Both these stories have been around for days, and most of you know about them, but I wanted to make a record of them, and stick them together: Israel reportedly eavesdropped on John Kerry telephone calls during the late-lamented peace process negotiations. Nearly half of Israelis in an online poll wanted to give Obama the Ebola virus for his birthday Aug. 4.
Ebola. Haggai Matar at +972:
Readers of the prominent Israeli news site Mako have overwhelmingly voted in favor of sending President Barack Obama an envelope containing the Ebola virus for his birthday.
The site, which belongs to the Channel 2 company “Keshet” (the most widely watch broadcasting network in Israel) began the survey at noon on Sunday, asking readers what they would like to give the president for his 53rd birthday. The options were as follows (scores in brackets, screenshot below):
A) Peace in the Middle East (22%)
B) Golf clubs (11%)
C) A box set of Israeli television series Prisoners of War (9%)
D) A remix by Noi Alush (local video artist) of Netanyahu’s now-famous “Don’t ever second guess me again” line (10%)
E) An envelope with the Ebola virus (48%)
Bugging. From Spiegel online, August 3:
SPIEGEL has learned from reliable sources that Israeli intelligence eavesdropped on US Secretary of State John Kerry during Middle East peace negotiations. In addition to the Israelis, at least one other intelligence service also listened in as Kerry mediated last year between Israel, the Palestinians and the Arab states, several intelligence service sources told SPIEGEL. Revelations of the eavesdropping could further damage already tense relations between the US government and Israel.
Here’s what Jen Psaki said at the State Department on Monday:
Well, I’m not going to comment on intelligence reports…. a German magazine report on an intelligence report. Just so you are all aware, and I think many of you are, but the Secretary and his senior staff and everyone in the U.S. Government is aware of the threat posed by potential intercepts of publicly available and unencrypted communications. We have at our disposal tools such as secure phones and computers for highly classified communications, but there are also times we communicate less sensitive information via open lines to world leaders and others. We’re fully aware of the possible risks. We will continue to utilize open communications channels when appropriate and secure communications channels when necessary.
The Ebola story is a reminder of the fact that Leon Wieseltier now finds himself queasy about Israeli society and that Max Blumenthal documented fascistic trends in that society. The NYT lately wrote the extremist trend off as just a few bad apples, and Wolf Blitzer on CNN then assured viewers from a conversation with Shimon Peres that Israel “is dealing” with the extremism problem. I don’t think we should believe the Times or Blitzer here.(Neither does Billmon: “If Dr. Baruch Goldstein were still alive, he’d be deputy speaker of the Knesset by now–at least.”)