≡ Menu

For those who follow my Twitter feed, you’ll recall a tweet I published based on a Haaretz story, which reported the mysterious appearance of unmarked airplanes at Ben Gurion Airport.  It turns out these planes were leased to a “Gulf State” company.  But the reporter refused to name the country, the cargo carried or reason for their being at Ben Gurion.  This information is either under military censorship or judicial gag.  But it can be reported here.

Thanks to a confidential Israeli source, I can answer those questions.  The planes were leased to a company doing business in Abu Dhabi (UAE) and are carrying security personnel, other security-related machinery being shipped there by an Israeli cyber-security consultant.  These are not merely computers.  These are the infrastructure of a national security state.  Everything that is needed to control a population from within and protect its security from without.

Some of you may wonder how Israel is doing business with an Arab state which doesn’t recognize Israel.  The answer, it turns out, is easily.  Iran is not only Israel’s enemy, but the enemy of all the Gulf States, including Saudi Arabia.  The latter funded Israel’s covert ops campaign against Iran to the tune of $1-billion.  During the last round of P5+1 nuclear talks, Israel purportedly joined with the Saudis to pressure the U.S. not to do a deal.  There have been rumblings that Israel and S.A. might jointly attack Iran to stop its nuclear program.  Israel has made common cause against Iran with many of these kingdoms.

I reported here that Israel opened a secret military liaison office in UAE to coordinate security strategy against Iran.  This security deal may be part of this process of beefing up military and intelligence cooperation between Israel and the Gulf.

mati kohavi

Mati Kohavi, secret purveyor of cyber-security “public safety” technology to United Arab Emirates

One of my ‘sidelines’ is reporting the corrupt dealings of Israel’s flourishing arms dealing/cyber-intelligence industry.  Tonight, we have a new story to tell.  It involves an Israel security company called Logic, which is part of a larger conglomerate called AGT International (originally Asia Global Technologies).  AGT is a Swiss-registered company owned by Mati Kochavi, with $8-billion in projects under management and $1-billion in annual revenue, according to its own claims (which are disputed in a Calcalist Hebrew profile of Logic).  Here is a description of its portfolio:

The company provides security services and research in a wide variety of areas, including industrial, urban, cyber, transportation, maritime, border and corporate security. It protects transportation hubs, manages urban information systems, assists law enforcement and provides intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance solutions. Its professional services also include risk and vulnerability assessment, evaluation and personnel training, and it will provide customized security solutions built to particular needs.

Kochavi, age 50, is a mysterious, and even somewhat shady character about which relatively little is known. Calcalist offered the most extensive picture of his background.  He was born in Haifa and attended the University of Haifa, where he studied history and philosophy.  He claims that early-on he wanted to be a journalist, rather than a security expert or high-tech mogul.  He did his military service in intelligence (most likely Unit 8200, though he’s never confirmed this).

In the 1990s he moved to New York, where he fell in with the wealthy real estate developers Steven Ross and Martin Adelman of the powerhouse Related Companies. They provided him with a spacious office in the Time Warner Center, which Related had built, and he proceeded to make his first fortune.

After 9/11, Kochavi and other entrepreneurs like Aubrey Chernick, the main funder of Standwithus and other Islamophobic causes and founder of NC4, saw a monumental business opportunity. The creation of the Department of Homeland Security, and it’s almost unlimited security budget to ensure the nation’s internal security, offered a veritable gravy train of opportunity. With his strong sales background and patina of Israeli cyber-security expertise, the Israeli was a natural.

But his first few attempts were abject failures.  He bought the rights to market a new drone technology, hired well-known Israeli ex-military figures as lobbyists and door-openers, and fell flat on his face.  In his next venture, he entered into a partnership with the Israeli defense contractor, EL TA, to market its security technology.  However, the partnership dissolved when EL TA discovered that Kohavi was essentially stealing the technology and selling it in private ventures that were outside their partnership.  He was never charged with wrongdoing, but no Israeli military-industrial enterprises will ever partner with him again (though they will sell him their products).

The Israeli performed another business sleight-of-hand by founding AGT in Switzerland, allowing him to avoid Israeli taxes.  An even more important benefit is to shield from his Arab customers the Israeli origins of his products and services.  Logic was founded as the Israeli branch of the company.  But much about it is secret.  It has no website.  It has one client, AGT.  It mushroomed from an initial 20 employees to 600, making it one of Israel’s fastest-growing companies.  Yet, until the Calcalist profile, almost nothing was known about it.  Despite claims of international business consultancies and projects in multiple countries, AGT has only one known client.

Intelligence Online noted in 2012 that the $300-million in annual trade between Abu Dhabi and Israel involved almost solely security products including surveillance cameras, electronic fences and sensors to monitor strategic infrastructure and oil fields.  It noted that Kohavi and AGT was the major, if not only supplier.  Israeli sources note that AGT probably could not compete with the major industry players in the field for contracts with the developed world.  It is a relative newcomer and its expertise is untested.  So the company turns to the second-tier for its revenue, and Arab nations are impressed by the Israeli reputation for air-tight security.  Despite the official hostility between Israel and the Arab states, the more authoritarian ones have much in common with Israel.  Their levels of corruption, repression, and authoritarianism require sophisticated security solutions in order to maintain the elite in power.  Who has maintained its own position in a hostile regional environment better than Israel?

uae torture

UAE royal prince conducts torture session live on video

Just to point to a few international indexes that spotlight the levels of repression and corruption in UAE, Transparency International ranks it 25th in corruption of 175 countries, while Israel is ranked 37th.  UAE is 118th in press freedom according to Reporters Without Borders.  Some of you will recall the Afghan businessman who was tortured on videotape by a member of the UAE royal family.  This is the society whose powerful elite Mati Kohavi props up.  Calcalist could not identify any other projects under supervision by AGT.

In 2004, Kohavi sought to burnish his image with a major sortie into the world of think tanks with an NGO promoting the peace process called Bridging the Rift.  It was to be a joint Jordanian-Israeli project bringing together scholars and researchers from both countries.  The two governments were to contribute 300 dunams for a campus on which the research project would flourish.  It would fall under the academic auspices of the blue-chip U.S. universities, Cornell and Stanford.  At the groundbreaking, Kohavi was joined by a Who’s Who of Israeli politics including then-PM Ehud Olmert and Finance Minister, Bibi Netanyahu.  His New York developer mentors, Edelman and Ross joined him.  However, the project never went far and sources close to Kohavi claim it’s been “frozen” due to “governmental decisions.”

The company’s business model seems not to develop its own original technologies, but rather to license various independent (mostly Israeli) technologies and integrate them for a complex security environment.  So it may coordinate domestic surveillance, border security, airport and seaport oversight into a single package that UAE can purchase.  The Israelis in turn will purchase, install and maintain the infrastructure.

Kohavi is portrayed in adulatory media articles as a “global thought leader” in “public safety and security solutions.”  In other words, he’s the Herzliya version of the old-fashioned arms dealer with a suit and MBA.  Here’s some more puffery about Kochavi and his security sales pitch:

AGT International has dedicated itself to providing security solutions to law enforcement and urban security organizations that fit the specific needs of each city and country. Overall, the goal of AGT International is to help local and national governments predict, prepare for, and prevent security problems through unique solutions.

When you’re a hammer every problem is a nail waiting to be pounded.  When you’re an Israeli, raised in a national security state, every problem can be managed using the tools of such a state.  This reduces human beings and values like justice to irrelevancies.   Every problem is a target and every solution is a gun.  Forget politics, civil rights, democracy, freedom.  The only thing that matters is stability.  We can create it in a few ways if we’re not popularly elected in the Middle East: either by buying it or by enforcing it from the barrel of a gun (I use that term metaphorically to encompass all the security products Kohavi sells).  That is AGT’s method.

The Israeli is one of thousands who’ve transferred their intelligence/Unit 8200 skills from cyber-warfare scenarios to the realms of global security and commerce.  This national burst of entrepreneurial energy has also benefitted Israel’s intelligence services by allowing it to exploit these products as part of their own operations.

Though I suspect his motives and find much about him distasteful, I have to admit he’s innovative in his way.  He’s found ways to integrate his “security solutions” with unlikely enterprises like journalism and social media.  His product, Vocativ, harvests information from social and journalistic media in ways that serve the needs of his clients, notably security and intelligence agencies:

If you were to eavesdrop on social-media conversations all over the world involving the term “NSA” and run a sentiment analysis on the results, you’d probably find that the wire-tapping spy agency is none too popular with just about anyone these days.

A new digital news startup called Vocativ has the technology to run just that analysis. Yet its founder, Israeli-born security mogul Mati Kochavi, invites the comparison. He’s organized his newsroom along the lines of an intelligence agency in the belief that journalism needs to undergo the same transformation that’s already swept the field of spycraft.

I found an example he offered in a Haaretz interview quite interesting: in the company’s social media war room his staff collated all the tweets published in Saudi Arabia over a certain period.  They zeroed in on one tweet published by a Saudi professor who had hundreds of thousands of followers.  The ultimate goal, the reporter was told, was to contact the source and develop the tweeted information into an article that could be sold to other publications.  But imagine you ran Vocativ, had the Israeli intelligence background you did, and knew your pals back home might want to develop their own sources in Arab countries.  What better way to develop intelligence sources and possibly future agents than have an ostensibly international journalism enterprise, owned by Israelis, and delving into the social developments in those states most hostile to Israel.  A potential intelligence goldmine.

An article from back in July in Pando already made this connection using the sole big story Vocativ claims to have broken.  Here’s a representative passage:

…When you realize that Vocativ is also a mouthpiece for Israel’s armed forces, you have to stop and have a moment of silent appreciation for the sheer sleazy hilarity of this world. I mean, a site that’s half soft porn and half IDF press releases, with a side bet on a fake occult skill in Deep Web summoning…that’s just amazing.

It’s worth a read.

The melding of journalism and intelligence should bring a shock and sense of horror to journalists out there.  What Kochavi really wants to do is perform the investigative research that reporters might normally do, but to harness it to the interests of the repressive regimes who are his clients.  If you’re an activist in say, UAE, and using Twitter or Facebook to broadcast your views and rally your followers, Vocativ is going to expose you to that country’s security agency, which can then track you either physically or virtually.

Though he describes the product as a way of better understanding global trends in information and other fields and intends for his clients to be conventional media outlets: it seems clear that the product can easily be used in more prosaic and damaging ways.

{ 31 comments }
einat wilf

Einat Wilf glumly contemplates the fate of the Jewish state. (Israel National TV)

The Pacific NW chapter of StandWithUs will hold its annual fundraising event this month here in Seattle.  It will feature ex-Labor MK Einat Wilf and will honor recently retired local Reform Rabbi Jim Mirel.  Both choices are interesting for different reasons.  Wilf spent a few terms in the Knesset, first with the Labor Party and then with Ehud Barak’s ill-fated split-off, the Independence Party.  When the latter lapsed into oblivion, Wilf lost her job.

She always seemed an ill-fit for a center-left party since her views are far to the right of any other Party MK.  Wilf sits on the board of Gerald Steinberg’s NGO Monitor hasbara outfit (along with another former liberal humanist, Elie Wiesel).  She writes a regular column for Fathom, the glossy publication of UK’s Israel Lobby, Bicom.   She’s managed to carve out a lucrative niche as the token “leftist” Israeli willing to say the hard truths about Palestinians.  Diaspora audiences love to have their moral consciences assuaged by Israelis who tell them it’s OK to hate Arabs.  If Einat Wilf, a liberal Israeli does, then so can I, so the reasoning goes.  She does this around the world with invitations like the one offered to her by StandWithUs.  It’s a lucrative job in which speaking fees can range from $10,000-50,000 per appearance.   She’s represented by the Harry Walker Agency, whose clientele include many of the old warhorses of the pro-Israel lecture circuit.

Last year, British pro-Israel pols invited her to speak at the House of Commons about BDS and other demonic anti-Israel phenomena and she managed to smear former Labor Foreign Minister Jack Straw by accusing him of mouthing anti-Israel “prejudice of the worst sort.”  What did he really say?  That Bibi Netanyahu exploits U.S. political divisions by sidling up the Republicans and that the Israel Lobby plays a damaging role in determining U.S. Mideast policy.  She accused him specifically of saying Jews provided the Lobby “unlimited funding.”  Except that even the Jerusalem Post was forced to admit he didn’t even say that!  Nonetheless, that’s way too independent a line for the UK Israel Lobby’s taste, which was why the pro-Israel media crucified (pardon the expression) him.

The UK Lobby has done a similar job on Labor Party chair, Ed Milliband, trying to divert Jewish support from his run for prime minister in the next elections because he denounced the summer’s Gaza War.

Wilf has a special distaste for UNWRA, which she believes should be eliminated since it perpetuates the status of Palestinians as refugees:

UNWRA should not be spoken of as a humanitarian organization, but rather as a Palestinian organization and enemy [of Israel] which perpetuates the dream of [Palestinian] Return.

The former MK also railed against the “ungrateful” Negev Bedouin who refused the “generous deal” proffered to them by the Israeli government in the form of the Prawer Plan.  It would’ve displaced 40,000 Bedouin from their ancestral lands and concentrated them in centralized slum cities in which crime, drugs and unemployment are rampant.  This displacement would’ve enabled the Judaization of the Negev through the introduction of new settlements and infrastructure projects like roads and farms.

When Wilf served in the Knesset, she proposed her own version of what I call Israel’s Race laws (the ones being debated now in the Knesset).  She is the individual who first coined the opening line that has been retained in the current legislation:

The State of Israel is “the nation state of the Jewish people.”

At one time, this definition might’ve been acceptable to the majority of world Jewry.  But it’s becoming increasingly clear that by hitching our wagon to this “Jewish nation state,” we’re giving over our right to be independent Jews with a voice in our own destiny and that of Israel.  This ‘bargain’ offered  us allows Israel’s leaders to pursue their own political interests and to do so in our names.  For example, when Netanyahu attempts to spook the world into hating Iran he falsely states that the latter wants to destroy, not just Israel, but the Jewish people.

Further, it’s becoming ever clearer that the notion of Israel as a Jewish state jettisons democracy as a core value.  Democracy is replaced, just as Meir Kahane advocated, by notions of religious triumphalism, racial purity, and territorial expansion (lebensraum, anyone?).  Hate of The Other is at the core of this new concept of Jewish nationhood.  More and more Jews aren’t buying into this.  Which is what makes Wilf’s formulation so problematic.

In this portrait of her legislation, she describes her discomfort with linking the term “Jewish state” with “democracy:”

Through the years, we’ve become accustomed to the construction “a Jewish and democratic state” as a definition of the State of Israel.  I’ve never liked this definition.

She hasn’t ditched democracy entirely.  In fact, she even reaches out her hand (fraudulently) to the Palestinian minority and offers them equal rights to the Jewish majority.  But she does so with a catch:

…The full, equal citizenship of Israel’s Arab [sic] citizens and the possibility of their full integration into in Israeli society is dependent on this process happening through the Zionist idea and on the basis of Jewish heritage.

These words might not be as objectionable as they are if there was any evidence that the State embraced the concept she’s enunciating.  But it never has and never will.  In other words, these are empty words.  They sound good, look good on the page.  There’s even a hint of poetry in them.  But it’s all a sham.  Palestinian citizens do not, and have never had equal rights in her Jewish nation.

Another principle in her nationalist “theology” is that Israel’s existence offers the Jewish people the right to realize their ethical potential as a people.  At one time, visionaries like Ahad HaAm were willing to speak of the Jewish experiment in Palestine in ethical terms.  But far too much water has flowed under that bridge.  Any talk of Israel being an ethical expression of Jewish peoplehood is at best a cruel joke, at worst a cynical delusion.

jim mirel

An American Jewish Committee PR photo featuring Rabbi Mirel with Imam Jobani of the Redmond MAPS mosque

Rabbi Jim Mirel is the SWU guest of honor at its fundraising event.  Mirel has served for decades as senior rabbi at one of the Eastside’s major Reform congregations.  He has a liberal reputation in the community.  This has included his participation in some events that no other local rabbis would join.  A few years ago, Brenda Bentz organized a major conference on Islamophobia.  Mirel spoke at the conference and participated in its planning.  He has joined in other efforts to promote tolerance between the Jewish and Muslim communities locally.

But Mirel’s luster began to fade over the past year when the Washington State Holocaust Center invited a speaker from the Wiesenthal Center.  Local Muslim community members protested the Islamophobia represented by Wiesenthal and asked the Museum to cancel its invitation.  Instead of engaging with the critics, Mirel shouted at them and refused to concede there was a problem.  The event went ahead.

I wrote Mirel an e mail message a few days ago expressing my concerns about his participation in an event sponsored by one of the Jewish community’s most notoriously Islamophobic organizations.  He has not responded.  Mirel certainly knows what SWU represents.  He’d have to be blind and naive not to.  But too many Jews like him believe they can have their cake and eat it: they can be pro-Israel and associate with the brutalists in SWU while maintaining their liberal Jewish values.  You can’t have it both ways.  Rabbi Mirel should know this.  I say that by throwing in his lot with SWU he’s made his choice.  The local progressive community of Jewish, Christian and Arab activists should not pretend Rabbi Mirel is one of them.  You simply cannot play both sides of the street.  When you break bread with SWU, you embrace the enemies of tolerance, justice and democracy.

Rabbis and other community leaders like Mirel who straddle the fence ideologically are useful to the Israel Lobby.  I have little doubt that NW consul general Akiva Tor meets or speaks regularly with Mirel when he’s engaged with the Palestinian or Christian activist community.  He would be able to give them an inside view of what Israel’s critics are doing and saying.  What they plan.  It allows Israeli diplomats and their affiliates like SWU to anticipate what opponents will do in the community.

I’ve always believed something similar regarding another well-known “liberal” local Jewish activist, attorney Phil Ginsberg.  He’s a member of Mirel’s synagogue and often acts as the intermediary between the rabbi and the local activist community.  At the Islamophobia conference I mentioned above, I spoke and offered serious criticism of the Jewish community’s response to the Naveed Haq attack on the Jewish federation staff.  In an incident I’ve never seen happen before, Ginsberg, who’d introduced me but had no further role in my remarks or presentation, stood up after I’d finished and disputed what I’d said.  I’d never been so disrespected before in a public gathering by someone ostensibly participating as an event organizer (as I was too).  After I expressed my views to him directly, he dismissed them intolerantly.  Ever since, I’ve deeply suspected his motives and principles.  Now I’ve seen some of these same suspicions confirmed by Rabbi Mirel’s participation with SWU.

robert wilkes

Robert Wilkes, SWU board member and anti-Palestinian, anti-Black racist

One of the items I warned Mirel about in my message was this racist screed published by local SWU board member, Robert Wilkes, in the Times of Israel.  In his blog post, he likened the failures, violence and perfidy of Palestinians to the protesters of Ferguson.  I’ve excerpted most of it here:

The rioters in Ferguson, Missouri, have much in common with the Palestinians…

Both have permanent, deep-set anger and rage and are looking for anything to set it off. Anger defines them, and anger keeps both mired in failure. Rather than make better choices they prefer to ride the “victim” train to nowhere. Both must have an “oppressor” to rage against; a white cop defending himself or an Israeli Jew wanting to pray on the Temple Mount serves their purposes. Rage is the only path they know to gain honor and prestige among their peers.

…Palestinians learn hate in their society, which idolizes murderers, and in their schools…American students, even those in prestigious universities…are taught that they live in a racist society under an oppressive, imperialist US government that has committed innumerable sins at home and abroad. They become enlightenment-besotted idealists that believe Rousseau’s nonsense that civilization is a corrupting evil and virtue belongs to the noble savage. The result of all this expensive education is the nihilistic anarchy we see in the streets of Ferguson.

Both wish to undermine the state’s moral authority by provoking violent reactions, then portraying themselves as victims of oppression. Destroy the state’s moral authority—then destroy the state. In the Gaza War civilians died as human shields or because Hamas did not allow them to have shelters…The rioters in Ferguson  destroy as Utopian revolutionaries, hoping to build some vague notion of a classless society. They believe they first have to burn down what is already there.

Emotion is the be all and end all; practical solutions are not sought or desired. Prior to the announcement of the grand jury decision not to indict the police officer, many good people in Ferguson reached out to the protest groups to let them know they were welcome to exercise their First Amendment rights. They pleaded with the protest leaders for peace and calm. It had no effect and the city burned anyway. Similarly, everyone knows that if the Palestinians cared about improving their lives they need only to make peace. A practical solution is of no interest to them.

Both have perfectly wretched leaders. Black leaders in America are con artists and a disgrace. They are a race-hustlers in a “business” fueled by anger. As long as blacks remain angry their “leaders” will continue to have a lucrative career. Similarly, the corrupt, undemocratic Palestinian leadership is equally unconcerned about the human aspirations of their own people.

Both have an abundance of people who will make excuses for them no matter what they do. Black problems in America have nothing to do with the conduct of the police…Their problems derive from…unhealthy aspects of black culture. Addressing those issues is a discussion that is not taking place in “politically correct” America. Try it, and the cultural elite in America will brand you a racist in a New York Times minute. The Palestinians too have an amazing array of feel-good apologists who are ready at all times to make excuses for murder…

Both adhere to causes that are quixotic and hopeless. Do the 1% protesters really believe they can steal wealth rather than earn it, and that the country be better off?…Do Palestinians really believe that the Israelis will just hand over the keys to the high-rise office complexes, universities, research laboratories, farms and factories of Israel and leave? Actually, they do…

Authorities in both places have their hands tied by their high standards of human rights and reverence for the rule of law. In an overabundance of caution, the governor of Missouri was reluctant to use force to stop the rioters. He asserted that they have a right to be there and make their voices heard. His high ideals were answered with Molotov Cocktails. Similarly, Israel’s IDF is the most careful, caring war fighting force the world has ever seen, even to the detriment of its own soldiers.

In both places, the innocent pay the price. The businesses destroyed in Ferguson belong to hard-working citizens who had nothing to do with the incident in which a policeman shot a robbery suspect in self-defense. The Palestinians are, tragically, far more bloodthirsty. They intentionally target civilians, even children…

I’ve quoted a significant portion of the post because, after Max Blumenthal tweeted about it and Wilkes’ affiliation with StandWithUs as a board member, it disappeared from the Times of Israel site.  But before that happened, SWU staff member, Hen Mazzig tweeted support of Wilkes.  Then the former backpedaled, tweeting that the views didn’t represent those of SWU.  Then the post simply disappeared.  Knowing TOI, I strongly doubt it was the cause of the removal.  I’m virtually certain that SWU demanded it be withdrawn.  It was too incendiary coming two weeks before the fundraising event.  They didn’t need any distractions that diverted from raising money.

It’s ironic that SWU muzzled Wilkes, since he publishes prolifically in local Jewish media in SWU’s name and says virtually the same things there (in fact, he smeared me once claiming I “depict Israel as a Nazi state inflicting a Shoah on the Palestinians”).  The only difference in this case is that Wilkes chose an international venue to spew his hate and someone like Max Blumenthal, who himself has an international audience, caught him.

There’s another odd facet to this story.  Alternet published a generally good story on the Wilkes post.  But a reader of this blog informed me that I’d been called a ‘booster of Israel’ by the author and that he claimed Wilkes “admired” me and Alan Dershowitz:

Wilkes says he is an admirer of Israel boosters Alan Dershowitz and Richard Silverstein.

This isn’t at all what Wilkes wrote or even meant.  Here is what he wrote:

To prepare myself for this task I have read everything from the scholarly arguments of Alan Dershowitz to the blogs of Richard Silverstein, and much in between.

The writer is an intern at Alternet.  He clearly doesn’t know anything about me or my views, nor has he done any serious research before making such blatantly false claims.  But it clearly hurts to be described this way even by someone who’s merely being incompetent.  I can’t say I’m surprised by this lapse.  Alternet editor, Alex Kane and his colleagues at Mondoweiss, where he also publishes, joined in calling me “racist” for my satiric references to Black pro-Israel advocate, Chloe Valdary, as an ‘Uncle Tom’ and “Negro.”  It appears sloppy thinking and research continues at Alternet.

{ 5 comments }
rafi eitan

Raii and Miriam Eitan at home

rafi eitan

From the early days of Eitan’s spy career

Israel’s top weekly TV newsmagazine, Uvdah, features a profile of Israel’s most-storied living spy, Rafi Eitan.  The stories of his exploits as operations chief within the Mossad are legend: he began his career by kidnapping Eichmann and returning him to face justice in Israel.  In 1968, while serving as an Israeli ministry of defense “chemist” he visited the U.S. uranium enrichment facility.  Later, 200 pounds of materials were discovered stolen and believed to have played a crucial role in accelerating Israel’s own WMD program.  Though the U.S. investigated the theft and discovered the culprits, the results were never released and no findings were ever made.

Eitan played a key role in the planning of the 1981 Israeli attack on Iraq’s Osirak reactor, which led to its destruction.  In 1984, while heading Lekem, the “scientific” unit within the Mossad, he recruited and ran Jonathan Pollard, a U.S. Navy analyst.  While Pollard was active as an Israeli spy, he offered Israel a treasure trove of material on the Soviet navy.  The damage Pollard did to U.S. intelligence was massive.  Eitan’s failure came when Pollard fell under suspicion and was eventually captured by the FBI’s counter-espionage unit.  Then, the damage Eitan’s intelligence asset did to U.S.-Israel relations was immeasurable and has colored our relations ever since.  The spy was eventually sentenced to life in prison.  Israeli prime ministers and the Israel Lobby in the U.S. have mounted repeated attempts to free him, which have failed due to counter-pressure exerted by the U.S. intelligence community.

One previously unknown facet of the story of Pollard’s exposure as an Israeli agent involved an escape plan which Eitan activated when it became clear Pollard had become a suspect.  For some reason, Pollard never fled as the plan had directed.  He waited three days and then tried to gain asylum at the Israeli embassy.  It was Eitan himself who refused him entry, realizing that giving him refuge would cause an even worse breach with the U.S. government than allowing him to be caught and tried.

Eitan returned home and accepted full responsibility for the Pollard affair.  He resigned his position, Lekem was disbanded, and Eitan’s spy career was over.  Israel promised (falsely) that it would never spy on the U.S. again.  It continues doing so to this day.

An interesting personal anecdote concerns Eitan’s post-career hobby as a sculptor.  It strangely mirrors Meir Dagan’s hobby as a painter and art collector.  What personal schizoid psychological phenomena is it within these individuals that allows them to transition from cold-blooded killers to refined artists?  Let’s not forget that Hitler himself was a landscape artist (one of his paintings sold this week for $164,000) before his rise to power.

One notorious and hitherto secret operation for which Eitan deserves far more ‘credit’ is the key role he played in the formation of Hezbollah.  Eitan’s wife, Miriam, who for decades played the traditional Israeli role of dutiful wife and silent witness, reveals via her personal diary, Eitan’s efforts in founding the Islamist group:

She remained quiet when he disappeared for days on end in Lebanon and founded there a militant Shiite organization which, in future days would come to be Hezbollah.

He initially conceived Hezbollah as a counter to the power of Arafat’s PLO within Lebanon.  It’s virtually the same strategy Israel used in founding Hamas, also a little known chapter in Israeli intelligence history told in the Wall Street Journal (of all places!).  In this circumstance too, after trying and failing numerous times to create quisling Palestinian entities to combat the supremacy of the PLO, it determined to found an Islamist organization to counter-balance the secular Fatah.

In both cases, Israel’s strategy succeeded beyond its wildest dreams.  In fact, both Islamist groups, like the legendary Golem from the medieval Jewish folktale, took on a life of their own and escaped the clutches of their creators.  Once they became independent, they turned into Israel’s worst nightmare.  Anyone who’s seen the film, Charley Wilson’s War, will understand that the CIA determined to do the same with the Afghan mujahadeen, in fighting the Russians.  Instead, they eventually spawned Osama bin Laden.  Similarly, in trying to bring the downfall of Bashar al-Assad the U.S. and Gulf States built up the radical Islamist Sunni groups that became Al Nusra and ISIS.  This sort of strategy almost always leads to unforeseen fatal consequences.  These are tragedies borne by future generations.  The geniuses who conceive these ideas rarely have to live with, or take responsibility for what they’ve done.

For once, I’d like a Meir Dagan or Rafi Eitan to look back on the mayhem they’ve wrought and pronounce upon themselves the ultimate fate, as this medical doctor did (Hebrew), who served as Eitan’s medical specialist during his exploits kidnapping Israeli enemies and traitors.  Dr. Elian realized he’d betrayed his Hippocratic Oath in serving as Eitan’s facilitator of state-sponsored vengeance or murder.  He couldn’t live with himself.  The problem with men like Eitan and Dagan is that they have enormous reserves of self-deceit that protect them from seeing what they’ve done.

Miriam doesn’t share the same megalomania.  She is a woman very aware of her husband’s weaknesses and the compromises she’s had to make to remain his partner.  She is someone who confides them to her diary, though she will tell virtually no one else, not even her husband.  In the Mako story, she recounts her shame at hearing that her husband, in 1988 during the days of the First Intifada, as Yitzhak Rabin is telling his troops to break the bones of demonstrators, gives a TV interview in which he advocates unleashing attack-dogs on the Palestinians.  In those days, when Israel’s moral conscience was somewhat more refined, such echoes of the acts of the Nazis who sicced their dogs on helpless Jewish victims, raised horrible memories.  Eitan, who’d been trying to recover his own reputation after the Pollard fiasco, was reviled.  Miriam herself wanted to flee.  His words repelled her.  But she’d been trained to be the helpmeet, to keep her views to herself.  In the end, she compromised and remained with him despite her understanding of the ‘small-mindedness’ of which he was capable.

In many ways, this is a moral wrestling that all Israelis with consciences must experience.  Can you live with the compromises your husband or country demand from you?  Can you live with yourself when you see such ugliness?  Most can, but some can’t.

Though some of us, reading Miriam’s words, root for her to have the courage to leave.  We must understand how hard it is for a lone individual to make such a frightening choice.  In the same way, it’s hard for the average Israeli to consider uprooting himself from the land, language, and country which nurtured him or her.  But I believe that more and more will be forced to make such choices as conditions continue to deteriorate inside Israel.  It’s a sad, tragic situation.

 

{ 25 comments }
asim abbasi

Asim Abbasi, armed “anti-Semitic killer” who turned out to be nothing more than a cricket player shielding his bat.

Israel’s embassies throughout the world are secured by the Shin Bet.  An Israeli agent (Hebrew) was walking through Brussels with his son when he spied a man of “Eastern-looking features” with what he suspected was a concealed weapon.  Since his young son was with him, he did nothing except take a picture of the suspect.  He ran to the nearest embassy employee’s residence, reported the incident, raised an alarm that put the entire embassy staff in lockdown, left his son with those in the residence, and returned to seek the suspect.  By then, the latter had disappeared.

The pictures were distributed via the Belgian media under the heading “anti-Semitic killer.”  The next day, the man, 22 year old Asim Abbasi, reported himself to the police.  He was the son of a Pakistani (EU) embassy administrative employee, who’d served there for four years.  The “weapon” was a cricket bat which he’d covered with his sweater to protect it from the rain.  He had been on the way to a cricket practice when the Shabak agent had spied him:

“I wrapped my bat in my sweatshirt because it was raining and if it is wet I can’t play the ball properly,” he said.

As a result of the incident, Pakistan fired the employee for damaging the country’s reputation in Belgium.  Pakistan is also sensitive to Belgian suffering due to last summer’s Jewish museum terror attack.  It gave him and his six other family members a week to return to Pakistan:

“We got a call from the embassy saying give us your passports,” said Mr Abassi.

“We’ve lost the privilege of living in Belgium. I’ve lost my education. I’ve lost everything.”

No Israeli apology has been forthcoming.  The Belgian police, who trusted the warnings of an overeager Shin Bet agent (BIG mistake), have not apologized.  The Pakistani embassy refused to comment.

Israeli media has now reported that the alarm was first raised by Israeli security, though it didn’t report the agent was with the Shin Bet.  This adds another black eye to the agency, which has already suffered a bad hit from its altercation with the IDF over the lead-up to Operation Protective Edge.

Those in the U.S. and the rest of the west who wish to tout the enhanced security reputation of Israel in world airports may want to remember this incident and treat it as a warning.  The only suspicion that aroused the attention of this agent was the suspect had “eastern” features and seemed to be carrying something under his sweater.  On the strength of this racial-profiling the lives of an entire innocent family have been disrupted and the reputation of Israeli intelligence has been damaged.

Add to this that the Shin Bet, which also provides the prime minister security in Israel routinely forces Arab journalists to disrobe before entering press events and parties, and you’ve got a nasty case of Israeli racism rearing its ugly head around the world.

{ 36 comments }
idf commander eisenkot

Who’s Who of IDF war criminals: (from l.) Ehud Barak, Gadi Eisenkot, Yair Naveh, Benny Gantz

Maj. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot was named today as the next IDF chief of staff.  Since virtually every such Israeli commander (among the more bloody have been Yitzhak Rabin, Ehud Barak, Ariel Sharon and Dan Halutz) has conducted military campaigns that violated international laws of war, it’s no surprise that Eisenkot himself already has more blood on his hands than most.  He was one of Israel’s key commanders during the 2006 Lebanon war, in which Israel unleashed a massive level of devastation on the country, its infrastructure and people (1,100 were killed by the IDF).  Eisenkot enunciated the Dahiya Doctrine, which declared that the IDF would launch indiscriminate attacks on Lebanese civilian targets in order to deter Hezbollah.

Dahiya was the neighborhood stronghold of Hezbollah in Beirut.  The strategic “thinking” behind it was that the Islamist movement would cause the destruction of its own Shiite followers in the heart of the group’s own civilian stronghold.  In other words, no one would be spared.  Indeed, the IDF bragged at the time that it dropped a 25,000 pound bomb on Nasrallah’s headquarters under Dahiya and killed him.  But it didn’t.  Thus the Doctrine was seen to have a few chinks.

In the IDF commander’s own words:

[Israel’s response will] happen in every village from which shots were fired in the direction of Israel. We will wield disproportionate power against [them] and cause immense damage and destruction. From our perspective, these are military bases. […] This isn’t a suggestion. It’s a plan that has already been authorized. […] Harming the population is the only means of restraining Nasrallah.

A hawkish Israeli military analyst elaborated:

“With an outbreak of hostilities, the IDF will need to act immediately, decisively, and with force that is disproportionate to the enemy’s actions and the threat it poses. Such a response aims at inflicting damage and meting out punishment to an extent that will demand long and expensive reconstruction processes…Israel…will have to respond disproportionately in order to make it abundantly clear that the State of Israel will accept no attempt to disrupt the calm currently prevailing along its borders. Israel must be prepared for…a full-scale confrontation.

Israeli hawks will claim that Dahiya worked since the northern border has been relatively quiet since 2006.  But at what cost?  Billions in losses to both the Israeli and Lebanese economies.  One million Israelis fleeing to bomb shelters.  Some of the IDF’s finest tank crews and commanders (including David Grossman’s son, who died on the last day of the war) killed by Hezbollah’s daring tunnel and guerilla warfare tactics.

The IDF extended the Doctrine to Gaza as well, with wholesale slaughter of entire neighborhoods, which brought the death toll there to 2,200 in fifty days of fighting.  No one, not even the champions of this excuse for mass murder, argues that it is a long-term solution.  It’s a corollary of the “mowing the grass” phenomenon.  Every few  years you take out the lawn mower and get your hands dirty by thinning out the enemy.  It’s a dirty job, but someone’s gotta do it, etc.

The Dahiya Doctrine is a war crime on a number of levels.  First, it constitutes collective punishment.  Second, it deliberately targets civilians as a war goal rather than mere collateral damage.  I expect some day to see Eisenkot and a number of other Israeli generals and political figures before the ICC in the Hague.

Another interesting ethnic aspect of Eisenkot’s appointment is that he is the first Israeli-Moroccan to hold the title of chief of staff.  According to this Israeli source, thousands of Eastern European Jews fled to Morocco both during the Middle Ages and afterward.  This even happened during World War II.  Given his Ashkenazi name, his ancient family origin was in Eastern Europe. But eventually it made its way to Morocco.  There have been two previous Mizrahi chiefs of staff, but no Moroccan.

{ 16 comments }

In recent days, Israel’s secret police, the Shin Bet, secretly arrested a foreign national for unspecified security breaches.  My Israeli source reveals:

The suspect is Adam L., and he is not an “Arab.”

Given his first name, I assume that he is a westerner.  The case is under gag order and cannot be reported inside Israel.

I contacted numerous Israeli human rights NGOs including HaMoked, ACRI and the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel, and individuals with extensive knowledge in such matters.  Not a single person responded with any information.  Either the Shin Bet has lowered a shroud over this case, or Israelis are even more cowed than usual by the rampant racism and hate boiling within Israeli society.

It is extremely unusual for the security services to arrest a non-Israeli for security breaches.  The last known case was a poor Iranian shlub the Shin Bet alleged was a spy for the Ayatollahs.  From my coverage of the case, the guy couldn’t find his way out of a paper bag, let alone be a master spy.  But it was awfully convenient for Israel’s domestic spy agency to discover an Iranian spy under its very bed.  Works wonders on the collective anti-Iran hysteria in Israel.

After a year in prison, the Iranian accepted a plea deal for eight years in prison.  Not that this means he actually committed any illegal acts.  But when faced with decades in prison under the threat of a sure conviction, men tend to compromise their convictions.  This is the power of the legal apparatus in service to the national security state.

{ 12 comments }

There are massive waves of racist and hate sweeping the Israeli Jewish public in the aftermath of the Gaza summer massacre and a series of tit-for-tat terror attacks in Jerusalem. The response has involved some truly revolting developments. Among them, the above song written by the popular Israeli Mizrahi performer, Emir Benayoun. He is an avowed Judeo-racist who detests Arabs and has previously incited against them in his songwriting.

He’s uploaded his latest song, Ahmed Loves Jews, to his Facebook account (listen above).  The lyrics dispense with any subtlety or hint of parody.  The “hero” is nothing less than the hook-nosed Jew of Die Sturmer infamy.  Here are the lyrics:

סאלאם עליכום קוראים לי אחמד
אני גר בירושלים אני לומד באוניברסיטה איזה דבר או שניים
מי כמוני נהנה מכל העולמות
אני היום אני מתון וחייכן
מחר אעוף לשמיים
אשלח לגיהנום איזה יהודי או שניים

זה נכון שאני סתם חלאה כפוית טובה
זה נכון אבל אני לא אשם לא גדלתי על אהבה
זה נכון יבוא הרגע בו תפנה לי את הגב ואז
אני אתקע בך את הגרזן המושחז

אני אחמד
גר באזור המרכז
אני עובד צמוד לגן ילדים
ואחרי – על בלוני הגז
מי כמוני נהנה משני העולמות
היום אני
ומחר הם לא
הרבה מהם הרבה מהם לא

זה נכון שאני סתם חלאה כפוית טובה
זה נכון אבל אני לא אשם לא גדלתי על אהבה
זה נכון יבוא הרגע בו תפנה לי את הגב ואז
אני אירה בך ישר בגב

Hello, they call me Ahmed
I live in Jerusalem and study a thing or two at the University
I enjoy the best of both worlds [Jew and Arab]
Today I’m mild and all smiley
Tomorrow I’ll fly to the heavens
And take a Jew or two to Hell with me.

It’s true that I’m an ungrateful piece of shit
It’s true but I’m not at fault, I wasn’t raised on love
It’s true a moment will come when you’ll turn your back
And I’ll slash you with a sharpened ax.

I’m Ahmed living in town
I work next to a kindergarten
And am responsible for the gas cylinders…

Israel’s Channel 2 News did a poll that finds 42% of Israeli Jews agree with the racist sentiments purveyed by the song.  This result alone speaks volumes about the level of hate within Israeli Jews toward their fellow Palestinian citizens.  Keep in mind that the song doesn’t portray a West Bank Palestinian.  It portrays a Palestinian citizen of Israel.  This is one of the many reasons I believe Israeli Jews are simply incapable alone of reforming their society.  It will have to come from pressure and a mandate enforced from outside, much in the way a UN protectorate operated Kosovo.

Reuven Rivlin, Israel’s president invited this ‘ungrateful piece of s(^t’ (quoting his own lyrics) to sing at the official president’s residence.  This is the same politician making nice to Israel’s Palestinian community about offering apologies for past Israeli sins.  While such apologies are welcome and long overdue, Rivlin and his staff know who this guy is. He’s been a friggin’ racist for years, dripping hate for Israel’s Palestinian minority.  Why did it take this song for them to decide to disinvite Beyayoun?  It’s because Israeli Jews have a deliberately short memory.  Once the cameras are turned off and reporters move on to sexier stories, they resume their lazy habits.

israeli jewish racism

Israeli Channel 10 poll exposes Israeli Jewish racism

Even while cancelling his state concert, the president’s chief of staff offered praise to Benayoun:

“Amir Benayoun is a renowned and exceptional artist, and his talent has greatly contributed to Israeli music. However, his statements made at this time of conflict and tension, even if uttered out of frustration and pain, do not, to say the least, help bring calm to the streets, and are inconsistent with the responsibility required of the President’s Residence…

In other words, let this thing settle down and we’ll have you back in a heartbeat.  What lesson’s learned here?  That Israeli Jews are sensitive to racism only when the world forces them to be.  Otherwise, not so much.

In an interview with Israeli radio, Benayoun threw back critical questions from the interviewer who asked whether he was inciting violence against Israeli “Arabs.” He counter-accused her of “murder,” because she was inciting hate against him and endangering his life.  This is a classic Israeli ultra-right bullying tactic.

israel second class citizen

Hebrew caption: “State of Israel, 2nd-class citizen. Has [19]48 yet passed?”

Israeli Channel 10 TV news aired a segment on the decision by the right-wing mayor of Ashkelon to outlaw Palestinian laborers to work on building projects near kindergartens.  He claimed that parents were calling him and refusing to bring their children for fear of a terror attack.  Though many Israeli politicians have denounced the mayor’s decision and pronounced it illegal, a strong majority (58%) of Israeli Jews approve it.  Only 32% oppose it. H/t Ronnie Barkan.

Young Israeli Palestinians have launched a social media campaign of their own called: Second-Class Citizen.  It features their pictures with an official Israeli stamp declaring them to be second-class citizens.

{ 24 comments }