Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Israeli-Palestinian Peace Talks, Netanyahu, and 9/11

While researching troubling aspects of the terrorist attack on America exactly nine years ago to this day, I came across a report remarkable for its journalistic integrity and thoroughness from a most unlikely source: Fox News. Fox investigative reporter Carl Cameron’s four-part report indicates Israeli intelligence had specific advance knowledge of the 9/11 attacks but did not share the information with U.S. authorities. Israel’s intelligence agency Mossad warned the U.S. of an impending attack, but according to Cameron, the warning was nonspecific to protect Israeli “sources and methods.” Cameron reported that at least 60 Israelis were arrested in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, some with links to Israeli intelligence and military:
“Since September 11, more than 60 Israelis have been arrested or detained, either under the new patriot anti-terrorism law, or for immigration violations. A handful of active Israeli military were among those detained, according to investigators, who say some of the detainees also failed polygraph questions when asked about alleged surveillance activities against and in the United States.

“There is no indication that the Israelis were involved in the 9-11 attacks, but investigators suspect that the Israelis may have gathered intelligence about the attacks in advance, and not shared it. A highly placed investigator said there are “tie-ins.” But when asked for details, he flatly refused to describe them, saying, ‘evidence linking these Israelis to 9-11 is classified. I cannot tell you about evidence that has been gathered. It’s classified information.’”
Israeli Prime Minister (then-leader of the Likud) Benjamin Netanyahu recently told an audience at Bar Ilan university that the September 11, 2001 terror attacks benefited Israel: “We are benefiting from one thing, and that is the attack on the Twin Towers and Pentagon, and the American struggle in Iraq” … that “swung American public opinion in our favor.” This comes as no surprise given a hidden video of Netanyahu bragging of how easily he could manipulate Americans and derail the Oslo Accords, which had established the framework for peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians.

Mr. Netanyahu’s frosty relationship with President Obama and his party’s historic hard line toward a negotiated two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict do not presage a different result from previous failed peace talks. Netanyahu must go through the motions because Israel’s complicated relationship with the United States requires it. And he must appear to be making a good-faith effort to ease political pressures from progressive Israelis and from Jewish Americans who do not subscribe to the hardline Likud posture.

Some American analysts have optimistically compared Netanyahu’s chances for success with Nixon’s opening to China and Reagan’s rapprochement with Gorbachev. Historic hardliners, they argue, have the credibility to negotiate a peace agreement and sell it to their base at home. There is some truth to this, barring one small detail: Even if the creation of two states living side-by-side in peace casts a final agreement into the foreign policy orbit, the twisted path to getting there is largely a question of domestic politics and territorial concessions based on mutual assured security. Such is the symbiotic relationship between the negotiating adversaries.

This is not a negotiation between two equal and sovereign states. Or between a victor and vanquished state. Therein lies the conundrum that never the twain shall meet. For Benjamin Netanyahu the most important consideration has always been to “keep your base.” Rarely has the axiom all politics is local had such portentous international implications. Will the tiger change its stripes in this latest incarnation?

Ultimately, Netanyahu’s hope that the 9/11 terror attacks would become a game changer for Israel’s security benefit did not come to pass. If anything, the pressure for a negotiated two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is even greater now, with Iran stepping into the vaccuum left by George W. Bush’s war of choice against Saddam’s Iraq. There were never any WMD -- Bush’s pretext for his preemptive (doctrinal) attack -- to be found in Iraq, which did not attack us on 9/11. The great beneficiary of the war was Iran. And as it flexes its regional power muscles and seeks to weaponize its nuclear program, it is fast becoming an existential threat to Israel.

The price paid by the U.S. in blood and treasure for the arrogance and hubris of neoCons like Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, and Netanyahu is steep and climbing still. It should not take a wild conspiracy theorist to demand answers to the question of who, beside the Israelis, had prior knowledge of the 9/11 attacks and sought to profit from them in the stock market. Strangely, the results of SEC and FBI investigations into the matter have never been made public. President Obama is determined not to “relitigate” the past actions of the Bush-Cheney administration, probably because the guardians of this classified information believe we can’t handle the truth. But in a free society, the people have a right to know where the money trail leads even if it ends in treason.

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