THE SUCKER OF ISRAEL: Bodansky's Revelations

by Prof. Paul Eidelberg

Israeli-born Yossef Bodansky has been the director of the U.S. Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare for more than a decade. His latest book, The Secret War of the Iraq War (Harper-Collins 2004), is the basis of this article. Indeed, I will quote extensively from Chapter 3 of his book and inject comments en passant.

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Chapter 3 refers to an investigation that had begun in the fall of 2002 in Israel, and which involved the intelligence services of more than six countries. "The investigators' findings," writes Bodansky, "provided the 'smoking gun' supporting the [Bush] administration's insistence on Iraq's centrality to global terrorism, the availability of operational weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and proof of the close cooperation between Iraqi military intelligence and al-Queda."

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The data accumulated during this investigation could have provided the casus belli -- the justification for war -- and urgent imperative to take on Saddam Hussein. Yet in the first of several indecisive and self-contradicting political maneuvers, the Bush administration preferred to accommodate [Prime Minister Tony] Blair's pressure to keep Israel at arm's length, not implicate Arafat [who was working strategically with Saddam], and placate Blair's fellow West European leaders rather than go public with the findings of the investigation. Despite mounting international criticism and skepticism in the media, the American public was not presented with one of the strongest and most explicit justifications for the war with Iraq (p.51).

Had the public been informed of the Arafat/Saddam/al-Queda nexus -- which would conjure in American minds the horror of 9/11 -- President Bush's restraints on Israel and even his road map to Palestinian state would have appeared ludicrous. Indeed, exposing that "axis of evil" would have required Bush to encourage Israel's Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, to eliminate Arafat's Palestinian Authority in coordination with the war on Iraq.

But now for another Bodansky revelation:

On the night of September 13, 2002, Israeli Special Forces intercepted and captured a three-man squad attempting to cross the Jordan River and enter Palestinian territories [sic] on their way to Arafat's compound in Ramallah. Their interrogation revealed that they were highly trained members of the Baghdad-based Arab Liberation Front (ALF), sent to conduct spectacular strikes under the banner of Arafat's Fatah...

The three ALF terrorists were trained for several missions, including an operation that involved shoulder-fired missiles to shoot down civilian airliners as they approached Ben-Gurion Airport and using anti-tank rockets and missiles to ambush convoys -- including American groupings on their way to Iraq. They were also to organize and train Palestinian terrorists... The three had been briefed in Baghdad that they would get the missiles, heavy weapons, and explosives they might need from Fatah via [Tafiq] Tarawi [chief of the Palestinian Authority's General Intelligence Service and Arafat's closest confidant]...

The Israel interrogators were most interested in what the three had to say about their training... at Salman Pak -- a major base near Baghdad -- by members of Unit 999 of Iraqi military intelligence. They recounted that in an adjacent part of the camp, other teams of Unit 999 were preparing a select group of Islamist terrorists specifically identified as members of al-Queda.

The three ALF terrorists told the Israelis that... the Islamists also received elaborate training with chemical weapons and poisons, specifically [the extremely potent poison] ricin. Moreover... the ALF terrorists recounted, Islamist detachments traveled to Turkey, where they were to strike American bases with chemical weapons once the war [on Iraq] started...

Within a week of the capture of the ALF trio, a delegation of senior Israeli intelligence officers traveled to Washington to brief the White House about their findings...

Since the Bush administration was hard-pressed to justify going to war with Iraq, one would think it would readily publicize Israel's intelligence data. Not at all! The White House, says Bodansky, "was reluctant to advertise this evidence because it demonstrated Israeli intelligence's major contribution to the war on terrorism."

Nevertheless, and despite Europe's pro-Palestinian posture, Israel quietly shared the acquired data with several European governments. This led to the destruction and capture of several Arab and Chechen terrorist networks in Paris and London, as well as support networks in Spain and Italy. As Bodansky sees, "Israel had in fact demonstrated to the Europeans why Saddam Hussein had to be toppled, and soon." And yet, "most Western European governments adamantly refused to address Iraqi training of al-Queda in the use of chemical weapons and poisons." But this is not all.

As Bodansky points out, acceptance of the evidence provided by Israel would also acknowledge the intimate involvement of Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian Authority in international terrorism. The European governments insisted not only on separating the Palestinians from the war on Iraq, but demanded that the Arab world be compensated for the American-led attack, by forcing Israel to accept a political solution favorable to Arafat, regardless of the extent of Palestinian terrorism! Moreover, Tony Blair led a European effort to salvage Arafat and reward him with a Palestinian state, hoping to demonstrate that the war was not indiscriminately anti-Arab.

As for the Bush administration, "Having to choose between further alienating the Western Europeans, who insisted on keeping Arafat out of the war, and bolstering its case against Iraq by providing concrete Israeli evidence, the White House decided to go with the Europeans..." The Palestinian Authority's involvement with Iraqi terrorism and weapons of mass destruction was thus hushed up, as was Israel's contribution to the effort to disarm Iraq.

The present writer asks: If the U.S. is so dependent on Israeli intelligence -- as indeed it is -- why didn't Prime Minister Sharon make demands on the Americans in accordance with Israel's vital national interests? Why has he behaved as a "sucker"?

Throughout 2002 and before it launched its attack on Iraq in March 2003, the United States sought to gain the cooperation of various Arab regimes. The attempt was futile and revealed the ignorance of the Bush administration even as regards seemingly pro-American Arab states.

The elimination of Saddam Hussein could not but pose a threat to the autocratic nature of these states. Besides, and as Bodansky points out, "For the Saudis, any semblance of cooperating with the United States in the occupation and destruction of Baghdad -- regardless of the fact that they hated Saddam Hussein -- was sacrilegious" (p. 62). Moreover, U.S. occupation of oil-rich Iraq and the establishment of a pro-American Iraqi government would undermine Saudi influence and importance in Washington. This also applies to Egypt, a key player in the Middle East.

Despite these obvious facts, the Bush administration, while preparing for "Operation Iraqi Freedom," insisted that Israel maintain a "low profile" and act with restraint vis-a-vis Arafat's Palestinian Authority. To placate Washington, prime minister Ariel Sharon, on September 29, instructed the Israel Defense Forces to comply with American requests to ease the siege of Arafat, and to withdraw from Arafat's compound in Ramallah. Even more significant, Sharon bowed to Washington, at Israel's expense, by not exposing Arafat's connection with Saddam Hussein. "It is impossible to say no to our big friend [the United States]," Sharon told the newspaper Yediot Aharanot.

But this is precisely what Arabs states were saying to Washington, including Egypt, which receives two billion dollars each year in U.S. military aid. In November, Cairo said no even to "Washington's request for special security measures in the Suez Canal during the passage of navy warships on their way to the Persian Gulf" (p. 62).

While receiving nothing from Egypt, the U.S. received crucial intelligence about Iraq from Israel. Yet Washington expected Israel not to become involved in any military campaign to topple Saddam, regardless of any sort of attack on the Jewish state. It mattered not to the administration that Israel had documentary evidence that Iraq was directly responsible for Palestinian terrorism. The evidence showed that Saddam and Arafat, acting in collusion, ordered suicide bombings in Israel to distract Washington from its war plans against Saddam's regime.

Nevertheless, Washington applied constant pressure on Jerusalem to make concessions to Arafat, and warned Sharon not to do anything once the war started "even if Iraq launched missiles at the tiny state"! Jews were expected to bleed for their big American friend. And bleed they did.

Some 130 Jews had to be murdered by Palestinian terrorists in March 2002 before Prime Minister Sharon screwed up enough courage to launch "Operation Defensive Shield." Moreover, the operation was terminated before the IDF could completely destroy the weapon factories in Jenin, the venue for suicide bombers. Jews had to be reduced to body parts to placate the United States, or rather, to preserve Ariel Sharon's "friendly" relations with George W. Bush.

Here, a slight digression. While Israel dutifully supplied the U.S. with intelligence about Iraq -- intelligence that would save American lives -- Jonathan Pollard languishes in prison for having (illegally) supplied Israel with such intelligence, but which Washington withheld in violation of the Strategic Cooperation Agreement between the two countries. Jewish blood is cheaper than American blood -- or so we must conclude not only from Washington's attitude toward Israel, but also from the submissive attitude of Israel's prime minister, Ariel Sharon.

After a mid-October meeting with Bush who called Sharon a "close friend" and affirmed Israel's right to self-defense, "Sharon came out of the Oval Office," writes Bodansky, "deeply insulted and personally hurt when, at the last minute, a six-page 'position paper' on the future of the Middle East that included veiled threats to Jerusalem was stuffed into his hand." Bodansky goes on to say:

Sharon had not expected "his friend" Bush to sandbag him, especially in light of Sharon's close cooperation with America, even at the cost of Israeli lives. Despite Sharon's indignity, Israel made unilateral concessions to the Palestinians that enabled greater movement to would-be martyrs and bomb-makers. As a result, Israeli citizens suffered some of the most lethal strikes in recent memory, including, on the morning of Sharon's meeting with Bush, a bus bombing in which fourteen civilians were killed and close to fifty wounded (p. 65).

Some critics will say -- and rightly say -- Israel desperately needs a prime minister that can say no to Washington and uphold Israel's interests. But has the Knesset nothing to say in this matter? Isn't the Knesset also responsible for the well-being of the Jewish people? And if the Knesset lacks the power to constraint the prime minister, must there not be some deadly flaw in Israel's system of government?