When sociology Professor William Robinson stared down the Anti-Defamation League, it looked like a victory for academic freedom. Yet was it? Robinson was portrayed as an anti-Semite because he sent an email to students featuring a photo essay critical of Israel that had circulated online for weeks. While University of California administrators dallied, the ADL and its international network turned up the heat—signaling academics worldwide they could be next.
It looked like progress when the faculty at UC Santa Barbara urged “changes in procedures to avoid improprieties and abuses in the future….” But was it? By then the ADL campaign had created the intended chilling effect. This silencing campaign was featured news for five time-critical months while a newly elected U.S. president was reassessing U.S.-Israeli relations. How can anyone calculate the full extent of the damage—not only to Robinson’s reputation and to the stature of the University of California but also to national security?
So where’s the victory? Clearly Robinson deserves acclaim for resisting pressure as the ADL deployed its most seasoned operatives, including Marvin Heir, a rabbi at the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles. Only an investigation can identify who mobilized the donor community that threatened UCSB Chancellor Henry Yang with the withdrawal of funds.
What was the motivation for this high profile intimidation campaign? Was the ADL driven simply by the discomfort that two students voiced on their receipt of his email criticizing Israeli policy? Or did the ADL network have its sights on a broader strategic goal?
Facts have since proven it was largely pro-Israelis who fixed the intelligence that manipulated the U.S. to invade Iraq. That same network has now mobilized to expand that war to Iran. A key barrier: the global condemnation of Israel’s brutal assault on Gaza. How does Tel Aviv limit the public relations fallout? On what leverage points should Israel focus to contain the censure while continuing to obscure Israel and pro-Israelis as the common source of this manipulation?
Aiding An Enemy Within?
The Founders faced a similar challenge during the Revolutionary War. How could they distinguish patriots from those loyal to a foreign nation? Knowing the vast risks that accompany betrayal, they lowered the evidentiary standard for treason. Guilt still required proof beyond a reasonable doubt but a conviction only required evidence of “adhering” to an enemy or giving them “aid and comfort.” To remove all doubt about the gravity of this capital offense, they even included those relaxed standards in Article III of the U.S. Constitution.
Fast-forward two centuries to the Information Age and consider the challenge of distinguishing friend from foe. With a new president sworn into office on a platform promising change, how should Tel Aviv continue to conceal the fact that it was pro-Israelis who deceived the U.S. to wage war in Iraq for the expansionist goals of Greater Israel?
During the Democratic presidential primaries, Senator Barack Obama promised no change in U.S.-Israeli relations. But that pledge was made while he and Hillary Clinton were vying for the pro-Israeli vote. What about now—particularly now that he knows Israel scheduled its assault on Gaza between Christmas and the Obama inaugural—knowing that interval would ensure Tel Aviv could operate largely free of official criticism?
Campaigning for president is one thing. Serving as commander in chief is another. What became of the prospects for change after this professor of constitutional law took a constitutional oath that obliged him to defend the U.S. from all enemies—both foreign and domestic?
Based on the success of pro-Israelis in inducing the U.S. to invade Iraq, how does this international network best expand this war to Iran? To succeed again, how can Tel Aviv best control the risk that facts unhelpful to its agenda find their way into the marketplace of ideas?
How about this for a psyops strategy: launch an intimidation campaign on a high-profile campus and portray a critic as an anti-Semite for sharing photos that had been circulating for weeks on the Internet. Then threaten his job, smear his reputation, put him in fear of his physical safety and threaten to withhold critical funding. Then see if on-campus critics still dare to speak out.
While the Faculty Senate should be commended for its stance, one must ask: what took so long? And what will be done to ensure that never again is a professor on any University of California campus subjected to such abuse with the complicity of university administrators? What steps will be taken to ensure this conduct does not recur on campuses nationwide?
Where was UC President Mark Yudof as this intimidation campaign progressed with such well-timed success? What role was played by the pro-Israeli bias of his wife, Judith, the immediate past president of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism representing 760 synagogues?
Where was the Board of Regents while this silencing campaign advanced between the invasion of Gaza and President Obama’s White House meeting with Likud Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu? Did Board of Regents chairman Richard Blum harbor an undisclosed bias that precluded him shutting down this ADL operation? How about his wife, pro-Israeli U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee? What role did bias play in a community-wide smear campaign led by Arthur Gross-Schaefer, a Santa Barbara rabbi?
Was this only an offense against a courageous professor who fought on while university administrators retreated? Or was this assault more strategic? The Faculty Senate cannot on its own correct these wrongs because key offenders remain beyond their reach. What they can—and must—do is dismiss any faculty member complicit in this operation, condemn any university administrator who failed to act promptly and rebuke complicit operatives in the community.
The reputation of Prof. Robinson was only grist for the same mill that churned out the phony intelligence required to induce the U.S. to war in Iraq. That same network of deceit now seeks to catalyze war with Iran. Robinson was not the target. His reputation was collateral damage. The target was the mindset of academics that—because of this assault—hesitated to criticize Israel.
Until steps are taken to deter future offenses, these psychological operations (psyops) will continue and the reputation of the U.S. will continue to be collateral damage. Most ominous of all, those who wage war “by way of deception” (the motto of the Israeli Mossad) will continue to displace the facts on which self-governance depends. Progress must be measured by how many educators grasp that what was done to one could be done to all.
In Iranian politics, few loom larger that Hashemi Rafsanjani. Yet for whom does he work—really?
As chairman of the Assembly of Experts, he oversees the selection, monitoring and dismissal of Iran’s Supreme Leader. As Chair of the Expediency Council, he mediates legislative conflicts. As President of Iran from 1989-1997, he created a power base dating back to his study of theology with Ayatollah Khomeini. But that was then; what about now?
To grasp his role in this “election” requires a reflection on whose interests are best served by crises in the region. Serial crises are essential to sustain the plausibility of the much-touted Clash of Civilizations as a means to justify a “global war on terrorism.” When Mahmoud Ahmadenijad won out over Rafsanjani in a 2005 bid for the presidency, the result was a spokesperson with little political power but a high-profile platform.
In today’s media-saturated politics, candidates are akin to brands. Soon after their release in the market, each is identified with a message. Ahmadenijad was quickly branded the world’s most famous anti-Semite and Holocaust denier. As the academics say: Cui bono—who benefits? Which nation gained most from that branding? Iran? Or Israel?
For an enclave dependent for support on branding itself the unwitting victim of a hostile, anti-Semitic world, who better to freshen up that brand? If so, what role does Rafsanjani play in a nation whose leaders have long collaborated with Israel in duplicitous operations?
Those operations, too numerous to describe, include the Israeli-enabled, presidency-discrediting Iran-Contra affair that Ronald Reagan denied and then was forced to admit. That clumsy arms-for-hostages exchange aided Iran in its war with Iraq, then a U.S. ally, and resulted in 11 federal convictions for Reagan-era officials. All were pardoned.
What role does Rafsanjani play in the casting for a real life drama that, if events continue on course, is poised to discredit another U.S. president? What we know is this. Ahmadinejad charged the Grey Eminence and his family with massive corruption, including racketeering, embezzlement and money laundering. That appears accurate. The Rafsanjani clan emerged wealthy beyond measure, including one son who is allegedly a billionaire in a nation long plagued with the ravages of poverty and false piety.
We also know that Rafsanjani, a billionaire also known as “the shark,” financed the campaign of opposition candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi. As Prime Minister, Mousavi was Tehran’s go-between for Iran-Contra. He also reportedly served as Iran’s middleman for the October 1983 bombing in Beirut that killed 241 Marines.
The question remains: for whom was he a middleman—really? For the bombing, was he the go-between with Hezbollah terrorists blamed for the attack? That may well be true. Yet former Mossad case officer Victor Ostrovsky insists that Israeli intelligence had a complete description of the truck used in that attack—and chose not to alert their ally.
That mass murder prompted the withdrawal of U.S. forces from the region, leaving the Middle East vulnerable to political manipulation by whatever nation proved most adept at the craft. Cui bono? Did Iran benefit from that bombing? Lebanon? Or Israel?
Any conclusions must remain conjectural until more is known about the role played by Israel and pro-Israelis in fixing the intelligence that induced the U.S. to invade Iraq. And may yet induce an attack on Iran aided by a well-timed crisis that may deter the direct negotiations that Washington proposed—and Tel Aviv opposed.
Readers of Guilt By Association know that analysis pivots off a person identified as “John Doe.” He encountered the Grey Eminence two decades ago while profiling the transnational criminal syndicate chronicled there. Rafsanjani was then selling an office building in Manhattan built by the Shah of Iran.
The top floors were occupied by arbitrageur Ivan Boesky, Michael Milken’s co-conspirator in securities frauds for which both were convicted. Boesky spent two years in Iran for purposes that remain obscure. Doe negotiated the sale with Pincus Green, the partner of Marc Rich who was then illegally trading oil with Iran—when Rafsanjani was president.
Rich’s defense team was led by Nixon White House counsel Leonard Garment and Lewis Libby who then worked in the Pentagon for Paul Wolfowitz in the G.H.W. Bush era. All four men are Ashkenazim. For G.W. Bush, Libby emerged as Chief of Staff for Vice President Dick Cheney when Wolfowitz, as Deputy Secretary of Defense, became a lead advocate for invading Iraq in response to the mass murder of 911.
In May 2007, Libby was found guilty on four federal charges for his attempts to obscure the fixing of intelligence that induced the invasion in pursuit of the expansionist goals for Greater Israel. The neoconservatives who advanced that agenda have since confirmed that their primary target was—and remains—Iran.
History is best understood in hindsight. Yet where, as here, behavior patterns repeat over multiple decades, Americans who continue to put their faith in false friends may find themselves repeating past tragedies. To avoid future calamities, Iranians had best grasp that neither this election—nor the Grey Eminence—may be what they seem.