James North & Philip Weiss
Mondoweiss / September 22, 2021
Here we go again. The New York Times just ran a long, gee-whiz article about an Israeli war crime — the murder of an Iranian scientist inside Iran last year– penned by its Israeli security expert, Ronen Bergman. “The Scientist and the A.I.-Assisted Remote-Control Killing Machine“, by Ronen Bergman and Farnaz Fassihi is filled with awe-inspiring details of the methods Israel employed to kill Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, a top Iranian nuclear scientist, at the wheel of his car outside Tehran last November 27.
The killing was of course an act of war, and one aimed at destroying the Iran deal for good in the last weeks of the Trump administration. The European Union condemned the killing at the time: “This is a criminal act and runs counter to the principle of respect for human rights the EU stands for.”
The Times article barely considers the criminal/immoral/politicized nature of the murder of a scientist and professor. It focuses on Israel’s amazing ingenuity, remote triggering and facial recognition capabilities, and its smuggling into Iran of a Belgian machine gun. The sinister aspects of this undertaking go unexamined, though many of these methods were surely tested on Palestinians living under apartheid.
Bergman is the reporter who at a closed door meeting with the Israel lobby organization AIPAC three years ago bragged of appearing across the country with the group and thanked AIPAC for having Israel’s back in the U.S.
“I’ve been all over the U.S. with AIPAC and it’s always a great pleasure, as an Israeli. I always tell AIPAC, you do so much in the U.S., and … you need to do a little more to explain to Israelis how much they owe AIPAC. Israelis are not aware. I am aware… I know that you’ve got our backs. It’s such a great feeling.”
It’s surely a breach of ethics for a newspaper to platform the writing of an Israeli reporter who is so close to the security establishment. Bergman has reflected that official view in previous reports on Iran, and in a book that counted the ways that Israel kills its enemies in other countries.
In glorifying this murder, the Times is surely trying to please the Israel lobby, (and the liberal/establishment Jewish New Yorkers who are rightwing on support for the “Jewish state”).
As Ali Abunimah points out, the coverage of this atrocity is night-and-day from the outrage over Russia’s alleged targeting of its enemies in foreign lands.
This was, furthermore, a crime with immense foreign policy implications for the U.S. Trump had lost earlier that month and this was a last chance for Netanyahu to poison the possibility of the U.S. returning to the Iran deal under Biden. Bergman and Fassihi do cover that angle but fairly low in the story.
When the questions any reasonable person asks is, Why is Israel carrying out such brazen acts of war with U.S. support with who knows what consequences? And why is The New York Times celebrating it?
James North is a Mondoweiss Editor-at-Large, and has reported from Africa, Latin America, and Asia for four decades; he lives in New York City
Philip Weiss is senior editor of Mondoweiss.net and founded the site in 2005-2006