Why U.S. Officials Keep Talking to the Press about Covert Israeli Operations in Iran

Last week, according to the New York Times, a powerful Iranian intelligence chief lost his job after a series of successful acts of sabotage, thought by many inside and outside of the Islamic Republic to have been carried out by the Mossad. Attributed to Israel are various suspicious explosions at sites connected to the Iranian nuclear program as well as the killing of seven members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in May and June—including two colonels. Eyal Zisser comments on the American reaction:

It is unclear why every time an explosion is reported at one of the nuclear facilities in Iran or a senior Revolutionary Guards official meets his end at the entrance to his home in the heart of Tehran, senior anonymous officials in Washington lets it be known that the U.S. was not responsible for the act and insinuate that responsibility lies with and—and that the resulting act of vengeance should be directed at—Israel.

The U.S. is Israel’s most important ally, and a few anonymous officials must not be allowed to place the American friendship and commitment to Israel’s security in question. . . . Nevertheless, there is something both unclear and unhealthy about these repeated leaks that insinuate Israel is behind regional tensions.

As the late Prime Minister Menachem Begin said, Israel is not a vassal state of the U.S. and does not need U.S. approval for any move. . . . Moreover, American concerns over Iran are neither understandable nor justified. Iran is a large and important country, and there is no need to start a war with it unnecessarily. But at the same time, there is no need to exaggerate its power.

Israel has proven over the last decade that one can set red lines for the Iranians and thwart their activity. It has also proven that Tehran is limited in its ability to retaliate and is deterred from conflict. . . . It is inappropriate for officials in Washington to try to hide behind Israel’s apron strings and place the blame on us.

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Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Iran, Mossad, US-Israel relations

Salman Rushdie and the Western Apologists for Those Who Wish Him Dead

Aug. 17 2022

Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder and supreme leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, issued a fatwa (religious ruling) in 1989 calling for believers to murder the novelist Salman Rushdie due to the content of his novel, The Satanic Verses. Over the years, two of the book’s translators have been stabbed—one fatally—and numerous others have been injured or killed in attempts to follow the ayatollah’s writ. Last week, an American Shiite Muslim came closer than his many predecessors to killing Rushdie, stabbing him multiple times and leaving him in critical condition. Graeme Wood comments on those intellectuals in the West who have exuded sympathy for the stabbers:

In 1989, the reaction to the fatwa was split three ways: some supported it; some opposed it; and some opposed it, to be sure, but still wanted everyone to know how bad Rushdie and his novel were. This last faction, Team To Be Sure, took the West to task for elevating this troublesome man and his insulting book, whose devilry could have been averted had others been more attuned to the sensibilities of the offended.

The fumes are still rising off of this last group. The former president Jimmy Carter was, at the time of the original fatwa, the most prominent American to suggest that the crime of murder should be balanced against Rushdie’s crime of blasphemy. The ayatollah’s death sentence “caused writers and public officials in Western nations to become almost exclusively preoccupied with the author’s rights,” Carter wrote in an op-ed for the New York Times. Well, yes. Carter did not only say that many Muslims were offended and wished violence on Rushdie; that was simply a matter of fact, reported frequently in the news pages. He took to the op-ed page to add his view that these fanatics had a point. “While Rushdie’s First Amendment freedoms are important,” he wrote, “we have tended to promote him and his book with little acknowledgment that it is a direct insult to those millions of Moslems whose sacred beliefs have been violated.” Never mind that millions of Muslims take no offense at all, and are insulted by the implication that they should.

Over the past two decades, our culture has been Carterized. We have conceded moral authority to howling mobs, and the louder the howls, the more we have agreed that the howls were worth heeding. The novelist Hanif Kureishi has said that “nobody would have the [courage]” to write The Satanic Verses today. More precisely, nobody would publish it, because sensitivity readers would notice the theological delicacy of the book’s title and plot. The ayatollahs have trained them well, and social-media disasters of recent years have reinforced the lesson: don’t publish books that get you criticized, either by semiliterate fanatics on the other side of the world or by semiliterate fanatics on this one.

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Read more at Atlantic

More about: Ayatollah Khomeini, Freedom of Speech, Iran, Islamism, Jimmy Carter