Behind Newsweek’s anti-Israel canard

The one named source for the magazine's spying allegations is an ex-CIA man with a documented dislike of Israel
Paul Pillar at a conference entitled The National Summit to Reassess the U.S.-Israel "Special Relationship". March 7, 2014 (Image: Youtube screenshot)
Paul Pillar at a conference entitled The National Summit to Reassess the U.S.-Israel "Special Relationship". March 7, 2014 (Image: Youtube screenshot)

Last week, Newsweek’s Jeff Stein ran a sensationalist story detailing alleged Israeli spy activities in the United States. Stein, citing dubious sources, claimed that Israeli spies attempted to monitor Al Gore’s bathroom activities (an image too frightening to imagine) while drugs and women are routinely employed by Zionist spies to entice U.S. officials into handing over information of value. The sources for these and other absurd allegations contained in the article were mainly anonymous with one notable exception, an obscure ex-intelligence character and former CIA employee named Paul Pillar.

One look at Pillar’s past articles, publications and speeches puts the Newsweek screed in proper context. Pillar is a rabid Israel basher. In March 2014, he spoke at the so-called “National Summit to Reassess the U.S.-Israel ‘Special Relationship’” where he attacked Israel on everything from its defensive military operations in Gaza to its concern over Iran’s procurement of nuclear weapons. He even attempted to downplay Iran’s threat to wipe Israel off the map claiming that it was a mere mistranslation. Pillar took his place at the summit alongside miscreants such as Cynthia McKinney and Alison Weir, whose radical views on the Jewish state veer uncomfortably into David Duke territory.

In 2012, Pillar authored an article featured in an anti-Semitic blog in which he likened Israel to Apartheid-era South Africa thus repeating the false and unsubstantiated narrative of the most vitriolic Israel haters. Pillar also demonstrates his extreme bias and ignorance by characterizing the Six-Day War as a war “that Israel launched and used to seize the West Bank and other Arab territory.” Clearly context and facts mean absolutely nothing to this wretched person.

Briefly, the Six-Day War began when Egypt blockaded the Gulf of Eilat to Israeli shipping, kicked UN peacekeepers out of Sinai and then deployed seven divisions there, violated Israeli airspace with Mig-21 overflights and fired mortar shells at Israeli border settlements. These belligerent actions were of course accompanied by the perfunctory threats to throw the Jews into the sea. Israel struck preemptively to thwart Egyptian aggression. It is important to note that Israel warned Jordan to stay out of the conflict. However, Jordan’s King Hussein, drunk on false Arab claims of victory, struck first prompting a swift and decisive Israeli military response. The deceitful Pillar neglects to note any of this in his one-way rant.

In 2013, Pillar wrote an article supportive of the anti-Semitic BDS movement, referring to Israel as a colonizer and again falsely asserting that Israel initiated the war on the Jordanian front. Pillar also authored another article titled “We can live with a nuclear Iran” where he of course downplays legitimate concerns of nuclear weapons falling into the hands world’s foremost state sponsor of terrorism.

Like the insidious and deranged Israel bashers, Alice Walker and Roger Waters, Pillar is a man guided by a venomous hate and is bent on vilifying the only democracy in the Mideast and sabotaging U.S. relations with Israel at all costs. No one really took note of Pillar and his regurgitated banal diatribes until Newsweek’s Jeff Stein decided to mainstream this fringe extremist and his fables.

Some have drawn parallels between Newsweek’s story and the infamous Dreyfus Affair, when French military officials motivated by base anti-Semitism accused a completely innocent French-Jewish captain of passing military secrets to the Germans. While this comparison may be a bit of an exaggeration, the instant circumstance clearly demonstrates that purveyors of hate and conspiracy theories still lurk within the echelons of government and radical elements within the media are all too willing to give them a platform to peddle their odious views.

About the Author
Ari Lieberman is an attorney and former prosecutor. He has authored several articles covering political and military issues concerning Israel, the United States and the Mideast at large.