Foreign Policy has produced a slander so outrageous that Israel broke with its strict policy of never confirming or denying covert operations to issue a flat denial – and surprisingly, given Israel’s notoriously poor public relations, it’s a convincing one. On Friday, the magazine published an article by Mark Perry, a military and intelligence analyst who once served as an advisor to Yasser Arafat, that accused Mossad agents of posing as CIA agents to recruit Pakistani terrorists to commit sabotage and assassinations inside Iran. The alleged operation infuriated two successive presidents, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, Perry wrote, because it endangered American lives, undermined America’s relationship with Pakistan and painted America as engaged in terrorist activity. Additionally, Perry said, it convinced many senior American officials that Israel was a liability rather than a strategic asset.
Israel termed the report “absolute nonsense,” explaining that had it been true, then-Mossad chief Meir Dagan would have been declared persona non grata in Washington rather than being a welcome visitor. Nor is that idle speculation: Those same two presidents forced the ouster of three other senior Israeli defense officials over other issues; why would they have given Dagan a pass?
Just last year, Uzi Arad was forced to resign as chairman of Israel’s National Security Council due to Washington’s anger over leaked information from U.S.-Israeli talks on nuclear issues. And in 2005, two senior Defense Ministry officials – director general Amos Yaron and chief of security Yehiel Horev – were forced out due to Washington’s anger over Israel’s agreement to upgrade Harpy drones for China, following a year in which the Pentagon boycotted Yaron entirely. Thus, had Dagan committed an offense as egregious as Perry claimed, it’s inconceivable that he would have continued for years to be not only a welcome guest, but even one of Washington’s preferred Israeli interlocutors.
This isn’t the first time Perry has produced a false but extremely damaging anti-Israel slur. In 2010, he alleged that then-general (and now CIA chief) David Petraeus had claimed the Arab-Israeli conflict was endangering American lives; Petraeus himself later termed the report “just flat wrong.” Unfortunately, Foreign Policy seems perfectly willing to keep giving Perry a platform for such canards – which says something rather troubling about this prestigious magazine.
Still, Israel isn’t the only one that ought to be outraged by the latest report; the Obama administration should be, too. For according to Perry, not only has Obama flatly refused to engage in “covert actions targeting Iran’s infrastructure or political or military leadership,” but he even “drastically scaled back joint U.S.-Israel intelligence programs targeting Iran” in anger over the Mossad’s alleged misdeeds, forcing the CIA “to shut down ‘some key intelligence-gathering operations’” in that country. In other words, not only does Obama prefer clean hands to covert action that might slow Iran’s nuclear program, but he even sacrificed “key intelligence-gathering” about Iran to anti-Israel pique.
For an administration that claims to be both a friend of Israel and committed to halting Iran’s nuclear program, those are pretty damning accusations. Washington can’t realistically deny them publicly. But Congress might want to make sure they’re false.