The “Clubby, Old-School Anti-Semitism” of Western Intelligence Agencies

July 22 2022

In The Recruiter: Spying and the Lost Art of American Intelligence, Douglas London analyzes the workings, and many deficiencies, of the CIA, based on his own 30 years as a case officer. London also sheds some light on being a Jew in an agency where casual anti-Semitism remains commonplace. Reviewing the book, A.E. Smith describes his own experience with similar tendencies in the Canadian intelligence establishment:

When he completed his initial training, London set his sights on the CIA’s Near East and South Asia Division, known as NE. . . . But almost as soon as he got there, he was told that the Arabic-speaking case officer cadre known as the “NE mafia”—almost all pro-Palestinian Arabists—“would not likely take to the idea of having a Jewish case officer in their fold.” Another senior member of NE called young London’s loyalty into question, asking him if he was required to support Israel. “When you go to the synagogue, by the rabbi, isn’t it a religious requirement?”

After 9/11, . . . I discovered that the resident Arabists tended to view Israel as a kind of parvenu blight on the Arab world and were reflexively suspicious of Jews who trespassed on their preserve. Their younger colleagues, meanwhile, cleaved firmly to the notion of Israel as a brutal colonial power engaged in a genocidal war against Palestinians.

On a personal level, this clubby, old-school anti-Semitism often manifested in questions, spoken and unspoken, about my judgment on matters related to the Middle East and Islamist extremism, especially in interagency situations. I was often jokingly referred to as “the Zionist agent” and not-so-jokingly told that my opinions carried little weight because as a practicing Jew, I had to be an Israeli sellout.

Ironically, my interactions with Muslim community leaders were far more positive. Almost invariably, they were disarmed by the revelation that I was Jewish and would open up to me as someone with a unique relationship to Islam. “Really,” I was assured by one imam with a reputation as a firebrand, “despite everything, we are brothers under the skin, you and I.”

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Read more at Jewish Review of Books

More about: Anti-Semitism, CIA, Intelligence

The Palestinian Authority Is Part of the Problem, Not the Solution

Jan. 31 2023

On Thursday, Palestinian Authority (PA) officials announced that they had ceased all security cooperation with Israel; the next two days saw two deadly terrorist attacks in Jerusalem. But the PA has in the past made numerous threats that it will sever its ties with the Israeli government, and has so far never made good on them. Efraim Inbar poses a different set of questions: does cooperation with Palestinian leaders who actively encourage—and provide financial incentives for—the murder of Jews really help Israel protect its citizens? And might there be a better alternative?

The PA leader Mahmoud Abbas seems unable to rule effectively, i.e., to maintain a modicum of law and order in the territories under his control. He lost Gaza to Hamas in 2007, and we now see the “Lebanonization” of the PA taking place in the West Bank: the emergence of myriad armed groups, with some displaying only limited loyalty to the PA, and others, especially the Islamists, trying to undermine the current regime.

[The PA’s] education system and media continue propagating tremendous hostility toward Jews while blaming Israel for all Palestinian problems. Security cooperation with Israel primarily concerns apprehending armed activists of the Islamist opposition, as the PA often turns a blind eye to terrorist activities against Israel. In short, Abbas and his coterie are part of the problem, not of the solution. Jerusalem should thus think twice about promoting efforts to preserve PA rule and prevent a descent into chaos while rejecting the reoccupation of the West Bank.

Chaos is indeed not a pleasant prospect. Chaos in the territories poses a security problem to Israel, but one that will be mitigated if the various Palestinian militias vying for influence compete with each other. A succession struggle following the death of Abbas could divert attention from fighting hated Israel and prevent coordination in the low-intensity conflict against it. In addition, anarchy in the territories may give Israel a freer hand in dealing with the terrorists.

Furthermore, chaos might ultimately yield positive results. The collapse of the PA will weaken the Palestinian national movement, which heretofore has been a source of endemic violence and is a recipe for regional instability in the future.

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Read more at JNS

More about: Israeli Security, Palestinian Authority, Palestinian terror