Israel places a gag on reporting the names of any members of its intelligence services except the chiefs. Even former officers are proscribed from exposure. In the coming days, Bibi Netanyahu has promised to name the new Mossad chief who will assume the reins from Meir Dagan, who is retiring after eight years in the job. Of all the candidates, the names of all but one are publicly known. But one, because is a former senior Mossad officer, is not. That individual is Tamir Pardo, currently known as T. to the Israeli media.
Despite this prohibition, Channel 10’s military reporter did name Pardo in a June tweet. This only shows that the military censor isn’t paying very close attention (yet) to Twitter as a source for exposing Israel’s secrets.
It was quite easy for my Israeli source (and many other Israeli journalists) to piece together the reporting that has been done and find Pardo’s name published clear as day in a Hebrew language book about the Entebbe raid (accompanying image from Google Books), in which he participated under the command of Yoni Netanyahu, Bibi’s older brother. Pardo was communications officer for the raid and this certainly creates a potential bond between PM and candidate.
He rose rapidly through the ranks from a technical specialist in the research division founded by Uzi Arad, to trusted operative. Pardo expected to be named assistant director by Dagan. Instead, the latter promoted another candidate, N., to that position and Dagan lent Pardo to the IDF as a senior operations advisor to the chief of staff.
In 2007, N. had a falling out with Dagan (who was known for driving away subordinates) and resigned immediately. Dagan called Pardo back from his IDF position and appointed him to the number 2 job. The latter returned in the hope, once again, that he would be named to replace the current chief when he retired. But Dagan once again disappointed and accepted a job extension that offered an almost unprecedented eighth year of service. Finally, Pardo quit the Mossad entirely and went into private industry. Rumors have it that the former intelligence officer developed business interests with Israeli internet gambling entrepreneur Noam Lanir.
One development that may dim Pardo’s chances for the job is that he apparently knew beforehand about the infamous forged Galant memo which was intended to embarrass Defense Minister Ehud Barak and frustrate Yoav Galant’s candidacy to be IDF chief of staff.
As I’ve said before here, I don’t believe that as important a job as this one should be handed to someone about whom the average Israeli knows next to nothing, including his name. Let’s stand for transparency and vetting a man fully before he ascends to such a powerful position. The more you know, the less unpleasant surprises there will be. Since we know very little, the chances of this happening during a Pardo tenure of Mossad chief are quite high.
The name ‘Pardo’ is of Spanish origin (“A family deriving its name from Prado in Castile”), which means that our candidate may be Sephardic. If so, he may be the first Sephardi named to such a position.
NOTE: Rotter, which has rarely ever censored any scoop I’ve published has deleted the thread that linked to this post. Do they realize that Pardo’s name has already been published on Twitter? It’s really a shame because Rotter has a reputation for being a freewheeling forum when it comes to publishing such scoops. So much for democracy and free speech in the Only Democracy in the Middle East.
Silverstein has published Tikun Olam since 2003, It exposes the secrets of the Israeli national security state. He lives in Seattle, but his heart is in the east. He publishes regularly at Middle East Eye, the New Arab, and Jacobin Magazine. His work has also appeared in Al Jazeera English, The Nation, Truthout and other outlets.