Tags: When | Doubt | Blame | Israel

When in Doubt, Blame Israel

Monday, 11 February 2002 12:00 AM

When Arab terrorists target the United States, whether the 1983 bombing of the Marine barracks in Lebanon, the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center or the 1998 suicide attacks against our embassies in Africa, it is almost a rule that someone will claim Israel was involved.

The "reasoning" often goes like this: Israeli intelligence – especially Mossad, the Israeli CIA – is so good it knows everything, so if a terror attack occurs, that is proof that Israel failed to warn the U.S. Or, alternatively, since Israel allegedly "benefits" from such Arab attacks, they must be fiendish Israeli plots to discredit the Arabs.

Robert I. Friedman's notorious 1993 Village Voice article, "Mossad Linked to WTC Bomb Suspect," was a prime example of this paranoid thinking.

In reality, despite some spectacular achievements, Mossad and the other Israeli intelligence services are far from all-knowing.

Consider, for example, that in 1973 Israel fell victim to a surprise attack by Syria and Egypt. That Yom Kippur war, launched on the holiest day of the Jewish calendar, cost Israel more than 2,500 lives, a vast carnage for such a small country, and also ruined the careers of scores of leading Israeli politicians, generals and spymasters.

Or consider that in Lebanon in the 1980s, not just the U.S. barracks but also Israeli barracks, and headquarters, were hit by suicide bombers – multiple times.

Or that since the creation of the Palestinian Authority in 1993 many Israeli cities, including Jerusalem and Tel-Aviv, have suffered horrific suicide attacks, killing hundreds of people.

Did Israel want or allow these attacks to succeed? Of course not, no more than they wanted attacks against America to succeed.

But that's reality, and reality is not paramount for those who spin these conspiracy theories – bashing Israel is.

And so we come to the attacks of Sept. 11. Predictably, Arab sources immediately claimed Israel was the real perpetrator, citing all manner of bizarre and easily disproved allegations.

Perhaps the most ludicrous was the claim, widely circulated in the Muslim world, that "4,000 Jews" worked in the World Trade Center, but none were killed because they were all warned by the Mossad to call in sick that day. The television station of the Lebanese-based terror group Hizbullah took the lead in propagating that particular fabrication.

But respectable U.S. sources have also tried to implicate Israel, including Fox News, which in December broadcast a breathless four-part series alleging Israeli spying on America.

While Fox's Carl Cameron did not claim Israel was involved in the 9-11 attacks, he did allege that Israeli spying on Arabs in the U.S. was so extensive that investigators were asking "how could they [Israel] not have known" of the upcoming attacks?

And closely following on Cameron's heels, though offering no new evidence, was NewsMax's Charles Smith, in columns published Dec. 19 and Jan. 16.

According to Cameron's reports, the Israeli-founded company Amdocs handles "most directory assistance calls and virtually all call records and billing in the United States," and the supposed fear of unnamed "investigators" is that "certain suspects in the September 11th attacks may have managed to stay ahead of them by knowing who and when investigators are calling on the telephone."

While Fox did not allege that Amdocs provided such information to anyone, the network did claim, based on nothing but innuendo and unnamed sources, that the information collected by the company may have somehow "fallen into the wrong hands and impeded the investigation."

To make his allegations seem plausible, Cameron told viewers: "In recent years, the FBI and other government agencies have investigated Amdocs more than once. The firm has repeatedly and adamantly denied any security breaches or wrongdoing."

In fact, Amdocs has not just denied such charges, federal investigations have also confirmed the company's innocence. Cameron reported these earlier investigations into Amdocs during a May 5, 2000, broadcast on Fox, describing an "alleged penetration of U.S. government phone systems."

Only toward the end of his overheated report did Cameron admit "there are no targeted suspects under investigation because there is no information to suggest a phone breach." But then, apparently realizing he had just shot down his own story, the reporter immediately contradicted himself, claiming, "There is clearly a breach here, some sort of threat."

In fact, the investigations Cameron reported turned up absolutely no evidence whatsoever of spying or any other improper activities. Indeed, the New York Times headlined its story on the probe "Israeli Spy Inquiry Finds Nothing, Officials Say."

According to the Times report, datelined May 5:

The counterintelligence inquiry did not find evidence that government telephone systems were penetrated, the officials said. The investigation focused on the Amdocs Corporation, a publicly traded corporation founded by Israelis, but failed to unearth evidence that anyone at the company or connected to it had tried to listen to government communications illegally, the officials said.

"There just weren't any facts to support a penetration," said a government official who closely followed the inquiry.

The existence of the inquiry emerged today after Insight Magazine, which is published by the Washington Times, reported that the investigation had uncovered a security breach in the White House telephone system. Other news organizations quickly spread the story over their Web sites, but the accusation of a major espionage problem collapsed almost immediately. ...

In another broadcast during his December series Cameron also implicated Amdocs in the failure of a 1997 drug probe in Los Angeles, claiming that the suspects foiled investigators by keeping "the cops' beepers, cell phones, even home phones under surveillance," which "compromised law enforcement communications between LAPD detectives and other assigned law enforcement officers. ..."

According to Cameron, "When investigators tried to find out where the information might have come from, they looked at Amdocs."

Smith added to the charges, asserting that "the illegal monitoring may have resulted in the deaths of several informants and reportedly spoiled planned anti-drug raids on crime syndicates."

Once again, no mention of any evidence, and once again, reality tells a very different story. In fact, there was a compromised Los Angeles drug investigation in 1997, and it did involve some criminals who happened to be Israeli, but the surveillance of investigators was accomplished not through any involvement of Amdocs or any other Israeli organization, but through an information broker, a person who specializes in gathering and selling information.

The broker who provided the confidential information in the Los Angeles drug case also provided the media with confidential information in the cases of JonBenet Ramsey and Ennis Cosby. That broker, James Rapp of Aurora, Colo., later went to jail for illegally gathering and selling such data through his business, Touch Tone Information.

As the New York Times reported:

... Touch Tone first came to the attention of the Colorado Bureau of Investigation last January. The Los Angeles Police Department asked for information about Touch Tone after records seized from a private detective's home showed that the company had provided home addresses, phone numbers and pager numbers for detectives on the police department's organized-crime squad ...

The police say the information was obtained for Assaf Waknine, an Israeli identified by the Los Angeles police as an organized-crime member. ... Waknine used the information to harass detectives and create a "clone" of one detective's pager that received his pages in an effort to discover the identity of an informer ... (July 1, 1999)

The rest of the allegations regarding Israel in the Cameron and Smith stories are just as phony as the Amdocs and LA drug claims. For example, there are not hundreds of Israelis in jail under espionage charges. Those Israelis who were picked up in the wake of 9-11 faced only immigration-related charges and most have already been deported.

The real question, then, is not what Israel has been up to, but what certain journalists have been up to, and why they routinely try to pin the blame on Israel, no matter what the facts.

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When Arab terrorists target the United States, whether the 1983 bombing of the Marine barracks in Lebanon, the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center or the 1998 suicide attacks against our embassies in Africa, it is almost a rule that someone will claim Israel was involved....
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Monday, 11 February 2002 12:00 AM
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