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Bibi Names New Shin Bet Director, New Israeli Palestinian Arrest Under Gag


yoram cohen

Yoram Cohen, new Shin Bet chief

Now, the other shoe has dropped.  Bibi Netanyahu has surprised everyone by naming as the new Shabak chief, Yoram Cohen (and in English), an Orthodox Jewish candidate for the job who was championed by the ultra-Orthodox, extremist settler community.  Bibi had long-planned to nominate Yitzhak Ilan, one of the current chief’s deputy directors, to the job as I reported here based on an Israeli source.  But the campaign by the far-right was a powerful factor in the prime minister rejecting Ilan, who would’ve been the first director of Georgian-Jewish background.

The black mark against Ilan was that he’d been the head of the unit investigating Jewish terror.  As such, he’d cut a little too close to the bone for the settler terror apologists, who prefer people like Jack Teitel, Chaim Pearlman and Ephraim Khantses roaming free rather than behind bars.  The very rabbis behind the campaigns against employing Palestinians in Jewish stores and renting housing to Palestinians were those who torpedoed Ilan’s candidacy.  In fact, Ynet goes so far as to say that Bibi turned away from Ilan out of fear of the settlers.  So Ilan loses and Cohen wins based on the support of the Orthodox Jewish racist crowd.  Does that tell you a bit about where Israeli democracy, already almost mortally wounded, is headed?

Cohen, on the other hand, commanded the Arab terror unit.  As such, and along with that kippah on his head, he’s scored points with the ultra-nationalist crowd currently running rampant in Israeli politics.  The Nana article linked above notes he is a Tel Aviv native and attended an Orthodox yeshiva.  He will be the first Orthodox Jew to head the spy agency.  He is 51, a resident of Jerusalem and father of five.  Among his studies, he completed an executive management course at the Wharton School (University of Pennsylvania).

He has also been a visiting fellow at Aipac’s Washington Institute for Near East Peace where he wrote an essay I critiqued here some time ago.  In publishing the piece, WINEP allowed my friend Sol Salbe to identify him, since normally no Israeli security agents below director may be named in the Israeli press.  In case you’re wondering at the level of strategic thinking to expect from him, here is how he managed in one and the same paragraph both to admit Israel broke the ceasefire which eventually led to Operation Cast Lead, while blaming Hamas for the violence that followed:

Last week, Israeli forces entered Gaza, destroyed an underground border tunnel, and battled Hamas fighters, leaving several militants dead. In response, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad fired around eighty rockets into southern Israel…Despite this breach of the tahdiya, or ceasefire, both Hamas and Israeli leaders have stressed their desire to deescalate the situation. But considering Hamas’s history of violence against Israel, the organization’s commitment to the tahdiya is open to serious question.

Among his fields of expertise are Arab-Iranian counter terror, which would place him among those intelligence operatives shreying about Iran’s efforts at Middle East hegemony, and inside Gaza in particular.  When you read headlines like yesterday’s in Haaretz in which a columnist cries gevalt over Iran’s alleged takeover of Syria, you’ll see the influence of this Cohen mindset.

Here is some of his trolodytic “wisdom” concerning Hamas’ “real” intentions in Gaza:

Hamas’s primary long-term goal is the liberation of historic Palestine “from the sea to the river” and the foundation of an independent state based on sharia, or Islamic religious law. This would require the destruction of the state of Israel and control over Palestinian institutions, including the Palestinian Authority (PA), the Palestine Liberation Organization, and all of the Palestinian Diaspora groups. To this end, Hamas seeks a powerful modern army to continue its armed struggle against Israel, a goal that is aided by Israel’s enemies, Iran, Syria, and Hizballah.

It’s safe to say you won’t be getting any new or innovative thinking out of the director-designate.  In fact, you can expect two things from him, a continuing erosion in investigation and prosecution of the growing wave of terrorist acts of Judean (aka settler) terrorists.  And a ratcheting up of the number and intensity of detention of Israeli Palestinian terrorists and their interrogation.  And possibly a return to more intensive forms of State sanctioned violence in the form of targeted killings.

You’ll feel a frisson of foreboding when you read this blessing from the outgoing chief, Yuval Diskin:

Yoav is a field officer.  He rose in the field, knows the field and the field knows him.  I’m convinced that he understands the objectives standing before us…

Indeed.  More Ameer Makhouls, more renditions of victims like Dirar Abusisi.  You should expect no less.

And indeed, yesterday brought news that there is a new young Palestinian victim on the altar of Shabak counter-terrorism.  He is a 19-year-old boy, Ahmad Khaled Ghanem from Nazareth.  His arrest and the reasons for it are under typical Israeli gag order. This allows the interrogators to work him over a bit before the world wakes up and find out what happened.  If there are any Israeli human rights NGO staffer who can follow-up with research of their own please contact me.  I’d like to know where he’s imprisoned, who is his lawyer, how to contact his family, and any other pertinent information to publicize his plight.

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Don March 29, 2011, 1:28 AM

    Richard, the definition of Chutzpa is to be wrong once about a subject and then to continue analyzing it as if you really understand anything about the subject.
    in your post you provided proof that you were wrong not once but twice, and i fear that your knowledge of the matters you write about is….well, let’s just say its limited.
    1. Your prediction of the identity of the next head of the Shin Bet was wrong, now you blame the settler’s influence over Bibi as the reason your prediction didn’t come true, nut had you knew anything about Israel, shouldn’t you predicted that ?
    2. Supporting the revolution in Egypt, you yelled that the Israeli’s who predicted the raise of the Muslim Brotherhood didn’t know what they were talking about. And ? last Thursday the NYT had published that the youth who ignited this revolution is no longer in the picture as a political force, and the Brotherhood is the new raising force in Egyptian revolution. (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/25/world/middleeast/25egypt.html)

    modesty Richard is one of the most important “midot” according to Judaism, you practice none.

    • Richard Silverstein March 29, 2011, 12:52 PM

      It wasn’t me who said Bibi turned away from Ilan to name Cohen. It was the Israeli media. So take it up with them. Do you even read Hebrew? Did you read the articles linked? If not, why don’t you wait to open yr big mouth after you do. You won’t appear so ignorant.

      And in fact I didn’t make up Bibi’s decision to name Ilan, a well-placed Israeli insider provided me the information. And in fact, if you’d bother to read my blog posts (something I’m sure you couldn’t be bothered to do) other Israeli media outlets over the past few months have reported that Ilan was the top candidate. I reported about them too & you could read their reports if you bothered to do yr homework.

      Regarding the Egyptian Revolution, once again you don’t understand what I wrote (not surprising). I disagreed with Israeli claims that the Egyptian Revolution itself was dominated by the Brotherhood, and it wasn’t. I predicted in free and fair elections that the Brotherhood would not control Egyptian politics. It’s far too early to say who will win inside Egypt and whether the youth movement is a spent force. The day before the Revolution Mubarak believed the demonstrators were a hopeless ragtag crew who could impact nothing. You dismiss the Egyptian youth at yr peril.

      Modesty isn’t your finest virtue either. Someone who admits their mistakes exhibits modesty and I admit mine. But you haven’t pointed out any. Keep trying though.

      • Don March 29, 2011, 5:53 PM

        “And in fact I didn’t make up Bibi’s decision to name Ilan, a well-placed Israeli insider provided me the information”

        That’s to show, to none of you progressive bloggers have any idea what you are blogging about. one thing you do have in common with other bloggers, no accountability. It’s not me it’s them, they provided me with the information.

        Richard, if you can’t verify the information why report it ? are you in the business or reporting or are you in the business of speculating ?

        you wrote hundreds of words about Itzhak Ilan, and at the end of the day you were wrong.

        as for the Egyptian revolution, i suggest you would read the link i provided, in which the NYT states that the Brotherhood was very involved with the revolution in the form of cutting a deal early on with the military, that granted them control while keeping them behind the scene.

        as for admitting your mistakes, give me a brake. where is the post about David Yerushalmi ? you will learn modesty my friend, and from reading your own post there will be a hefty price tag for that lesson.

        • Richard Silverstein March 29, 2011, 9:06 PM

          You’re spouting nonsense. You originally said something akin to I made up the story. My reply was meant to show that I relied not only on sources but on other Israeli journalists who wrote the same thing, that Bibi intended to appoint Ilan. It’s not my job to prove to you that the earth is round. If you persist in believing it’s flat, that’s your perogative. But the truth of the matter is that Bibi for the past 8 months has intended to name Ilan to the post. The tip was conveyed to me by my source & confirmed by a major Israeli TV channel. Bibi changed his mind after a full court press fr. the extremist right. This too is confirmed by Israeli sources. I frankly don’t give a crap what you think or say about anything. But those are the facts. You can spin them any way you want. But in the end it’ll be just that–spin.

          if you can’t verify the information why report it ?

          Not the way journalism works, my friend. What am I supposed to do, ask Bibi directly? DOn’t be ridiculous. Journalism works by credible sources conveying you information that you trust. My source has conveyed accurate information about at least 30 diff. stories including the most recent major one I reported on Dirar Abusisi. That’s as close to verifying it as one can get. Israel is a state borne is secrecy in which information like this is shrouded behind veils. You don’t “verify” such information in the classical way you do in true democracies.

          I don’t ‘speculate.’ When you have a source, you’re not speculating. The fact that you could use that word means you’re simply at a loss when it comes to understanding what journalism is.

          you wrote hundreds of words about Itzhak Ilan, and at the end of the day you were wrong.

          Not wrong at all, because at the time I wrote those words Bibi DID intend to name him director. He changed his mind along the way as is confirmed once again by the Israeli sources to which I linked (which you didn’t read, did you?).

          where is the post about David Yerushalmi ?

          You missed my comment in which I wrote that it’ll be like Arnold S. who once said: “I’ll be back.” My post replying to Yerushalmi wasn’t a “mistake.”

          you will learn modesty my friend, and from reading your own post there will be a hefty price tag for that lesson.

          Ooooh, you’re a big talker aren’t? You & who else is going to teach me the lesson? You bullies all talk big. Why don’t you go back to your friend Aussie Dave who also threatened me with a lawsuit but never seemed to have the wherewithall to follow through on his threat.

          • Don March 30, 2011, 12:16 AM

            “You missed my comment in which I wrote that it’ll be like Arnold S. who once said: “I’ll be back.” My post replying to Yerushalmi wasn’t a “mistake.””

            i didn’t miss anything, i have been around the block enough times to understand that you took that post down after you were advised to do so by your lawyer, what i don’t understand is why you think you would ever write anything else about Yerushalmi ? If you would reach an agreement with him, that will most likely include you never mentioning his name again on your blog, and if you will not reach an agreement with him, I guess your home is worth enough to cover the 100K + expenses.

            “You & who else is going to teach me the lesson?”
            no one can teach a man a lesson but himself. some people use their brain in the process, some need to feel pain.
            I think that a defamation legal action that will drain your resources a bit, would help you learn a lesson. i understand that you are involved with 2 lawsuits at the moment.
            weather it will teach you modesty…time will tell.
            you don’t need to worry about me, i am not an educator.

            and just FYI, Aussie Dave is not my friend, i came across his website for the first time 2 / 3 days ago, while searching for your lost Yerushami post, if you wish to send him a message you would have to do so using other venues.

          • Richard Silverstein March 30, 2011, 2:35 AM

            i have been around the block enough times to understand that you took that post down after you were advised to do so by your lawyer

            Either you haven’t been around the block enough or you’ve been around so many times that your head is spinning. At any rate, your surmise is dead wrong. But you can be sure that post is going back up in substantially the same form it was originally at the appropriate time. I’ll even send you the link just so you can be the first to read it & send the link on to whoever you’re reporting for in the right wing blogosphere.

            If you would reach an agreement with him

            Who says that’s my intent?

            I guess your home is worth enough to cover the 100K + expenses.

            I’m so glad you’re not the judge before whom this case will be heard. Oh wait, you’re not even a lawyer. You don’t know anything about the law do you? SO what makes you an expert in the outcome of this case? I guess we’ll have to wait to see who’s right.

            some need to feel pain.

            Neither you nor David Yerushalmi will ever make me feel pain. And you can quote me.

            I think that a defamation legal action that will drain your resources a bit, would help you learn a lesson.

            And I think that you’re prattling utter nonsense. But do continue. It shows you for the utter fool you are.

            i understand that you are involved with 2 lawsuits at the moment.

            You understand wrong.

            weather it will teach you modesty…time will tell.

            I don’t need to be taught modesty by the likes of you, Yerushalmi or anyone else. In fact, it’s just the opposite. Those who abuse the legal system to stifle free speech are the ones who will come up short in the end. And you can quote me on that too.

  • Shunra March 29, 2011, 7:30 AM

    Ynet mentioned (in Hebrew, at least) that Yoram Cohen’s family emigrated from Afghanistan.

    I’m not quite sure why this fact sounds so entirely ludicrous to me, but it really does.

  • Menachem Mendel March 29, 2011, 7:46 PM

    Why is it ludicrous that Cohen’s family came from Afghanistan? I personally knew an Afghani Jew in Israel. In the early part of the 20th c. thousands of Jews lived in Afghanistan.

    • Richard Silverstein March 29, 2011, 9:09 PM

      I’ve subsequently confirmed that the Ynet story is indeed partially accurate. Cohen himself is not a native of Afghanistan, but his parents are. Thanks for offering this information I didn’t know anything about.

    • Shunra March 29, 2011, 9:41 PM

      It is ludicrous because of the geopolitical situation.

      Or, to put it plainly: Israel (the “ally” of the U.S.) appoints a native of a country that the U.S. is at war with to be the head of its secret police.
      That’ll be ever so nice for imperial consultations, won’t it? (and the Ynet story did not make clear where Yoram Cohen himself was born; however, his mother said they had immigrated to Palestion in the 50s, and he was born in 1960.)
      What more can they do to make themselves appealing to the perception of empire? Perhaps hire Shaul Mofaz as ministry of defense, again? Mofaz was born in Iran, you know.

      I just wonder what post they’ll put an Iraqi-born person. Probably the head of 8200.

      • Shai March 30, 2011, 6:11 AM

        I’m sorry but your entire post sounds completely racist. They appoint whomever they deem fitting. Race/nationality is not one of the factors.

        • Shunra March 30, 2011, 6:26 AM

          Dude. I didn’t say he’s not suitable for head of a vicious secret service dedicated to oppressing citizens & an occupied population

          What I said was that it’s ludicrous. That means: “causing laughter because of absurdity; provoking or deserving derision; ridiculous; laughable”.
          It made me laugh, for the reasons stated above. Or as I’ve been saying for years: if Hanoch Levin were writing reality, he’d use that sort of an ethnicity to run that sort of a system.

          What does race have to do with it? We’re talking identity politics, and presumed expertise. It’s a play, and he’s just a character, strutting and fretting his hour upon the stage, signifying nothing (to mash up two perfectly good lines in a speech by a defeated character).