Opinion

Maybe Israel is interfering in our politics over the Iran Deal? Naaah!

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Let’s see how hard it is to connect the dots.

For the last three years, Benjamin Netanyahu has been doing everything he can to sink the Iran deal, from speaking in Congress against the deal in 2015 with the support of Democrats who were defying President Obama on his signature foreign policy achievement, to sending his Defense Minister over to try to sink the deal, to cartoon presentations at the U.N., and a video lecture in English last week saying, Iran Lies. Netanyahu’s interference was so obtuse that Obama once said that Israel was the only country that was against the deal and it would be an “abrogation of my constitutional duty” if he didn’t push the Iran deal.

Then it came out over the weekend that a “creepy” Israeli intelligence outfit that did spying for Harvey Weinstein reportedly tried to dig up personal dirt on two Obama officials who had spearheaded the deal (Ben Rhodes and Colin Kahl), in order to discredit the deal. The firm was reportedly hired by a business client that has “commercial interests related to sanctions on Iran,” reports the New Yorker.

Now the press is full of speculation that Trump allies hired the firm in an effort to undermine the deal; though Black Cube denies as much. “[I]f Trump’s team had any role at all in using foreign spies against American citizens, it should end his presidency,” Michelle Goldberg writes at the Times.

But what about possible Israeli meddling? Is it possible that the Israeli government had anything to do with this effort? As the New Yorker notes, Black Cube is very close to the Israeli government.

Black Cube is known for its close ties to current and former power players in Israeli politics and intelligence. The late Meir Dagan, a former Mossad director, once served as the company’s president. Ehud Barak, the former Israeli Prime Minister, has publicly acknowledged that he introduced Weinstein to Black Cube’s leadership.

One of the targets of the spying, Colin Kahl, points in a tweet to a possible Israel angle as motivation for the undertaking: Kahl and Rhodes were allegedly hurting Israeli security.

About a month after the Israeli firm was allegedly hired, anonymous White House officials reached out to the Washington Free Beacon, a right-wing tabloid, to smear Ben & me with baseless & false accusations. Notice the Israel angle to this piece. [link to Free Beacon article]

No one is going to connect the dots here. No one will point out that Trump’s biggest financial backer, Sheldon Adelson, who wishes he had served in the Israeli army not the American one, wanted President Obama to nuke Iran. Or that Trump’s former national security adviser, Mike Flynn, had to resign after it came out that he had lied about his contact with the Russians– in order to help Israel. Flynn got in touch with the Russians during the transition in December 2016, in a failed attempt to help Israel in the Security Council on the resolution condemning settlements that President Obama was about to abstain on.

So Trump and the Israelis were colluding and interfering. But the press preferred to talk about Russian collusion. If only: the Russians are all for the Iran Deal.

The press likes the Black Cube story as further evidence of Trump’s corruption. Trump officials were “obsessed” with Colin Kahl and Ben Rhodes, Michelle Goldberg reports. Ronan Farrow in the New Yorker also plays up the Trump-dirty-politics angle:

The Observer [which broke the story] reported that aides of President Trump had hired Black Cube to run the operation in order to undermine the Iran deal, allegations that Black Cube denies. “The idea was that people acting for Trump would discredit those who were pivotal in selling the deal, making it easier to pull out of it,” a source told the Observer.

You’d think the press might turn attention on Israel. It has been interfering in our foreign policy on the Iran Deal for a long time. And it has lots of friends in the U.S. who are only too happy to push Netanyahu’s agenda, beginning with some of Trump’s biggest donors.

But no one connects the dots. Israel’s interference is not a story.

Update: In response to this story we were contacted by Black Cube asking us to run the following comment:

From : Info Black Cube <[email protected]>
Date : Thu, 10 May 2018 07:35:17 -0700
Subject : Urgent – Response

Dear sirs, you have just published an article regarding our firm. Please add our full comment ASAP! It causes us damage and it’s defamation without our full denial.

Our comment:

“It is Black Cube’s policy to never discuss its clients with any third party, and to never confirm or deny any speculation made with regard to the company’s work.

Referencing Black Cube has become an international sport during 2018. Black Cube has no relation whatsoever to the Trump administration, to Trump aides, to anyone close to the administration, or to the Iran Nuclear deal. Anyone who claims otherwise is misleading their readers and viewers.

Luckily, the Mossad and the CIA are capable to deal with the Iran Nuclear deal and other issues of national security without relying on the expertise of Black Cube.

It is important to note that Black Cube always operates in full compliance of the law in every jurisdiction in which it conducts its work, following legal advice from the world’s leading law firms.”

Thank you,

Black Cube

We reached out to Black Cube to try to confirm that this statement was actually sent by the intelligence firm, but have received no response. However, similar statements have been published by other media outlets which would seem to indicate that it was.

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Worse, in the case of Iran the dots are simply manufactured — rushing to build a nuclear weapon; threatening to wipe Israel off the map — then connected. One such dot, the most egregious of all: Andrew Rosenthal putting “Iran’s Nukes” in title of an NYT editorial. Why? Because he… Read more »

Israel making hay.

They’re presently (or within the last couple hours) bombing an iranian convoy in Syria.

Taking Trump’s withdrawal as a joint declaration of war against iran?

Yesterday I watched the David Sanger of the NY Times in a video presentation explaining why Trump should be so opposed to the Iran Deal. Lots of reasons put forth, but not one word on Adelson, or Israel. Despite making a number of valid points, it was a fundamentally dishonest… Read more »

This was the worst decision Trump has ever made. This has long reaching consequences. This has isolated the US from the rest of the sane world, and lined the US with Israel once again. It was not Iran that reneged on the deal, but it was Trump’s America, at the… Read more »

It’s utterly embarrassing! The media seems to have a complete and utter blind spot the size of New York and New Jersey when it comes to Israel. In fact, they actively seem to be going miles and miles out of their way to avoid connecting even a single dot when… Read more »