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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
Yossi Melman also wrote that Alsheikh started as a field operative, not an interrogator. You have claimed repeatedly that Alsheikh is an interrogator. Who’s right, you or Melman?
Richard Silverstein says
@ Yoav: I don’t know why people like you can’t read your own comment & figure things out for yourself. When someone rises up through an agency over decades they have a variety of positions. You may start as a field operative & then shift into interrogation. I never said that Alsheikh didn’t start his career as field operative. Regardless, Alsheikh’s career has primarily been as an interrogator. If you don’t believe me, ambush him like the TV reporters are doing & go ask him yourself.
Ayman Hammoudeh,MD says
Roni Alsheikh is your new police chief? So this is the first Arab that assumes this position? How old is this man? Were his father or grandfather flown from Yemen to Ben Gurion in The Operation Magic Carpet? And then given a Palestinian house in Bet Dagon?
Richard Silverstein says
@ Ayman Hammoudeh: Alsheikh’s family did emigrate from Yemen, making them Arab Jews, as you note.