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

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.”

Read more at Jewish Review of Books

More about: Anti-Semitism, CIA, Intelligence


Hizballah Is Learning Israel’s Weak Spots

On Tuesday, a Hizballah drone attack injured three people in northern Israel. The next day, another attack, targeting an IDF base, injured eighteen people, six of them seriously, in Arab al-Amshe, also in the north. This second attack involved the simultaneous use of drones carrying explosives and guided antitank missiles. In both cases, the defensive systems that performed so successfully last weekend failed to stop the drones and missiles. Ron Ben-Yishai has a straightforward explanation as to why: the Lebanon-backed terrorist group is getting better at evading Israel defenses. He explains the three basis systems used to pilot these unmanned aircraft, and their practical effects:

These systems allow drones to act similarly to fighter jets, using “dead zones”—areas not visible to radar or other optical detection—to approach targets. They fly low initially, then ascend just before crashing and detonating on the target. The terrain of southern Lebanon is particularly conducive to such attacks.

But this requires skills that the terror group has honed over months of fighting against Israel. The latest attacks involved a large drone capable of carrying over 50 kg (110 lbs.) of explosives. The terrorists have likely analyzed Israel’s alert and interception systems, recognizing that shooting down their drones requires early detection to allow sufficient time for launching interceptors.

The IDF tries to detect any incoming drones on its radar, as it had done prior to the war. Despite Hizballah’s learning curve, the IDF’s technological edge offers an advantage. However, the military must recognize that any measure it takes is quickly observed and analyzed, and even the most effective defenses can be incomplete. The terrain near the Lebanon-Israel border continues to pose a challenge, necessitating technological solutions and significant financial investment.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Hizballah, Iron Dome, Israeli Security