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“September Song”

Politics are on holiday today.

It was a beautiful autumn day today in Seattle.  I walked through the Washington Park Arboretum (see album) with my dog.  The sun shone in the late afternoon, glinting off the hills and houses.  Cocoa got to swim in three different pools and had a blast (or should I say, “bath”).  The strains of the University of Washington marching band playing during halftime of the football game wafted across the water.

I’d been listening to Heather Masse’s gorgeous rendition of the Kurt Weill masterpiece, September Song, on the radio.  It just seemed so evocative, so wistful (also considering my time of life, it seemed appropriate).  I thought combining the video of her performance with a picture I took with my new Samsung Note 5 would just about sum things up perfectly.

arboretum seattle

Washington Park Arboretum

September Song lyrics:

When I was a young man courting the girls
I played me a waiting game
If a maid refused me with tossing curls
I’d let the old Earth make a couple of whirls
While I plied her with tears in lieu of pearls
And as time came around she came my way
As time came around, she came

Oh, it’s a long long while from May to December
But the days grow short when you reach September
When the autumn weather turns the leaves to flame
And you ain’t got time for waiting game

When days dwindle down to a precious few
September November,
And these few golden days I’d share with you
Those golden days I share with you

When you meet with the young girls early in the Spring
You court them in song and rhyme
They answer with words and a clover ring
But if you could examine the goods they bring
They have little to offer but the songs they sing
And the plentiful waste of time of day
A plentiful waste of time

Oh, it’s a long, long while from May to December
But the days grow short when you reach September
When the autumn weather turns the leaves to flame
One hasn’t got time for the waiting game

Oh, the days dwindle down to a precious few
September, November
And these few precious days I’ll spend with you
These precious days I’ll spend with you

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Two important security jobs were filled in the past 24 hours with, in at least one case, an entirely unexpected candidate.  The Israeli police is one of the most corrupt, inept and violent police forces in the western world, as I’ve written here before.  Its ranks are riddled with commanders on the take and in league with the mob or others suspected of criminal activity.  Their personnel routinely botch important police investigations and operations, including the 911 call from the three Israeli teenagers kidnapped and murdered last year.

There are regular announcements of firings and resignations, and even suicides of those under suspicion.  So it was no surprise that when the government ministers began searching for a replacement for the current boss, Yochanan Danino, that their first pick, Gal Hirsh, stirred a hornet’s nest of opposition.  It seems that Hirsh was one of twenty Israeli arms dealers under FBI investigation, suspected of bribery and tax evasion in weapons sales in Africa, Europe and Latin America.  Israeli good government reports have long criticized the opacity of such Israeli export deals and the unwillingness of authorities to prosecute such widespread corruption.

roni alsheikh new israeli national police chief

Israel’s new national police chief. The first image of Roni Alsheikh published publicly

The justice ministry let it be known that it could not support his appointment as the nation’s police chief when he was under criminal investigation by the FBI.  The optics wouldn’t look very good!

roni alsheikh satire

Roni Alsheikh in a pixellated image published on social media meant to skewer Israeli censorship.

After the minister for public security, Gil Erdan, withdrew Hirsh’s candidacy this week, he needed an immediate replacement who could dampen the embarrassment that might ensue.  He wanted to avoid the shame that arose from the case of three different IDF chiefs of staff candidates, each nixed before he could even assume the job.  So he turned to an unexpected candidate, Roni Alsheikh.  Alsheikh is the current deputy director of the Shabak.  The image featured here is the first one publicly published (it’s been circulating on social media for the past few hours).

I love the other image because it skewers the Israeli national secrecy obsession and military censorship.  Notice Alsheikh ample girth is pixellated, but not his face.

In fact, an Israeli source told me he had been the new Shabak director-designate when Yoram Cohen’s tenure ends next year.  So it was a shock when I learned Alsheikh had stepped into the job of national police chief.  Within the security apparatus, the police is considered third in status behind the Mossad and Shabak.

But an Israeli security source explained what Alsheikh’s thinking may have been:

“The news was received as a major surprise within Shabak. I think what happened is this: “The Fox” [Alsheikh’s nickname]- as usual – used his wits, and (remembering what had happened in the last moment with [Yitzhak] Ilan’s expected appointment) preferred “a bird in hand over two in the bush” – the certain appointment to police chief now, over the possible appointment to Shabak chief next year.”

At least one former Shabak chief (Yaakov Peri) lobbied publicly against Alsheikh’s upcoming promotion.  Peri’s objection is that Alsheikh comes from the interrogation side of the agency.  The guys who beat the shit out of people.  The brutes (you can see that in his picture).  The interrogators aren’t in the field.  They don’t run agents.  Peri believes that’s the Shabak job that requires intelligence and finesse.  But a sign of the times in Israel may be that brutes are ones who rise to the top both inside the Shabak and in the state itself.  The agents and spies with finesse may be a thing of the past, if they ever were at all.

Alsheikh also may’ve had other powerful enemies inside or outside the agency.  Who knows?

The new police chief has sturdy settler bona fides: he lived for a long time in a settlement and Haaretz noted his “messianic views” in critiquing him as a potential Shabak chief candidate.  He will fit right in to the current security élite with his extreme nationalist views.  The police play a major role within Israel and in settlements in both managing and stoking the fires of Palestinian resistance.  They are the primary force currently storming the Al Aqsa mosque regularly.  When there is a terror attack in Jerusalem they are the ones who liquidate the suspects rather than apprehending them and bringing them to trial.  When settlers steal a home in East Jerusalem, the police guarantee the theft by guarding the thieves and their new-found booty.

yossi cohen

Yossi Cohen, possible Mossad chief-designate and sexual predator, according to Yossi Melman

So Alsheikh will have every opportunity to expand the ideological fervor of the police, if that’s possible.

Yossi Cohen as Next Mossad Chief

Today, Yossi Melman also revealed that the new Mossad chief will be Yossi Cohen, who serves as Netanyahu’s current national security advisor.  He will assume his new job in three months when the current chief, Tamir Pardo, ends his term.  I summarized Melman’s earlier portrait of Cohen, adding information from my own source, when he was named to his current job as national security advisor:

 Yossi Melman reported that Cohen sees his promotion to national security advisor as providing him a leg up in the running for Mossad chief in 2 1/2 years time when Tamir Pardo ends his tenure.

The new NSC director has four children.  Cohen was raised Orthodox as a child and comes from a well-to-do family.  He abandoned his religion as an adult.

As Melman reports, Cohen is known for his charisma and charm.  He’s beloved by the Mossad operatives who serve under him.  My Israeli source, who’s met him one or two times said it’s not surprising to him that he could both turn an Arab agent AND bed his share of women (more below).

In Haaretz, Barak Ravid calls the appointment of Cohen “perplexing,” declaring that while he is a gifted spy, he has no obvious skills that would qualify him in his new role.  In fact, Ravid believes that Bibi is “grooming” Cohen eventually to assume Pardo’s job.  It was the prime minister who imposed Cohen on Pardo as the price of offering the top job to the latter.  So Bibi is using the NSC job as a sort of finishing school, allowing his chosen boy to learn on the job as he prepares to take on the top Mossad job.

Victor Ostrowsky, in his tell-all book about his life in the Mossad, recounted this story of Cohen’s sexual escapades during the agent preparatory-training course:

Yosy had suggested our group go to his house to grab some sleep because we had to stay together. Then Yosy said there was a woman down the street he’d promised to visit. So he didn’t get any sleep at all.

I said to him, “You’re quite newly married. You’re just about to have a baby. Why did you get married? You never rest. You’re like a fish in water. At least part of you is always swimming.”

He explained that his in-laws had a store in Kiker Hamdina Square (now similar to New York’s posh Fifth Avenue), so money was no problem. Also, he was Orthodox, so his parents expected a grandchild. “Does that answer your question?” Yosy asked.

“In part,” I replied. “Don’t you love your wife?”

“At least twice a week,” he said. Many people, when they know you work for the Mossad, are impressed. It shows you have a lot of power. These guys were doing their thing by using their Mossad connection to impress women. That was dangerous. That was breaking all the rules. But that was their game. They were always boasting about their conquests.

…To me, Yosy’s most shocking conquest occurred in the fourteenth floor “silent room,” at headquarters in Tel Aviv, the room used to call agents. The phone system had a bypass setup whereby a katsa could call his agent in, say, Lebanon, but for anyone tracing the call, it would appear to have originated in London, Paris, or some other European capital.

When the room was in use, a red light was turned on — rather appropriately for this occasion — and no one could enter. Yosy brought a secretary to the room, a serious breach of the rules, and seduced her while he was actually speaking with his agent in Lebanon. To prove he’d done it, he told Heim [another training agent] he would leave the woman’s panties under a monitor in the room. Later, Heim went in, and sure enough, found the panties. He took them to the woman and said, “Are these yours?”

Embarrassed, she said no, but Heim tossed them onto her desk and left, saying, “Don’t get cold.”

In any other western country, naming such a character to a position of high office would raise red flags.  In Israel, such sexual prowess would be a point of pride in his path of career advancement.

Yitzhak Ilan Candidate for Top Defense Ministry Security Post

Yesterday, another important security appointment was made.  Yitzhak Ilan, once the chief of the Shabak’s interrogations unit responsible for hunting down spies within the security apparatus (he caught Prisoner X2), was named as a candidate to direct Malmab, the security unit within the ministry of defense.  Ilan had been director-designate for the Shabak before Yoram Cohen eventually won the position.  Reports claim that Ilan had run afoul of Sara Netanyahu, who’d been swayed by settler leaders who decried Ilan’s rough handling of settler terrorists when he ran the Jewish terror unit within the agency.

facebook page deriding Palestinian murder victim

Facebook page featuring mockery of Hadil al-Hashlamon’s corpse

The Israeli security apparatus is filled with ideological true believers, stone-cold killers, and leaders who are corrupt, either ethically or sexually.  This new crop of  bosses doesn’t disappoint in that regard.

Trampling Palestinian Victims

The Israeli far-right continues its dance on the corpse of Hadil al Hashlamon: an extreme nationalist Facebook page, One Nation for One People, posted a picture of her corpse (a Palestinian activist posted a screenshot of the post without the image) lying in an Israeli ambulance as they tried to revive her.  The corpse is virtually naked.  The Facebook post literally cackles with glee over the sight of her body, appraising her figure and her personal hygiene.  Not surprisingly, the original post was taken down; undoubtedly at the insistence of the military censor, who patrols Israeli social media for such offensive material.  Unlike in a democracy, such figures may suppress ‘objectionable’ Israeli speech anywhere they find it.

The picture was likely shot by a settler.  Video footage of the incident clearly shows settlers using cell phones to take pictures and video of the scene.  As it also shows them laughing and enjoying it, just as white Americans were photographed turning a lynching into a pleasant social event.  It also reminds me of pictures of naked Jewish women holding their babies as they wait their turn to enter the “showers.”

I wish the material had remained accessible so that the world could see the utter depravity of the Israeli rightist mind.  A depravity that infects more and more Israelis these days.


Israeli Mothers-to-Be Crave IDF Warrior-Sperm

If I didn’t know this story (Hebrew) was true, I’d bet it was made up out of whole cloth.  But, alas, in latter-day Israel, the truth is stranger than any fiction a satirist can invent.

Mako reporter, Shimon Ifergan, bless his heart, decided this was a terrific human interest story.  After all, what could be better than combining fertile mommies, baby-making, sex (even if it’s just masturbating into a cup), and young IDF warriors.  Far better than motherhood and apple pie–the American equivalent!

israeli warrior sperm donors

A Rambam Hospital sperm bank poster soliciting IDF “warrior sperm.” Caption:”Guys, contribute to the maternal effort!”

The intrepid Ifergan traipsed to Israeli sperm banks and dutifully recorded interviews with staff who regaled him with stories of mommies-to-be approaching them clamoring for the seed of true Israeli warriors.  These ladies preferred not just any seed, but the best of the best: the soldiers who serve in the elite combat units like Shayetet 13, Sayeret Matkal, air force pilots, paratroopers, or in the vaunted intelligence unit, Unit 8200.

As the director of the Rambam Hospital fertility lab put it in a similar Yediot story about women seeking men who’d served during Operation Protective Edge:

It appears that the military operation and the many stories [of heroism] we were exposed to sharpened certain insights in those [women] who are turning to us.  Part of this business also points to desired qualities in the [sperm] donor.  Here we get into the criterion of military service which attests to what sort of man [he is].  We’re speaking of qualities like perseverance, decisiveness, assertiveness, and the willingness to serve, etc.

A man who’s served in battle is characterized as someone with impressive physical qualities, ensuring he has genes desirable to women.  This means he will likely be in good physical shape, good health, etc.

Returning to the Mako story: sperm donation offers a good deal for the guys (no, not getting to beat-off into a plastic cup with the help of girlie magazines), who earn $250 per session. One of these Israeli Hercules notes:

In what other job would you be paid $250 for a half hour’s work [ed., apparently he’s the slow, silent type]?

In a good month, these onanists can earn nearly $700 for doing what comes naturally to young men (and not so young as well).  For them, it’s not motivated by the desire to help a woman conceive.  Rather, it’s purely an economic calculation, says the article.  Soldiers salaries are pitiful and they barely make enough to keep themselves in cigarettes.  So sperm donation enables them to enjoy life a bit.

For the women, they believe that inseminating the sperm of these young gents will offer their offspring all the supposedly excellent genetic qualities of the donors; which presumably are guaranteed by their military service.

If this isn’t’ the most cock-eyed articulation of Mendel’s theories of the propagation of the species, I don’t know what is.  These women don’t stop to think that they might be producing the next generation of Israeli war criminals: the generals who will drop the bombs on Palestinian children, the assassins who will murder the next Palestinian in his hotel bed.  They don’t stop to think that military service guarantees nothing.  Do they think that serving in the IDF guarantees they will produce little Samsons and Ari Ben Canaans??

An unnamed source tells the reporter:

Apparently, the Operation aroused in these women decidedly right-wing ideological views, uber-patriotism, and feelings of deep national pride.  The stories of battlefield exploits and courage the soldiers showed during their service in Gaza only increased the desire of these women for the sperm of soldiers who fought there.

…Service in a particularly desirable unit makes a big impression on them.  They prefer the sperm of those who’ve served in the specially-chosen combat units or intelligence, rather than those who served as desk jockeys…

The women believe that men serving in special units or covert operations inherited their skills from their parents [and will pass it down to their offspring], and this ignites their [the womens’] imagination.

If you’re one of these fellas reading this, you can read Yediot’s article, which offers a sperm bank phone number to begin making your contributions to the next generation of the warrior race!

In the interests of full disclosure, my wife and I conceived with the help of a fertility clinic.  We had the experience of choosing a donor to help us conceive and the notion that you will produce a child genius or star athlete, or Nobel Prize winner through carefully culling through the genetic profiles of donors is ridiculous.  If you are smart, all you care about is getting the egg or sperm of a healthy person who has average intelligence.  After all, what are we aiming for here?  Creating the Master Race?  And even if you wanted to, would this guarantee it?  Of course not.  The odds are just as great that you’ll produce a Frankenstein or a golem as an Einstein, a Patton or a MacArthur.


This is a slightly expanded version of the story published at Mint Press News last week:

Israeli intelligence has a vaunted reputation for being the most sophisticated, aggressive, and sometimes most brutal in the world. It protects the interests of the nation with great vigilance. The exploits of it’s intelligence agency, the Mossad in particular, have been the subject of countless Hollywood films and thrillers. The Israeli heroes are always courageous, resourceful, and duplicitous. They will stop at nothing to succeed in their mission.

Yet one almost never hears of the Mossad’s failures, including the missions which were aborted, the agents who failed. One especially never hears about the traitors who betray their country for principle or money. Such people do exist, though, and not in any small way. Some were caught and killed. Some caught and imprisoned. One of them is the subject of this story.

‘Mistake piled on mistake’

The year 2004 was a mixed bag for Iranian espionage. A high point was “rolling up” an entire CIA spy network through the bungling of a Langley-based junior communications officer. Yet it was also the year that Iran lost one of its most senior Israeli agents, a high-level Mossad agent betraying his country, a knowledgeable Israeli security source informed me.

In his 2006 book “State of War,” James Risen relayed the amazing tale of the CIA operative who, instead of sending a message to a single Iranian agent, broadcast it to the entire spy network inside that country. Coincidentally, one member of the network was a double agent who worked for Iranian intelligence while pretending to work for the CIA. This spy reported the communication to his or her superiors, betraying the entire network.

The New York Times journalist wrote:

“The CIA officer had made a disastrous mistake. She had sent information to one Iranian agent meant for an entire spy network; the data could be used to identify virtually every spy the CIA had inside Iran.

 Mistake piled on mistake. As the CIA later learned, the Iranian who received the download was actually a double agent. The agent quickly turned the data over to Iranian security officials, and it enabled them to ‘roll up’ the CIA’s agent network throughout Iran. CIA sources say that several of the Iranian agents were arrested and jailed, while the fates of some of the others is still unknown.”

Thus, at a critical period when the Bush administration was trying to determine Iran’s nuclear intentions, it had no footprint on the ground, no sources of human intelligence inside the country. The only resources it had were non-human forms of intelligence, which sometimes are misleading without the ability to corroborate independently. As a result, there was no HUMINT element in the 2007 National Intelligence Estimate, which reported that Iran had ended its weapons of mass destruction program in 2003, the same year Iranian President Mohammad Khatami proposed the Grand Bargain that was summarily rejected by the Bush administration.

Israeli intelligence: A history of betrayal

According to Israeli reports, 2004 was also the year that the Shin Bet’s investigations unit, headed by Yitzhak Ilan, exposed a mole inside the Mossad. The unit functions much like the FBI in terms of counterintelligence activities.

Historically, there have been very few such incidents. Though little-known, these incidents are incredible stories of betrayal and state vengeance, with often disastrous consequences.

In the period leading up the 1948 War, Capt. Meir Tobianski was an officer in the Israeli Haganah, the pre-statehood military organization. When the British appeared to have access to information they should not have had, other officers pointed the finger at Tobianski. He was brought before a drumhead court martial in the summer of 1948, convicted of spying for the British, and executed by firing squad.

An investigation conducted some months later confirmed that Tobianski was not a spy and had not compromised Haganah operations. The state apologized the following year and attempted to make amends to Tobianski’s family. The members of the court who committed this legal abomination later went on to senior roles in the Israeli Defense Forces.  

israeli prisoner x2 story

Amir Oren’s censored profile of Prisoner X2

In 1954, another IDF officer, Capt. Alexander Israel, was caught selling secrets to Egypt and trapped through the use of a honey pot in “Operation Bren.” After being apprehended in Europe, he was drugged and hauled onto a plane intended to bring him back to Israel. The plane needed to make several refueling stops on the way, which lengthened the trip considerably. As a result, the Mossad’s medical doctor on call had to administer multiple doses of barbiturates to Israel to keep him unconscious. In the process, the IDF captain overdosed and died.

Unwilling to face the consequences of this disastrous incident, Iser Harel, the head of the Mossad at the time, directed the pilot to return to the air and dump the body into the Mediterranean Sea. Israel’s family was never told what happened to him and they were never compensated for the horror inflicted on him.

Decades later, in 1983, the most damaging spy in Israel’s history was arrested. Marcus Klingberg was deputy director of Israel’s Nes Ziona chemical weapons lab and a world expert in the field of fungal toxins. Unknown to Israel, before he made aliyah, he’d been recruited by the KGB, the Soviet spy and state security machine, to spy on Israel. He did his job exceedingly well and performed it for almost three decades before he was betrayed by a Soviet double agent working for the Mossad.

The story of another Mossad officer is even more complicated. It’s not believed that Yehuda Gil had spied for an Israeli enemy, but he was an ambitious agent seeking promotion and admiration from his colleagues. To achieve his goals, Gil spent decades manufacturing scores of agents he’d allegedly recruited in Syria and elsewhere in the region. He also concocted reports about their revelations to him. One of those reports was so ominous that the IDF actually prepared for war against Syria. Luckily, the commanders stood down at the last minute and war was averted. Gil was exposed by the head of the Shin Bet’s interrogation unit, a man known as “Sherif” (his real name is under Israeli military censorship and hasn’t been reported publicly).

Considering the potential damage Gil could’ve done to the nation, it’s astonishing that when he was exposed, tried and convicted of espionage in 1999, he served less than three years before being released. Gil claims that even now he is asked to help train future Mossad agents.

Considering the long sentence meted out to others who betray Israeli secrets (Ben Zygier, whose story follows below, faced a 20-year sentence before he committed suicide in prison), such a light sentence is extraordinary. It’s possible the Shin Bet was afraid of other damaging secrets and information Gil could reveal.

yitzhak ilan

YItzhak Ilan, Shabak chief interrogator who exposed Prisoner X2, and is candidate for defense ministry security operations chief.  (Dov Panda)

Sherif, who stepped down from his post in 2002, didn’t catch the Iranian mole in the Mossad’s midst. Yet this failure wasn’t for lack of trying: Reports indicate that hundreds of Mossad staff were forced to take polygraph tests.  Credit for exposing the spy went to his successor, Ilan.

A confidential Israeli source reported to me during the last transition to a new Shin Bet chief, that Ilan had won the job.  But he had one problem.  Since he’d worked in the Jewish terror unit monitoring settler criminal activity, Sara Netanyahu didn’t like him.  She preferred Yoram Cohen, an Orthodox Jew, whose ideological views and personality were more conducive to her.  Incredibly, in today’s Israel a prime minister’s wife can derail a candidacy for a senior intelligence job based on her petty dislikes.

In a development that shocked the Israeli media and the intelligence community, Cohen got the job.  Not surprisingly, Cohen’s prosecution of Jewish settler terror has been lackluster at best.  That may be just the way Sara prefers it.

Though Ilan’s rise to the top of Israeli intelligence was stymied by a demanding prime minister’s wife, his career may be revived.  Israeli media reports that he is one of four candidates being considered by Defense Minister Yaalon for the position of ministry chief of security operations (Malmab).  This agency ensures the security of Israeli military cyber operations and the security of IDF facilities.  It determines what material is held secret and protects it from exposure.  Among others, this includes the Dimona nuclear reactor, the Israel Atomic Energy Commission, the Nes Ziona chemical and biological warfare lab, and military industrial plants.

Prisoner X2

Let’s return to the Mossad mole, Prisoner X2: Ben Zygier had betrayed his country, exposing a major Mossad penetration of Iran, though others have reported that the operation penetrated Hezbollah.  In early 2010, Israel “disappeared” Zygier, arresting and imprisoning him in secret. Later that year, he was found hanged in his cell. I reported this story in June 2010, without knowing Zygier’s real name. In the media, he was known as “Prisoner X.” It wasn’t until the Australian media broke open the story in 2013, identifying him as an Australian national, that his name became known.

Haaretz reporter Amir Oren noted that the report of the judicial inquiry into Zygier’s death included an appendix which referred to another apparent high-level security prisoner held in the same unit as Zygier. That prisoner, later dubbed Prisoner X2, had been in the prison unit for some years before Zygier arrived.  The revelation in the judicial report drove Oren to publish the first report, in July 2013, on the Israeli double agent.

Oren followed the initial story with a profile of the then-imprisoned agent and interviewed his wife, asking if she would speak on her husband’s behalf. After consulting attorneys, she declined. Oren wrote an impassioned defense not so much of the Mossad double agent, but of freedom of information, transparency, and the public’s right to know. Without directly denouncing the intelligence services, the reporter made clear that their cult of secrecy damaged national interests.

This story so troubled the censorship unit, headed at the time by Brig. Gen. Sima Vaknin-Gil, that Haaretz was forced to pull it from its website after just a few hours. It was never published in the print edition.

Yet anyone who wishes may find it archived here. The original story is pictured here (in Hebrew). I’ve translated most of the story into English, and it can be found here. My purpose is to preserve it for posterity and ensure that someone, someday may be held responsible. This begs the question: What’s prompting the charade in which the censor “disappears” a story which virtually anyone with access to Google can find?

In the report, Oren intimated that the former Mossad agent’s initials were א.א. (Aleph Aleph). His report did not note that the agent had spied for Iran. If Oren knew this information, the censor certainly would never have permitted its publication. (My source offered that additional information and I am publishing it.) But the Haaretz journalist did note that א.א. was a senior agent and that he had done major damage to Israeli intelligence operations.

A currently serving Mossad agent (in Hebrew), using the pseudonym Jonathan de Shalit, published a new Hebrew-language thriller this year, “Traitor” (בוגד) which is purportedly inspired by the Prisoner X2 story.

I’ve never heard of any active-duty Israeli intelligence officer writing a book and identifying himself publicly as a Mossad agent as part of the book’s promotion. I’m betting that he’s done so, and his superiors have permitted him to do so, in order to glorify the character of Yitzhak Ilan, who caught the mole. This will reassure the Israeli public that despite a few bad apples, the agency runs a tight ship. Such heroics will also pre-empt any negative fallout when the real story of א.א. breaks (which it assuredly will).

De Shalit also regularly reviews books, particularly thrillers, for the pro-settler newspaper, Makor Rishon.

Now let’s return to 2004. The U.S. spy network in Iran was exposed that year, as was א.א. Is it a coincidence that these two events unfolded within the same year? Or did  א.א. play some complementary role in exposing the spy network, which caused him to be caught? If so, might א.א. have helped recruit the Iranians on behalf of the CIA? Or might the two agencies have shared intelligence at this time in a much closer collaboration than was hitherto known? Of course, all of this is speculation, but it’s still worth considering.

We also know that א.א. was sentenced (again, in secret) to 14 years in prison. That would bring his release date to 2018 (there is no early release provision for security offenses, except in rare cases).

Lest we think these two stories have exhausted the list of those guilty of betraying Israeli intelligence, Zygier’s attorney, Avigdor Feldman, insinuates that there may be even more such cases unknown to the Israeli public. Which raises the question: How many people can a nation “disappear” before it sheds the pretext of democracy and becomes a national security state, at best, or a police state, at worst?

Feldman also claims that א.א.’s case was so embarrassing to the Mossad that intelligence officials would be fired if it was known. Apparently, the prosecution offered the former agent a reduced sentence if he promised to keep his mouth shut. The possibility of such a “deal” is reinforced by the 14-year sentence given to a high-level Mossad agent who betrayed his country. It was lighter than the 16-year sentence given to Nahum Manbar, a civilian Israeli weapons merchant accused of dealing arms to Iran, in 1997.

There are several broader conclusions to be drawn from the story of Prisoner X2. There may be those who are shocked and disturbed that an Israeli would be recruited to spy for Iran. Someone like Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would shout, if he dared, that it proves Iran’s ongoing perfidy and untrustworthiness. But just as Israel and the U.S. have espionage programs targeting Iran (e.g., Stuxnet, “Operation Olympic Games”), so Iran has similar ones targeting Israel and, allegedly, the U.S. (in fact, in his 60 Minutes interview, Pres. Rouhani intimated that U.S. journalist Jason Reizian, imprisoned in Iran, might be exchanged for Iranian prisoners held by the U.S.)  This is the way the world works today and what’s good for the goose can’t be denied to the gander.



Murder on Shuhada Street

Yesterday, three IDF soldiers confronted an 18 year old Palestinian university student on her way to class at the Shuhada Street checkpoint.  Hadeel al Hashlamon was dressed in a burqa (or niqab).  Though we don’t know precisely how the incident began, we know how it ended: with her shot multiple times, lying on the ground and slowly bleeding to death while the IDF refused to allow medical emergency personnel to tend to her.

Amnesty International’s special report on the killing calls it “an extrajudicial execution” and “a grave violation of the Geneva Conventions.”

Haaretz: Smearing the Lede

Haaretz’s vaunted reputation as an independent, muckraking publication took a beating from this lede in the story written by Jack Khoury and Gili Cohen:

An [sic] 19-year-old Palestinian woman was shot in Hebron on Tuesday morning after she tried to stab a soldier.

hadeel hashlamon murdered

Two of Hadeel’s IDF executioners

That’s it.  The sentence verbatim.  No qualifications.  Not even the word “alleged.”  This is what she did.  Not even a qualification noting this was the story offered by the army.  Shameful reporting and inexcusable.

We have pictures of the soldiers pointing guns at her shortly before they opened fire.  We have an eyewitness (including a picture of him intervening) trying to defuse the situation by approaching the woman and asking the soldiers to hold their fire:

Another witness, Fawaz Abu Aisheh, 34, who appeared in the photographs taken by the activist, said Ms. Hashlamoun did not respond as soldiers screamed at her in Hebrew to step back. A soldier shot at her feet twice, but she did not move, he said.

“She was like a nail, like she was in shock,” he said. “I was shouting, ‘She doesn’t understand Hebrew!’ ”

Mr. Abu Aisheh said he had opened a small gate inside the checkpoint so that she could back away from the soldiers. She did so, creating more distance between her and the soldiers.

“Even if she had a knife, she would have to leap over a barrier about a meter high to reach a soldier,” he said. “There were six or seven soldiers with heavy weapons. There was no need for that assassination.”

The other soldiers who then rushed in fired around her feet and yelled at her to put her hands on the wall, he said. One shot Ms. Hashlamoun in the left leg, then her right, and fired six or seven bullets into her chest and stomach, Mr. Abu Aisheh said.

The ISM website quoted him as well adding further information:

“She was covered completely, there was no knife showing at any time. Even if she did have a knife he could have arrested her so easily. I was there… I could have talked to her, she cooperated with me in that very first moment. I asked her to move and she moved but after that I begged him to let me talk to her but they took me away from her and started pointing their weapons at me. After they shot her more and more soldiers arrived. There were still 3 or 4 kids a few meters from the checkpoint so I moved the kids away. ”

hadeel al hashlamon

Hadeel before her execution

You can be sure that the army will call this eyewitness in for questioning and attempt to browbeat him into submission.  He’ll be interrogated for hours by a bunch of goons working for the Shabak.    They’ll rough him up, threaten him.  It’s terribly inconvenient when the security apparatus needs to circle the wagons and tell the world a bunch of lies.  Having a Palestinian telling the truth wrecks the entire effect.

Hadeel collapsed on the pavement, bleeding from the bullet wounds.  No one tended her.  Settlers laughed and videotaped the incident as if they were at a soccer match.  When a Palestinian ambulance arrived, the soldiers detonated stun grenades to force them away (pictured on video).  Later, one of the soldiers dragged her body from where it lay (she was still alive presumably) as if it were a sack of refuse or road kill (visible on the video).  Approximately 40 minutes after she was shot an Israeli ambulance arrived and she was taken to an Israeli hospital.  By then she’d bled to death.

hadeel al hashlamon shabak statement

Original Mako story with Shabak claims, which was subsequently censored

Now for the army version of events: they claim Hadeel had a knife and “threatened a soldier” with it.  They acknowledge that no soldier was injured in any way.  No evidence shows her holding a knife or slashing at anyone.  Nor did the eyewitness closest to the incident see any knife or attack.  Later, after the public began complaining on social media, a picture miraculously appeared showing what appears to be a knife on the ground.  But the knife could be lying anywhere and there is no direct connection between the knife and her.

Shabak Tramples the Body of the Dead

UPDATE: The following passage is translated from a Mako story which was later censored.  The Shabak claims below have been excised from the subsequent version of this report.  Either the censor objected or else someone senior to the idiot agent who released this statement thought better of publishing such defamation of a murder victim.  The screenshot of the original story is featured here.

The Shabak now performs their usual dog and pony show, poisoning the well by smearing the victim with lies:

In recent months, Hadeel al-Hashlamon told her close friends at several opportunities that she wanted to “do something” and carry out a terror attack.  One day before the incident she sought to break off with her boy friend.  From an investigation of the event, it appears she was known to the Shabak and expressed her desire to carry out a terror attack and told him she would never see him again.

This is beyond shameful.  It’s low.  It’s vile.  It’s despicable.  You know as well as I this is simply invented.  There is a crisis for the security apparatus.  There will be days of Palestinian riots.  Many more will die in the coming days.  Anticipating this mayhem, let’s pull some lies out of a hat and gussy them up so they appear somewhat credible.  Maybe a few people will believe them and ease the pressure on us.  In a week, this will be proven to be a sack of lies.  But by then, no one will care and we’ll all be moving on to the next Israeli atrocity.  That’s the way it works, I’m afraid.

I have a perfectly simple way for the IDF to prove its version: release the unedited video footage of the security camera at the scene.  Show us the knife, show us her holding it, show us her threatening anyone.  I’ve tweeted to IDF spokesperson Lt. Col. Peter Lerner daring him to do this.  Naturally, no answer from him.

Here’s what my interpretation is: when the three inexperienced, jumpy soldiers saw a woman in full burqa approaching them, they panicked.  They didn’t know whether she was a suicide bomber.  They didn’t know what to do.  Hadeel did not know Hebrew.  Yet the soldiers screamed orders to her only in Hebrew.  She did not know what they were telling her to do.  She froze.  Her “refusal” to obey their orders made them more jumpy.  As it was Yom Kippur, a holiday when Israel expects terror attacks, soldiers were probably under heightened readiness for such an attack.  When you expect a terror attack, you miraculously provoke one.  Except the terror this time was by the Israeli soldiers.

Israel has essentially offered its soldiers shoot to kill orders at anyone or anything that is suspicious in the West Bank or Gaza.  This brutal war crime yesterday resulted in the death of an innocent young Palestinian girl.

I have offered in social media to identify by name the killers.  That offer stands.  Their pictures are clear and should be easy to identify.  If anyone knows them please contact me offering proof if possible.

Desecrating the Dead

Israeli settlers photographed and videotaped the killing and its aftermath.  One disgusting Peeping Tom photographed al-Hashlomon’s partially-clothed body in the ambulance.  A settler Facebook page posted the image (you will only find the post, but not the image here) along with demeaning comments about her and her physical hygiene.  After reading the Hebrew comments, note the desperate effort to smear the enemy by attempts at sexual and gender humiliation.  I hesitate to translate it because I will feel dirty and need a shower afterward.  This post and its entire thread consisting of equally disgusting rightist spew was removed, I’m certain at the insistence of the Israeli military censor.

Of course there will be an investigation.  At least Capt. Renault rounded up the usual suspects in Casablanca.  This army won’t round up any suspects.  The shooters either won’t be available or if they are, the questions will be softballs.  No one will be accountable.  No will pay a price for murder.  There will be a finding of “insufficient evidence.”  The IDF lingo for: we’re not touching this with a ten foot pole.  Hadeel will be road kill for the Israeli Occupation.

If you don’t mind cruel irony, contrast the above tragedy with this IDF-sponsored tweet on the Day of Atonement, in which a female soldier testifies to the awe-inspring power of this Day to invoke spiritual awakening and forgiveness of sin.  It’s too bad the same IDF didn’t allow Hadeel the opportunity to forgive her murders before they riddled her with bullets.

If you can believe it, a reporter for the Independent actually wrote a story about this tweet as if it were news!  The hasbara never ends and the reporters are willing shills for it.


Yahweh, IDF’s God of War

idf soldiers kill for God

IDF unit donning tallit and tefillin as commanded by Yahweh, Israel’s God of War

UPDATE: I regret to say that as a result of his campaign to display this image to the world, Israeli rightists have mounted a counter-campaign to report Kobi Niv’s Facebook account as fake.  As a result, Facebook has suspended it (you can see this confirmed by clicking on what used to be his Facebook account URL).  I understand these matters since Tal Inbar, an apparatchik of the Israeli ‘defense’ industry, mounted such a campaign against my account.  It forced me to waste three days documenting my personal identity before they removed the suspension.

You can see what, and how much these despicable rightists fear.  They fear being labeled for what they are: racists, pagans, accomplices to murder.

If you have your own Facebook account please upload this picture and dare the rightists and Facebook to suspend all of us.

*   *

During Operation Protective Edge, Col. Ofer Winter exhorted his soldiers to fight like lions and destroy the God-hating heathen Philistines among them.  Later, his troops did just that, killing Gazans in the hundreds of massive bouts of slaughter that should’ve earned him a seat in court at the Hague.  In my post, I called him “the butcher of Khu’zaa.”  Instead, he was promoted.  So what else is new?

Today, Kobi Niv, a lecturer in scriptwriting at Tel Aviv University and journalist published this astonishing image of fully armed Israeli soldiers in tallit and tefilin.  The look on these soldiers faces is a cross between what you’d expect on a beefcake pinup calendar and the gunslingers at Shootout at the OK Corral.  This literally is a hillul ha-Shem, a desecration of God’s name.  My God is not a God of war.  My God doesn’t command the killing of children.  My God doesn’t command that I don His sacred ritual objects in order to kill the enemy.

Mine is a God of love and reason.  A God of tolerance and justice.  My God accepts there is evil in the world, but He doesn’t celebrate it nor command it.

Pictures like this sever the connection between Diaspora Judaism and Israel.  Most Jews outside Israel would find this image disgusting.  If not that, then at least puzzling and bizarre.  Tallit and tefilin are part of sacred ritual; part of the prayer service.  What is prayer if not a contemplation of The Good?  How can The Good involve killing?

Is the Jewish God a God of murder?  A God of guns and bullets?  How can this be?  If this is what Israel has become then there are many of us who want no part of such a place.  Religion must never become murder.

When Kobi published the photo on his Facebook account, scores of Israelis denounced him and offered death threats.  The picture was reported so many times as offensive that Facebook removed it.  But Kobi, not to be deterred, uploaded it again.  Just in case, the censorship campaign continues, I’ve published it here.

In his original post accompanying the image he called the soldiers hayalim paganim mzuyanim, which is a nifty play on words.  It can mean pagan “armed forces” or “fucking pagan soldiers.”

Just to clear up a few misconceptions I read in Facebook about what these ritual objects are: the tallit is a ritual garment in which a worshipper wraps him or herself during prayer.  Tefilin are small boxes worn above the forehead and the arm, and attached to leather straps.  They are filled with parchment on which various Biblical verses are written.


Rough Justice, Israel-Style

A Mexican-American family in Pasco, WA just sued the city and police force for executing the father, who was throwing stones on a street corner.  He was a poor, possibly mentally disturbed man.  The police, like police almost everywhere, were poorly trained in how to manage a crisis situation involving the mentally-ill.  So one rock too many brought the guns out and in a blaze of bullets, despite the fact that he was running away, he was shot in the back and murdered.  Just one more poor minority gunned down by a quick-draw city police force.

bibi netanyahu high noon cartoon

High Noon: Bibi’s duel with a fleeing Palestinian bearing a slingshot. He holds up his fingers as if they’re a “six-shooter” while the snipers line every rooftop.  (Eran Wolkowski)

In the U.S., we’ve become sensitized to these killings and in some communities formerly unheard of outcomes are happening.  The police shooters are being held accountable.  Attitudes, at least one can hope, are changing, however gradually.  Here in Seattle, the new police chief fired a white officer for arresting an elderly Black man who was using a golf club as a walking stick.  The officer claimed he’d beat her with the club, when footage from her own police video camera showed she’d lied.

Israel hasn’t gotten the memo.  There, the police and army are moving in the opposite direction.  It’s standard operating procedure to shoot first and ask questions later.  Though often questions aren’t even asked.  Often murdering Palestinians is grounds for promotion.

But now Israel’s attorney general, the officer supposed to maintain the rule of law, has permitted security forces to open fire at will on protesting Palestinians.  Until now, there has been a distinction regarding the rules of engagement for Israeli forces: in the West Bank they could use live ammunition to break up protests, even if a projectile as minor as a stone was used.  But East Jerusalem, formally annexed by Israel, had different rules of engagement.  There you could not resort to live fire during similar protests.

israeli police storm al aqsa mosque

Israeli Border Police, known for their extreme brutality, storming Haram al-Sharif

However, over the past week Palestinians have mounted protests in the Old City, especially at the Al Aqsa mosque, after Jewish settlers hoping to destroy the Muslim holy places, were paraded with police escort to what they call the Temple Mount.  There they conducted religious prayers (probably asking God for a holy war that will finally offer Jewish supremacy in the holy land).  These are forbidden under regulations governing the holy site.  As a result of the settler provocation, Palestinian  youths have barricaded themselves into the mosque and thrown stones at invading police who storm the holy place.

This Israeli government, which includes some of the wackiest and most extreme politicians to ever grace an Israeli cabinet, has no patience for any form of Palestinian resistance.  As a result, the government’s legal advisor (Israel’s version of the attorney general) issued a legal ruling permitting Israeli forces in East Jerusalem to follow the same procedures as those used in the West Bank.

Or, as one Time of Israel reporter particularly nauseously wrote:

Israeli leaders decided to Wednesday to bring down the hammer, and go Chris Kyle all over East Jerusalem…

That Times of Israel really has a way with words, doesn’t it?

As an Israeli tweeted yesterday, Israel has finally conceded that East Jerusalem is not part of Israel, but part of the West Bank.  The above tweet says:

“This is a historic decision which strengthens the position that Jerusalem is occupied (“conquered”) territory and that we must relate to it thus.  I commend this decision.”

Or an alternative way to parse this: Israel observes a form of apartheid by which it treats East Jerusalem’s Palestinian residents as if they are West Bank Palestinians, while treating the land on which they live in East Jerusalem as if it’s sovereign Israeli land.  It’s a nice bit of hocus-pocus.  It makes East Jerusalem, to bowdlerize the old Zionist phrase, a land without a people (Palestinians), for a people (Israelis) with plenty of land, who want even more.

Up to now, there have been 36 Palestinians injured in these clashes.  It will only take a moment before the bodies begin lining up at the morgue.  Give a Border Policeman a shoot to kill order and he’ll produce the bodies.  I can just see it: Israeli snipers picking off Palestinians inside the mosque.  That will do wonders for Israel’s image in the Muslim world.

The old 1980s “get tough on crime” slogan was: “use a gun, go to prison.” Israel’s motto is: throw a stone, and die. It should be very effective…at piling up Palestinian corpses like cordwood.

NOTE: My latest piece in MintPressNews tells the story of a mysterious Mossad official who spied for Iran.  He was arrested, tried, convicted and imprisoned in secret.  Israel’s censor won’t let you know his name.  I take the story farther than it’s ever been reported.