed it —and said
“The Israeli government is actively engaged in military and industrial espionage in the United States. An Israeli citizen working in the US who has access to proprietary information is likely to be a target of such espionage.”
More recently, FBI counter intelligence officer John Cole has reported how many cases of Israeli espionage are dropped under orders from the Justice Department. He provides a “conservative estimate” of 125 viable investigations into Israeli espionage involving both American citizens and Israelis that were stopped due to political pressure.
So the answer to the question of “is Israel an ally of the United States” is most definitely no. Is it even a friend? Well, I suppose there are all kinds of friends in the world, but if you judge Israel by its record on how it interacts with the American government and people I think the answer would also have to be no.
Philip Giraldi is a former counter-terrorism specialist and military intelligence officer of the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Giraldi is a recognized authority on international security and counterterrorism issues. He is a regular contributor to Antiwar.com in a column titled “Smoke and Mirrors” and is a Contributing Editor who writes a column called “Deep Background” on terrorism, intelligence, and security issues for The American Conservative magazine. He has written op-ed pieces for the Hearst Newspaper chain, has appeared on Good Morning America, MSNBC, National Public Radio, and local affiliates of ABC television. He has been a keynote speaker at the Petroleum Industry Security Council annual meeting, has spoken twice at the American Conservative Union’s annual CPAC convention in Washington, and has addressed several World Affairs Council affiliates. He has been interviewed by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the British Broadcasting Corporation, Britain’s Independent Television Network, FOX News, Polish National Television, Croatian National Television, al-Jazeera, al-Arabiya, 60 Minutes, and Court TV. He prepares and edits a nationally syndicated subscription service newsletter on September 11th issues for corporate clients.
Giraldi is the Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest, a group that advocates for more even handed policies by the U.S. government in the Middle East.
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He is a former DIA and CIA counter-terrorism specialist and military intelligence officer who served eighteen years overseas in Turkey, Italy, Germany, and Spain. He was Chief of Base in Barcelona from 1989 to 1992 designated as the Agency’s senior officer for Olympic Games support.
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