Pants on Fire

In this Thursday, Sept. 27, 2012 photo, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel shows an illustration as he describes his concerns over Iran's nuclear ambitions during his address to the 67th session of the Unite... In this Thursday, Sept. 27, 2012 photo, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel shows an illustration as he describes his concerns over Iran's nuclear ambitions during his address to the 67th session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters. Netanyahu's use of a cartoon-like drawing of a bomb to convey a message over Iran's disputed nuclear program this week, follows in a long and storied tradition of leaders and diplomats using props to make their points at the United Nations. (AP Photo/Richard Drew) MORE LESS
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We’re about to see a mountain of writing and hoopla this week about Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s visit to the United States and speech before Congress. A guy on Twitter asked me if a comment I made was meant to be ironic. My thought was to tell him that irony simply doesn’t have the muscle mass to handle what’s coming down the pike this week. Only snark and absurdism can manage it. But with all this one of the most significant developments has gone all but unmentioned. We now have dramatic new evidence of Netanyahu’s willingness to distort or simply falsify what his own intelligence agencies are telling him about the state of Iran’s nuclear program when he speaks to the U.S. and the world.

J.J. Goldberg goes into depth about it here in The Forward. But the gist is this: You probably remember that Netanyahu speech a couple years ago before the United Nations – the one where he used the bomb cartoon to illustrate his points about the Iranian nuclear program. In that speech Netanyahu made a series of specific claims about the status of the Iranian nuclear program. (Again, read J.J.’s piece for the details.) It turns out several of those claims were specifically contradicted by the current intelligence from the Mossad – Israel’s foreign intelligence agency. We know this because of a major leak of hundreds of documents from South African intelligence. One of those is a report from the South Africans’ Israeli counterparts – detailing their current evaluation of the status of the program. It’s dated only a few weeks after Netanyahu’s speech.

It has been an open secret for years that very, very few of Israel’s top military and intelligence leaders see eye to eye with Netanyahu on the Iran question. This isn’t to say that they don’t view it as a major threat; they do. The questions are whether it is an existential threat and the wisdom of an Israeli military strike to thwart or retard the program. (Here’s an article from this weekend on the head of Mossad from 2002 to 2010, Meir Dagan, saying Netanyahu is ‘destroying the Zionist dream’ with his leadership.) But these are questions of judgment and strategy – which are ultimately the province of elected leaders. The points in the UN speech are narrow questions of fact – which Netanyahu appears to have deliberately misstated.

Unfortunately for Israel, unfortunately for America, unfortunately for everyone, Netanyahu can’t be trusted – not his judgment or his honesty. And no amount of deterrence will stop the onslaught of weaponized grandiosity he plans to unleash on America this coming week.

Also, did I mention, you can’t trust him to tell the truth?

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