A few days ago, after the Daily Beast published an excerpt from Yossi Melman’s new Mossad spy thriller posing as a work of non-fiction, I published my own critique. Now the NY Times tells us rather breathlessly that all Iran is abuzz over the book because it (are you ready?) claims that the Mossad killed Iran’s five nuclear scientists. This is a fact known for almost two years or more both in Israel, Iran and around the world. Yet Iranians apparently didn’t credit it as true till Yossi Melman told them. I don’t know who’s dumber: the Iranians who waited to believe this until they heard it from one of the Israeli spy agencies chief boosters or the reporter who wrote the story.
There is an important claim noted in the article which I hadn’t read before myself: that Melman says the Mossad assassins were Iranian-Israelis. I should add that my own high-level Israeli source has not told me this. On the contrary, he said the hits were carried out in close collaboration with the MEK, which I presumed meant that the Iranian terror group performed the actual assassinations with financial, munitions and logistical help from Mossad.
Regarding the Iranian-Israeli claim: I don’t think anything in this book can be viewed as true unless independently confirmed. But IF the Mossad used Iranian-Israeli hit men the agency is even more cynical than I ever believed. Yes, it stole passports from dual-citizen Israelis and used them in the murder plot against Mahmoud al-Mabouh. It was bad enough to endanger their own citizens in this fashion. But now they may’ve jeopardized the lives of Iranian Jews remaining in that country. Imagine the impact it will have on the average Iranian to learn that some of his former Jewish fellow citizens are murdering the cream of the scientific community on behalf of Israel. It shouldn’t surprise me or anyone really. The Mossad will exploit anyone or anything in pursuit of Israel’s national interest. There are almost no moral red lines in that regard. Not even red lines that should protect fellow Jews from exploitation and harm that would be the result of the Mossad’s derring-do.
Melman’s co-author, Newsweek reporter Dan Raviv, has coined a remarkable statement regarding Spies Against Armageddon‘s “style:”
Mr. Raviv refers to the book’s style as “synthesis,” assertions stated as facts, without citing interviews, quotations or even anonymous sources.
In other words, “synthesis”=pure garbage. This could be one reason that it was published by Levant Books, described as a “small company in Sea Cliff, N.Y.” Would any serious publisher touch this? In fact, I’m surprised someone in the more mainstream book world wouldn’t have taken this on given the titillation quotient involved (Mossad, spies, cloak and dagger, etc.). But I guess even they were put off by the level of fiction and “imagination” used by the authors in telling their story.
If you’re a Farsi reader, you might take a look at this Iranian “take” on the book, in which it’s called “the biggest joke of the century.”
There’s one thing clearly missing from this potboiler: the Mata Hari femme fatale who lures the scientists to their death through her feminine wiles. There’s a name for this: honey pot. And believe it or not, Israel has used the technique a number of times with success to lure targets. Among the most prominent was Mordechai Vanunu lured to Rome where he was drugged and hustled onto a plane to Israel, from which he’s still not allowed to emigrate despite the fact that he’s completed his prison term. But I digress (and how could you not with Melman’s brand of nonsense?).
I wouldn’t so much mind if Melman had written a spy novel. That’s what William Perry, Clinton’s former defense secretary did. But it’s unforgivable for any serious reporter to come up with junk like this and pass it off as fact or even near-fact.