Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Spook, Terrorist or Criminal? America's Mysterious Files on Netanyahu

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Spook, Terrorist or Criminal? America's Mysterious Files on Netanyahu

Article excerpt

Spook, Terrorist or Criminal? America's Mysterious Files on Netanyahu

Congress received him with great fanfare. President Clinton, who during the recent election campaign had backed his rival, Shimon Peres, appears to have had a change of heart. Yet who is Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and why did the political elite in the U.S. accept him with such warmth? A few important facts about Netanyahu and his objectives -- which the U.S. media have obstinately neglected to report -- help to clarify the enigma.

Netanyahu has lived both in Israel and the U.S.: first grade in Israel; second and third in the U.S.; fourth through eighth in Jerusalem; high school in suburban Philadelphia; military service in Israel; B.A. and M.A. at MIT. He held dual citizenship, which enabled him to travel freely between both countries, study in the U.S., receive federal loans to cover his education costs at MIT and work legally. Like every U.S. citizen, Netanyahu has a social security number, a credit account, and numerous other files in a variety of government offices.

Nevertheless, Netanyahu's files differ from those of most U.S. citizens. The Israeli weekly Ha'ir reports that four requests for credit approval appear in U.S. social security file number 020-36-4537. Under each request one finds a different name: Benjamin Netanyahu, Benjamin Nitai, John Jay Sullivan and John Jay Sullivan Jr. -- one man, four names.

Binyamin Netanyahu is the name Israel's current prime minister was given at birth and which he now uses. In June 1973, during his studies at MIT, Netanyahu submitted a petition to the Boston court, asking to change his name from Netanyahu to Nitai; "I prefer a shorter name," he wrote on the request form. The petition was approved, thus the second name has an explanation. The last two names, however, remain a mystery. Furthermore, the address attached to these names -- somewhere in Malibu, California -- does not exist. Who, then, is John Jay Sullivan?

Biranit Goren and Einat Berkovitch from Ha'ir tried to find out. They looked into Netanyahu's credit account. This file is supposed to hold information regarding bank accounts, loans, credit cards and so forth; yet, surprisingly, the file was empty. It is as if Netanyahu never had a debt, had never taken out a loan, and always paid his bills up front and in cash.

Goren and Berkovitch then attempted to examine Netanyahu's social security file, but were denied access. They did, however, find out that Netanyahu's file has a different classification than most. They were denied access not merely due to the 1974 privacy act, but because the file had a "confidential" classification. Goren and Berkovitch have explained that such a classification only applies to five categories of people: those who work for one of three federal agencies -- FBI, CIA, IRS -- or those who are considered to be terrorists or criminals. Since it is unlikely that Netanyahu fits the latter two categories, or that he worked for the IRS, it appears that he was on the payroll of a security agency -- the CIA or FBI.

Dual Citizenship

According to Israeli law, a person who runs for the Knesset (the Israeli parliament) cannot hold dual citizenship. Netanyahu claims that in 1982 he gave up his U.S. citizenship, yet he is unwilling to grant the press access to his file located in the U.S. Embassy in Tel-Aviv -- the file which holds information regarding his citizenship. Interestingly, the status of his files in the U.S. has not changed, so according to U.S. law Netanyahu remains a U.S. citizen.

Netanyahu -- the person who in 1982 left his job as a furniture salesman to be a policy adviser at the Israeli embassy in Washington, DC, and within 14 years became prime minister -- is still in many ways a conundrum. By contrast, his political objectives are becoming clearer.

An Israeli proverb asserts that the intention of a person can be understood by examining the goals of his friends. …

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