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.

Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Iran, Mossad, US-Israel relations

How to Save the Universities

To Peter Berkowitz, the rot in American institutions of higher learning exposed by Tuesday’s hearings resembles a disease that in its early stages was easy to cure but difficult to diagnose, and now is so advanced that it is easy to diagnose but difficult to cure. Recent analyses of these problems have now at last made it to the pages of the New York Times but are, he writes, “tardy by several decades,” and their suggested remedies woefully inadequate:

They fail to identify the chief problem. They ignore the principal obstacles to reform. They propose reforms that provide the equivalent of band-aids for gaping wounds and shattered limbs. And they overlook the mainstream media’s complicity in largely ignoring, downplaying, or dismissing repeated warnings extending back a quarter century and more—largely, but not exclusively, from conservatives—that our universities undermine the public interest by attacking free speech, eviscerating due process, and hollowing out and politicizing the curriculum.

The remedy, Berkowitz argues, would be turning universities into places that cultivate, encourage, and teach freedom of thought and speech. But doing so seems unlikely:

Having undermined respect for others and the art of listening by presiding over—or silently acquiescing in—the curtailment of dissenting speech for more than a generation, the current crop of administrators and professors seems ill-suited to fashion and implement free-speech training. Moreover, free speech is best learned not by didactic lectures and seminars but by practicing it in the reasoned consideration of competing ideas with those capable of challenging one’s assumptions and arguments. But where are the professors who can lead such conversations? Which faculty members remain capable of understanding their side of the argument because they understand the other side?

Read more at RealClearPolitics

More about: Academia, Anti-Semitism, Freedom of Speech, Israel on campus