Why Israel Never Brought Josef Mengele to Justice

The Nazi physician Josef Mengele spent most of World War II at Auschwitz, where he performed horrifically sadistic experiments on selected inmates. After the war, much like Adolf Eichmann, he escaped to South America, where, again as with Eichmann, the Mossad sought to capture him and take him to Israel for trial. Now that the Israeli intelligence agency has unclassified its file on Mengele, details of his escape, and of the Jewish state’s decision to give up on its hunt, are publicly available. Ronen Bergman writes:

Mengele fled Germany to Argentina in 1948, using false documents given to him by the Red Cross. (According to the Mossad’s file, the organization was aware that it was helping a Nazi criminal escape justice.) In Buenos Aires, he lived at first under an assumed name, but later reverted to his own name. He even had a nameplate on his door: Dr. Josef Mengele.

Though much about his wartime activities was known, the German government had not requested his extradition, and even supplied him with documents clearing him of a criminal record. The German ambassador in Buenos Aires is quoted in the Mossad file on Mengele as saying he received orders to treat Mengele as an ordinary citizen since there was no arrest warrant for him. When, finally, a warrant was issued in 1959, Mengele caught word. He went into hiding, first in Paraguay and then in Brazil.

In 1962, the Mossad agent Zvi Aharoni successfully tracked him down, and reported to his superiors.

But the head of the Mossad at the time, Isser Harel, ordered the matter dropped. On the same day, the agency had learned that Egypt was recruiting German scientists to build missiles; disposing of them was Harel’s top priority. The Mossad was still a young agency, short of resources and manpower. . . . Half a year later, Harel was replaced by Meir Amit, who ordered the Mossad to “stop chasing after ghosts from the past and devote all of our manpower and resources to threats against the security of the state.” . . . With the backing of Prime Minister Levi Eshkol, Amit focused on the Egyptian missile program until that threat was resolved . . . and then on gathering intelligence on the Arab states that proved critical to Israel’s victory in the 1967 war.

The hunt for Mengele resumed in 1977 under the orders of the newly elected Prime Minister Menachem Begin. But it was not until the early 1980s that the Mossad learned that Mengele had died in 1979.

Read more at New York Times

More about: Brazil, History & Ideas, Holocaust, Israel & Zionism, Levi Eshkol, Menachem Begin, Mossad, Nazis

Despite the Toll of War at Home and Rising Hostility Abroad, Investors Are Still Choosing Israel

When I first saw news that Google wasn’t going through with its acquisition of the tech startup Wiz, I was afraid hesitancy over its Israeli founders and close ties with the Jewish state might have something to do with it. I couldn’t have been more wrong: the deal is off not because of Google’s hesitancy, but because Wiz feared the FTC would slow down the process with uncertain results. The company is instead planning an initial public offering. In the wake of the CrowdStrike debacle, companies like Wiz have every reason to be optimistic, as Sophie Shulman explains:

For the Israeli cyber sector, CrowdStrike’s troubles are an opportunity. CrowdStrike is a major competitor to Palo Alto Networks, and both companies aim to provide comprehensive cyber defense platforms. The specific issue that caused the global Windows computer shutdown is related to their endpoint protection product, an area where they compete with Palo Alto’s Cortex products developed in Israel and the SentinelOne platform.

Friday’s drop in CrowdStrike shares reflects investor frustration and the expectation that potential customers will now turn to competitors, strengthening the position of Israeli companies. This situation may renew interest in smaller startups and local procurement in Israel, given how many institutions were affected by the CrowdStrike debacle.

Indeed, it seems that votes of confidence in Israeli technology are coming from many directions, despite the drop in the Tel Aviv stock exchange following the attack from Yemen, and despite the fact that some 46,000 Israeli businesses have closed their doors since October 7. Tel Aviv-based Cyabra, which creates software that identifies fake news, plans a $70 million IPO on Nasdaq. The American firm Applied Systems announced that it will be buying a different Israeli tech startup and opening a research-and-development center in Israel. And yet another cybersecurity startup, founded by veterans of the IDF’s elite 8200 unit, came on the scene with $33 million in funding. And those are the stories from this week alone.

But it’s not only the high-tech sector that’s attracting foreign investment. The UK-based firm Energean plans to put approximately $1.2 billion into developing a so-far untapped natural-gas field in Israel’s coastal waters. Money speaks much louder than words, and it seems Western businesses don’t expect Israel to become a global pariah, or to collapse in the face of its enemies, anytime soon.

Read more at Calcalist

More about: cybersecurity, Israeli economy, Israeli gas, Israeli technology, Start-up nation