The Covert War between Israel and Iran Slips from Real Life into Television, and Back

Were it not for “diverse operations, most of which are covert,” said the former IDF chief of staff Gadi Eisenkot in a recent interview, the Islamic Republic would have had nuclear weapons some seven years ago. Meanwhile, the ayatollahs have conducted their own share of cyberattacks, assassination attempts, and so forth in retaliation. The Mossad’s role in all this has even become the subject of a popular Israeli television drama, Tehran, which has made its way to Apple TV—and recently had a brush with reality, as Benny Avni writes:

An Iranian spy has reportedly attempted to infiltrate the set of an Emmy-winning television series, Tehran, and, in another case of life imitating art, Israel’s growing, real-life sabotage campaign inside Iran seems ripped off the pages of that series’ screenplay. The alleged Iranian plot targeting the fictional TV show was disclosed this week by its creator, Moshe Zonder. Despite its life-like street scenes, Tehran is filmed in Greece, far from the Iranian capital. There, according to Mr. Zonder, Iranian spies attempted to get an operator on the set.

At the same time, Israel seems to be intensifying a real-life campaign of attacks against the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program, complete with drone attacks and assassinations of Revolutionary Guards commanders. Whether Israel’s infiltration of Iran has really deepened recently, or just became more apparent, is unclear to this reporter. Yet, reports on sabotage operations for which Tehran blames Israel are ever more frequent.

The [New York] Times reported last week that Israel had alerted America in advance of the killing of a colonel of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Sayad Khodayari, who was shot with five bullets earlier this month near his home at Tehran, after which his motorcycle-riding assailants quickly disappeared. Israeli officials said that by disclosing to the Times that they were responsible for the IRGC bigwig’s demise, Washington could undermine future clandestine activities inside Iran.

The acclaimed success of [the] series Tehran and its vast viewership inside Iran, where the series is ostensibly banned, might also help Israeli agents to recruit at the Iranian capital. The arts often closely portray real life, but the reverse may also be true.

Read more at New York Sun

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Mossad, Television

American Aid to Lebanon Is a Gift to Iran

For many years, Lebanon has been a de-facto satellite of Tehran, which exerts control via its local proxy militia, Hizballah. The problem with the U.S. policy toward the country, according to Tony Badran, is that it pretends this is not the case, and continues to support the government in Beirut as if it were a bulwark against, rather than a pawn of, the Islamic Republic:

So obsessed is the Biden administration with the dubious art of using taxpayer dollars to underwrite the Lebanese pseudo-state run by the terrorist group Hizballah that it has spent its two years in office coming up with legally questionable schemes to pay the salaries of the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), setting new precedents in the abuse of U.S. foreign security-assistance programs. In January, the administration rolled out its program to provide direct salary payments, in cash, to both the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and the Internal Security Forces (ISF).

The scale of U.S. financing of Lebanon’s Hizballah-dominated military apparatus cannot be understated: around 100,000 Lebanese are now getting cash stipends courtesy of the American taxpayer to spend in Hizballah-land. . . . This is hardly an accident. For U.S. policymakers, synergy between the LAF/ISF and Hizballah is baked into their policy, which is predicated on fostering and building up a common anti-Israel posture that joins Lebanon’s so-called “state institutions” with the country’s dominant terror group.

The implicit meaning of the U.S. bureaucratic mantra that U.S. assistance aims to “undermine Hizballah’s narrative that its weapons are necessary to defend Lebanon” is precisely that the LAF/ISF and the Lebanese terror group are jointly competing to achieve the same goals—namely, defending Lebanon from Israel.

Read more at Tablet

More about: Hizballah, Iran, Israeli Security, Lebanon, U.S. Foreign policy