Shocking Cables Show that Bibi Manipulates Iran Threat

Gershom Gorenberg

All right, not so shocking. Anyway, with a bit of a delay, here’s my column on what the Wikileak cables say about Israel:

In January 1969, the labor attaché at the U.S. embassy in Israel sent a report classified “confidential” to the State Department. In it, she passed on the inside information on Israel’s ruling Labor Party that she’d gained by having an over-the-hill politician named Golda Meir over for dinner. Meir had said that then-Prime Minister Levi Eshkol would run for re-election that fall. “The tone of her remarks indicated that any other possibility was too ridiculous to consider,” attaché Margaret Plunkett commented. Eshkol’s health was “perfectly okay,” according to Meir. As for Meir herself, she’d only agreed under pressure from the party to run again for Knesset. The report would remain classified for at least 12 years.

Eshkol was actually terribly ill at the time. The ruling party’s inner circle had already chosen Meir as his successor. He died a month later. In those days, if you wanted to leak diplomatic documents, you had to copy them one at a time. Had a would-be whistle-blower at State stood over the photocopy machine after-hours, he would probably not have thought this one worth the extra seconds of his time. I have to wonder why anyone would consider it worth making a secret in the first place. To protect a source? If Meir had known that her comments could become public, perhaps she would have been more careful about fibbing. I doubt it, though. The only embarrassment for U.S. diplomacy in the memorandum is that the attaché was so eagerly misled.

Today, as the most recent WikiLeaks dump shows, it’s easier to copy a quarter-million documents than to sift through them for the interesting ones. (That’s also why Israeli whistle-blower Anat Kam allegedly copied 2,000 military documents, rather than a few.) The State Department has just followed young job applicants into the era of Facebook and cell-phone cameras: Anything you’ve ever said or done might be available online.

Since Israel still plays an outsized role in U.S. diplomacy, one might expect Israeli officials to be very nervous. Prime Minister Netanyahu, however, says that the leak has only helped Israel. That’s overstating the case. But it’s true that the small number of cables from the Tel Aviv embassy published so far do not contain shocking news. Like many worthwhile scientific experiments, they confirm reasonable hypotheses. There, in black and white, is what diligent reporters had previously guessed. Israel’s warnings on Iran, Netanyahu’s view of peace, and the way he has tangled the two things together provide good examples.

Start with Iran: You might have thought Israel has risked eroding its credibility by warning for years that Iran is only months away from the point where its nuclear-arms program becomes unstoppable. A March 2005 cable indicates that you were right.

Read the rest here, and return to SoJo to comment.

4 thoughts on “Shocking Cables Show that Bibi Manipulates Iran Threat”

  1. Israel continues to march toward extremism, whether within the military or out. All of it bears no connection with the old “right to defend itself” that my Congresswoman continues to hide behind for what she does. She’s just cosponsored the House Resolution against recognition of a Palestinian state, because it interferes with the “Peace Process”!

    The two peas in a democratic pod argument is also unpersuasive, many of the Knesset moves would never pass U.S. Constitutional muster.

    In all of this there is no apology, no deviation from the continual nose-thumbing to the world.

    All of it would collapse like a burst balloon without unconditional U.S. support, to our shame. Lately, I think President Obama should be wearing a sign on his back: “kick me, if you are Israeli”

    But young American Jews are showing signs of liberation from The Story. Wouldn’t it be something if the state that was created to be a haven for Jews ends up repudiated by those Jews who are far safer (and saner) for being outside the place? What’s happening has got to be embarrassing at the least, more likely disgusting, to many Jews.

    For a people who “never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity”, the majority of Palestinians have learned the futility of armed struggle against a state that thrives on it. It is they who truly never had a partner.

    Your words of wisdom, that I always find informative and educational, seem ever more removed from the ideas of those who hold power there.

  2. GG writes:

    The kindest reading of this logic is that if the United States wants any progress toward Israeli-Palestinian peace, it must first eliminate the Iranian nuclear-arms project.

    As quoted in the cable, Netanyahu did also say “he
    had told President Obama that…he would not condition
    negotiations with the Palestinians on halting Iran’s progress
    toward a nuclear weapon”. Regarding the fear that Iran’s obtaining a nuclear weapon would cause a re-alignment that would topple the peace process, Netanyahu “added that
    Egyptian President Mubarak and Jordanian King Abdullah were
    in complete agreement with him on that point.”

    I’m guessing that Netanyahu is telling the truth (yes, it can happen) regarding Mubarak’s and Abdullah’s agreement. Netanyahu knows that this statement could easily be cross-checked by the US government.

    So if Netanyahu is some devious player trying to pull wiggle his way out of the peace process, he’s got some company in King Abdullah and President Mubarak. If Netanyahu’s credibility is eroded, and if he’s telling the truth about Addullah and Mubarak, then their credibility is eroded as well. That seems to be just as big (or small) news.

  3. This article spells it out clearly though whipping up the Iran threat has been obvious and transparent. This should have been obvious to this administration- that Netanyahu is hiding behind the Iran issue. His game is trying to keep some kind of status quo- which is difficult.

    Aaron- there are bound to be re-alignments no matter what. Peace would also cause a re-alignment.

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