An 18 year-old Jewish teenager, born in the US and living in the Israeli town of Ashkelon, has been arrested on suspicion of issuing dozens of fake bomb and other threats to Jewish communities in the US, Europe, Australia and New Zealand over a period of six months.
The suspect reportedly used very complex methods to prevent himself from being caught so that law enforcement agencies had to use their own complex methods to find him.
This is a most bizarre and disturbing development. Details of this young man, and of his father who has also been arrested, are currently scarce. One can only speculate therefore about the motive in this troubling case.
The significance of this arrest, however, is rather broader. For President Donald Trump was accused of antisemitism when, asked to comment about the wave of attacks said to be taking place against Jewish targets across America, he reportedly replied: “Sometimes it’s the reverse, to make people — or to make others — look bad.”
This was seized upon as recycling the ancient antisemitic canard that the Jews fabricate attacks upon themselves to gain the unwarranted sympathy of others. His remark was held to be proof positive, therefore, that Donald Trump was an antisemite.
Yet now a Jew has indeed been arrested for dozens of these threats. The only other person to have been arrested in connection with these reported attacks is a black leftist.
These arrests still leave open the question of who has been behind attacks on Jewish cemeteries in America. But the claim that has been repeatedly made of an unprecedented epidemic of antisemitic attacks – a claim already dismissed by the former head of the Anti-Defamation League Abe Foxman, who said American Jews had previously experienced worse – is now shown too be utterly untrue. And the associated claim that this “epidemic” was provoked by Trump’s election because he himself was giving oxygen to white supremacists and other antisemites is revealed as a foul smear.
I wrote at the time that he had most likely not been referring to Jews at all but to generalised “false flag” attacks, because he is convinced that his own campaign rallies had been targeted by people provoking fights to tarnish him with the fabricated taint of violence. I still think that is the most plausible explanation – although investigation into this teenager started in Israel six months ago and has involved the FBI during that period. All very strange.
In any event, those trying to blacken Trump’s character have now seen this smear blow up in their faces. And this is not the only time this week when this has happened.
Trump has been accused of telling falsehoods in claiming that President Obama had “wire-tapped” his campaign and in repeating claims made on Fox TV that the Obama administration had outsourced such surveillance to the British intelligence centre, GCHQ – a claim which caused GCHQ to blow its top and issue an unequivocal denial.
In evidence at the House Intelligence Committee hearings earlier this week, the FBI head James Comey and NSA director Admiral Michael Rogers failed to establish whether Trump’s claim that he or his team had been clandestinely monitored by the Obama administration was true or false. They merely reiterated there was no evidence to support it.
But then the committee’s chairman, Devin Nunes, dramatically revealed two days ago that members of the intelligence community “incidentally collected” communications from the Trump transition team during legal surveillance operations of foreign targets.
This, said Nunes, produced “dozens” of reports which eventually unmasked several individuals’ identities and were “widely disseminated”. He was unsure if then President-elect Trump was himself captured by the surveillance which occurred last November, December and January.
Nunes was immediately accused by the Democrats of Republican partisanship and running interference for Trump, particularly since he told the President of this development before telling his committee. He subsequently apologised for this, although he also said he had told the House Speaker, Paul Ryan, before briefing the President.
But now the Democrats are continuing to kick up, demanding that Nunes be replaced because he is “deeply compromised”. Some commentators have even suggested Nunes received this fresh information from the White House itself.
In other words, Nunes is being subjected to similar smear tactics as have been used against Trump himself.
He said this information had been presented to him from “sources within the intelligence community”. He also said that while the NSA had been very helpful the FBI was refusing to cooperate. While his explosive revelation raises a host of further questions, is it really plausible that the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee would have placed his entire career and reputation in jeopardy by producing a pack of lies that could easily be shown to be false?
Let’s remind ourselves of that New York Times story of March 1 again:
“In the Obama administration’s last days, some White House officials scrambled to spread information about Russian efforts to undermine the presidential election — and about possible contacts between associates of President-elect Donald J Trump and Russians — across the government.
“… At intelligence agencies, there was a push to process as much raw intelligence as possible into analyses, and to keep the reports at a relatively low classification level to ensure as wide a readership as possible across the government — and, in some cases, among European allies. This allowed the upload of as much intelligence as possible to Intellipedia, a secret wiki used by American analysts to share information.”
Twice this week, Trump has been at least partially vindicated over what he has claimed. Will those who have been hurling allegations of lying at him 24/7 now acknowledge that, on these occasions at least, it would appear that they rather than Donald Trump have been promoting fabrications and jumping to false conclusions?
What’s that I hear? It’s the sound of silence.