How the Mossad Saved a Biblical Deer Species from Iran

Among the undomesticated mammals listed as kosher in the book of Deuteronomy, is the yaḥmur, usually thought to be the fallow deer or roebuck. The creature is mentioned only one other time in the Hebrew Bible, in the book of Kings, which states that the daily provisioning of Solomon’s palace included “ten fattened oxen, twenty pasture-fed oxen, and 100 sheep and goats, besides deer and gazelles, fallow deer and fatted geese.” While this species was once plentiful in the Land of Israel, they were thought to have become extinct in the 19th century—until, in the 1950s, a small population was discovered in Persia. Aaron Reich recounts the remarkable rescue operation that ensued, details of which only recently became public knowledge:

Israel tried to arrange with the shah of Iran for two members of the small Persian fallow-deer herd to be sent to Israel. Their efforts included Avraham Yoffe, [a former general and then then the head of the Nature and Parks Authority], working to court the shah’s brother, avid hunter Prince Abdol Reza Pahlavi, inviting him to the Negev to hunt Nubian ibex. The ibex is a protected species in Israel but then-agricultural minister Ariel Sharon made an exception, . . . but no progress was made for nearly two decades.

[At last], Yoffe himself went to Tehran to retrieve the deer on invitation from the shah’s brother, but had a mild heart attack on arrival. . . . But everything changed in December 1978. Sensing the impending revolution, the Nature and Parks Authority was called by the shah, who told them to dispatch Mossad agents immediately to secure the deer.

By the time the agent arrived—reportedly the zoologist Mike Van Grevenbroek, armed with a blowgun disguised as a cane—nobody was there to greet him. The shah and his family had fled the country, and the agent was ordered to leave at once.

Despite the circumstances, the operation succeeded, and Israel now has a few hundred of the deer, which are being gradually reintroduced into the wild.

Read more at Jerusalem Post

More about: Animals, Hebrew Bible, Mossad, Nature, Persia

While Israel Is Distracted on Two Fronts, Iran Is on the Verge of Building Nuclear Weapons

Iran recently announced its plans to install over 1,000 new advanced centrifuges at its Fordow nuclear facility. Once they are up and running, the Institute for Science and International Security assesses, Fordow will be able to produce enough highly enriched uranium for three nuclear bombs in a mere ten days. The U.S. has remained indifferent. Jacob Nagel writes:

For more than two decades, Iran has continued its efforts to enhance its nuclear-weapons capability—mainly by enriching uranium—causing Israel and the world to concentrate on the fissile material. The International Atomic Energy Agency recently confirmed that Iran has a huge stockpile of uranium enriched to 60 percent, as well as more enriched to 20 percent, and the IAEA board of governors adopted the E3 (France, Germany, UK) proposed resolution to censure Iran for the violations and lack of cooperation with the agency. The Biden administration tried to block it, but joined the resolution when it understood its efforts to block it had failed.

To clarify, enrichment of uranium above 20 percent is unnecessary for most civilian purposes, and transforming 20-percent-enriched uranium to the 90-percent-enriched product necessary for producing weapons is a relatively small step. Washington’s reluctance even to express concern about this development appears to stem from an unwillingness to acknowledge the failures of President Obama’s nuclear policy. Worse, writes Nagel, it is turning a blind eye to efforts at weaponization. But Israel has no such luxury:

Israel must adopt a totally new approach, concentrating mainly on two main efforts: [halting] Iran’s weaponization actions and weakening the regime hoping it will lead to its replacement. Israel should continue the fight against Iran’s enrichment facilities (especially against the new deep underground facility being built near Natanz) and uranium stockpiles, but it should not be the only goal, and for sure not the priority.

The biggest danger threatening Israel’s existence remains the nuclear program. It would be better to confront this threat with Washington, but Israel also must be fully prepared to do it alone.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Joseph Biden, U.S. Foreign policy