The Israelis are riding high, these days but not, perhaps, for long. Ever since 9/11, the Israeli government and its American amen corner have been making the point that Israel’s fight is now America’s fight, and this argument has met with some success. A recent article in Ha’aretz notes that Israel is winning the struggle for American hearts and minds:
"The conventional wisdom among policy-makers in Israel and the United States is that if there is one front on which Israel enjoys a clear advantage in the international arena, it is hasbara information and public relations in the United States."
Congress is practically Israeli-occupied territory, and the Bushies are in their back pocket: however, there are still some elements of the American public who have not been brought to heel, and this, we are told, shows that "Israel has cause for concern."
It seems that only half of the "influentials" professionals in the media, politics, and academia, and others who regularly follow the news take the Israel-can-do-no-wrong line. The Israelis and their American supporters find this worrisome, as well they should. In spite of a constant drumbeat of pro-Israel propaganda, a well-organized cadre of American boosters, and the slavish support of our government, still a great many Americans are able to think clearly and critically about our troublesome "ally." As Ha’aretz puts it: "
"For every individual that supports Israel, there is another who opposes it. This is happening at time when the Palestinians are at a disadvantage in public relations, when the president has openly declared his support for Israel and Israel’s political lobby is at its height."
Those numbers are bound to get worse as news of the latest Israeli caper hits the headlines. It really wasn’t such a hot idea for the Mossad to recruit Palestinians into a phony Al Qaeda cell in Gaza. It was too easy to trace the cell-phone calls and emails back to Israel, as well as Germany and Lebanon. Aside from that, however, there was something a little fishy about their recruitment methods, such as this message cited by ABC News (via Reuters):
"After receiving reports from your brothers in the area about your good morals and Islamic beliefs…we appeal to you to work within the ranks of the mujahideen (Muslim fighters) and we will support you with money and weapons. Call us at this number…and identify yourself as Abu Anas. The telephone call should be made between three and five in the afternoon… After you read the letter and understand its content, burn it.
"(Signed), Your brother and humble slave of God, Osama bin Laden."
Recruits to this faux-Al Qaeda were given weapons (most of them didn’t work) and money provided by "Palestinian collaborators with Israel," three of whom are in a Palestinian jail. According to PLO "preventive security" chief Rashid Abu Shbak, some of the money "was transferred from bank accounts in Jerusalem or Israel."
These revelations come in the wake of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s claim that Al Qaeda is behind recent attacks on Israel, and is present in the occupied territories and Lebanon. A phony "Al Qaeda" website has been set up, which we are supposed to believe is the voice of the Evil One in cyberspace: its recent pronouncement that a Palestinian "branch" of Al Qaeda has been formed was duly reported by the Washington Post, which also transcribed the lamentation of one Rachel Bronson, director of Middle East Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations:
"’The idea that al Qaeda is establishing a special cell to focus on Israelis is horrifying news ’ … Al Qaeda’s role could be extremely destabilizing, she added, because ‘it will be weighing in on the side of Hamas,’ the Palestinian Islamic group that launches suicide bombings against Israeli civilians and has been deemed a terrorist organization by the U.S. government."
What is horrifying is that anyone takes such thinly-disguised disinformation seriously. Repeating such nonsense with a straight face is, one imagines, what makes Ms. Bronson so well-qualified for her job.
Israel’s great achievement in the political and diplomatic realm has been to draw the unleashed anger of the American giant away from the perpetrators of 9/11 and toward its own enemies: Saddam Hussein, Hamas, and the fictitious "Islamic Al-Qaeda of Palestine," which exists only "by way of deception," to borrow a phrase from the official motto of the Mossad.
"By way of deception, thou shalt do war" a principle the Israelis have always lived up to. Juxtaposed against the mounting evidence a recent series of reports in the German and British media depict Mossad agents in the U.S. living "next door to Mohammed Atta" the exposure of this "false flag" operation draws the curtain on the terrorist enigma. This demonstrates that an Israeli connection to the worst terrorist atrocity in our history is not an "urban myth," as one Justice Department spokesperson put it, but a sinister and increasingly likely possibility.
In all the columns I’ve written on this subject, my thesis has been limited in scope. I’ve said only that the Israelis had a certain amount of foreknowledge to what degree is not known and failed to warn us. Not that they were behind 9/11. Nor am I saying that now. But I have a question: If the Israelis are running phony "Al Qaeda" cells in Palestine and Lebanon, why not in South Florida, or New York?
This question, you can be sure, won’t be asked by the Kissinger Commission, as the "National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States" will inevitably be called, and yet surely given the way in which 9/11 changed our lives it is one worth raising. Which brings us to the reason I’m taking most of this week off .
Well, not really "off" I’ll be working harder than ever, unfortunately, trying to get the first draft my new book in shape. The Terror Enigma: Israel and the 9/11 Connection will be published next year by Verso Books. The book lays out the evidence that Israeli intelligence not only shadowed the hijackers, but also succeeded in diverting the American authorities away from the plotters’ trail. They launched a massive covert action aimed at government facilities in the U.S. the infamous "art students."
"By way of deception, thou shalt do war" a war for survival, as the Israelis see it, that must be waged against the West as well as the Muslim world. As long as Americans see the "war on terrorism" as the two-sided Manichean struggle described by George W. Bush "you’re either with us, or with the terrorists" their anger and frustration can be mobilized in support of an all-out war on the Arab nations. But if Israel had some foreknowledge or even a connection with Al Qaeda in America, and not just the Palestinian "branch," then American rage will be directed at
Andrew Sullivan is outraged that opponents of the Iraq war are putting the "war on terrorism" in ironic quotes, and has initiated one of his tiresome campaigns to have it stamped out:
"QUOTATION MARK WATCH: Have you begun to notice how some commentators (mainly on the left but also on the paleo-right) have begun to put the term ‘war on terrorism’ in quote marks? I wonder what part of the phrase they don’t buy. That we are fighting terrorism?"
You got that right, Andy. Surely there is a dangerous sort of irony in the act of declaring a war, and then failing to see one of your opponents. It is a danger that patriots cannot fail to point out.
Until Americans, particularly those in government, stop seeing the world with blinders on, the ironic quotes stay.
At any rate, as much as I dislike abandoning my readers for even a day, I’ll be gone for the rest of the week, and back on my regular schedule starting next Monday: unless, of course, the shooting starts before then .