News of Israel’s claim to have intercepted an Iranian arms shipment near Sudan allegedly headed to Gaza last Wednesday has been all over the media: mainstream media coverage in the US included the Washington Post, NYT, NPR, CNN, Fox. You name it, they reported it.
Iran flatly denied the charge. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif immediately countered that Israel was lying.
An Iranian ship carrying arms for Gaza. Captured just in time for annual AIPAC anti Iran campaign. Amazing Coincidence! Or same failed lies.
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) March 6, 2014
Well…. coincidentally, there was another big arms interception story that broke two weeks before that the U.S. media somehow managed to miss. It involved Israeli arms shipments headed to Iran seized by authorities in Greece and violating the arms embargo and sanctions on Iran. US Homeland Security is reportedly investigating.
Kind of a startling coincidence, don’t you think? On February 19, the UK’s Telegraph reported it: US investigates illegal military equipment shipments from Israel to Iran:
Israeli arms dealers twice tried to send spare parts for fighter planes to Iran, The Telegraph has established, flouting an international arms embargo and openly contradicting the bitter enmity between the Jewish state and the Islamic regime.
The illegal shipments are now being investigated by the US Homeland Security Department after they were intercepted by authorities in Greece.
The potentially explosive revelation came as six world powers resumed negotiations with Iran in Vienna aimed at reaching a long-term agreement over Tehran’s nuclear programme.
Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, marked the event with a renewed call for increased pressure on Iran to force it to abandon a programme that Israel regards as a front for building an atomic bomb and a threat to its existence.
Visiting the Golan Heights on Tuesday, he accused Iran of “arming those who are carrying out the slaughter……I would like to tell the world, today, as the talks between the major powers and Iran are being resumed, that Iran has changed neither its aggressive policy nor its brutal character…..” Mr Netanyahu said.
A blogger, Richard Silverstein pointed the finger at two possible culprits who he said were well-known arms dealers living in Binyamina-Givat Ada. The pair had come to the attention of Israeli and US authorities on suspicion of violating the arms embargo on Iran in the past, Silverstein wrote, but had never been charged or prosecuted. “There can be no doubt that they are colluding with Israeli intelligence,” he added.
Initially, the Times of Israel reported Israeli government officials were “silent” and speculated a military censorship may have been imposed and, if true, this represented “the shocking effort by Israelis to supply arms to the country’s most bitter enemy.” The Times also reported that Israel’s television news broadcasts featured the story prominently.
But Richard Silverstein had already picked up the story, when the arms seizures were first revealed by Kathimerini, a Greek newspaper. Recognizing the location as being the home of “Serial Israeli Sanctions-Buster[s],” Silverstein’s report essentially ended the silence from the Israel’s officials.
The U.S. screams bloody murder when it catches a foreign company violating the sanctions regime. U.S. media made sure to note that Pres. Obama lectured Francois Hollande when he was here about a French trade delegation that recently visited Iran.
How curious then, that Israel itself would be found to be in violation of U.S. sanctions law. Not once, not twice, but tens of times over the years. But did we hear about this latest incident from the NY Times or Washington Post?
The US media silence is curious indeed. Especially in light of the fact, that according Kathimerini, the illegal Israeli arms seizures were allegedly the result of an ongoing investigation between US Homeland Security and weapons unit of Greece’s Financial Crimes Squad (SDOE).
US Homeland Security will neither “confirm or deny the existence of an investigation.”
And Netanyahu’s reaction is to saber rattle against Iran?
As FM Zarif surmised, the timing did make for some awesome sound bites at AIPAC. Not not only that, it made it challenging to research this story. Every time I placed Israel, Iran and arms interception in the search engine I got flooded with an opposing narrative. Hmm.
And no, we can’t sort out all the facts from internet searches. But shouldn’t the western press be paying attention to both stories, and the timing thereof?