Is Israel Really Spying on the US?

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Today’s Top Stories

1. Newsweek followed up on last week’s controversial article about alleged Israeli spying on the US. The main buzz: Israel tried to spy on Al Gore’s bathroom. One of Newsweek’s sources, retired CIA officer Paul Pillar — according to Algemeiner — supports BDS. As for the other sources, reporter Jeff Stein relies on anonymous congressional aides. Ex-Mossad boss Danny Yatom called the report delusional.

Slinging mud and smearing allies is easy when reporters like Stein naively give these unidentified aides a soapbox and a cover of anonymity, abusing the use of anonymous sources. While Dan Margalit notes that the US will have to come up with a better reason to exclude Israel from the Visa Waiver club, Ron Ben-Yishai says the US intelligence community is riven with ignorance, vindictiveness, and anti-Semitism. He suggests that Stein’s sources had three possible motives for pushing the story:

  1. Sinking an early release for Jonathan Pollard.
  2. Blocking Israel from the US Visa Waiver club.
  3. Anger at being embarrassed by Israeli intelligence on Iran and Syria.

anonymous sources

2. The blame game over the collapsed peace talks continues. Martin Indyk offered his own take in his first address since negotiations unravelled. As you’ll see in the State Department’s full transcript, Indyk puts a lot of blame on Israeli settlements. But trying to maintain a sense of impartiality and credibility for future talks, American officials told Jeffrey Goldberg they also blame the Palestinians. Israeli officials fired back at Indyk, as Reuters describes:

But a senior Israeli official familiar with the talks accused Indyk of hypocrisy, saying he had known construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem would continue during the discussions . . .

The Israeli official said Indyk had been informed of the construction plans, down to the number of homes.

“Furthermore, he knew that it was on this basis that Israel agreed to enter the talks,” the Israeli official said. “So it’s not clear why now that should be criticized.”

For more post-mortems, see Aaron David Miller (what really killed the talks), Guy Bechor (American negotiators are out of touch with reality), and Michael Wilner (Indyk’s reality check).

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3. It’s official: The discredited Richard Falk will be replaced by his controversial wife for 6-year term as the UN’s special rapporteur for human rights in the Palestinian territories. Pure nepotism.

In her application form, Elver gave self-disqualifying answers, stating that she was in violation of the council’s conflict-of-interest prohibition. Her responses are replete with spelling mistakes and non-sequiturs.

4. Amnesty Researcher Admits That Palestinian “Eyewitnesses” Often Lie: Human rights investigator explains how Palestinian disinformation shapes public perception.

Blankfeld Award

Israel and the Palestinians

• Complaints of torture and other human rights abuses by the PA rose 50 percent. The LA Times picked up on an annual report by the Ramallah-based  Independent Commission for Human Rights (ICHR).

Father Gabriel Naddaf, an Israeli-Arab priest who supported Christian integration into Israel and the IDF, was sacked by the Greek Orthodox church. AFP reports:

“We warned him before to keep to his priestly duties and not to interfere in matters of the army,” Musleh said . . .

Nadaf told AFP he had received no official notification of his sacking and dismissed as media speculation reports that he had been fired.

The Greek Orthodox church is spinning itself as apolitical? I don’t buy it.

 Falasteen, a Hamas-affiliated newspaper, resumed distribution in the West Bank for the first time since 2007.

For more commentary/analysis, see Mort Zuckerman (Palestinian rejectionism has been exposed) and Michael Curtis (no apartheid in Israel, but plenty among Arabs).

Rest O’ the Roundup

Dr. Kamal Labwani

Dr. Kamal Labwani

A Syrian dissident continues calling for a rebel alliance with Israel. Dr. Kamal Labwani writes in the The Daily Beast:

Once, Israel was blamed for everything. But Israel is not our enemy anymore. We see how Israel opened its doors to our injured. We see how Syrian children are treated in Assad’s prisons and how they are treated in Israeli hospitals. Israel gave food while Assad starved his own people. Syria has only one enemy now: the Assad regime backed by Iran and Hezbollah. I meet with Syrian dissidents and military leaders daily and have seen how, after decades of brainwashing, their mentality has begun to change.

It is naive to believe that diplomacy can stop a regime that dismembers children in cold blood and uses chemical weapons against innocent civilians. We must first realize that Assad will not leave unless pushed away. Israel, which has felt the brunt of Assad’s recklessness through his support for terrorist groups like Hamas and Hezbollah, would be a natural ally.

Turkish foreign minister: Ankara and Jerusalem have “overcome substantial problems.”

A Virginia sheriff who visited Israel with a delegation of American cops gushed about his experiences with the Hampton Roads Daily Press.

 Der Spiegel updates the latest evidence of Syria illegally using chlorine gas as a weapon.

Irwin Cotler wonders, Will the world ignore Iran’s execution binge? We’re talking about 250 executions in the first four months of 2014, plus 10 more in the first five days of May.

(Image of anonymous source: CC BY flickr/Julian Carvajal, Labwani via YouTube/MTV Lebanon News)

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