It appears there are two ways to rise to the top of the Shin Bet. Either you can specialize in torturing Israeli Palestinian terrorists (otherwise known as “citizens”) by tying them to chairs, depriving them of sleep, and tormenting them with threats to expel them to Gaza; or you can sleep your way to the top. That’s what A., number 3 in the agency, and otherwise known to those he interrogated by his nom de guerre “Claude,” did. You’ll have to pardon this Kafka-like lingo which adheres to Israel’s security-obsessed practice, by which you only name intelligence officials by their first initials–except the big boys like Diskin or Dagan. To be more precise, “Claude” actually slept his way to the bottom since he bedded a subordinate who was the wife of another Shin Bet officer. Besides taking up with the subordinate, he disciplined the husband.
It doesn’t stop there. “Claude” allegedly exceeded his budget by millions (of shekels). Shin Bet director Diskin tried to finesse his way out of the affair by canning A. He also sent D., his deputy director responsible for an attempt to cover-up the episode, to what’s known in Israeli intelligence circles as “studies” (or in the Communist era as “re-education”) which is the equivalent of summoning an errant priest or bishop back to the Vatican for consultation and spiritual reflection. But “Claude,” wise to the hard-knuckle ways of the agency, threatened to wash its dirty laundry in public. The director blinked, transferring him laterally to the job of chief of the ‘non-Arab department’ (yes, they have such a unit in the Shin Bet–which tells you everything you ever wanted to know about the racist foundations of Israeli intelligence), a job which he had once held. This would be considered a form of punishment, albeit a mild one.
The Israeli media have reported this story, but in a severely truncated form which flatters Diskin in a way that he does not deserve. Both Channel 10 and Ynet say that Diskin immediately insisted on an external investigation run by the government’s inspector general. But this is a lie (probably put out by Diskin), since Diskin attempted to manage the scandal himself at first (hence the firing transformed into a slap on the wrist). My sources tell me that many Israeli journalists knew about this story but decided not to publish it. Even now, some know that the story as reported is filled with self-serving lies and deception. What does that tell you about Israel’s vaunted free press?
What neither A. nor Diskin anticipated was that the cuckholded husband (now divorced from A.’s bedroom partner) would file a civil service complaint against A., which the government was forced to investigate. Diskin did his damndest to keep everything in-house and now lies to protect his tattered reputation.
What’s the upshot? The civil service investigation resulted in A. being suspended (“sent on vacation” in the strange Hebrew locution). Which likely means he’ll be right back in the thick of things before you know it. On his return, perhaps he’ll learn to keep his p(*$k in his pant, though no doubt he will be given free rein to take his more violent libidinal urges out on all those terrorist suspects from whom he’ll be protecting Israel.
So there you have it: the numbers 2 and 3 officials in the Shin Bet get a slap on the wrist for bedding the girls in the office pool and then covering it up, all the while exceeding their budget by millions. That’s quite a system. If only Israelis knew that this was the corrupt band of fools who were protecting their domestic security. Little do they realize the agency’s logo really refers to the invisible shield that protects the Shin Bet from having its laundry washed in public.
UPDATE: The civil service complaint caused Diskin to end up firing Claude. Luckily the civil service is not under the thumb of the security services and carries a certain level of independence which even the Shabak boss cannot manipulate.
I doubt this will give Ameer Makhoul or Omar Said, the latest Israeli citizens subjected to Shin Bet torture, much comfort to know that his abusers are such a sorry lot. Or perhaps it will give him a perverse form of comfort to know that he has been a better Israeli citizen than those stand over him in the interrogation room and accuse him of betraying his country.