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Scoop of the Year: Proof of a Collusion

theweek.com

The post you are about to read—friends and foes, left and right—is a bit unusual. Unusual for this blog; unusual for this blogger; and unusual for you the reader. If you will join me for the ride, however, I believe you’ll be rewarded handsomely. And in the most unusual of ways. But first, let’s start with the word ‘scoop,’ which among other meanings and usage, is described in the Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary simply as “information especially of immediate interest.” For the purpose of our post here, at this time, this description will suffice. As for how convincing a case I’ll be making, and how newsworthy it’ll turn out to be, you’ll be the judge.

You may ask yourself also: What business does this blog have—a blog dedicated normally to the politics and culture of Israel, America, American Jews, and the interaction between these three entities—to the question of a possible ‘collusion’ between the Trump campaign and presidency, and Putin’s Russia? Well… let me tell you. Because it all starts with a new book, written by a well-known Israeli investigative journalist, Ronen Bergman, titled ‘Rise and Kill First, The Secret History of Israel’s Targeted Assassinations.’ The book is getting rave reviews for its “authoritative and exhaustive history of Israel’s targeted killings of its enemies, the most robust streamlined assassination machine in history,” (Washington Post, January 26), and asks “at what point does violence in the name of self-defense become an end in itself, so addictive to its practitioners… that it undermines the very values it is meant to preserve?” And yet, though this book is serving as our springboard here, it—and the important questions it raises—is not really our business today.

What our business is, here and now, concerning an interview given by the book’s author—who’s highly regarded for his deep knowledge and inside sources of Israeli intelligence—to the NPR program ‘Fresh Air with Terry Gross,’ on January 31. And especially a segment, an exchange towards the end of that most interesting interview (conducted that day by Dave Davies), which is very much related to the question we are probing today, and which is also, to my mind, the business of every person living and working in this land. For that purpose, since you might have missed that interview (which you can probably still find on the NPR website), here’s a short transcript of part of it—limited and condensed (not altered though) to the crux of the matter at hand—as related to our investigation:

Bergman: “… a group of American intelligent officers, in a regular meeting with their Israeli counterparts, just before Trump was elected, and before the inauguration, they suggested that the Israelis stop giving sensitive materiel to the White House. They said we are afraid that Trump or someone of his people under leverage from the Russians, they might give sensitive information to the Russians, who in their term will give that to Iran… And the Israelis were shocked… that the Americans will say something of that kind about their chief in command, about their president… Few months after that, it turned out that all the predictions that the American have made to the Israelis as warnings… everything came to be true! And President Trump apparently gave secret information, and I know the nature of that information: it is indeed delicate, and very, very secret.”

Davies: “… You know of specific information that the U.S. shared with the Russians that is not being revealed publicly and that you are not revealing publicly?”

Bergman: “The nature of the information that President Trump revealed to Foreign Minister Lavrov is of the most secretive nature. And that information could jeopardize modus operandi of Israeli Intelligence.”

Davies: “You are referring to something we don’t yet know?

Bergman: “Most of it we don’t yet know.”

Well, if that’s not a collusion, I don’t know what a collusion is. If that interview is not a proof of it, then I don’t know what proof is. Or what kind of proof is still needed. Worst of all: If that’s not an admission of the leverage the Russians have had, and are probably still having, on President Trump—”under leverage from the Russians,” Bergman said—then I don’t know what leverage is. And therefore, as in the beginning, I will resort again to the Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, which defines ‘collusion’ as a “secret agreement or cooperation especially for an illegal or deceitful purpose.” I’m not a legal expert, far from it, but for our purpose here, exposing the possibility, if not the certainty of collusion—and conspiracy, complicity, involvement, agreement, knowledge, all words associated with collusion—this will do. And the rest is history.

* The “Leave a Comment” link is the last tag below, in blue.

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Clinton(s) and Israel

Clinton_Netanyahu_Abbas_Mitchell

Clinton_Netanyahu_Abbas_Mitchell

As we are fast approaching the November general election, it seems clear to me – I’ll bet whatever little money I have on this outcome – that unless an unforeseen event/disaster would to occur, Hillary Clinton will win the election and will become the next American President. It is time therefore to try to assess what shape the relation between the new administration and Israel will be, and what change Hillary Clinton might bring to this traditionally strong alliance; an alliance that has been shaken and hurt quite a bit throughout the Obama administration, but still withstood the constant struggle with the Netanyahu government.

This consequence was as result, mostly, of the different personalities of the two leaders, and their different outlook on the political international arena. Obama, essentially so, is a peace maker. A compromiser by nature. He won the election in large part on the fact that he objected to the war in Iraq, which Netanyahu supported, and had promised to do anything in his power to end that war, as well as the Afghanistan war, and to disengage America from the conflicts in the Middle East. These were his main objectives, and he has been mostly successful in enforcing this outcome; albeit with some troubling results, and ongoing conflicts.

Netanyahu, on the other hand, who has supported the Republicans in the American Congress and elections, as well as in all other issues throughout the Obama administration’s years in power – at times quite vocally and outrageously – is a different sort of a leader. To begin with, he is not a peacemaker; never was, never will. Peace with the Palestinians, resolving that conflict, is the last thing on his mind. Politically, unlike Obama – very much in the vein of Putin and Erdogan though — all he’s concern with is staying in power, and like these two leaders, if his opponents – remember Rabin? – would have to die and be buried because of that hunger for power, so be it. Because of this, and because of Obama’s preoccupation with Iraq and Afghanistan – but it must be said here, also because Netanyahu is a much more experienced leader — he was able to win most of his fights with Obama, and handily so I might add, except the last one concerning the Iran nuclear deal, in which Obama finally showed some muscles and guts in his fight against the Netanyahu-AIPAC-Republican-Adelson coalition, and has won that battle.

But Hillary Clinton is a different egg. To begin with, personality wise, she seems to be tougher than Obama, and her origin is in fact as a Republican by youth, nurture and maybe by inclination, which all point to personality traits similar to those of Netanyahu. It makes her, therefore, more capable of understanding his ruthlessness, and if found in a clash with him, not to tend to back down so easily as Obama has done. Even more so, she brings to the table her experience not only in the international political arena as a whole, but in the Middle East and with Netanyahu in particular. From the failed Sharm el-Sheikh peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians in September 2010, which she had chaired, and which Netanyahu had derailed at the end with the resumption of settlement activity, to her famous clash with him on new housing units to be built in East Jerusalem (her infamous telephone conversation with him was well documented here on this blog on March 17, 2010*), to her instrumental tough stance that brought about a ceasefire in the belligerence escalation with Hamas in Gaza in November 2012. In short, she knows what a tough cookie Netanyahu is, and won’t easily be fooled by him**.

The big question is, would she invest the effort, time and resources in bringing an end to that ageless conflict. I’d say on record here that I think the chances are greater than in the Obama administration that she would. For a number of reasons. First, she is not carrying the burden, and necessity of putting an end to wars with direct American participation. She will be in charge of somehow defusing the turmoil that the Middle East is today. The burden that she carries is her support of the Iraq War in the Senate, and therefore bringing peace to the region might be of added personal challenge and importance to her. Not to mention that the need, internationally, to conquer terrorism and bring stability to this combustible region is of the utmost importance.

Whether she sees the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as some do, as the cause, or the seed of all the troubles in the region, I do not know. But it is fair to assume that at the very least she sees the enormous benefits – to America, to the region, to the world – from resolving this issue. It is my opinion that she is more equipped mentally, and much more experienced than Obama was to succeed there. Even internally, she might be better situated. She might be less afraid than Obama was of the wrath of the Jewish lobby for one; for second, better situated to deal with hostile Congress; and for third, more concern with the liberal, progressive Sanders-Warren led wing of the Democratic party, urging her to push ahead, and bring about an acceptable solution there. (Somehow, it might even affect a political change in Israel itself finally. Though that’s a different story.)

But here’s the kicker, my friends: Bill Clinton. It is my hope, and prediction too – at least by way of a reasonable possibility – that he not only will influence his wife on the matter, that’s a given after all, but that he will jump right in at an hour of need to help secure the peace. Remember, he was probably closer than any other American leader to bring about a resolution to the conflict with the Camp David Summit of 2000. If not the timing being very close to the end of his second term, and the vise of Yasser Arafat on the one side, who couldn’t see what a great opportunity it was for him and for his people, and Arik Sharon on the other side, who seized the day in Jerusalem in order to sabotage that agreement, it might have been a reality by now. Such a development would be Bill Clinton’s big chance; a déjà vu if ever there was one; for peace and for the Nobel peace prize as well. With the backing of his wife, he just might make it happen.

* Exclusive Transcript of Clinton and Netanyahu phone call Posted on March 17, 2010

** “In March 2009 US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton traveled to Israel. She said that Israeli settlements and demolition of Arab homes in East Jerusalem were “unhelpful” to the peace process. Clinton also voiced support for the establishment of a Palestinian state.” Wikipedia

*** The “Leave a Comment” link is the last tag below, in blue.

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