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Is Israel’s Iranophobia Virus Contagious? – OpEd

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ABC News today publishes a leaked (from whom?) memo drafted by Israeli intelligence sources warning of terror threats against Israeli government sites in this country and American Jewish communal facilities from the dreaded “Iran menace.”  If you heard this story on the TV news it would sound persuasive, until you began to examine the assumptions behind it.  It begins by declaring the alleged assassination plot against the Saudi ambassador as a given.  This passage quotes a federal official mouthing the Israeli line:

“The thwarted assassination plot of a Saudi official in Washington, D.C., a couple of months ago was an important data point,” added the official, “in that it showed at least parts of the Iranian establishment were aware of the intended event and were not concerned about inevitable collateral damage to U.S. citizens had they carried out an assassination plot on American soil.”

“That was an eye opener, showing that they did not care about any collateral damage,” the federal official said.

Note the vagueness of “parts of the Iranian establishment were aware of the…event.”  This doesn’t even place direct blame for the alleged plot on Iranian leaders themselves.  It only says they were aware of it and didn’t object.  What’s also ironic about this is that I haven’t seen any U.S. expression of concern for those Iranians murdered as “collateral damage” from Mossad and MEK terror attacks inside Iran. Perhaps when we do then we can expect Iranians to care about collateral damage to citizens in this country from acts of terror no one has even been able to prove were planned.

So from a single alleged planned act of terror, Israel and U.S. intelligence operatives have spun a narrative of ongoing threat from the Iranians.  They could strike anywhere at any time.  They’re out there, out to get us: New York City, Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago.  Wherever there are Jews there is danger.  We have to be vigilant.  Because they hate us.  They all hate us.  We have to put the threat of terror in the front of our minds.  We have to become paranoid, as paranoid as the Israeli and U.S. intelligence officials are postulated this nightmare scenario:

Israeli facilities in North America — and around the world — are on high alert, according to an internal security document obtained by ABC News that predicted the threat from Iran against Jewish targets will increase.

“We predict that the threat on our sites around the world will increase … on both our guarded sites and ‘soft’ sites,” stated a letter circulated by the head of security for the Consul General for the Mid-Atlantic States. Guarded sites refers to government facilities like embassies and consulates, while ‘soft sites’ means Jewish synagogues, and schools, as well as community centers like the one hit by a terrorist bombing in Buenos Aires in 1994 that killed 85 people.

The head of Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security service, told an audience at a closed forum in Tel Aviv recently that Iran is trying to hit Israeli targets…

Local and regional law enforcement and intelligence officials in U.S. and Canadian cities, including New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Toronto have been monitoring the situation closely for several weeks, and have stepped up patrols at Israeli government locations and Jewish cultural and religious institutions. They have issued awareness bulletins reminding officers to stay vigilant.

Federal officials in those cities told ABC News that they have also increased their efforts to watch for any threat stream pointing to an imminent attack on either Israeli facilities, Jewish cultural or religious institutions or other “soft targets.”

So because some mid-level Israeli security operative spins a tale of dread, every American Jew must start looking under his bed for hidden Iranian agents out to get him (or her). If you parse this carefully, there is absolutely no proven threat mentioned, no chatter in the terror networks, no identifiable enemy operatives. Just a load of paranoia from a bunch of spooks telling us the Iranian bogeymen are out there, somewhere, waiting, just waiting. For what?

So you want proof that there’s a threat? Here it is:

“In the past few weeks, there has been an escalation in threats against Israeli and Jewish targets around the world,” one regional document noted. “Open source has reported many demonstrations against Israel are expected to be concentrated on Israeli embassies and consulates. Such demonstrations have occurred internationally as well as domestically. These demonstrations could potentially turn violent at local synagogues, restaurants, the Israeli Embassy and other Israeli sites. … Law enforcement should be vigilant when making periodic checks at all Jewish facilities.

So get this: the “threat” is from protesters at Israeli embassies and consulates.  Why?  How?  Doesn’t say.  Are there Iranian agents who’ve infiltrated these protests?  And what protests?  I haven’t heard of any to speak of.  Are Iranians demonstrating at Israeli embassies over threats against Iran?  Hadn’t heard of that.  But the end result here is Israel is setting the stage for its own attack on Iran leading to such protests by Iranians and others who oppose violence, and these protesters will be seen as potential terrorist saboteurs out to get Israelis or any American Jew they can find.

What the hell will the Israelis do with all the American Jews who will be out there on the picket lines?  Perhaps we’ll be double agents betraying our people and nation by siding with the enemy.  It would suit the absurdist ultranationalist narrative represented by Netanyahu and the Israeli war party.  I’ve got news for them.  They can attempt to insinuate their own fears into American society and use us for their own interests in ginning up hate against Iran.  But I’m not buying it.  I’m not going to be party to the epidemic of war fever they’re trying to inject into the body politic.  I’m going to stay calm and rational.  If they want to cry wolf, let them.  The rest of us will be here to point out the hysteria and unfounded claims of Bibi’s hawkmeisters.

There’s another delightful (in a twisted sort of way) irony in the following:

…The Israeli bulletin warned that Israel’s own passports might be used by terrorists intent on carrying out a plot.

Now isn’t that cute.  Israeli caused a massive international scandal by cloning passports of its own citizens for use by the Dubai assassins who murdered Mahmoud al-Mabouh.  The Mossad violated the sovereignty of its own allies in the process.  Now they have the chutzpah to tell us that they accuse Iran of planning to do the same thing.  As if there’s no justice in that, and the whole world should be shocked, I say shocked that Iran might do to Israelis what Israel itself did to them by putting them in harm’s way.

Here’s the final coup de grâce of this charade:

…We operate according to the information that Iran and Hezbollah are working hard and with great intensity to release a ‘quality’ attack against Israeli/Jewish sites around the world.

Don’t you just love the use of that word “quality?”  It made me want to throw up.  Of course Iran may be “working hard” to attack Israel and its interests.  If enemy leaders and generals threatened your country virtually every day with violent attack, you’d plan the same thing as a response to an attack.  Aside from the purported Saudi assassination plot, Iran has shown no willingness to engage in any act of terror against Israeli or Jewish interests.  And I predict they likely will not do so until and unless Israel attacks.  But I invite Israeli intelligence officials to offer real evidence, instead of rumor-and fear-mongering.

This article was published at Tikun Olam

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Richard Silverstein

Richard Silverstein is an author, journalist and blogger, with articles appearing in Haaretz, the Jewish Forward, Los Angeles Times, the Guardian’s Comment Is Free, Al Jazeera English, and Alternet. His work has also been in the Seattle Times, American Conservative Magazine, Beliefnet and Tikkun Magazine, where he is on the advisory board. Check out Silverstein's blog at Tikun Olam, one of the earliest liberal Jewish blogs, which he has maintained since February, 2003.

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