Shin Bet chiefs offer bleak outlook in new documentary

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Go read Shlomi Eldar’s riveting account on the front page of a recent Tel Aviv screening of “The Gatekeepers,” an Israeli documentary featuring Israel’s former Shin Bet chiefs offering bleak views of Israel's lack of strategic direction:

The film The Gatekeepers was over. The credits started running down the screen in Tel Aviv’s Cinemateque … and a tense silence filled the theater. … When [the lights] did go on in the end, the real faces of those very people after whom this film was named — the six former heads of the Shin Bet [Israel National Security Agency] — could be seen seated in the hall. … Now that the film was over, even they seemed stunned. […]

In this film Dichter and his five colleagues in the Shin Bet slaughtered almost all the sacred cows of Israel’s security apparatus one after the other. The very people who fought terrorism day after day were unequivocal in their condemnation of the policies that they themselves carried out throughout their long service to the country. [...]

Ami Ayalon described growing up on a kibbutz near the Sea of Galilee. “I had a wonderful childhood,” he said. “I knew that there's a house in Jerusalem, and on the second floor there’s a long corridor. At the end of the corridor there's a door, and behind the door is a wise man, who makes decisions. ….”

Then the camera returned to Ayalon’s worried face as he carried on with his story. …“Years later, after the Yom Kippur War [1973], I went to Jerusalem, and I went to that same building. I was on the second floor, and found no door at the end of the corridor, and behind the missing door, no one was thinking for me.” [...] Continue reading

Israel not ‘merely bluffing’ on Iran strike threat, ex-Obama official says


A former senior Pentagon official says Israel is probably not bluffing in its latest saber rattling on Iran.

“I think it is more likely Israeli leaders are preparing the Israeli public for a strike, and creating a narrative for the international community that diplomacy and sanctions have failed and thus Israel has no choice,” Colin Kahl, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Middle East from 2009 to 2011, told Al Monitor Tuesday in an interview on the front page.

“There is clearly a crescendo emerging, and there is a lot of detailed, point-by-point argumentation …laying the foundation for a potential strike,” Kahl said. .”

The Pentagon said Tuesday Israel has not made a decision yet on possible Iran action.

“I don’t believe they’ve made a decision as to whether or not they will go in and attack Iran at this time,” Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told journalists at the Pentagon Tuesday, Reuters reported. “With regards to the issue of where we’re at from a diplomatic point of view, the reality is that we still think there is room to continue to negotiate.”

But Israeli leaders are preparing the Israel public for a possible attack on Iran in September-October.

Tel Aviv designated 60 parking garages as bomb shelters Wednesday, amid defensive preparations for possible counterattacks, the Jerusalem Post reported Wednesday.

Israel appointed a new homeland defense chief Tuesday. Ex-Shin Bet chief Avi Dichter was unanimously approved by Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu’s cabinet in a Tuesday night vote. Dichter was formerly a professional soldier in the elite Israeli commando unit,the Sayeret Matkal, with Netanyahu and Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak. Dichter now holds the key ninth vote in previously reportedly evenly divided ‘Octet’ that will vote if it comes to it on the action.

“Despite Obama’s existing promises to use all means, including military action, to prevent an Iranian bomb, I think Netanyahu and Barak have convinced themselves that they cannot sub-contract out their security on this issue to any US president,” Kahl said.

“At the end of the day, the Israeli leadership is building the case that they can trust no one but themselves on this issue,” he added. Continue reading