Marie Harf and the Washington Post lie about Israeli support for Iran deal

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Some of you may have seen this tweet by former State Department spokescritter Marie Harf, and the underlying article from the Washington Post, last week.

There's one small problem: Harf and the Washington Post lied External link.

[Washington Post writer Ishaan] Tharoor first mentions Ami Ayalon, a former head of the Shin Bet, Israel's internal security service, and links to a Daily Beast piece entitled "Ex-Intel Chief: Iran Deal Good for Israel External link."

Unfortunately for Tharoor (and for Daily Beast commentator Jonathan Alter), Ayalon, who begrudgingly supports the deal because it is "the best plan currently on the table" and because he believes there are no available alternatives, nonetheless has said in no uncertain terms External link, "I think the deal is bad. It's not good."

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Tharoor then cites former intelligence chief Efraim Halevy but strangely links to an Op-Ed Halevy wrote External link after a framework agreement was finalized in Lausanne last April but before the details of this final deal were agreed upon in Vienna this month. In a more recent (and thus relevant) Op-Ed External link, Halevy described what he sees as several strong points in the agreement and concludes that it is "important to hold a profound debate in Israel on whether no agreement is preferable to an agreement which includes components that are crucial for Israel's security."

He didn't explicitly state which side of the debate he favors, although there is a sense that leans toward the idea that Israel must get behind the deal. But like Ayalon, his tepid defense of the deal, if it is even that, seems to hinge on the idea that this agreement makes the emergence of any other, better deals unrealistic. "There will be no other agreement and no other negotiations," Halevy says in his recent Op-Ed.

What he does not say is that the deal signed in Vienna is, as a whole, "good." In an interview with Israel's Channel 2 External link, he repeats his call for national debate, and paints a much more equivocal picture: "This is not an agreement that is entirely bad," Halevy said. "There are positive elements in it." Later, he added that "this agreement has a number of very good elements for Israel, and there are elements that are not as good." That quote, with its shades of gray, might not make for as dramatic a headline as the one chosen by the Washington Post.

But if equivocation is what the newspaper has to work with, then equivocation is what it should be capturing in its headlines — even if that means the piece can't be used by State Department officials.

Next, Tharoor mentions Amos Yadlin, a former head of Israel's Military Intelligence branch. It is not clear why: Yadlin, who has cautioned against panic and excesses on the part of Israel's government, nonetheless believes, as explained in an interview with Israel's Ynet, "This is not a good deal. This a problematic deal. You also could call it a bad deal."

Tharoor's article initially gave no hint of Yadlin's criticism of the deal but sometime later the author snuck in a throw-away statement noting that Yadlin is "not a fan of the deal." (The stealth correction appears to violate the newspaper's correction policy External link.)

Finally, the Washington Post blogger mentions Meir Dagan, another former Mossad chief. It appears, though, that Dagan has not gone on record one way or another about the nuclear deal finalized in Vienna. (We looked for any recent statements by him in Hebrew or English, and came up with nothing. We will of course add an update if we find any relevant commentary by Dagan from before Tharoor wrote his article.)

Hmmm. I'm shocked. Just totally shocked. (Not!).

Written by 'Carl in Jerusalem'

posted: July 28, 2015   |   permanent link  |   Twitter Facebook Print PDF   |   ... more

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