Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, February/March 1996, Pages 18, 117-118
Translations From Israeli Hebrew-Language Newspapers
By Israel Shahak
President Clinton's New Promise to Likud
—Ma'ariv, Nov. 8, 1995. By Menahem Rahat.
The president of the U.S., Bill Clinton, told the leaders of Likud yesterday that the U.S. would give the same support to Israel if Likud should come into power, and conduct the peace process on its own terms, as it now gives to the Labor government. This was announced by the former Israeli ambassador to the U.S., Zalman Shoval, who is now in charge of Likud's relations with the leaders of foreign states, after he and other Likud leaders emerged from an intimate meeting with the president. The other participants were Benyamin Netanyahu, Moshe Katzav, Benyamin Begin and Dan Meridor.
Clinton's key sentence in that meeting was, "Although the United States will always help Israel to advance toward peace, the U.S. will never tell Israel how to do it." This statement satisfied Likud's leaders.
A Link in the Irangate Conspiracy
—Ha'aretz, Oct. 27, 1995. By Amir Oren.
The old joke about a policeman dispersing a communist demonstration and incidentally clubbing a man who is an anti-communist while telling him he doesn't care what kind of communist the man is, has recently come to life in the Israeli "Intelligence and Special Tasks Agency" (better known as Mossad). Khomeinist or anti-Khomeinist, Mossad or anti-Mossad, someone at the top does not care.
Ya'akov Nimrodi rubbed shoulders with Mossad for many years. While he was Israeli military attaché in Iran, Colonel Nimrodi had frequent confrontations with Mossad. Later, when he became an arms dealer, Nimrodi also became an expert at combining that which was pleasant for him with that which was useful to him. When he participated in the effort to topple the Iranian government, or at least to strengthen the moderate elements within it, everything was connected, one way or another, with sales of military equipment which were lucrative for him.
In 1983 it appeared that Iran was near a victory over Iraq. According to foreign publications, Nimrodi and his partners, including Al Schwemer, one of the founders of Israeli Aeronautical Industries, then tried to convince the security elements in the Israeli government and in the U.S. administration to arm an Iranian army in exile under the leadership of Prince Reza, son of the late shah. The plan was to equip those Iranians and to train them in camps in Sudan with the consent of its ruler Ja'afar Numeiri. The arms for them would be transferred by a three-way transaction involving American, Israeli and royalist Iranians which would line the pockets of the go-betweens and possibly also those of the Israeli government. Defense Minister Moshe Arens and his ministry's officials supported the plan, but senior Mossad officials, whose assistance was requested, doubted its wisdom and frustrated it even though they were commanded to expedite it.
Mossad officials were astounded when they learned the identity of the intermediary.
Two years later, when the idea that led to the entanglement in the Irangate affair was revealed, Mossad officials were astounded when they learned about the identity of the Iranian intermediary, N. Gorbanifar, and discovered that Nimrodi had discussed the idea with the general director of the foreign ministry, David Kimchi, a former Mossad agent and a rival of its head at the time, and that these figures had convinced the then prime minister, Shimon Peres, to remove Mossad from involvement in the affair. Their explanation was that such involvement would sabotage the renewed arms sales plan, made possible by their discovery of a Khomeinist, Gorbanifar, who was eager to hold negotiations with Israel.
Whether because Mossad chiefs have been busy for the past six or seven years with other operations, or whether because Mossad prefers to recall Nimrodi's past favors ("at a certain stage he served Mossad and at other times he helped us"), the head of the Mossad recently decided to add Nimrodi to the membership of the Association of Mossad Veterans as an honorary retiree. Several important former Mossad agents are indeed friends of Nimrodi (or of his employees) but other veterans whom he does not employ reacted with anger and felt insulted. Now they are wondering who will be nominated next as an honorary retiree; perhaps Mossad defector and author Victor Ostrovsky.
Note Concerning John Deutch, U.S. CIA Director
—Ma'ariv, Oct. 22, 1995. By Adah Cohen.
The director of the CIA, John Deutch, who visited Israel last weekend to meet Prime Minister Rabin, used the opportunity to visit his family. Many members of his family, including his aunt, live in Israel. His aunt had invited Deutch to a dinner in which his many relatives who live in Israel participated.* The U.S. Embassy in Israel made efforts to hide this event, but in spite of them, it became known when American security agents came to the aunt's house just before Deutch's dinner and made a thorough security check in the entire flat. This is done in every place visited by the head of the CIA.
*When Deutch was nominated by Clinton to his position, the Hebrew press expressed great satisfaction that Deutch and his deputy David Cohen were both Jewish.
Israeli Military Strategy in Turkey
—Ha'aretz, Sept. 27, 1995. By Ze'ev Shiff.
The deal between Israel and Turkey for the overhaul of Turkey's Phantom warplanes to the tune of about $600 million is the biggest yet defense project that Israel has had with a Muslim state. It should not be regarded as a mere economic transaction, but as a major development in the strategic cooperation of Israel with an important state in the Middle East. The deal is only the tip of an iceberg of extensive military cooperation. American defense industries may feel hurt as a result of this deal, but it may be assumed that the White House and the State Department view Israeli-Turkish cooperation and the project positively because of its broad strategic value.
Three neighbors are problematic from the Turkish point of view—Iraq, Iran, and Syria. These are states also hostile to Israel. The Turkish government surely wants to convey the signal that, in the regional balance of forces, it has a strong and stable friend like Israel. Both seek stability in the region and conform with U.S. interest in such stability. Turkey also wants to carry out a modernization of its army and Israel can assist in this endeavor.
One should keep in mind the struggle of both Israel and Turkey against terrorism and Turkey's growing fear of an increase of extremist Islamic terror. Here, too, there is room for cooperation, although Israel does not want to be dragged into the bloody struggle with the Kurdish underground which finds shelter in Syria, as the Turkish intelligence knows. Turkey is an important member of NATO and its army is the second largest in the alliance. However, much of the Turkish military equipment is outdated and requires replacement.
The modernization will cost Turkey some $10 billion in the next several years while Turkey is burdened with bad economic conditions and a large foreign debt. The debt burden has grown because of the loss of revenues from the flow of Iraqi oil through the Turkish pipeline.
It is in Israel's interest to extend relations with Turkey. First the level of diplomatic relations was raised, then a military attaché was sent and a document of understanding was signed defining defense relations between the two states. The military security dialogue continues and this week the director of the Defense Ministry, David Ivri, returned from Turkey. One example of the closer diplomatic relationship is the air-fueling maneuver that was carried out in May 1994 when Turkish planes were refueled by an Israeli plane.
The negotiations on the Phantom agreement continued for a long time. The Turkish air force has six squadrons with 165 Phantom planes. Israel has experience in renovating and transforming this plane into the Kurnas 2000. The overhaul prolongs the operational life of the Phantom by 15 to 20 years. A modern American radar and an advanced computerized aeronautical system were introduced into the Phantom, including an improved electronic combat and navigation system. The capability of the plane to participate in a ground battle has also been improved. U.S. and German companies also competed for the deal in Turkey. In the beginning, Israel took part in the bid of the American radar producer Norden, whose system is installed in the new Israeli Phantoms. But this bid failed. Norden asked for $5 million for each radar system. So as not to lose the deal, Israel, through the Elta Company, proposed to produce a similar radar for only about $3 million and won the bid. Elta has now to prove to the Turks that the performance of its radar is adequate. In August an agreement was signed that included a technical and financial framework for the overhaul of 54 Phantoms, 30 of them to be overhauled in Israel.
As expected, the success of Israeli Aircraft Industries (IAI) angered Norden and other U.S. companies. Norden has accused Israel and Turkey of unfair practices in testimony before the U.S. Congress. The main accusation is against IAI, a former partner of Norden, blamed for giving Turkey misleading information. Norden will ask the U.S. administration to take steps for cancellation of the deal with Israel. Probably Norden will be prepared now to offer lower prices and will turn to circles in Turkey who oppose making any contacts with Israel.
For our part, the problem of the Turkish deal is financial. The Turks demand that payments begin only after two years in the five-year deal. Thus, interim financing is needed by IAI, putting heavy pressure on the company. It owes the banks about $300 million. An ugly struggle has been going on between the company and the banks about this debt. It is little wonder that the banks do not want to finance the deal with Turkey and they are not interested in the strategic importance of the deal.
The finances thus become a matter for the finance minister and the prime minister to act upon. The finance minister has already committed himself to not allow the Phantoms deal to be lost. What also bothers him is how to make sure that, on Jan. 1, 1997, when the IAI wage agreements expire, the company does not collapse financially.
The Cabalists Who Cursed Rabin: "Our Prayer Has Been Answered"
—Ma'ariv, Nov. 6, 1995. By Shlomo Tzetzna.
A group of 10 Cabalists, who had held a prayer for Rabin's death on the last Yom Kippur Eve, said yesterday that their prayer had been answered.1 Avigdor Askin, an extreme religious activist who organized the prayer for Rabin's death, said that "Rabin's assassination is the materialization of a special prayer formulated long ago by the Cabbalists. We now pray that Yitzhak Rabin will be the last victim of peace." When Rabin was rushed to the hospital, Askin announced on Israeli radio that Cabalistic prayers were being held to speed his death.
The special prayer referred to is a curse supposed to cause a person to die. This prayer has been only rarely offered in Israel. According to Cabala tradition, after saying the prayer, the person must die. If the person for whom the prayer was said does not die, one of the 10 people conducting the prayer will die.2 Askin: "We are not happy, since we adhere to the verse: 'do not rejoice at the fall of your enemy.' However, we are not sad, because the Bible enjoins us to sing and rejoice when evil persons die."
1The reference is to a Cabalistic prayer called in Aramaic "Whip of Fire" (Pulsa D'nura) which is supposed to kill. Ten Cabalists assemble before midnight at a place (either a synagogue or a cave) lit only by black candles and recite the secret names of angels, special prayers and curses. Exactly at midnight the candles are extinguished and a ram's horn is blown by the 10 participants. Actually, this is only the mildest Cabalistic curse. There are stronger curses than the "Whip of Fire," for example one in which a white cockerel is offered to Satan and his blood then poured on the victim's door, but they need greater experts. It should be added that some religious Jews who do believe in Cabala have indeed, in the last few decades, died or have had heart attacks when told that the "Whip of Fire" was performed against them.
2It was said twice, in January 1991, against Saddam Hussain. When he did not die, the Cabalists said that they made a mistake in the ritual. I have no idea if one of the Cabalists subsequently died.
Trying to Understand Peres
—Ma'ariv , Oct. 25, 1995. By Shalom Yershalmi.
Yehuda Harel and Hayim Guri, two of the founders of the Third Way movement, always say that Shimon Peres is the only real supporter of Greater Israel in the present government. He did not want to partition the Land of Israel lengthwise and was not enthusiastic about separation between Israelis and Palestinians. Peres, who already in the 1970s established the settlements Ofra and Sebastia [now called Kedumim], was always opposed, according to those two, to dismantling any of the settlements. Moreover, Peres mocks the Likud hawk M.K. Tsahi Ha'negbi and his friends who were evacuated by Genin from Yamit in 1982 and claims that he would not allow himself to be so evacuated. He dreams about the industrial parks on the frontier between Israel and the Palestinian entity where Palestinians will be employed, but apparently under Israeli ownership of these parks. Anyone who listened to Peres' speech at the opening of the Knesset's winter session, and anyone who has heard his statements in various closed forums, understands better what Harel and Guri are saying. Peres would like to stabilize the map of the interim settlements, hoping that this will be the permanent map of Israel and the Palestinian entity: Neither separation, nor annexation. To swallow the Palestinians, but not to eat them. That is why Peres is so enthusiastic about the Oslo II accords which gave the Palestinians control of only about 27 percent of the West Bank, and left Israel with authority over Palestinian security and foreign affairs. Perhaps that is also the reason he rubbed his hands with glee after the accord was signed and said in private conversation at the home of the Chinese ambassador, "We screwed the Palestinians."
Indeed, Peres conducted the lengthy negotiations at Taba mainly about the authority to be transferred to the Palestinians, and said hardly anything about the borders. Peres believes, or wants to believe, that the 140,000 Jewish settlers will remain in the territories in perpetuity and that no Jewish settlement will ever be evacuated.
"Eight hundred thousand Arab citizens live in Israel and there is a respectable and nonviolent arrangement between us and them. There is no reason why the same relations that exist in Israel should not exist there," said Peres in the Knesset, borne on the wings of imagination about his new Middle East. Unusually, this time the foreign minister did not mention the town Ma'alot-Tarshikha of Israel where Arabs and Jews live in harmony.
Peres did not stress that the Arabs who live in Israel recognize the Israeli government and agree to live under its sovereignty. They participate in the elections and are elected to the Knesset. In contrast, the tens of thousands of Jews who live in the territories, among the Palestinian population, do not recognize the Palestinian entity and to not want to accept its laws or to be elected to its governing bodies. They have extreme views and contain violent elements who do not believe in any reasonable arrangement with the Palestinians, and pray for the day when the Oslo I and II accords would fall apart and Yasser Arafat would be brought to trial in an Israeli court and sentenced to death. Peres can receive accurate details about all this from right-wing extremists such as Geula Cohen.
Will the Palestinians agree to co-existence under conditions proposed by Peres? No. Even Arafat, who tolerates, although he does not like, the separation and the closure, and constantly complains about them, regards the Jewish settlements located deep in the Palestinian territory as an unendurable Israeli taunt. In the course of the next several years, the conflict over Jerusalem and over the settlements will be inevitably renewed. The extreme and murderous elements in the Palestinian society who oppose any peace will use the settlement issue to destroy what was agreed upon. Is Peres unaware of this complexity? Is he smarter than the rest of us? Does he know, in fact, that there is no possibility of combining two populations under such difficult conditions? Does he only want to calm the settlers who do not believe him? Was his speech in the Knesset only an obfuscation? Another of his typical episodes of saying yes and no at the same time? Anyone who has not yet despaired is invited to re-examine the twists and turns of the foreign minister's tortuous thinking. I am a bit desperate.
— All of the previous translations are taken from the WRMEA, December 1995 issue of From the Hebrew Press (see ad on p. 117).
Dr. Israel Shahak, a Holocaust survivor and retired professor of chemistry at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, is chairman of the Israeli League of Human and Civil Rights.