The Imitation Game

The Imitation Game

by

Howard Adelman

The Imitation Game won the People’s Choice Award at TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) in 2014. I missed seeing it there. When we were in Victoria, the film arrived in movie houses the week after we left. The movie was unavailable in Mexico, but we did watch the Oscars and noted that the movie was nominated in eight categories for best motion picture, best leading actor (Benedict Cumberbatch), best supporting actress (Keira Knightley), direction, music score, editing and production design. It won one Oscar for Graham Moore’s best adaptation as a screenplay I thought the brilliant musical score by Alexandre Desplat that interweaves gravity with suspense should have won. Desplat did win, but for The Grand Budapest Hotel. To add to our frustration, the movie was no longer on screens in Victoria when we returned. Finally, last evening we had a breather and rented the film on Netflix.

What a terrific movie! A spy thriller without the chase, with very little about betrayal, but an enormous overload about secrecy and deception, the movie was as engaging as any action suspense film. It was not a complicated symbolic allegory in the guise of a comic thriller like one of my favourite all-time films, North by Northwest, but a straightforward moral parable. One moral – respect differences. Simple and almost trite, the message was in your face for the line was repeated three times: “Sometimes, it is the people no one imagines anything of who do the things that no one imagines.” Those differences include brilliance, homosexuality, and even misogyny in the name of decorous behaviour.

The latter was expressed in the role of Joan Clarke played with consummate skill by Keira Knightley. The moral includes defying prejudice based on gender. “I’m a woman in a man’s job. I don’t have the luxury of being an ass,” declares Joan Clarke to Alan Turing’s astonishment, an individual who is brilliant but also both arrogant and socially awkward, characteristics often twinned in mass perceptions of genius and carried off with consummate skill in the interpretation of the lead character played magnificently by Benedict Cumberbatch. He speaks sometimes with pursed and at other times with furled lips. He carries his body with slightly hunched shoulders and arms held closely to his sides. So his body language conveys both repression and a passion for expression just waiting to explode as in the scene played, not by Cumberbatch, but by Alex Lawther portraying Turing as a young man when he first hears of his friend Christopher’s death over the school holidays and is adamant in denying that they were close friends.

Thus a movie about unveiling secrets begins with a suave secret service intelligence chief (Mark Strong) lurking in the wings supporting the application of Alan Turing to work at Bletchley’s Park’s code-breaking unit in the famous Hut 8 and running interference for Turing in his dealings with his rule and proper order and discipline commandant, Commander Denniston, played incidentally as a terrific caricature by Charles Dance. Secrets abound and overflow in the movie. The enterprise at Bletchley Park was so secret according to the film that no one knew about the intelligence operation until fifty years later – sheer nonsense of course. In the creative area alone, excluding scholarship, Hugh Whitemore’s play, Breaking the Code was produced in 1986, and that play was based on earlier released or uncovered information about code-breaking at Bletchley Park; Sekret Enigmy, a Polish film, came out in 1979. The film was full of many more secrets: the German secret codes that the British were trying to decrypt, Alan Turing’s homosexuality, the presence of a Soviet spy among those working on the decoding effort, Alan Turing’s deep love for his friend at his private school when he was a schoolboy, and on and on.

What is not so secret is that this biopic using real events is but a parable with less rather than more imitation of what historically took place. However, it has wonderful characteristics as a superb parable – simple, straightforward and, also, utterly wrong when tested with actual particulars. Though an adult parable based on history, one set of events focuses on a group of brilliant British mathematicians gathered at Bletchley Park in Great Britain to break the enigma code during WWII. They did it. Breaking the code played a significant role in winning the war. In the parable, these geniuses did so by themselves, even inventing a machine to do the job called initially the Turing machine and subsequently a computer and even building the machine themselves though initially Turing does the construction by himself. Actually, Gordon Welchman built the machine.

Further, they allegedly not only invented the computer and built it, but invented the system for keeping their discovery a secret. The movie suggests that these geniuses had the fortitude and stiff upper lip to allow some of their fellow Brits, including a brother of one of the team members, to be killed by the Germans lest the fact reach the Germans that the allies could read all the German signals intelligence sent via enigma through the rest of the war. By hard-headed withholding their information for a time, they saved countless more lives over the long run.

This provides the second moral message of the film to counter-balance the first. It focuses on the leader of the team, Alan Turing. Instead of insisting on sensitivity and respect for differences, the second moral demanded hard heartedness in order to produce better results – self-preservation or more lives saved over the long run or, in the case of one interpersonal scene, a better quality of life for another whom one loved in one’s own way. That moral was in keeping with Alan Turing’s alleged response in private school described above when he learned that his best friend at school, Christopher, had died and he refused to admit that Christopher was his close friend. The lesson he had learned when he was being bullied and entombed under floorboards at school was that if you prevented the bully from getting any satisfaction from your suffering, that is, if you keep your suffering secret, the motivation of the bully would be undermined. Carry a stiff upper lip as a top British value is celebrated in this film at the same time as the British state is heavily criticized for its anti-homosexual laws and punishments. Tolerance and self-repression can be celebrated as twins for, in a parable, there is no need to sort out contradictions.

The title of the film, The Imitation Game, was a phrase Alan Turing used for a test to see whether machines could imitate, not human minds, but a certain part of the mind dealing with reasoning, what he and we now call artificial intelligence, though it is no more artificial than our human reasoning. The paradox, however, was that in order to make a machine that imitated human reasoning one needed to use creative artifice in the first place to create the machine. The Imitation Game also had a second meaning in the film. Alan Turing was a man capable of stupendous decrypting of complicated codes but seemingly incapable of decoding ordinary human discourse and modes of social interaction. He was both a homosexual and an odd duck. Alan had to learn to imitate ordinary human behaviour to get by in the world. Thus, Joan Clarke allegedly teaches him to engage in ordinary human games by bringing his fellow workers – quite awkwardly at first – a present of apples, a scarce commodity in war time Britain.

The second set of events focused on Alan Turing’s personal life both before the war when he was attending a private school at what we would call the secondary level. Snippets of his past were interwoven through the film along with Alan Turing’s arrest in 1952 after the war for being a poof – a homosexual in British slang. The investigation of his possibility of being a spy was set off by a break-in of his apartment by his on-and-off lover, Arnold Murray, but the break-in is left as a random mysterious event. He was caught in the act and, given the unjust laws at the time that made homosexual practices illegal, he was sentenced to two years in prison or, alternatively, a regimen of drugs intended to kill his libido – chemical castration. He chose the latter, but the movie suggests that the medical regimen also began to destroy his mind. He did not have enough of a stiff upper lip to endure being separated from his thinking machine, which he had named Christopher. Two years after he was arrested, he committed suicide.

There is a third level of imitation going on. The film is ostensibly a biopic of Alan Turing as well as the story of the invention of the nascent computer. The imitation in both cases is helped by interspersing real scenes of suffering and destruction from WWII news stories to reinforce verisimilitude and build up the importance and the degree of risk to both Britain and its citizens if the enigma codes were not broken. But The Imitation Game is an enjoyable artifice and only uses the outline from reality to gain a sense of verisimilitude as the movie is structured as a parable, though in virtually anthropomorphizing the Turing machine, the parable almost becomes a fable in which an inanimate object is made into a human figure as in a Star Wars episode.

I do not believe I am breaking the reviewer’s code by giving away secrets revealed as the film unfolds because the interpretation of Alan Turing’s life and the events at Bletchley Park are taken to be widely known. Even if they were not, most viewers who would love this movie have already seen it. Further, the revelations do nothing to undermine our interest as the narrative unfolds. But one secret that is never really explained is why the film had to be a parable in the form of a summer romance set in the darkest days of British history rather than a more realistic biopic.

Let me deal with the summer romance first. This is a story of unrequited love between a gay man, Alan Turing, and his brilliant mathematical partner, Joan Clarke. As a summer romance, it had to star a complete innocent who emerges into his teens as retaining that youthful innocence in the face of inexplicable and arbitrary cruelty, but soon learns to hide his true feelings and identity. In the process of maturation, he grasps the vision of creating an ideal, a universal thinking machine that can be programmed to break the most complicated codes, a dream that perfectly matches the needs of Britain at the time. However, to realize his vision, he has to counter and fight against a system that resists his creativity, including his own partners in the project. But, in the end, we have an idyll and a reflection and acknowledgement of true genius and, more particularly, the role of Alan Turing in creating victory for the British people. Finally and most surreptitiously, the film envisions as an ideal, a society is which there can be complete harmony if there were as much understanding as an intelligence machine without the repression brought about by inherited prejudices and repression.

One of the advantages I had as a graduate student was sitting in on a graduate course by Northrop Frye in which I learned of a summer romance as a form of mythos. Frye stressed the archetypal characteristics of this form in which The Imitation Game fits almost perfectly. What Frye left out in his focus on the architectonics of fiction construction was the distortion of reality necessary to accomplish such a creation. I have come to believe that such distortion or, more bluntly, repression of the truth, is almost a necessary ingredient to the art form. Knowing that secret allows one to enjoy the film enormously without being too upset by the deformation of history. And there are many, beginning with the Platonic love affair between Turing and Clarke.

Look at the enormous number of distortions and misrepresentations of history in the movie:

  • The members of the intelligence team in the film are made up of a typical collective for a film – Matthew Goode playing the caddish chess grandmaster, Hugh Alexander, who finally comes to recognize Turing’s genius after first resisting his solitary efforts, John Cairncross as the easy-going Soviet spy, Alan Leech, with a friendly manner and a Scottish burr, and, most importantly, the charming, cheerful and wise beyond her years and ever loyal and warm self-sacrificing friend and true love at a far deeper level than sexual attraction, Joan Clarke, played by Keira Knightley. However, there is no effort to represent the team that actually figured out how to decrypt enigma. That team included several women and the man who actually built the machine who is not even included in the film
  • The Bletchley Park team was not the first to break the enigma code, a process started well before WWII
  • There were other code-breaking teams and the allies had their own system of codes as was wonderfully explored in the movie, A Man Called  Intrepid, the story of the Canadian super-spy, William Stephenson, accurately retold in Bill Macdonald’s account in his 1998 book, The True Intrepid
  • Turing, in spite of his genius, or perhaps because of it, was never put in charge
  • Using puzzle-solving expertise to recruit additional members of the team was a cute device, but this never happened
  • The Bomba made at Bletchley Park was not constructed by Turing by himself using wires and parts he had ordered, but was constructed by British manufacturers who supplied the parts that were assembled by a technical genius who was part of the team, Gordon Welchman, not by Turing
  • The invention of the “eureka” moment in the bar when the insight comes to Turing that if he paid attention just to a repeated syllable instead of the whole message, the breakthrough in decrypting messages would come almost as fast as that eureka moment; in truth, there was no such eureka moment since this was known from the start
  • There was no deadline or extension of deadlines by the bosses at Bletchley Park in reality, but the delay was used to great effect in creating suspense in the movie
  • The film leads one to believe that Turing invented the machine used for cryptography, though Alan Turing in an almost stage whisper in the movie lets the secret out that it was the Poles who originally created the idea of such a machine; Marian Rejewski and a group of his fellow Polish mathematicians had been breaking enigma codes for five or six years before the war even started
  • In reality, early versions of enigma, commercially available, were around since shortly after the first world war
  • The Polish Cipher Bureau led by the mathematician and cryptologist, Marian Rejewski, along with Jerzy Róžycki and Henryk Zygalski, created the first system of decoding enigma machines by using the principle of imitation and re-creating a reverse machine to invert the enigma process
  • The Poles even built the first machine to break codes, “the bomba”, in the year I was born in 1938, so that Turing, however great a pioneer, was not the first on the block and did not claim to be so
  • Denniston was not initially an obstreperous and condescending commander for he was the head of the British military unit that first received the Poles when they handed over their “bomba” to the British when the war began
  • After the war started, the real difficulty in decoding began with the most recent version of the enigma machines, ironically used first by the German admiralty which was actually the centre of opposition to Hitler. Their use of an enigma machine was programmed to change codes every twenty-four hours, a fact certainly stressed in the movie, but without explaining how it worked or its importance, and simply stressing that the decoders would require a machine even more than before to do the decoding. In the film, the team only gradually comes to that realization in the second year of working together; the new innovation allowed the machine on its own through repeated changes in the electrical path via a scrambler to create a variable alphabetic substitution cipher so that each key depression actually changed the electrical pathway of a message
  • The working of the machine was never explained in the movie, perhaps because such an explanation might detract from the parable, but may also have been left out to keep the audience entranced and puzzled by the plugboard, entry wheel, rotors, reflector as well as electrical contraction pins and electrical contacts that together made up the alphabet; when the rotors stepped by one twenty-sixth each time, changing the substitution alphabet at each turn, as you add rotors or increase notches, the probability of deciphering declines enormously
  • The movie refers to the 150 million millionth chance of decoding; in fact, Enigma has 158,962,555,217,826,360,000 (almost 159 quintillion) different settings
  • The creation of “Ultra,” the decoding system, as well as the entire system of spies and counter-spies, theft of code tables and other machines, German procedural flaws and failure to use random start positions by German operators, and operator errors alluded to were critical, but none as ludicrous and incredulous as the simplistic one used in the movie
  • Alan Turing did not surreptitiously on his own get his secret service handler to deliver a personal letter to Churchill pleading for the money to build the machine, but was brought on board specifically for that purpose with funding already in place, the effort initially supported by Commander Denniston
  • When Denniston had become too obstreperous, the letter sent to Churchill in 1941 was co-signed by all the senior code-breakers on the team, including Gordon Welchman, Stuart Milner-Barry and Hugh Alexander
  • The issue was neither the idea of the machine nor the funds to build it, but a critical shortage of staff and more funding for additional parts
  • As a response to that shortage, Cairncross, the Soviet spy, became part of the team only in 1942
  • The idea that the decoding team was charged with or even had the capability of working out the plans and strategies of a U-boat attack on a convoy was simply balderdash
  • Neither Turing nor his team worked out how to use the information strategically to both hide their discovery and maximize its effectiveness
  • The scene of the team burning their papers at the end of the war and ordered to do so by the secret service makes a great orgiastic colourful ending to the process, but such an action was both illegal and took credulity over Niagara Falls
  • The structure of the film using a detective who suspected Turing was a Soviet spy and inadvertently discovered he was a closet gay after his arrest in 1952 and then becomes the cipher to whom Turing told his whole tale is both unbelievable and pure nonsense, but as a parable, it works

I loved the movie as a superb parable, well told and brilliantly acted, but it was far off the mark in imitating and representing history.

I’m in Mourning

I’m in Mourning

by

Howard Adelman

Here you are rejoicing. Two days have passed and you have not had to feel guilty for not reading Howard’s blog. While you are grinning from ear-to-ear, I am in mourning. Not only have I lost my old computer and now have to type on the backup that, luckily, I had purchased in Victoria, but I keep making errors with my two-fingered typing. Though this is a Dell laptop like my previous one, the delete is in a different place so when I hit what I think is the delete key, the cursor goes to the end of the line. When I try to type “ee”, I type “rr” so feel comes out as frrl. When I do type delete in the new location, a period appears. And this computer skips in a different way than my last one. So this paragraph took five minutes rather than two minutes to type. Is there anything worse than clumsy fingers being soaked by tears falling on them as you try to write a blog?

And now I have to retype the second paragraph because I pressed the wrong key and the paragraph was deleted. You already know that I lost the blog I wrote for the day before yesterday. What you do not know was that the blog contained what I believe was the most significant analysis I had done on the Iranian nuclear negotiations. You also do not know that I also lost the blog I wrote yesterday, not as important as the previous one, but a blog that I felt very proud about as well. Worst of all, I lost all the research materials I had collected in one file for my next series of blogs on Libya. I had not backed up any of these files yet on my other computer. You not only do not know about these losses, but what happened and why I think it happened.

Yesterday, Nancy drove me several towns away (a drive of about 30 minutes) to our local computer repair shop. Then drove me back to the computer shop. Then back again. We left at 9:30 a.m. We did not get back home until almost five. What had happened? On Tuesday morning, as I told you, as I was completing that morning’s blog, it disappeared from my screen. What actually happened was that some strange material suddenly appeared on my screen. I thought it was a pop-up ad and, without looking at it closely, deleted it. The deletion then wiped out all my open files – the research file for the next day’s blog, the back-up research material for the blog I was writing and the blog itself.

I spent a good part of Tuesday searching for that file to no avail. I am computer challenged, but not terribly so. I have lost material before and somehow I usually find it after an intensive search for an hour or two. I could not find the missing material this time and shifted to re-creating the research file on the anticipated effects of a signed nuclear deal with Iran on Israel-U.S. relations for the next day’s blog. It was far easier re-assembling that material than recollecting the material I had used for that day’s blog that had disappeared. It dealt with the analysis of material revealed on Monday of a highly secret Mossad report dated October 2012 to the Israeli government on the status of the Iranian nuclear program. The hardest material to re-create would be the one page detailed summary I had prepared of the contents of that report. In any case, I was hoping I would still find my missing blog.

Tuesday evening, lo and behold, and to my chagrin and Nancy saying, “I told you so,” my blog reappeared. It, as well as numerous other autosave documents from the last few weeks, suddenly were there on my screen. And I cannot tell you whether it was the result of something I did or this was simply manna from heaven delivered by the collective memory of the computer cloud in our contemporary heaven. But there it was. Not the final version, but probably the version from about fifteen minutes before I lost the document. So a quick read and a half an hour of work and the blog was ready for sending out in the morning. I actually tried to send it out Tuesday evening, but I was not able to connect to the internet and decided to leave it overnight and try to send it out on Wednesday morning. The material that had re-appeared also included the appendix which contained my analysis of the Mossad 2012 report. I had saved that in a separate file. So I had the full blog.

I also had the material for Wednesday morning’s blog and the material I had reassembled that day with a great deal of overlap, but with some additional material as well. I would get up the next (yesterday) morning, send out the blog from the day before and then write my blog for that day.

It was not to be. When I awoke, I could still not connect to the internet. So I wrote that morning’s blog and waited until Nancy or one of our guests woke up to help me get on the internet. I finished the second blog, everyone woke up, but no one was able to help me get connected. My computer (the old one) showed that I was connected, but I was unable to upload Firefox or Xplorenet and send out my blogs. The blogs were there on the computer, but I could not share them in the usual way.

That is when we decided to take the computer to the hospital. We got to the computer store and the proprietor opened up the computer and tried to connect me to the internet. The material was there in front of him to send out, but somehow the computer would not allow him to make a connection. He said he would have to back up my files and reconfigure the system. He asked if I had saved my files. I said I had. He asked permission to close the files, a procedure necessary for his backing up my files and figuring out why I was not connecting to the internet. I said, “Sure.” Big mistake! I should have copied the opened files first before closing them, but you know what they say about hindsight.

After spending time shopping for gifts to bring back to Toronto, going to the bank and having lunch, we returned to the computer store. He said that the computer was not ready. He would need a few more hours. We came back later and again he said it was not ready. The long and the short of it in the end was that he said he had been unable to either fix my computer or even backup my files. He had never seen anything like it. He asked if I had smashed the computer on the floor or against a wall. I assured him that I had not.

He said that he would have to get hold of a much more powerful system to try to access and back up my files. He would also have to order a new hard drive. Not only was my software system a mess, but the hard drive would now be useless. He asked me to phone him and he would let me know when he would have the far more powerful machine and when he could get a new hard drive delivered. He said that alone would cost about 2,000 pesos. But he was frank. He was very doubtful if he would ever be able to back up my files from my destroyed hard drive and software systems. As much as I insisted, he refused to charge me for the time he had spent on my machine.

On the return home through the mountain highway, I was not the best of company. In my head, I replayed what had happened over the last 60 hours. I tried to recall what had happened when my blog disappeared from my screen. On one side, I had the purloined Mossad material. On the other half of the screen – at home I work much more efficiently with the equivalent of seven screens – was my blog on which I was working. When I sent out the message that there would be no blog that day, I received several notes commiserating with me. But I also received a note from a former graduate student of mine in Calgary who wrote, “It must be the work of the Israeli-American intelligence hacking community.” I, of course, thought he was joking.

I thought again. I knew something about Israel’s skills in computer sabotage. After all, they had penetrated the computer systems of the Iranian nuclear program on at least three different occasions, one time with a devastating effect on cascades of their centrifuges. What if malware had been built into their intelligence report so that if anyone who was unauthorized accessed the secret material, their computer would become infected and their software system destroyed. After all, the computer store guy had said that he had never seen anything like it. Perhaps Mossad had destroyed my computer.

I also wondered why there were no detailed reports in the media on this purloined material dubbed “The Spy Cables” since I had found the one document that I had read to be quite sensational. After all, this reported leak of hundreds of secret intelligence papers from agencies all over the world, not only offered “a glimpse into the murky world of espionage,” it also provided a check list to compare public political claims with the information their own intelligence services were providing. The cable that interested me was relayed to South Africa’s State Security Agency (SSA) shortly after the September 2012 address in which Netanyahu had displayed a cartoonish diagram of a bomb with a fuse, marked with a 70 percent line and another “red line” at 90 percent as described in the Al Jazeera news story on Monday headlined, “Mossad contradicted Netanyahu on Iranian nuclear programme.” Perhaps the material was bogus. But even that would merit a major story. Besides, on reading the document, it seemed to be totally consistent with what I had read in IAEA reports as well as with the style of another Mossad report I had read years ago. Al Jazeera wrote:

Less than a month after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s 2012 warning to the UN General Assembly that Iran was 70 percent of the way to completing its ‘plans to build a nuclear weapon,’”, Israel’s intelligence service believed that Iran was “not performing the activity necessary to produce weapons”…A secret cable obtained by Al Jazeera’s Investigative Unit reveals that Mossad sent a top-secret cable to South Africa on October 22, 2012, that laid out a “bottom line” assessment of Iran’s nuclear work. It appears to contradict the picture painted by Netanyahu of Tehran racing towards acquisition of a nuclear bomb.

Writing that Iran had not begun the work needed to build any kind of nuclear weapon, the Mossad cable said the Islamic Republic’s scientists are “working to close gaps in areas that appear legitimate such as enrichment reactors”. Such activities, however, “will reduce the time required to produce weapons from the time the instruction is actually given”. That view tracks with the 2012 US National Intelligence estimate, which found no evidence that Iran had thus far taken a decision to use its nuclear infrastructure to build a weapon, or that it had revived efforts to research warhead design that the US said had been shelved in 2003. Netanyahu had told the UN General Assembly that, “by next spring, by most at next summer at current enrichment rates, [Iran] will have finished the medium enrichment and move on to the final stage,” to enrich uranium to weapons grade.

Perhaps the absence of detailed follow-up stories was a result of those media agencies having their computers discombobulated as mine had been. So when I thought of trying to access once again the one document from the reams of intelligence material from the U.S., Russia, South Africa, Israel, Britain, etc. that Al Jazeera had obtained and shared with The Guardian on Monday, I had second thoughts. I had read only a very tiny portion of the material – that which dealt with the Mossad’s October 2012 report on the Iranian nuclear program. It was a sepia-coloured document that I found hard to read, but did manage and made detailed noted which I digested and summarized. In my blog, I had reprinted the internet address to find the material again. That was lost, but I could get it back by following the same route I had on Monday. But what if I found it, accessed the material with the same result – an infected computer with a destroyed software system? I decided I could not take a chance at this time. I would have to tell you what the sensational parts of the report contained from my memory, but if anyone cares to access the material and test whether my memory is accurate, the Al Jazeera story will provide the leads to the actual document.

  1. The report said that although Iran had conducted research on weaponizing nuclear material, no program was underway, nor had a program even been designed, to create a weaponized missile for delivering a nuclear explosive.
  2. The Arak plutonium reactor would not be ready for operation until mid-2014 and even then no plutonium-based nuclear weapon could be created until a necessary complementary plant was built to decommission nuclear material.
  3. Even if Iran had everything in place, it would only be able to produce one plutonium bomb per year.
  4. Mossad intelligence had been excellent since its reports on the amount of both 20% enriched and 5% enriched nuclear material, as well as on the numbers of active and passive centrifuges (10,000 + 9,000) and their types (first generation and advanced) were totally consistent with what IAEA found in its 2014 inspections.
  5. Most importantly, in October 2012, it was unlikely that Iran would be able to make a nuclear device for several years.
  6. There was no evidence to indicate that Iran was trying to upgrade its uranium stock beyond a 20% enrichment level needed for a nuclear device.
  7. Nevertheless, the pattern of Iranian behaviour remained suspicious with respect to an ultimate aim of making and owning nuclear weapons.
  8. The report was silent on Iran’s support for terrorism, its search to become a regional power and its determination to exterminate Israel.

The bottom line – Iran’s immanent emergence as a nuclear power had been grossly overstated.

With the release of this report as well as the leaked contents of the immanent negotiated deal on Iran’s nuclear program, Netanyahu, Ya’alon and Bennett panicked. They held a joint press conference to reiterate their fears of Iran as a nuclear threat and a threat to the whole world. What they said was grossly misleading even though most individual sentences or clauses were not specifically false. I showed how the statements were not lies – it depended, for example, on what was meant to be “on the verge.” But they were very far from the truth. Tomorrow, I will analyze their statements and suggest the reasons for their panic and the implications of the fallout on American-Israeli relations, especially on the legitimate fears of Iran’s rise even if it never becomes a nuclear power in the next 10-15 years. The evidence seems to be that Israel had held onto the position of Iran as a nuclear power as a way to rally the world to Israel’s side in trying to prevent Iran emerging as a power at all, even a non-nuclear one.

Had Netanyahu gambled and lost? What are the consequences?

Tomorrow: The Consequences of an Iranian Nuclear Deal on U.S.-Israel Relations