With news that Israel spied on the Iran nuke negotiations, there is high dudgeon in some quarters.

Extending the administration’s Bibi-bashing news cycle apparently was the intent of the U.S. officials who leaked the information to The Wall Street Journal.

While Israel denies spying on U.S. officials, as opposed to targeting the Iranians with whom U.S. officials had communications, the incident is being exploited.

But there needs to be a reality check.

Friendly governments spy on friendly government. That’s how friends make sure who are their real friends.

The way the U.S. allegedly found out Israel was spying on the nuke negotiations was because the U.S. was spying on Israel.

The U.S. spying on Israel created a small media storm on December 2013, when a batch of Snowden documents were released, as The Guardian reported:

Senior Israeli officials have called on the US to stop spying on Israel, after revelations that the National Security Agency had intercepted emails from the offices of the country’s former leaders.

It is the first time Israeli officials have expressed anger since details of US spying on Israel began to trickle out in documents leaked by the former NSA contractor Edward Snowden….

Leading Israeli officials work on the assumption that they are being monitored. Officials use special secure lines for certain types of communications, and for the most sensitive matters, issues are discussed only face to face in secure rooms.

But it gets more intense, as this article at the time in The Times of Israel reflected, Spy-target Netanyahu uses ‘gestures’ and ‘codes’ in sensitive discussions:

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu routinely assumes that he is being spied upon and therefore goes to extraordinary lengths to prevent his work being compromised by foreign agencies, Israeli TV reported on Friday night, in the wake of revelations that US and British intelligence services intercepted emails in his office and that of his predecessor Ehud Olmert and also spied on former defense minister Ehud Barak.

Netanyahu has no computer in his office, does not use email, and does not maintain a private phone, Channel 2 reported.

More dramatically, when discussing especially sensitive issues even at his home, Netanyahu and guests sometimes resort to “gestures” rather than speech, because of concerns that they are being listened to, Channel 10 reported

It added that Netanyahu conducts his most sensitive discussions in the offices of the Mossad intelligence service, because only there is he confident that he is safe from listening devices.

Netanyahu’s aides will tell you that he sometimes “speaks in codes” during discussions, the Channel 10 report said, and that even when it’s not entirely clear what he means by the “code” name for this or that official, they can’t ask him because he won’t tell them.

No need to feel sorry for the Israelis.

Everybody does it. Including the Iranians.


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