Misquotes and Lies Guardian Style Part II

This is a guest post by an anonymous CiF Watch reader.
There are some other interesting features of McGreal’s original story, which readers might think give an insight into his methods. In what follows, all emboldened text is added by me.
The story (on the internet at least) begins with a picture of the signature page of an agreement dated 3 April 1975.

As can be seen above, this is described in the caption to the picture as: “The secret military agreement signed by Shimon Peres, now president of Israel, and P W Botha of South Africa.”
The sub-editor who presumably composed that must have gotten the idea from the article itself, which includes these two statements by McGreal:

“The two men also signed a broad-ranging agreement governing military ties between the two countries that included a clause declaring that “the very existence of this agreement” was to remain secret.

and

“Some weeks before Peres made his offer of nuclear warheads to Botha, the two defence ministers signed a covert agreement governing the military alliance known as Secment. It was so secret that it included a denial of its own existence: “It is hereby expressly agreed that the very existence of this agreement… shall be secret and shall not be disclosed by either party”.

(Notice in passing that the agreement is called “Secment”. Remember that word.)
In his subsequent article giving details of the documents on which all this is based, McGreal gave a web link to three pages of the agreement (which is apparently four pages long, so once again, incomplete), and himself described it thus:

(Notice also how he calls this the “Israel-South Africa agreement”. More on that later.)
In fact, if you take time to inspect it, the document is not a “military agreement”, nor is it a “broad-ranging agreement governing military ties”, nor is it an “agreement governing the military alliance” .
It is nothing more nor less than a “secrecy agreement”, i.e. an agreement that the parties agree to keep their dealings secret.
Here’s a snapshot of page 1 and page 2:


As you can see, Section 1 has been redacted with a marker. However, a little image enhancement shows that it states the following:

“This Agreement will be referred to as Security and Secret Agreement (SECMENT).

Section 2 contains a (redacted) definition of “secret information”, which is the subject of the agreement.
Section 3 states that “the very existence of this agreement as well as any other agreement relating to the activities defined in clause 2 hereof [i.e. the secret information] ……shall be secret…”.
The rest of the agreement appears to provide the machinery for the secrecy regime agreed on. Thus Section 4 describes the procedures by which secret information will be shared. We don’t have the third page, but we can be absolutely sure that if it contained a word setting up military ties or a military alliance, McGreal would not have omitted it.
It is thus a secrecy agreement providing that future agreements, if any, and future dealings, if any, between the parties are to be kept secret. No doubt each signatory to this agreement did not want the other party to put the information about their dealings into the public sphere. And obviously it was an agreement between the Ministers of Defence of both countries. And no doubt they had many reasons for not wanting their future dealings to be publicised.
“Secrecy agreements” are widely used wherever negotiations take place between different parties, be they private or public or governmental, and where the participants do not want the information which is to be exchanged, and the details of negotiation and co-operation, to be disclosed to public view.
I would imagine that every country in the world which has military dealings with other countries has a “secrecy agreement” of this sort to govern its relationship. For example, I have read in the paper that Britain supplies arms to many countries, including, I think, China and Brazil. If McGreal were to obtain a copy of the undoubtedly existing “secrecy agreements” between Britain and China, or Britain and Brazil, does anyone rate his chances of persuading his newspaper to proclaim that it had acquired a copy of the “broad-ranging agreement governing military ties between Britain and China”, or the “agreement governing the military alliance between Britain and Brazil”.
Don’t put money on it.
If you recall I mentioned you should keep in mind the characterisation of what we now know to be a secrecy agreement as the “Israel-South Africa Agreement”. The Israel South Africa agreement is referred to in Sasha Polakow-Suransky’s book “The Unspoken Alliance Israel’s Secret Relationship with Apartheid South Africa”, the basis for McGreal’s story, in the following terms:

“[Peres and P.W. Botha] also signed the original ISSA (Israel-South Africa) agreement, according to Dieter Gerhardt, then a high ranking South African naval officer, who saw the thick document when it was circulated for discussion throughout the South African military establishment…Gerhardt recalls the original ISSA agreement that Peres and Botha produced as “a very detailed layout of how they were going to cooperate on a technical level” and how each country would store spare weapons and parts for the other.” (pages 80 and 81)

So clearly the secrecy agreement and the Israel-South Africa agreement described above are two entirely different documents.
I said you should also remember the word “Secment”. Now let’s revisit the quote in which McGreal refers to this secrecy agreement, and see what use he makes of it:

“Some weeks before Peres made his offer of nuclear warheads to Botha, the two defence ministers signed a covert agreement governing the military alliance known as Secment. It was so secret that it included a denial of its own existence: “It is hereby expressly agreed that the very existence of this agreement… shall be secret and shall not be disclosed by either party”.

It illustrates what these critics of Israel have to resort to, to do their work:
1. The “offer of nuclear warheads” is based on a (so far, undated) draft document in which the words giving rise to this inference of an offer are actually deleted to show that they are wrong. This is ignored.
2. In order to get the inference up and running, not only are the deleted words treated as not deleted, but some additional words are added.
3. This inferred “offer” is then causally linked to a “secrecy agreement” which is misrepresented as constituting a “military agreement”, an “agreement governing the military alliance”, a “broad-ranging agreement governing military ties” and even the so-called Israel South Africa agreement (of which there is no proof of its existence other than the claims of Dieter Gerhardt, a former KGB spy who spied on Israel).
4. With a skip and a leap, or joining the dots as these conspiracy theorists like to put it, Israel offered nuclear weapons to South Africa pursuant to a military alliance between them.

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