“You Can’t Embarrass An Israeli”: Spying, Lying and Shameless Effrontery

To understand an animal, you have to see it in its natural habitat. This also applies to words. The Yiddish word chutzpah  means “shameless effrontery.” But to understand it properly, you have to see it in its natural habitat:

Israel’s Aggressive Spying in the U.S. Mostly Hushed Up

… Despite strident denials this week by Israeli officials, Israel has been caught carrying out aggressive espionage operations against American targets for decades, according to U.S. intelligence officials and congressional sources. And they still do it. They just don’t get arrested very often.

As Newsweek reported on Tuesday, American counter-intelligence officials told members of the House Judiciary and Foreign Affairs committees at the end of January that Israel’s current espionage activities in America are “unrivaled and unseemly,” going far beyond the activities of other close allies, such as Germany, France, the U.K. and Japan.

“It has been extensive for years,” a former top U.S. security official told Newsweek Wednesday after Israeli Intelligence Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz, among other top Israeli officials, “unequivocally” denied the Newsweek report, saying Israel stopped all spying operations in the U.S. after Jonathan Pollard was convicted of spying for Israel in 1987. One anonymous official was quoted in the Israeli media as saying Newsweek’s account “had the whiff of anti-Semitism in it.”

But a former U.S. intelligence operative intimately familiar with Israeli espionage rejected the anti-Semitism charge. “There is a small community of ex-CIA, FBI and military people who have worked this account who are absolutely cheering on [the Newsweek] story,” he said. “Not one of them is anti-Semitic. In fact, it has nothing to do with anti-Semitism. It has only to do with why [Israel] gets kid-glove treatment when, if it was Japan doing it or India doing it at this level, it would be outrageous.”

Beginning in the mid-1990s, well after Israel promised to stop spying in the U.S. in the wake of the Pollard affair, the FBI regularly felt compelled to summon Israeli diplomats in D.C. for a scolding, two former top counterintelligence officials told Newsweek. During the decade following 9/11, one said, the Israelis were summoned “dozens” of times and told to “cut the shit,” as one, a former top FBI official, put it. But as an “ally,” the Israelis almost always got off with only a warning.

But no matter how stern the FBI’s lecture – usually delivered personally to the embassy’s senior intelligence representative – the Israelis were unmoved, another former top intelligence official said. “You can’t embarrass an Israeli,” he said. “It’s just impossible to embarrass them. You catch them red-handed, and they shrug and say, ‘Okay now, anything else?’” … (Israel’s Aggressive Spying in the U.S. Mostly Hushed Up, Newsweek, 8th May 2014)

Now that’s chutzpah. And if Israel can spy on America with impunity, is it any wonder that they have nothing  but contempt for American pressure to make peace with the Palestinians?

Certainly not. In fact, Netanyahu has said so quite openly and proudly, knowing full well that no one in Congress, much less an Administration official would dare to complain:

Israel’s Netanyahu boasts about making fools of Americans

Addressing young Likud supporters, Netanyahu said: “I was threatened in Washington: ‘not one brick’ [of Jewish squatter colony construction]… after five years, we built a little more than one brick…”

Asked “about peace talks with the Palestinians”, Netanyahu joked: “about the – what?” to which the audience responded by breaking out into laughter.

According to Sheizaf, Netanyahu’s quotes were posted online by Akiva Lamm, a Likud member from Kiryat Arba, a Jewish squatter colony near Hebron. Sheizaf reports that Lamm had asked Netanyahu a question on the lack of new construction in his home squatter colony, and on Israel’s prisoner releases during the American-led negotiations with the Palestinians. This was Netanyahu’s reply – as translated by Sheizaf:

When I entered the Prime Minister’s Office for my second term, I was summoned to Washington. “Not one brick,” they told me [referring to squatter colony construction in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem]. I was threatened specifically: “Not one brick.” The pressure from the international community and the Americans was enormous. I don’t think anyone in Israel was under such pressure. And still, after five years on the job, we built a little more than “one brick”. But the important thing is to do it in a smart way, in a quiet way, without inflammatory statements.

Do you think it’s a problem for me to say, “I am a hero, I am strong, I don’t care about anything, what do I care what the world says?’” I don’t have any problem saying that, but it would be a lie. Whoever tells you that doesn’t deserve to be prime minister; he is a populist. This is not a feature leader. A leader knows to stand up to international pressure by manoeuvring.

Imagine yourself standing on a hill overlooking the whole valley. You get to see all the obstacles below from above – some from the right and some from the left – and then when you walk down, you know exactly where to go in order to avoid the obstacles. What matters is that we continue to head straight toward our goal, even if one time we walk right and another time walk left.

Sheizaf relates that Netanyahu then went on to speak about how important US support is, and how well his speeches were received by the US Congress. This, he said, reminded Lamm of similar remarks Netanyahu made 10 years ago, when he explained how he was able to manipulate the Clinton administration and debunk the Oslo accords.

What will it take for the American people to wake up and realize that Israel is not only devouring their hard-earned tax dollars to commit war crimes and crimes against humanity, but, for gratitude, is spitting in their faces and boasting about taking the US for a ride?

The above link is to an article titled “Netanyahu: How I deceived the US to destroy the Oslo Accords” discussing Netanyahu’s “contemptuous view of Washington”:

[Netanyahu says] that he deceived the US president of the time, Bill Clinton, into believing he was helping implement the Oslo accords, the US-sponsored peace process between Israel and the Palestinians, by making minor withdrawals from the West Bank while actually entrenching the occupation. He boasts that he thereby destroyed the Oslo process. …

When asked if the US will object [to Israeli attacks on the Palestinian Authority], he responds: “America is something that can be easily moved. Moved to the right direction… They won’t get in our way … Eighty per cent of the Americans support us. It’s absurd.”

Would that all those Christian Zionists, Fox News viewers, and a great many liberals in the US would hear Netanyahu calling their support “absurd.” Netanyahu is quite right to consider them nothing more than useful idiots. The contempt is well-deserved.

Just three quick examples illustrating a profound truth: When you have the power, there is no need to cloak it with diplomatic niceties. Chutzpah works best when the other party has no power and no will to retaliate against your effrontery. And that’s certainly the case with the American political establishment.