There have been many comparisons between the barbarous Hamas mass terrorist assault on Israel carried out on the morning of Shabbos-Shemini Atzeres, and three other notorious sneak attacks: the opening stage of the 1973 Yom Kippur War; the 9/11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in Manhattan; and the December 7, 1941, Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor which brought the U.S. into World War II.
The Shemini Atzeres attack came 50 years, almost to the day, after Egypt and Syria launched the coordinated Yom Kippur attacks that briefly threatened Israel’s existence. Like the Hamas terrorists, the Egyptians and Syrians also succeeded in catching the Israeli government and military by complete surprise, using new tactics and weapons, including large numbers of man-launched anti-aircraft and anti-tank rockets, designed to overcome Israel’s defenses and neutralize its air superiority.
Israel’s lines of defense along the Suez Canal and the Golan Heights were badly undermanned, but the outnumbered soldiers were able to delay the Egyptians and Syrian attackers long enough to enable reinforcements to arrive before they breached the pre-1967 borders.
But that was not the case on Shemini Atzeres, when more than 1500 terrorists breached the Gaza security fence at many points, and penetrated as deeply as 15 miles into southern Israel. They then brutally murdered more than 1,000 Israelis, most of whom were defenseless civilians, in dozens of nearby towns and villages, before Israeli reinforcements finally arrived in force to repel the attack and hunt down the terrorists remaining on Israeli territory.
ECHOES OF THE HOLOCAUST
There were also disturbing echoes of the Nazi Holocaust in the atrocities committed by the Hamas terrorists against the defenseless civilians, who were mercilessly butchered during the opening hours of the attack.
Grief-stricken mothers wailed helplessly as their terrified children were violently torn from their arms. Couples were separated at gunpoint: men to the right, women to the left, and marched away in separate directions, never to see each other again. Entire families rounded up and shot. Civilians who ran to hide in outdoor concrete bomb shelters when they heard the missile warning sirens go off were sitting ducks for the terrorists, who followed them inside and mercilessly shot them down at point blank range.
Hundreds of panic-stricken youths attending a music festival at a kibbutz ran for their lives from a hail of terrorist bullets into nearby forests, and sought shelter by crawling under bushes and into ditches. When the initial attack was over the dead bodies of 260 of them were found on the festival grounds.
The terrorists took human trophies, including injured and abused women who were dragged through the streets of Gaza by barbarous men with hate-filled eyes and demonic smiles. Young Jewish children were kidnapped from their homes, after witnessing their parents murdered in cold blood. This is just a sample of the true horror of the Hamas attack, which is much too gruesome to be presented in accurate detail here.
ISRAEL FAILED TO HEED THE WARNING SIGNS
Another key element that made possible both the success of the Yom Kippur attack and the one on Shemini Atzeres was the failure of the vaunted Israeli security and intelligence services to accurately read and interpret the warning signs that they had observed during the days and weeks before the two assaults were launched.
Specifically, the Associated Press reports that Egypt warned Israel of a pending Hamas attack ten days before terrorists breached the Gaza border. According to an unnamed Egyptian official, “We have warned them an explosion of the situation [in Gaza] is coming, and very soon, and it would be big. But they underestimated such warnings.”
However, according to the Egyptian official, the Israelis did not take the warning seriously. Instead, they were primarily concerned about the Hamas threat to stage attacks on the West Bank and discounted the possibility of a major Hamas assault originating from Gaza.
Because of that perceived threat, the Israeli army had transferred some of its troops that were usually stationed along the Gaza border to the West Bank. When Hamas attacked across the Gaza border, Israel’s defense forces were thin, undermanned, and caught by surprise.
The main similarity between the Shemini Atzeres attack and 9/11 was the fact that they were terrorist operations specifically intended to massacre and kidnap large numbers of civilian men, women, and children; a deliberate war crime in gross violation of all accepted international standards for military warfare.
SIMILARITIES TO PEARL HARBOR
The similarities to Pearl Harbor were twofold. First, many senior American military advisors believed that because the waters of Pearl Harbor are so shallow, the battleships anchored there were immune to attacks from torpedoes dropped by Japanese planes, just as the Israelis believed that the sophisticated safeguards incorporated in the recently upgraded Gaza security fence would provide sufficient warning of a major Hamas attack.
Second, even while the Japanese carrier planes were on their way to bomb Pearl Harbor, American diplomats were expecting a diplomatic reply from Tokyo to their most recent peace offer which, ironically, did not arrive at the State Department until one hour after the attack started.
Similarly, the Israeli government, with the support of the Biden administration, was in the midst of delicate negotiations with Saudi Arabia to have it join the Abraham Accords, which would represent a long-anticipated diplomatic victory for the Netanyahu government and a major defeat for Iran’s efforts to dominate the region.
IRAN’S KEY ROLE IN PLANNING AND ORGANIZING THE ATTACK
That is the strategic background that adds credibility to a Wall Street Journal report, attributed to senior members of Hamas and Hezbollah, claiming that Iranian security officials had been working closely for months with Hamas leader to plan the Shemini Atzeres surprise attack. According to the article, details of the terrorist operation were refined during several meetings in Beirut between officers of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and representatives of several Iran-backed militant groups, including Hamas, Hezbollah and Palestinian Jihad. It also reports that Iran gave Hamas the green light for the assault at a meeting in Beirut on Monday, October 2.
The Wall Street Journal also claimed that it had separate confirmation of Iran’s role in the Hamas attack from an unnamed European official and an adviser to the Syrian government.
Senior Israeli security officials have warned Iran’s leadership that it will be held responsible if it is found to be directly responsible for organizing the attack. For example, Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Gilad Erdan said, “We know that there were meetings in Syria and in Lebanon with other leaders of the terror armies that surround Israel, so obviously it’s easy to understand that they tried to coordinate. The proxies of Iran in our region tried to be coordinated as much as possible with Iran.”
A DEVASTATING CASUALTY COUNT
As of Tuesday, Israeli officials said that Hamas killed more than 1000 Israelis, the vast majority of them civilians, more than in any of Israel’s armed conflicts since the Yom Kippur War. It also launched a devastating barrage of more than 5,000 rockets which temporarily overwhelmed Israel’s Iron Dome defense system. The terrorists also abducted more than 100 Israeli hostages and took them back to Gaza to hold as hostages. On Monday, Hamas leaders threatened to execute the hostages, ISIS-style, if the nearly continuous Israeli retaliatory air strikes on Gaza did not stop.
Mahmoud Mirdawi, a senior Hamas official, confirmed Iran’s claim that it did not orchestrate the attack and repeated the claim that Hamas planned the attacks on its own. “This is a Palestinian and Hamas decision,” he said. Hamas has publicly acknowledged receiving support from Iran, and it has also been reported that Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi talked directly to Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh the day after the initial assault.
When asked about the Wall Street Journal report, a spokesman for Iran’s mission to the United Nations issued a pro forma denial, claiming that while his country stood in support of Hamas’ actions, it did not direct them. “The decisions made by the Palestinian resistance are fiercely autonomous and unwaveringly aligned with the legitimate interests of the Palestinian people,” the Iranian spokesman said. “We are not involved in Palestine’s response, as it is taken solely by Palestine itself.”
While Iran is still denying accusations that it bears a heavy responsibility for the Hamas attack, Iran has also warned that if Israel decides to retaliate in kind for its role in organizing the Shemini Atzeres raid, its terrorist alliance would launch a devastating barrage of tens of thousands of missiles from Lebanon, Yemen, and Iran.
BIDEN’S IRAN POLICY BECOMING A MAJOR EMBARRASSMENT
The report of Iran’s direct involvement in planning the attack, if proven to be true, could have serious political repercussions for the Biden administration because it has just given Iran access to $6 billion in funds frozen by U.S. sanctions on Iran. Biden is also still trying to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which enriched, empowered, and legitimized the Iranian regime and its rogue nuclear program in the first place.
As a result, Biden administration officials have tried to cast doubt on the accuracy of the Wall Street Journal report. In an interview with CNN broadcast Sunday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said: “We have not yet seen evidence that Iran directed or was behind this particular attack, but there is certainly a long relationship.”
Another U.S. official said “We don’t have any information at this time to corroborate this [Wall Street Journal] account [of direct Iranian complicity in the Hamas attack].”
However, Lina Khatib, director of the SOAS Middle East Institute at the University of London, believes the Wall Street Journal story, because “an attack of such scope could only have happened after months of planning and would not have happened without coordination with Iran. Hamas, like Hezbollah in Lebanon, does not single-handedly make decisions to engage in war without prior explicit agreement from Iran,” she added.
In addition, the Washington Post reports that the leader of Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh, publicly acknowledged in a published interview last year that his group received $70 million in military assistance from Iran. Also, according to a State Department report from 2020, Iran provides about $100 million annually to Palestinian terrorist groups, including Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command.
HAMAS COULD NOT HAVE DONE THIS ON THEIR OWN
It is also clear that without Iran’s help, Hamas could not possibly have carried out such a sophisticated and well-coordinated attack, “by hundreds of gunmen traveling by land, sea and air — including motorized paragliders. The ground offensive was accompanied by swarms of rockets and drones. . . hitting targets with a degree of precision not seen in previous Hamas attacks.”
The Washington Post story also notes that Iranian officials have also “boasted publicly about the huge sums in military aid provided to Hamas in recent years.”
The story also stated that Iran arranged for the training of the most capable Hamas terrorists in advanced military tactics at Lebanese camps staffed by technical advisers from both Iran’s IRGC and Hezbollah.
Reuters reported that Hamas actually constructed a full-sized model of an Israeli settlement in Gaza which was used by the terrorists in training to practice their attacking techniques.
ATTACKING ISRAEL HAS BECOME IRAN’S TOP PRIORITY
According to the Wall Street Journal’s story’s sources, Iran has recently set aside the IRGC’s efforts to promote other regional conflicts, such as its proxy war against Saudi Arabia in Yemen, to devote the lion’s share of “its foreign resources toward coordinating, financing and arming militias antagonistic to Israel, including Hamas and Hezbollah.”
The senior IRGC commander chosen to organize Iran’s foreign terrorist proxies under a unified command was Ismail Qaani, the leader of the IRGC’s international military arm, the Quds Force.
He began his efforts in April, holding his first joint meeting with representatives of Hamas and Hezbollah in Lebanon. Their first joint project was a limited set of coordinated strikes on Israel from Lebanon and Gaza, under the direction of Iran. It was judged to be so successful that they decided to go forward with the much larger and more sophisticated attack that took place on Shemini Atzeres.
Joint planning for that attack moved into high gear in August, with biweekly meetings organized by IRGC commander Qaani held in Lebanon. Participants included Hezbollah’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, Islamic Jihad leader al-Nakhalah, and Hamas’s military chief Saleh al-Arouri. The Wall Street Journal also reported that, in addition to Qaani, Iran’s Foreign Minister, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian attended at least two of the meetings.
IRAN TRYING TO BLOCK ISRAEL’S DEAL WITH SAUDI ARABIA
The Shemini Atzeres strike hit Israel during a time when its government was distracted by internal divisions over Prime Minister Netanyahu’s proposed judicial reforms, and in order to disrupt the U.S.-brokered talks to normalize relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel.
If Israel could expand its alliance of regional diplomatic partners to include Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf Arab oil states, it could create a chain of allies that control all three key choke points of the global trade in the region, the Suez Canal, the Strait of Hormuz, and the Bab Al Mandeb. That would enable Israel and its Sunni-Arab allies to pose their own threat to Iran’s oil export-based economy. According to Hussein Ibish, a scholar at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington, “that [would be] very bad news for Iran. If Israel could do this, the strategic map changes dramatically to Iran’s detriment.”
Iran’s ultimate goal, the sources said, was “to create a multi-front threat that can strangle Israel from all sides — Hezbollah and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine in the north and Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hamas in Gaza and the West Bank.”
Thanks to the Hamas attack, achieving that goal now seems to be much more within Iran’s reach. As one Iranian official told the Wall Street Journal, “We are now free to focus on the Zionist entity. They are now very isolated.”
Qaani launched coordination among several militias surrounding Israel in April during a meeting in Lebanon, the Wall Street Journal has reported, where Hamas began working more closely with other groups such as Hezbollah for the first time.
THE HAMAS PLAN OF ATTACK
When the day for the Hamas attack came, the operation was divided into four parts. It began with a massive barrage of 3,000 rockets fired almost simultaneously to overwhelm the Iron Dome defense system, while hundreds of Hamas fighters flew hang gliders, or motorized paragliders over the border, landing in southern Israel. Once the terrorists were on the ground, they covered the elite Hamas commando unit that stormed the recently fortified electronic and cement border wall that Israel had built to prevent infiltration.
After explosives were used to breach the barriers, the terrorists then sped across on motorbikes. Bulldozers followed to widen the gaps in the wall so that terrorists in four-wheel drive vehicles could pass through.
Another Hamas commando unit then attacked the Israeli army’s southern Gaza headquarters in order to jam its military communications channels, preventing Israeli soldiers from calling for help, and keeping their commanders in the headquarters in the dark as to the situation on the ground.
The final part of the initial Hamas attack plan involved capturing as many hostages as possible and moving them immediately to Gaza, for use later as human shields and bargaining chips.
HAMAS’ GREAT DECEPTION
Another key element in the success of the Hamas attack was its sophisticated strategy that succeeded in convincing Israel’s leaders that the group had lost its appetite for large-scale armed confrontations with the Israeli military, and had become more interested in providing a better quality of life for the residents of Gaza by providing them with more lucrative employment inside Israel.
As an Israeli military spokesman later admitted, “We believed that the fact that they were coming in to work and bringing money into Gaza would create a certain level of calm. We were wrong.” In retrospect, it is now clear that it was all a charade.
As a Washington Post editorial states, “Terrifying as it is, Hamas’s strike is also clarifying. Yes, Israel has powerful enemies, out to destroy it; we now know this particular one had not been as effectively deterred as the Israeli security establishment believed. It had evidently been biding its time, arming and preparing for an operation whose size and complexity bespeak many months of planning and outside assistance, undoubtedly from Iran.”
Hamas leaders effectively sold that deception by declining to join smaller groups of terrorists, such as Islamic Jihad, in launching much less sophisticated rocket attacks against Israel. Hamas leaders also gave the false impression that they were now more interested in improving Gaza’s economy.
The Israeli government was happy to reciprocate. Following the latest de facto Hamas ceasefire, Israel began to offer thousands of work permits enabling Gaza workers to take much higher-paying jobs in Israel. Israel officials were led to believe that they had finally opened a path toward tranquility for Israel along with a degree of prosperity for Gaza, but it was all a cynical illusion.
Instead, Hamas pretended to be eager to help the Israeli military to maintain the peace, by feeding information to known Israeli spies on the location of Islamic Jihad’s rocket launchers, while simultaneously conducting extensive training operations for its Shemini Atzeres attack, under the direction of the Iranians, and in the utmost secrecy.
BARBARISM THAT HAS SHOCKED THE WORLD
Meanwhile, the shockingly graphic pictures and videos of the opening attack on Israeli civilians circulating on social media channels, including the barbaric torture and murder of young women and children, shocked the world, and even generated some sympathetic coverage from liberal news outlets that have traditionally been hostile to Israel, and portrayed it as an aggressor.
Nevertheless, there have also been sizable street demonstrations in New York City and elsewhere across the U.S. by ultra-liberal organizations in support of the Hamas attack, despite its incredible barbarity.
The Shemini Atzeres attack also took place just weeks after the 30th anniversary of the Oslo Accords, and the failed American-sponsored “peace process” which has led to the current hostilities. The very idea of trying to recruit arch-terrorist Yasser Arafat to pacify his Palestinian people now seems ludicrous in retrospect. The slicing of the West Bank into a jigsaw puzzle of non-contiguous Israeli and Palestinian pieces also has proven to be a recipe for perpetuating rather than ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Yt the Biden administration is still wedded to these failed ideas, as well as propping up Arafat’s successor, Mahmoud Abbas, and his notoriously corrupt Palestinian Authority. This lawless force has squandered its people’s trust, and continues to incite and incentivize attacks on Israeli Jews through its notorious ‘Pay for Slay’ financing scheme for terrorists and their families.
The latest attack further testifies to the folly of the ill-fated Israeli disengagement from Gaza in 2005 under the leadership of then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. Israel voluntarily decided to uproot 21 thriving Jewish communities there, with over 8,500 residents, as well as its military presence in Gaza. Instead of bringing peace as was promised, Gaza less than two years later fell into the hands of Hamas, which then turned the region into a giant military base from which to launch periodic rocket barrages against all nearby Israeli towns within missile range.
WHY THE ISRAELI LEFT HAS COLLAPSED
These failed attempts to make peace with the Palestinians had been primarily supported by the elite liberal members of Israel’s secular establishment. Their collapse, and the repeated failure of U.S. efforts to revive negotiations for the two-state solution, has destroyed any meaningful support among Israeli voters for the so-called Oslo peace process. It has also led to the continued decline of Israel’s once dominant liberal political parties.
Yet despite this dismal record of failure, even Bibi Netanyahu, who has long claimed the nickname of Mr. Security, has failed time and again to seize the multiple opportunities he has had during his years as prime minister to put an end to Hamas rule over Gaza. This tragic failure to accurately gauge the dangers of not disabling Hamas is what ultimately led to the Shemini Atzeres attack.
This raises the question of whether the Shemini Atzeres attack will force Prime Minister Netanyahu to suffer the same fate as Golda Meir, who was ultimately ousted as prime minister for failing to anticipate the devastating attack which opened the Yom Kippur War in 1973.
NETANYAHU’S REPUTATION HANGS IN THE BALANCE
But the time for Netanyahu’s political reckoning will not come until after the newly started war is ended and a thorough investigation is completed. There will be plenty of opportunity then to analyze how so many of Israel’s leaders failed to recognize the signs of the gathering Hamas attack, including former prime ministers, military officers, and security experts who should have known better. Instead they neglected their core obligation to defend Israel and chose to engage in politically divisive activities.
But even before such an investigation begins, it is already clear that much of Israel’s leadership and military failed to fulfill their most basic mission, making sure that Israel always serves as the safe haven of last resort for every Jew in the world facing oppression or discrimination.
Even when Israel emerges victorious from this war, it will not necessarily excuse the prime minister’s negligence in failing to anticipate the initial attack, as Golda Meir’s political fate proves.
Based upon the current mood of the Israeli people, Netanyahu’s only hope to survive in office may depend upon his willingness this time to finally carry out his threat to permanently put an end to the deadly threat posed by Hamas’ rule over Gaza. But as Netanyahu has readily admitted, a successful Israeli ground invasion of a well-fortified Gaza is likely to be a complex, lengthy, and ultimately costly operation.
That opportunity also carries its own dangers, such as the possibility that Hezbollah might come to Hamas’ aid and enter the fighting against Israel, turning the conflict into a two-front war, or even more perilous, precipitating the long-anticipated Israeli pre-emptive strike against Iran’s nuclear establishment.
ISRAEL’S OVER-RELIANCE ON MILITARY TECHNOLOGY
Another important lesson that Israel’s military strategists should learn from the Shemini Atzeres attack is its over-reliance on the technical superiority of its American-supplied sophisticated weaponry. They placed too much confidence in its Iron Dome defense system and F-35 stealth warplanes, and were caught unprepared for an attack using much less sophisticated equipment. This included armored bulldozers to punch through the Gaza border fence, followed by convoys of pickup trucks and SUVs carrying terrorists wearing Kevlar vests and carrying small arms, machine guns and RPGs.
Another problem facing Israel is the Biden administration’s continued determination to make Iran the dominant power in the region, as signified by its recent payment of a $6 billion ransom to Iran in order to free five wrongfully imprisoned Americans languishing on trumped-up charges in an Iranian jail. The Shemini Atzeres attack only confirms the conventional wisdom that trying to appease a rogue state like Iran only encourages it to become more aggressive.
THE PROBLEM STARTED WITH OBAMA’S IRAN POLICIES
In fact, this wrongheaded U.S. Middle East foreign policy strategy was originated by President Obama shortly after he took office. It was based upon the dangerously naive idea that by legitimizing Iran’s rogue nuclear program, and eliminating the crippling sanctions on its economy, the U.S. could effectively subcontract and transfer its traditional role as the dominant power in the region to Iran’s radical Islamic leaders, enabling the U.S. to transfer the bulk of its military power from the Middle East to the Asian-Pacific rim in response to the growing threats and challenges from China.
That goal of that transfer, which strategic analysts Tony Badran and Michael Doran have called “the realignment,” was described by Robert Malley, who served as Barack Obama’s lead negotiator on the controversial 2015 Iran nuclear deal. The strategy was to create a new world order in which America partners with Iran in order to “find a more stable balance of power that would make [the Middle East] less dependent on direct U.S. interference or protection.”
One of President Biden’s first moves upon taking office was to reinstate Malley to his former position as his special envoy to Iran, in order to lead the Biden administration’s desperate efforts to revive the nuclear deal which had been suspended by President Trump in 2018.
STUNNING REVELATIONS: BIDEN’S IRAN ENVOY WAS SPYING FOR IRAN
Back in April, Malley was put on suspension, and the reason why became obvious when veteran former Wall Street Journal reporter Jay Solomon published a trove of hacked Iranian government emails revealing the astounding fact that Malley was actually a secret agent for Iranian intelligence. The man was allegedly engaged in funding, supporting and directing an operation designed to influence the Iran policies of the United States and its allied governments.
According to an article by Lee Smith published in the Tablet describing Malley’s Iranian spy ring, another part of his secret mission was to help infiltrate another Iranian agent named Ariane Tabatabai into some of the most sensitive positions in the U.S. government, first at the State Department and currently at the Pentagon. In her present position, she has been serving as chief of staff for the Biden’s assistant secretary of defense for special operations, Christopher Maier.
The emails show that Malley and Tabatabai were part of a larger operation launched by the Iranian Foreign Ministry to influence U.S. policy in 2014 at the start of the negotiations for the nuclear deal. Known as the Iran Experts Initiative (IEI), it recruited Iranian academics living abroad who had pledged their personal loyalty to the Islamic regime to carry out a secret campaign directed by Malley and other senior Iranian officials in support of Teheran’s policies.
The operation was ultimately funded and supported by an IRGC official, Mostafa Zahrani, under the guidance of then-Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif.
INFILTRATING THE U.S. GOVERNMENT
According to one of the emails, Malley’s Iranian spy ring “consisted of a core group of 6-10 distinguished second-generation Iranians who have established affiliation with the leading international think tanks and academic institutions, mainly in Europe and the U.S.”
Malley also served as the former head of the International Crisis Group (ICG), a group that directly paid and provided credentials for several other key members of IEI’s influence operation.
The spy ring also included Ali Vaez, who joined the ICG in 2012 and served as Malley’s top deputy. However, when Malley sought to bring Vaez with him into the Biden State Department, he was unable to obtain a security clearance. In early 2021, shortly before he joined the Biden administration, Malley brought a fourth Iranian IEI operative, Dina Esfandiary, into the ICG.
The operatives used their Iranian heritage and Western academic positions to influence U.S. policy toward Iran, first as outside “experts” and then from high-level posts within the Biden administration.
Yet despite the published evidence that Malley was operating as an Iranian double agent, the Biden administration is still trying to defend him. In response to an inquiry about the spy ring from Tablet magazine, a State Department spokesman wrote, “We have seen the Semafor article [revealing the Iranian emails], which does not presume it was a ‘spy ring,’ and we reject that characterization. Rob Malley remains on leave and we have no further comment due to privacy considerations.”
While Malley’s spy ring has now been thoroughly exposed, there is still no clarity on a burning question raised by Peter Theroux, a retired former CIA Middle East analyst who specialized in Iranian and other foreign spying and terrorist networks; why was the spy ring not discovered and eliminated by U.S. national security agencies and the FBI years ago?
According to Theroux, “The hoops you have to jump through to get a bare-bones top secret clearance even without compartments or special access programs are enormous. They grill you on your foreign contacts. Contacts with any foreign government raise red flags. . . Contacts with senior officials from enemy governments. . . like Russia, China, Cuba, as well as Iran, are in a different category altogether — what would normally be totally disqualifying.”
Such communications by the IEI agents in sensitive government positions were closely monitored by U.S. intelligence officials. As Theroux recalled, “When I was on the National Security Council, the National Security Agency would call to alert me when my name had popped up in a conversation among bad actors.”
ANOTHER SPY FOR IRAN STILL HOLDING HER PENTAGON JOB
Even though the Biden administration quickly suspended Malley and revoked his security clearance shortly after the incriminating emails were published, a cloud of suspicion continues to hang over one of his other IEI agents, Ariane Tabatabai, who was cleared to work as a chief of staff in the Defense Department, with direct access to the most sensitive real-time details of U.S. special forces operations. Her covert activities on behalf of Iran should have become well known in the Biden administration and intelligence circles. Yet, incredibly, this allegedly compromised individual is still holding her job.
According to Theroux, “The optimistic reading is that they were watching her to see what she does and the FBI has her apartment all teched up. But to be an optimist you have to believe the FBI is clean, rather than see this as a huge counterintelligence failure. Though, of course, it’s not a failure if they [the FBI and the Biden administration] were [deliberately] complicit [with the Iranian spying operation].”
That leads to a much more cynical explanation for the Biden administration’s tolerance for Iranian spies in its midst. The Tablet article suggests that “the Biden administration allowed Malley to push an Iranian agent into sensitive national security positions because she was best equipped to carry out the administration’s own policy — to appease a terror regime with American blood on its hands. Because the number of American officials who want to be responsible for protecting Iran’s nuclear weapons program is limited, the White House went outside the federal bureaucracy for someone who was well-connected to the regime, and would relish the job of advancing its interests — an Iranian spy.”
BIDEN STILL COMMITTED TO OBAMA’S “REALIGNMENT” SCHEME
The suspicion of White House collaboration with the Iranian regime becomes even more credible in light of the fact that President Biden is still fully committed to Obama’s pro-Iranian foreign policy “realignment” scheme. Writing in an op-ed published last year in the Washington Post after his visit to the Middle East, Biden used the same phrase coined by the Obama administration, “an integrated Middle East,” to make it clear that his administration was intent on pursuing his predecessor’s commitment to treating Iran not as a U.S. enemy but rather as a collaborator.
Not only has the Biden administration loosened its enforcement of the sanctions on Iran that it inherited from the Trump administration, and most recently paid Iran $6 billion in ransom, but it has also restored the hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. aid for the Palestinians that Trump had canceled because of the Palestinian Authority’s “pay for slay” policies that support the families of those who slaughter Israelis.
Even the U.S. assistance in trying to get Saudi Arabia to normalize its relations with Israel comes with an uncomfortably high price for the Netanyahu government; namely a U.S. demand that the Israeli government make more concessions to the Palestinians and restrict Jewish construction in the West Bank and East Yerushalayim. The intent behind this policy is to preserve the highly unlikely and undesirable possibility of reviving the two-state solution.
BIDEN’S INTERFERENCE IN ISRAELI POLITICS
In addition, the Biden administration has done everything in its power to undermine the results of last November’s Knesset election by supporting the protesters who have been trying to delegitimize Netanyahu’s democratically elected government. Biden himself told CNN that Netanyahu’s government was “the most extreme” he’s ever seen, and has missed no opportunity to publicly lecture the prime minister about the alleged “threat” from his proposed judicial reforms to Israel’s democratic values.
Former U.S. ambassador to Israel, Tom Nides, also took it upon himself to interfere in Israel’s domestic affairs by announcing that he “think[s] most Israelis want the United States to be in their business.” The Biden administration has also been sending substantial financial support to the anti-Netanyahu NGOs which have been organizing the massive street protests against the Israeli government that have served as a major distraction, paving the way for the Iranian-organized Hamas attack.
Finally, Biden has deliberately snubbed Netanyahu, time and again, ever since he was elected prime minister, by denying him the traditional invitation to the White House, while at the same time rolling out the red carpet for the visiting leader of the Israeli opposition, Benny Gantz.
WELCOME WORDS TAKEN WITH A GRAIN OF SALT
That is why Biden’s most welcome declarations of unquestioning support for Israel as it starts to fight back must be taken with more than a grain of salt. In a telephone conversation between Biden and Netanyahu on the day after the initial attack, the prime minister said that because of the overwhelming magnitude of the initial Hamas attack, he had to order a ground attack, “We have to go in,” he explained, “[because] we need to restore deterrence,” and Biden didn’t try to talk him out of it.
However, the expectation is that Biden will now follow the same pattern he set in handling the 2021 Gaza War, by giving Israel his full support during the first few days of the war, and then ratcheting up the pressure for a ceasefire as the casualty count in Gaza inevitably rises.
Another problem with Biden’s initially comforting words for Israel is that they are not really consistent with his Middle East policies. When Biden and his administration support Iran by loosening sanctions and sending it ransom money; when they reward Palestinian violence by restoring hundreds of millions of dollars of U.S. government aid; when they go out of their way to portray Israel’s prime minister as a threat to its democracy, and finance his Israeli political opponents, and give Iranian agents access to highly classified U.S. intelligence—there can then be no denying that these policies helped pave the way for the war Hamas launched on Shemini Atzeres.
The only positive outcome of that attack was its ability to heal, overnight, the sharp partisan conservative vs. liberal rift that has been tearing Israeli society apart since last November’s Knesset election.
ISRAEL’S LEADERS TOOK THEIR EYES OFF THE BALL
Israel has paid a very high price for indulging in that unnecessary domestic political war. It caused Israeli leaders to lose sight of their main mission, defending a country still surrounded by enemies. It also probably encouraged its enemies to launch the Shemini Atzeres attack by giving them the false impression that Israel had lost the unity necessary to effectively fight them off.
If, as expected, Netanyahu agrees to expand his governing coalition with the addition of the seasoned military men now in the opposition, such as former IDF Chiefs of Staff Benny Ganz and Gadi Eisenkot, he could give his government a second chance to reclaim the respect of the Israeli people and restore his now badly tarnished reputation.