The Former Head of Mossad Speaks at ADL
<span style="font-family:trebuchet ms;">First, the Iranian Ambassador, now the former head of the Mossad/former Israeli Ambassador to the European Union, </span><a href=" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ephraim_Halevy"><span style="font-family:trebuchet ms;">Ephraim Halevy</span></a><span style="font-family:trebuchet ms;">, appeared up close and personal. He was here to promote a new book, and in the process, managed to touch on a number of hot-button subjects.
* Halevy has worked through several administrations, including Barak's and Sharon's. In 2002, he resigned not because of his disagreements with the administrations, but for personal reasons. As far the disengagement, he said, Israel went through it because the political situation has changed, and because Israel became a junior partner in the game, a junior partner to the United States, it had to take U.S. interests into account.
He didn't elaborate what he meant, and we were led to assume that either he was simply stating the "official" position Israeli officials, current or former, state in such instances, or that his private opinion was THERE, but we had to read between the lines and assume things he didn't state directly. Still thinking on that one!
* Halevy called Hamas's victory surprising, but didn't look very surprised. He stated that Israel continues to view Hamas as a very threatening force, but that Halevy himself has a different take on the way Hamas should be treated. Up to now, the accent has been on that Hamas refuses to recognize Israel, and the idea was that Israel should somehow get Hamas to recognize Israel's existence and statehood. In reality, the non-recognition is mutual, and it is Hamas that should be vying for Israel's recognition, not the other way around. It was Halevy's opinion that this change in emphasis could lead to certain political changes.
*Hamas is nearing bankrupcy, and dissatisfaction among the Palestinians continues to grow. So far, it hasn't been fulfilling its promises, and if things continue to go the way they are going, and Hamas continues to maintain the hard-line position, the economic situation may become so dire that it may be forced to reconsider its stand or face political consequences. It's quite clear, that the PA is completely dependent on international aid, and without it cannot function. Denied aid from U.S., Israel, and Europe, Hamas has turned to other Middle Eastern promises, which have promised monetory help, but which are not in any hurry to pay up. At a recent meeting in Teheran, where Iran has promised Hamas a one-time package of 50 million, an Algerian representative stated in no uncertain terms that Hamas should lobby rich Palestinians from all over the world to pay taxes to support the Palestinians in the territories, and come to other states only after that is done. At this point, most of PA's money comes from Saudi Arabia, but that is insufficient.
* After a recent statement by Al Qaeda, the Hamas leadership was quick to distance itself from that organization and to make clear that Hamas is NOT Al Qaeda and has nothing to do with that organization. There is a significant schism between the two groups. (Halevy did not elaborate on that, but it sounded like he has some information that we don't). If pressured, it is unlikely, though possible that Hamas can become a partner against Al Qaeda. Moreover, if Hamas were to propose an unconditional long-term hudna, Halevy, as a pragmatist, would be more likely to accept it than not.
On Israel's Relationship with Egypt:
*Is quite solid, and Egyptians have been brought in as a buffer in negotiations with the Palestinians.
On Israel's Relationship with the United States:
* There are differences in interests, and there have been instances when each of the sides had to give in to the considerations of the other. As a junior partner to the United States, however, it is frequently the case that Israel has to consider U.S. interests in its own policies... (At this point, Halevy didn't add anything, but again we were led to believe that his personal opinion was there somewhere, and that he, perhaps, was often not thrilled with the way those political considerations have influenced Israel's policies. I, could, however, be completely misinterpreting this.)
* Surprisingly, Halevy didn't start making cracks about CIA's competency or lack thereof. On the contrary, he very emphatically and earnestly stated that he has a lot of respect for CIA and George Tenet, and that he views Tenet's resignation as being pressured at a time shameful for *Americans* and not for CIA. (In other words, it seems, he didn't approve of the forces callign for CIA's resignation). He humorously alluded to the two types of criticisms the CIA has faced in the two reports on intelligence. As far as 9/11 goes, CIA has been criticized for not being imaginative enough. As far as WMD in Iraq is concerned, CIA has been criticized for being *too* imaginative. So you have to make up your minds on whether you want your CIA agents to be imaginative or not! - laughed Halevy. His personal interpretation is in his book...
However, The Economist recently published an interesting article,"<a href="http://www.economist.com/opinion/displayStory.cfm?story_id=2963194">In Defence of the Intelligence</a>", in which Halevy discusses his views on intelligence and George Tenet in more detail. (Hat tip: <a href=" http://soccerdad.baltiblogs.com/">Soccer Dad </a>)
*</span><a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godwin"><span style="font-family:trebuchet ms;">Godwin's Law</span></a><span style="font-family:trebuchet ms;"> ( The idea that as online discussion grows, so does the probability of a comparison to Hitler or the Nazis, at which point, traditionally, the person who makes the comparison atuomatically loses the debate): Halevy wouldn't say whether he thought Ahmadinejad was like Hitler, but stated that many of Ahmadinejad's statements do parallel what Hitler has written. His advice was to take Ahamdinejad seriously. "When politicians make public statements, take them seriously" - repeated he several times.
* Although Iran's policies may become a danger to Israel, there is no question Israel will continue to exist, stated Halevy emphatically. That's the premise we have to operate under whatever we do. Israel will continue to exist no matter what. (I think Halevy was trying to make a reassuring statement for the sake of the audience.)
* Nuclear threat: If it comes to that, Israel has sufficient arsenals, which it will be willing to put to use to protect its citizens.
*The likelihood of nuclear warfare: Here, again, Halevy made an ambiguous statement, which sounded like he knew a lot more that he was willing to admit in public, but was letting us figure it out. He stated that although the situation looks pretty bad right now, but that inside Iran the situation is very, very tense as well and he had a feeling that very soon something's going to "happen" in Iran from within, and unless European and American leadership will be willing to stand by without getting involved in any way, it's going to be possible to control that situation. In other words, Halevy didn't think it's going to be necessary for Israel to attack Iran. It sounded a lot like Halevy was implying a revolution is about to unfold.
*Women's Rights: In Iran, they are being elected into Parliament. In Egypt, three years ago, they've been given the right to divorce, very, very important. It looks like women's situationg throughout the Middle East, but especially Iran, is about to change, because it's changing already. The women are going to become an increasingly important force, predicted Halevy.
*The demographic imbalance of Muslims and non-Muslims in Europe is growing drastically, but Europeans themselves are either blind to the implications or afraid to discuss that subject because its politically incorrect to do so. Further, Halevy told two anecdotes, in which random Muslim individuals in Europe have made statements predicting their conquest of Europe. Halevy cited various demographic statistics showing the differences in birthrates and discussed how by 2050, countries such as Russia, may find that half of their population is Muslim, and most of the EU, which has significantly smaller populations, will find itself with Muslim majority. Halevy stated that he is not an optimist as to the European future, and "on that happy note", ended the talk.
Make of it what you will. I've formed my own conclusions, but maybe I'm just flattering myself and seeing what I want to see and not what Halevy actually meant.