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Lie in Report on Petraeus: a Case Study of Anti-Israeli Agenda

False reports that a US general and VP Biden said Israel’s Yesha policy endangers US troops turned out to be a classic pro-Arab manipulation.
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
First Publish: 3/17/2010, 8:32 PM / Last Update: 3/18/2010, 8:03 AM

Incorrect reports in Israel’s largest newspaper and the well known Foreign Policy publication in the United States this week illustrate how the Arab world manipulates the United States to gain concessions and place the world’s ills on Israel’s shoulders. This time their target was also American public opinion.

Foreign Policy’s correspondent Mark Perry, a former advisor to Yasser Arafat, added his own spin to statements by U.S.CENTOM Commander General David Petraeus', in an article called: The Petraeus Briefing; Biden's Embarrassment is not the Whole Story, so that the General's statements seemed to blame Israel for casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan. But the general never said that. 

Perry began by quoting Israel’s decidedly leftist Yediot Acharonot, which wrote that U.S. Vice President Joe Biden “reportedly” told Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu last week, “What you're doing here undermines the security of our troops who are fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan."  But White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel said that Vice President Biden never told or hinted to Israeli leaders that Jewish development in Judea and Samaria endangers the lives of U.S. soldiers.

Perry, who has a long record of anti-Israeli bias and has written a book promoting “engagement “ with terrorists,”  wrote that General Petraeus’ briefed Chief of Staff General Mullen and sent a report to the White House in which he claimed  that “there was a growing perception among Arab leaders that the U.S. was incapable of standing up to Israel, that CENTCOM's mostly Arab constituency was losing faith in American promises [and] that Israeli intransigence on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was jeopardizing U.S. standing in the region” and putting U.S. soldiers in danger.

Petraeus did tell the Senate Armed Services Committee that "clearly the tensions in these [Israeli-Arab] issues have an enormous effect on the strategic context in which we operate in Central Command area of responsibility” but he made no mention or hint that Israel’s activities could endanger American soldiers.

Perry wrote that Petraeus’ briefing “hit the White House like a bombshell.” The report not only never reached the White House, it also was equally disbelieved by others, including Israel National News.com (INN) and Commentary’s Max Boot.

INN noted that it is unlikely that General Petraeus connected Israeli actions to U.S  casualties as that makes no sense. This is a war in which Islamist terrorists fueled by virulent hatred of the U.S., its democracy and civilization are killing American soldiers. Israel is not the issue. Fear of these terrorists taking over their governments is what made the Arab despots in CENTCOM's constituency join forces with it, but they don't admit that and instead exploit the fact that the U.S. wants a broad alliance to pressure America on Israel. Their unspoken fear that the U.S. won't attack Iran in time is what is making them lose faith in its promises.

Perry’s report was “incorrect,” wrote Boot, who quoted a military officer familiar with the briefing in question and with Petraeus’ thinking.

“All that happened.” the officer told Boot, “is that there was a staff-officer briefing … on the situation in the West Bank, because that situation is a concern that CENTCOM hears in the Arab world all the time. Nothing more than that.”

Perry also wrote that Petraeus asked the White House to include Judea, Samaria and Gaza as part of his command because, in Perry’s words, “with U.S. troops deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. military (has) to be perceived by Arab leaders as engaged in the region's most troublesome conflict". The Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA), a Washington, D.C.-based non-profit think-tank focusing on issues of United States and Israeli national security, whom INN contacted, called that request “perfectly reasonable."

“[However], to blame Israel for Arab anxieties over the American withdrawal from the fight against the nuclear weaponization of Iran is a lie promulgated by people in the administration who have a fundamental agenda that includes breaking the longstanding U.S.-Israel relationship  and/or  don't want to acknowledge their impotence against Iran.”

Perry’s report was enough to set off scares across the web as Americans read that Israel is the source of America’s military casualties.

Those alleged statements were a classic follow-up to the Arab world’s efforts for the last 60 years to place the blame on Israel for all the world’s ills, most recently for the 9/11 attacks and the Iranian nuclear threat.

Judging by the stunned reaction of Americans on the web, Perry’s and Yediot’s reports were successfully damaging – that is, until it became clear that the reports were not accurate. Regarding his alleged report to the White House, Gen. Petraeus told the Senate Armed Services Committee Tuesday, “I have discussed, and you know, asking for the Palestinian territories or something like that to be added ... [but] I have never made that a formal recommendation for the Unified Command Plan, and that was not in what I submitted this year. Nor have I sent a memo to the White House on any of this."

Perry’s report of Petraeus’ alleged remarks to Chief of Staff Mullen is "simply wrong, according to a senior Middle East advisor quoted by Shoshana Bryen, senior director of JINSA. She told Israel National News, “We spoke with two American military officers who have spoken more than once with both Petraeus and Mullen and they both said Petraeus has given numerous lectures and papers - and Israel is never mentioned. The primary concern of both Mullen and Petraeus is Pakistan and the shaky civilian leadership there… I would have been shocked to think that with two wars ongoing, they would have time to worry about a sliver of terrorist supporting territory.”

Perry claimed that the fact that American military’s did not deny his story is proof that it is correct, but Bryen explained, “There won't be any American military people who will talk about this for the record.  Since it appears that the article was incorrect no one will want to characterize either Petraeus or Mullen or their thoughts.”

“In our experience, there are three half-truths and an enormous, vicious lie in the post by Perry. What the Arab countries of CENTCOM often call ‘the Israel problem’ is a foil for their unwillingness to risk their internal stability by being seen as an overt U.S. ally or by confronting Iran. True also is the notion that, according to the Arab states, ‘America (is) not only viewed as weak, but its military posture in the region (is) eroding.’ The ‘half’ in the truths is what they leave out: Israel is not the object of their concern [about military posture and weakness]; Iran is.”