How Israeli Intelligence Provided the U.S with Vital Help During the Cold War

March 2 2018

It’s well known today that Israeli and U.S. intelligence agencies often cooperate closely, and that Jerusalem routinely provides Washington with important and hard-to-obtain information. Less well known is that this cooperation dates back to the 1950s. It was Israel, for instance, that obtained a copy of Nikita Khrushchev’s 1956 “secret speech” to Communist party leaders, denouncing Stalin. Israel also, on numerous occasions, captured advanced Soviet weaponry from its Arab enemies, which it then gave to the U.S., helping the latter stay abreast of Moscow’s technology and its vulnerabilities. And that’s not all, as Raphael Ofek writes:

During the cold war, U.S. intelligence had difficulty collecting information from behind the Iron Curtain, instead concentrating on technical means of collection, especially aerial photography: first by U-2 planes, then by satellites. Thus, particularly in domains of a clearly technological nature such as the Soviet nuclear threat, it was easy to err through over- or underestimation. [By recruiting retired members of the Soviet defense establishment], the Israeli intelligence community succeeded, in the latter half of the 1970s and the early 1980s, to provide its American counterpart with highly valuable, original information on the Soviet strategic-missile array as it existed at the end of the 1960s.

Based on the information that Israel provided, one could construct a detailed and quite accurate picture of the structure and dispersal of at least some of the Soviet army’s strategic-missile brigades. . . . Some of the intelligence information could be verified with aerial photographs. But it also included details, as well as rumors, that were verified only later. . . .

The CIA expressed its gratitude to the Israeli intelligence community, noting that the information was “unique” and had enabled the agency to adjust its intelligence overestimation on the issue in question. According to a senior CIA official, the information obtained from Israel indicated that Soviet strategic-missile technology was inferior to what the CIA had [previously] believed. . . . [This] Israeli information made a particularly important contribution to America’s ability to defend itself against a Soviet nuclear strike.

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Read more at BESA Center

More about: Cold War, Intelligence, Israel & Zionism, Israeli history, Soviet Union, US-Israel relations

Gaza’s Quiet Dissenters

Last year, the Dubai-based television channel Al-Arabiya, the Times of Israel, and several other media organizations worked together to conduct numerous interviews with residents of the Gaza Strip, taking great pains to protect their identities. The result is a video series titled Whispers in Gaza, which presents a picture of life under Hamas’s tyranny unlike anything that can be found in the press. Jeff Jacoby writes:

Through official intimidation or social pressure, Gazans may face intense pressure to show support for Hamas and its murderous policies. So when Hamas organizes gaudy street revels to celebrate a terrorist attack—like the fireworks and sweets it arranged after a gunman murdered seven Israelis outside a Jerusalem synagogue Friday night—it can be a challenge to remember that there are many Palestinians who don’t rejoice at the murder of innocent Jews.

In one [interview], “Fatima” describes the persecution endured by her brother, a humble vegetable seller, after he refused to pay protection money to Hamas. The police arrested him on a trumped-up drug charge and locked him in prison. “They beat him repeatedly to make him confess to things he had nothing to do with,” she says. Then they threatened to kill him. Eventually he fled the country, leaving behind a family devastated by his absence.

For those of us who detest Hamas no less than for those who defend it, it is powerful to hear the voices of Palestinians like “Layla,” who is sickened by the constant exaltation of war and “resistance” in the Palestinian media. “If you’re a Gazan citizen who opposes war and says, ‘I don’t want war,’ you’re branded a traitor,” she tells her interviewer. “It’s forbidden to say you don’t want war.” So people keep quiet, she explains, for fear of being tarred as disloyal.

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Read more at Boston Globe

More about: Gaza Strip, Hamas, Palestinian dissidents, Palestinian public opinion