John Kerry with other State Dept. staff (file)
John Kerry with other State Dept. staff (file)Reuters

A report by CAMERA maps out how a top newspaper and a top State Department official helped disseminate the false "information" that top Israeli intelligence officials believe the nuclear deal with Iran is "good."

It began with a blog in the Washington Post on July 22, entitled, "How the Iran deal is good for Israel according to Israelis who know what they're talking about."

The next day, Marie Harf – former State Department spokesperson and now a senior adviser to Secretary of State John Kerry (whose place in history is all but dependent on the passage of this deal by Congress) – tweeted the story and its link to her 40,000 followers.

Thus, the world was "informed" that Israelis "who know what they're talking about" favor the very deal with Iran that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu so opposes.

CAMERA's media analyst Gilead Ini investigated one step further, and found this: The story "exaggerated and even fabricated Israeli praise for the Iran deal," and that "both the administration and the newspaper owe readers a correction."

The article in question was written by the Post's foreign affairs blogger Ishaan Tharoor. It names four prominent Israeli security experts who purportedly say the deal is a "good" one. 

The only problem, writes Ini, is that "it isn't true." Of the four experts, two actually used the word "bad" to describe the deal, another described pluses and minuses, and none have unequivocally described the agreement as "good for Israel."

Ex-Shin Bet head Ami Ayalon is mentioned first. He begrudgingly supports the arrangement with Iran, explaining that it is "the best plan currently on the table" and that there are no better alternatives. Nonetheless, Ayalon has said in no uncertain terms, "I think the deal is bad. It's not good."

Next is former intelligence chief Efraim Halevy, whose opinion is hard to pin-point. The Post blog links to an op-ed Halevy penned before the details of the final deal were agreed upon – whereas in a more recent article, Halevy takes a fairly convoluted approach to the deal. He describes some of its strong points, says that a "profound debate" should be held in Israel as to whether it is preferable to no deal at all – but nowhere says that the deal, as a whole, is "good." 

Next, Tharoor mentions Amos Yadlin, a former head of Israel's Military Intelligence branch. Yadlin has specifically stated, "This is not a good deal. This a problematic deal. You also could call it a bad deal."

Finally, CAMERA states, "the Washington Post blogger mentions Meir Dagan, another former Mossad chief. It appears, though, that Dagan has not gone on record one way or another about the nuclear deal finalized in Vienna." 

CAMERA sums up: "Although the Washington Post blog cast the four Israeli security experts as wholly praising the agreement, two actually used the word 'bad' to describe the deal, another described pluses and minuses, and none have unequivocally described the agreement as 'good for Israel,' as the headline claims."