Biden Team Ignores Israel’s History of Deceit and Deception

Photograph Source: The White House – Public Domain

Question: How do you know when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is lying?

Answer: He moves his lips.

Israel’s history over the past 76 years is replete with examples of deceit.  This was true from the start, when the Israelis denied their role in expelling hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their homes during Israel’s War of Independence.  The Arab world refers to the expulsion as the “nakba” (the catastrophe), which is largely denied in Israel.  The Israeli legacy of denying the “nakba” is no different from those who deny the Holocaust.

The mainstream media bends over backwards to defend Israel’s case, and over the years it has said very little about the history of Israel’s deceit and deception.  As recently as last week, for example, the Washington Post carried a bizarre headline that read “Israel is on its honor to comply with U.S. intelligence limits.” The accompanying story was a significant one, detailing the importance of the U.S. intelligence provided to Israel to conduct the rescue of four Israeli hostages, an operation that took the lives of nearly three hundred Palestinians, mostly women and children.  By any definition of the requirement for proportionality in wartime, this was indeed a war crime.

The Post article went on to cite National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, an apologist for Israel since the start of the war on October 7th, who explained that the United States has “provided an intense range of assets and capabilities and expertise to Israel,” and that the provision of intelligence  is “not tied or conditioned on anything else.  It is not limited.  We are not holding anything back.  We are providing every asset, every tool, every capability.”  These remarks are dispositive of our complicity in Israel’s brutal and unconscionable assault against Palestinian civilians.

At the same time, U.S. officials disingenuously claim that Israeli is prohibited from using U.S. intelligence for targeting in Gaza in any military operations, including airstrikes.”  They argue that there are “long-standing formal arrangements that are scrutinized by lawyers in the U.S. intelligence community, as well as directives from the White House following the October 7th attacks.”  This is particularly disingenuous because of the long record of deceit and deception from both the U.S. intelligence community regarding U.S. wars in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan, and the Israeli lies over the years regarding their wars in 1956, 1967, 1973, and 1982.  I’ve written extensively about U.S. and Israeli lies in my articles for CounterPunch and my various books and articles.  And I will return to this deceit in future articles.

The idea that Israel is “on its honor” not to use U.S. intelligence for proscribed purposes, which is described by current U.S. intelligence officers, is laughable.  The Israelis have regularly broken agreements with the United States regarding the use of certain weaponry as well as the supply of U.S. weapons technology to third countries.  There is legislation on the books that requires the Director of National Intelligence to notify Congress if U.S. intelligence to  any third country leads to civilian casualties, but this law is observed only in the breach.  U.S. oversight regarding Israel is virtually nonexistent.

The Israeli pattern of deceit is particularly important because Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is currently engaged in a new round of false accusations in order to embarrass the Biden administration and divide the American public on the Gaza war as well as the U.S. election.  At least, the Biden administration has responded to Netanyahu’s outrageous charge by canceling an important meeting of the U.S.-Israeli Strategic Consultative Group regarding policy toward Iran in return for Netanyahu’s  “stunt.”

Nevertheless, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan did not cancel or postpone his meeting with his Israeli counterpart, Tzachi Hanegbi, and the U.S. Ambassador to Israel, Jack Lew, went overboard in stressing to Netanyahu there there haven’t been any delays in providing weaponry.  Also, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who arrived in Israel early in the war and announced that “I’m come before you not only as the U.S. secretary of state, but as a Jew,” assured Netanyahu that U.S. weapons were “moving as it normally would move.”  The only exception has been the hold on 2,000-pound bombs, which have killed thousands of women and children and should never have been provided to Israel in the first place.

These mixed signals over Netanyahu’s remarks were reminiscent of the so-called “red line” that Biden proclaimed to lighten an Israeli assault in Rafah, where more than a million refugees were threatened.  Israeli Defense Forces stormed Rafah on May 6, and Biden threatened to withhold weapons on May 8.  But there was no interruption of U.S. weapons deliveries, and the consequences in Rafah over the past six weeks have been devastating.  The assault is still ongoing, but national security adviser Sullivan announced that the “red line” had not been broken.

The fact that the U.S. Congress is rolling out the red carpet for Netanyahu in July is particularly ludicrous in view of his history of manipulating American public and congressional opinion.  Have we forgotten his address to the Congress in 2015, designed to embarrass the Obama administration and stop the completion of the Iran nuclear accord?  On this occasion, the congressional invitation is shameful because Netanyahu is a war criminal whose policies are killing and starving innocent civilians.

Netanyahu has spoken privately about his ability to manipulate Democratic administrations because he has the power of the Jewish lobby behind him, and Democratic presidents are fearful of antagonizing the Jewish vote and Jewish fund raising on behalf of  Democrats.  He has insulted American presidents, vice presidents, and secretaries of state over the years, and has never missed an opportunity to demonstrate that he has the upper hand in negotiations with the United States.  Netanyahu has always played hard ball with the United States.  Now, it’s time for the United States to do the same.

Melvin A. Goodman is a senior fellow at the Center for International Policy and a professor of government at Johns Hopkins University.  A former CIA analyst, Goodman is the author of Failure of Intelligence: The Decline and Fall of the CIA and National Insecurity: The Cost of American Militarism. and A Whistleblower at the CIA. His most recent books are “American Carnage: The Wars of Donald Trump” (Opus Publishing, 2019) and “Containing the National Security State” (Opus Publishing, 2021). Goodman is the national security columnist for