— ronnie barkan (@ronnie_barkan) November 15, 2017
Video of protest outside Black Cube offices in Tel Aviv demanding that the company open its windows and shades to let in sunshine and let the world know about its attempts to intrude on the privacy of its victims around the world.
After the Daily Mail exposed the identity of the Israeli agent hired by Harvey Weinstein to collect dirt on his female accusers, Israeli media have further exposed the woman’s past. She is Stella Penn and has a most interesting history. Her family was originally from Bosnia and her grandmother, Zejneba Hardaga, was the first Muslim recognized by Yad VaShem as a Righteous Gentile for rescuing Jews during the Holocaust (relatively few Muslims have been so honored). Penn’s father is Christian and her mother Muslim. But she told an Israeli interviewer that “at a certain stage” all became Jewish. She speaks Serbo-Croatian, which would explain why those she tried to fool thought her accent was vaguely German.
An interview she gave to Yediot in 2011 reveals why Black Cube, which hired her, found her fluid ethnic identities perfect for this “role:”
“After army service, I wanted to connect more with my past. I am Stella, but also Esther. I am the granddaughter of a Muslim. Daughter of a Christian father and Muslim mother who, at a certain state, became Jewish. All of this I try to integrate into myself.
At auditions they’re always asking where I’m from. I don’t look Israeli. But no matter how much I flee from [ethnic-religious] definitions, not wanting to be the granddaughter of a Muslims, etc. they always tell me I’m only fit for playing the role of “foreigner.” They label me through my accent and won’t offer me roles as a native Israeli (Sabra). They’ve told me I’m beautiful and charismatic, but that they could only offer me a very particular [non-Israeli] role.”
An Israeli news show discovered that Penn also impersonated someone possibly on behalf of Black Cube in order to determine what information a stock analysis site had used in a negative profile of AmTrust FInancial. She met under false pretences with the report author and a Wall Street Journal reporter, neither of whom was fooled by her charade. This indicates she was something more than a freelance employee who performed a one-off assignment.
The Mail notes that in addition to her acting career, Penn (whose married name is Pechanac) served as a Lieutenant in the Israeli air force. After serving, she also performed service with Israel advocacy groups in Australia and the U.S. This would correspond with many Israeli intelligence operatives whose work often crosses over into pro-Israel advocacy. Penn’s Twitter account, which has mostly been inactive, shows that she follows both StandWithUs and other official Israeli government agencies.
The founders of Black Cube were both former colonels in the military intelligence agency, AMAN. The former is widely known for hiring ex-Mossad agents to engage in dark ops. It’s not clear from her background whether Penn also worked for either AMAN or the Mossad.
Israeli intelligence is known for extracting information from sources by dangling an attractive female agent who assumes a role the target would find attractive. In fact, last January the Mossad ran a recruiting ad featuring a mysterious woman in the shadows. The ad copy said the agency was seeking “powerful women with special character.” This traffics in the ancient misogynist notion that women are temptresses and conspirators who use their wiles to betray men. Think Judith, Mata Hari, Delilah, etc. No doubt in the Israeli context “power” or “special character” could easily be construed as sex.
In Mordechai Vanunu’s case, it was the honey-pot, Cindy (real name, Cheryl Bentov), who lured him to Rome, where the Mossad kidnapped him. In this case, Black Cube presented “Diana” or “Anna” as a fellow sexual victim. She offered Rose McGowan $60,000 to speak at a conference on women’s rights and sexual abuse, a topic the spook agency knew would pique McGowan’s interest. Sexy women agents used to be a Mossad specialty. Now it’s women posing as rape victims. Be proud, Black Cube. Be very proud.
In a related matter, Ronan Farrow, in his New Yorker article, in which he first revealed that Weinstein had hired Black Cube, noted this response from the company to his litany of fraud and violations of privacy of all the victims it targeted:
“It should be highlighted that Black Cube applies high moral standards to its work, and operates in full compliance with the law of any jurisdiction in which it operates—strictly following the guidance and legal opinions provided by leading law firms from around the world.” The contract with the firm also specified that all of its work would be obtained “by legal means and in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations.”
The only way that company adheres to “high moral standards” is if you are working in a whorehouse (no offense to the working women) or an inmate of a federal penitentiary. How is tapping phones, wearing wires, stealing manuscripts, pretending you are a feminist activist, and lying in order to intimidate sexual abuse survivors, a moral enterprise? I’d like to know if it was legal in those jurisdictions (New York and Los Angeles) where it surreptitiously recorded conversations with its targets, to do so. If not, Black Cube has some ‘splainin’ to do to various police agencies.
There’s another Israeli connection to this story: when Harvey Weinstein wanted tough Mossad agents to hunt down his accusers, who did he call? Ehud Barak, of course. Now, to be fair, Ehud claims he wouldn’t know Black Cube from a hole in the wall. And that he looked up their contact information and passed it to Weinstein. I’ve tried to discover if there are any Israeli media reports linking Barak to any company principals. I haven’t succeeded so far.
But it’s no accident that when a certain type of thuggish Diaspora Jew needs “muscle” he thinks of the Mossad. In the same way that tough guys in the past turned to the mob to snuff out their own enemies. Mossad=Mafia. It fits, alas.
Ronan Farrow has said he was more afraid for his personal safety writing this story than even when he covered Afghanistan. I guess when you mix a sexual predator with ex-Mossad spooks, you get a dangerous, toxic mix.