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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 .
[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 ."
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 , "I think the deal is bad. It's not good."
US Secretary of State John Kerry [frontpagemag.com]
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 , 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 .)
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!).