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Did Israelis play the ‘Atlantic’ and Goldberg like a pawnshop fiddle?

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I’m late: Haaretz ran this exclusive from Wikileaks two days back. The story says that Israeli officials ruled out an attack on Iranian nuclear sites back in 2005 and 2006.

In the first telegram, sent on December 2, 2005, American diplomats said their conversations with Israeli officials indicate that there is no chance of a military attack being carried out on Iran. A more detailed telegram was sent in January 2006, summing up a meeting between U.S. Congressman Gary Ackerman (a Democrat for New York ) and Dr. Ariel Levite, then deputy chief of Israel’s Atomic Energy Commission. Bushehr nuclear power plant in Iran AP August 21, 2010.

“Levite said that most Israeli officials do not believe a military solution is possible,” the telegram ran.

Recall that Jeffrey Goldberg ran a huge piece in the Atlantic last fall called Point of No Return, saying that Israel was committed to taking out the Iranian program if the United States didn’t act, so golly gee, we had better act. The piece was based on a lot of sober grim statements from Israeli officials, some of them citing the Holocaust. The Haaretz piece completely undercuts Goldberg. As Lara Friedman of Peace Now tweeted, “Haaretz WikiLeaks exclusive: Israel ruled out military option on Iran years ago (so what about that Goldberg spin?)” Goldberg has now gotten quite exercised about this, here. Friedman follows here.  When Friedman’s done with Goldberg, he’s just a pile of feathers. Horse feathers.

Notice Goldberg’s ratcheting defensiveness. This is a big moment for him. His editors at the Atlantic have to be wondering whether the former Israeli corporal has played them, or been played by the Israelis. Isn’t this exactly what happened the last time around, when Goldberg put alarmist information in the New Yorker about “weapons of mass destruction” entering Iraq thru Kurdish areas. It turned out to be wrong, but the story had oomph– it helped get us into the Iraq war.

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