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On many occasions, our website has relied on ‘Wikileaks’ revelations to report depth of U.S.-Israel relationship

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Yesterday the New York Times published a juicy piece about Democratic Party apparatchik Neera Tanden that  included a revelation from the Wikileaks dump of documents from the Democratic National Committee in 2016: Tanden hosted Benjamin Netanyahu for a fawning interview at her thinktank, the Center for American Progress, even as Netanyahu was trying to undermine President Obama’s Iran deal, so she could recruit a pro-Israel board member, Jonathan Lavine, who gave the organization $1 million last year.

The Times’s reliance on Wikileaks to provide important information about our political process is a timely reminder of the public role of the man dragged out of the Ecuadorian embassy last Thursday, headed for criminal proceedings related to his obtaining and publishing government documents. Julian Assange is a journalistic source. I’ve been in the news business for a long time and I’ve always been told to protect sources. And by the way, not all these sources had great character or reputation. That wasn’t the point. The First Amendment protected news gathering, and sources are a critical element of the process.

The value I can add to the Assange debate is to convey to readers how much his organization Wikileaks has contributed to our understanding of the special relationship between the U.S. and Israel. I will not itemize every revelation we’ve published that we got off Wikileaks, we’d be here all day. But I do want to convey the range and depth of these revelations. In every case these were important reports about how officials and public figures worked behind closed doors to make sure that Israel and its interests stayed at the forefront of US deliberations. We would not have that understanding without Assange. Full stop. You can say anything about his personality or his support for Trump, that’s not the issue.

Apropos of yesterday’s Times report, the 2016 dump from the DNC itemized numerous collaborations between the Clinton campaign and pro-Israel donors to shape policy when she got to the White House. I’ll get to them in a minute. First, some earlier documents.

This 2009 cable from the State Department quoted Netanyahu — forget about his lip service to two states — saying he was only willing to give Palestinians a Bantustan: “a Palestinian state must be demilitarized, without control over its air space and electro-magnetic field, and without the power to enter into treaties or control its borders.”

This 2008 Wikileaks cable established the State Department’s own understanding of the cruelty of the Israeli policy toward Gaza: to staunch the banking system to keep Gaza on the “brink of collapse.”

Israeli officials have confirmed to econoffs on multiple occasions that they intend to keep the Gazan economy on the brink of collapse without quite pushing it over the edge…

This cable showed that the State Department had publicly lied about its response to an Israeli hit in Dubai in February 2010 that Dubai was angered about, as State sought to protect Israel.

In 2011 Wikileaks showed that the U.S. under Obama was deeply enmeshed in the United Nations response to the Gaza slaughter of ’08-’09, including behind the scenes efforts to stifle the Goldstone Report so it wouldn’t get to the International Criminal Court. Foreign Policy reported that story under the title “Special Relationship.”

The new documents, though consistent with public U.S. statements at the time opposing a U.N. investigation into Israeli military operations, reveal in extraordinary detail how America wields its power behind closed doors at the United Nations. They also demonstrate how the United States and Israel were granted privileged access to highly sensitive internal U.N. deliberations on an “independent” U.N. board of inquiry into the Gaza war, raising questions about the independence of the process.

Yes, in one of those cables, Ambassador Susan Rice called U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon three times on one day, May 4, 2009, to block a recommendation by the U.N. to carry out a “sweeping inquiry” into war crimes by Israeli soldiers and Palestinian militants. She said that the recommendation far exceeded the legitimate scope of an investigation, and set a “bad precedent.” Ban Ki-moon then assured her that his staff was “working with an Israeli delegation” on revisions of the inquiry’s mandate.

This 2006 State Department cable, released in 2011, showed that the U.S. State Department was privately expressing sharp reservations about fascistic currents in Israeli political life, even as the U.S. government was holding its tongue about these trends. The cable was subtitled:  RIGHT-WING LIEBERMAN UNABASHEDLY ADVOCATES TRANSFER OF ISRAELI ARABS. That cable includes government minister Avigdor Lieberman’s endorsement of the idea to strip Palestinians of their citizenship if they wouldn’t swear a loyalty oath.

In 2010, Wikileaks published cables from the State Department reflecting the view that there was growing distrust of the U.S. globally because of our close alliance with Israel. As Josh Ruebner wrote:

In an explosive WikiLeaks revelation, Maj. Gen. Amos Gilad, the head of the Political Military Bureau of Israel’s Ministry of Defense, while discussing Israeli requests for U.S. military aid, “acknowledged the sometimes difficult position the U.S. finds itself in given its global interests, and conceded that Israel’s security focus is so narrow that its QME [Qualitative Military Edge] concerns often clash with broader American security interests in the region,” according to the State Department.

Fast forward to the 2016 political race. Wikileaks showed that the special relationship was alive and well and influencing the Clinton campaign.

DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz wondered if Bernie Sanders believes in God. “The Israel stuff is disturbing,” she wrote, when she was supposed to be a referee of the process (and later resigned over the widely-reported email).

Hillary Clinton made a host of promises to megadonor Haim Saban under the prodding of Saban and her Israel liaison guy, Stu Eizenstat. She would come out against Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS), so as to balance her support for the Iran deal. She would make a publicized phone call to Malcolm Hoenlein of the rightwing Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Orgs to indicate that she was going to turn the page on Obama’s difficult relationship with Netanyahu. Eizenstat warned the campaign that “in Israel there is wall-to-wall opposition” to the Iran Deal– as if anyone should care what Israelis think! (Yes, ask Ilhan Omar.) Eizenstat met with Netanyahu and conveyed his counsel to Clinton: to “attack, attack, attack” BDS. Oh and Clinton should oppose the Obama administration’s rumored efforts to pass a UN Security Council resolution against settlements. (Obama did her the service of waiting till the election was over on that one.)

Netanyahu must be invited to the White House as soon as Clinton gets there herself: “Bibi should be invited for early talks on how the partnership with Israel can be strengthened to combat Iran and Israel’s other avowed enemies,” Eizenstat counseled.

The importance of these leaks is that they documented in riveting detail an important (and negative) force in U.S. policymaking, the depth and extent of Israel’s influence at the highest levels. Return to Neera Tanden and the Iran Deal. The Democratic Party’s own disavowals of that deal alongside Netanyahu played an important role in its destruction.

We wouldn’t know all this without Julian Assange. I hope that other reporters and editors stand up for that work in the days to come.

A forthcoming book from OR books edited by Tariq Ali and Margaret Ratner Kunstler is sure to make related points. It is to include chapters by Noam Chomsky, Charles Glass, Chris Hedges and Angela Richter among others.

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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12 Responses

  1. JWalters on April 17, 2019, 4:37 pm

    Thank you Phil, for another important and well-done article. Freedom of the press is a bedrock of Americans’ liberty. The significance of this assault on Americans’ liberty by its un-elected financial rulers cannot be overstated.

    The American government’s lies, revealed by Wikileaks, show vividly that American politicians are, in the main, in effect, Israel’s puppets. Surely all Americans would want to know this, deserve to know this, and are legally entitled to know this. The only party that wants to keep this hidden is Israel. The secondary implication is that America’s mainstream media, who also hide this critical information from American citizens, are also Israel’s puppets. From these revelations it follows clearly that Israel is not America’s friend. When we add in the facts about Israel’s spying on America, stealing nuclear materials, and viciously attacking Americans when they deem it necessary (USS Liberty), the inescapable conclusion is that Israel is, in practical terms, more of an enemy than a friend. Naturally Israel, and those who gain from this arrangement, want to keep that hidden from Americans.

    Julian Assange is one of the most courageous and consequential publishers in history. Every American should rally for his freedom, as he has valiantly suffered for ours.

    Consortium News has been running an excellent series of articles exposing the criminal persecution of Assange. One good example is
    “7 Years of Lies About Assange Won’t Stop Now”
    https://consortiumnews.com/2019/04/12/7-years-of-lies-about-assange-wont-stop-now/

    Another worthwhile article is at Truthdig.
    “The Martyrdom of Julian Assange”
    https://www.truthdig.com/articles/the-martyrdom-of-julian-assange/

    Finally, I’m sure most thoughtful readers of Mondoweiss have considered the dangers Phil and Adam have accepted in the courageous, uphill battle of publishing the truth at Mondoweiss. And though they have turned down a number of my posts, I know they have done so to maintain their effective balance of passion and intellectual integrity.

    • Citizen on April 17, 2019, 5:46 pm

      Yes, Phil & Adam are brave guys.

    • umm al-hamam on April 18, 2019, 7:50 am

      The idea that the United States is Israel’s puppet is a ridiculous inversion of reality. The United States and its military and economic aid essentially built the Israeli economy and military—without the US’s patronage, Israel would collapse within a month, tops. The Israeli armed forces can’t breathe in the direction of another country without the US approving it, and as soon as the US decides it wants an Israeli war or massacre to end (or not happen in the first place), its will is done. Acts such as spying on US citizens and stealing nuclear secrets could not happen without the tacit approval of the US government, because they are in the US government’s interests.

      One example: at the moment the US sends Israel $4 billion in military aid a year—money which is earmarked to get advance access to new US weapons systems and technologies. These weapons then get battlefield tested in its many wars and counterinsurgency operations that it carries out essentially at the bidding of the US, essentially acting as an advertisement investment for the US arms industry, which makes $34 billion a year (& this number is growing). It’s a very worthwhile investment and no US government is going to end it as long as the US has a Department of Defense.

      Another example: In 1967, before Israel was a US puppet state, the US’s already-existing puppet state Saudi Arabia was badly losing to Egypt in the two countries’ proxy war in Yemen (an internationally funded “civil war”). The very first action Israel took in the Six Day War was to destroy the majority of the Egyptian air force, decisively turning the tide of the Yemeni civil war in favour of the Saudis. From this point onwards, including the attack on the USS Liberty (which may have happened for a variety of reasons but which regardless the US government decided was acceptable collateral damage), Israel’s position as US puppet state was well established—and of course the entire reason the USS Liberty was present in the area in the first place was to assess whether Israeli military capabilities were sufficient for the US’s purposes.

      The simple fact is that Israel’s interests are the US’s interests—although there may be disagreements on a few issues such as how best to remove Iran’s autonomy, these disagreements stem from within US politics itself, not from any conflict of interest between the two countries. This is because Israel is at this point not an independent state but a protectorate employed to do all the things the US’s democratic system makes it difficult to do (e.g. send weapons to apartheid South Africa after the US congress imposed sanctions; send weapons to Central American contras when Reagan became embroiled in scandal for doing that; bomb Syrian government targets when the US can’t for fear of igniting war with Russia; etc.)

      • Misterioso on April 18, 2019, 10:26 am

        @umm al-hamam

        “The Israeli armed forces can’t breathe in the direction of another country without the US approving it.”

        And the number one job of the U.S. pro-Israel lobby (e.g., AIPAC, Sheldon Adelson, Haim Saban, loony Evangelists, et. al.) is to convince Washington to approve and support Israel’s illegal expansionist wars, its brutal dispossession, expulsion of the indigenous Palestinians and its barbaric occupation of their and other Arab lands.

        One example:
        Haaretz, Dec. 7/18, by Amir Tibon
        WASHINGTON – “Casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson is reportedly spending at least $55 million during the upcoming midterm elections in order to keep Republicans in control of Congress.”

        “The Casino billionaire’s total contributions to various Republican causes surpass $100 million, according to the New York Times, possibly making him the largest single donor in American politics today.”

        http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/50387.htm
        Sheldon Adelson: “Best Government Money Can Buy” By Philip M. Giraldi
        October 6/18, Information Clearing House.

        EXCERPT:
        “Very few Americans know who Sheldon Adelson is and fewer still appreciate that, as America’s leading political donor, when he speaks the Republican Party listens. By virtue of his largesse, he has been able to direct GOP policy in the Middle East in favor of Israel, which might well be regarded as his true home while the United States exists more as a faithful friend that can be produced at intervals whenever Israel finds itself in need of a bit of cash or political cover.

        “Adelson’s recent successes in translating his political donations into policy favorable to Israel have included shifting the US Embassy to Jerusalem, cutting aid to Palestinians, ending the Iranian nuclear monitoring agreement and closing the Palestine Liberation Organization’s diplomatic office in Washington. All those Trump Administration measures were reportedly worked out privately by Adelson speaking directly with the president.

        “Adelson’s activities in buying politicians reflect what he believes, he reportedly having said that ‘there’s no such thing as a Palestinian.’ Nor does his world view include much concern for the country that has sheltered him and made him wealthy. He served in the US Army in World War 2 and has said that he regrets having done so, as he would rather have worn an Israeli army uniform. He also expressed his desire that his son might become an Israeli Army sniper.

        “Adelson benefits from his exceptional access to the White House to the detriment of actual American interests. A New York Times article ‘Sheldon Adelson Sees a Lot to Like in Trump’s Washington,’ states that he ‘enjoys a direct line to the president’ and meets the president monthly ‘in private in-person meetings and phone conversations.’ He has been delighted with the openly expressed threats emanating from the Administration’s key foreign and national security policy spokesmen regarding Iran. He would like to see the United States go to war with the Iranians to destroy their government and bring about some kind of regime change, and, judging from recent developments, he just might get what he seeks, which could easily have catastrophic consequences for the entire region and beyond.

        “Adelson is somewhat unhinged on the issue of Iran and has even called for dropping a nuclear bomb on a desert region of the country as a negotiating tactic to show ‘we mean business’ so Washington could then ‘impose its demands [on Iran] from a position of strength.’ If Iran continued to resist, Adelson would to drop the next one on Tehran. If Tehran were to be nuked millions of Iranians would die, which doesn’t bother Adelson one bit. Such a development would, in Adelson’s opinion, be good for Israel, which is his primary concern.”

        “Congressional Research Service, U.S. Foreign aid to Israel, Jeremy M. Sharpe, Specialist in Middle East Affairs, April 10, 2018.”
        “Israel is the largest cumulative recipient of U.S. foreign assistance since World War II. To date, the United States has provided Israel $134.7 billion (current, or non inflation-adjusted, dollars) in bilateral assistance and missile defense funding. Almost all U.S. bilateral aid to Israel is in the form of military assistance, although in the past Israel also received significant economic assistance. At a signing ceremony at the State Department on September 14, 2016, representatives of the U.S. and Israeli governments signed a new 10-year Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on military aid covering FY2019 to FY2028. Under the terms of the MOU, the United States pledges to provide $38 billion in military aid ($33 billion in Foreign Military Financing grants plus $5 billion in missile defense appropriations) to Israel. This MOU replaces a previous $30 billion 10-year agreement, which runs through FY2018.”

        In large measure, “the tail wags the dog.”

      • genesto on April 18, 2019, 12:42 pm

        “In an explosive WikiLeaks revelation, Maj. Gen. Amos Gilad, the head of the Political Military Bureau of Israel’s Ministry of Defense, while discussing Israeli requests for U.S. military aid, “acknowledged the sometimes difficult position the U.S. finds itself in given its global interests, and conceded that Israel’s security focus is so narrow that its QME [Qualitative Military Edge] concerns often clash with broader American security interests in the region,” according to the State Department.”

        How does this jibe with your notion of Israel being a puppet of the US?

      • umm al-hamam on April 20, 2019, 1:56 am

        @genesto:
        “How does this jibe with your notion of Israel being a puppet of the US?”

        There are obviously different factions within the US government—one of which (the one that controls Israel) believes Israel is the best first-line actor to carry out US policy in the Middle East and worldwide, another of which is wary of putting all its eggs in one basket and sees deploying Israel as simply one of several tools in the US’s toolbox. This also reflects the different factions within the Israeli government—Gilad’s view here represents the second of these views, one also shared by the US’s professional defense policy establishment and much of the Democratic Party. Whereas people like Netanyahu and much of the Republican Party would disagree on this point and argue that, e.g., relying on Saudi Arabia or Jordan or Turkey instead of Israel compromises American interests, because these countries are not as militarily effective as Israel is.

        Israel’s “qualitative military edge” is in practice a euphemism for its ability to test new American weapons systems on captive populations before the rest of the market gets access to them. So Gilad is referring to situations where Israeli live fire weapons tests failed to advance US security interests, such as the 2006 Lebanon “war”, which damaged American efforts to foment sectarian divisions across the Middle East by uniting the Arab world behind Hezbollah (and revealing that even with the hi-tech US equipment the Israeli military is fairly ineffective). In his view, events like that should not have happened, whereas that war was promoted and seen as positive by the Bush-Adelson-Raytheon-Likud wing of American/Israeli politics.

  2. Keith on April 17, 2019, 5:06 pm

    PHIL- “A forthcoming book from OR books edited by Tariq Ali and Margaret Ratner Kunstler is sure to make related points. It is to include chapters by Noam Chomsky, Charles Glass, Chris Hedges and Angela Richter among others.”

    Thanks for the heads up! Good article, albeit somewhat belated. As usual, the imperial media is in full propaganda mode, freedom of the press and/or democracy an illusion. And most (all?) of the imperial human rights/feminist organizations fall into line with empire.

    “It brings to mind a question, a question many so-called activists in the United States and elsewhere have to ask themselves: Where were they in regards to Chelsea Manning? Why were there only ten people outside the courthouse? Where is Amnesty International, where are the women’s groups, the LGBT groups? Where are the Pride people? Why aren’t they massing in support of Chelsea Manning? This is the most significant act of principle, an inspiration to all decent people. People should be in the streets.” (John Pilger) https://zcomm.org/znetarticle/chelsea-manning-locked-down-again/

    I link to a must see interview with Roger Waters whose knowledge and clarity on this is exceptional. Highly recommended. http://thesaker.is/roger-waters-julian-assange-arrest-proves-uk-is-a-satellite-state-of-us-empire/

  3. DaBakr on April 18, 2019, 12:21 am

    @pw

    “……as if anybody should care about what Israel thinks…..”.. Lol. Suppose that is the rub. Millions of Americans do care. Too bad. Guess it’s just a conspiracy that won’t fool you of the enlightened set.

    • bcg on April 18, 2019, 10:25 am

      @DeBakr: Recently I heard Jeff Halper ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeff_Halper ) speak in the U.S., and the church was packed with Americans who care about what happens in Israel, and the people in the audience I talked to told me that they knew many people who care about what happens in Israel, so I guess you’re right.

    • Misterioso on April 18, 2019, 10:28 am

      @DaBakr

      Wake up and smell the coffee. Israel’s image in the U.S. is in free fall.

  4. Elizabeth Block on April 18, 2019, 8:09 am

    Thank you for the reminder of what Wikileaks has done that was good and necessary.
    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: If you don’t support the rights of people you don’t like, you don’t support the rights of anyone, including yourself.

  5. tony greenstein on April 18, 2019, 11:32 am

    Excellent article. I didn’t read it as saying that Israel was in control of US foreign policy. But nor is Israel the US’s puppet. It is an ongoing relationship in which Israel seeks to persuade sections of the US ruling class as to what is in its interests and this is mediated through think tanks, donors etc.

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