Meet the Israeli Intelligence Services’ New Ultra-Orthodox Agents

April 20 2021

In 1999, the IDF established an all-ḥaredi battalion, and since then—despite the repeated failures of legislation to start drafting Ḥaredim en masse—the number of Ḥaredim in this and other units has steadily increased. More recently, a rabbi, in cooperation with the Mossad, founded an institution called Pardes to train young ḥaredi men to serve in Israel’s intelligence agencies. Yonah Jeremy Bob, drawing on interviews with some of its graduates, writes:

Pardes enables ḥaredi youth . . . to continue studying Torah alongside their coursework in an ultra-Orthodox environment. After passing the obscenely competitive screening process, each [student goes] through pre-academic preparatory courses in the fields of computer science, geopolitics, and international relations before applying for jobs in the security establishment.

One thing that was striking was that though [one Pardes graduate interviewed, who currently works for the Mossad], was thoroughly ḥaredi, dressed in black and white, he spoke like a seasoned Mossad veteran about achieving national-security results. He was very polished; . . . if my eyes had been closed, I would have had no idea he was ultra-Orthodox. [He] related how in recent weeks his critical talmudic training to examine presumptions constantly tipped him off that something was missing from a specific intelligence picture.

The Mossad’s director, Yossi Cohen, said, “When Pardes came to me with the initiative, I knew this was an opportunity both to enhance Israel’s security with a new untapped pool of talent and to increase diversity and understanding among the country’s different sectors.”

Rabbi Daniel Rabin, [the director of Pardes], remembered that a top Shin Bet official told him, “The world of computers changes every two years. We’ve seen your guys’ capability for learning new things. . . . That is a gold mine.”

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Read more at Jerusalem Post

More about: Haredim, IDF, Mossad

 

UN Peacekeepers in Lebanon Risk Their Lives, but Still May Do More Harm Than Good

Jan. 27 2023

Last month an Irish member of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) was killed by Hizballah guerrillas who opened fire on his vehicle. To David Schenker, it is likely the peacekeeper was “assassinated” to send “a clear message of Hizballah’s growing hostility toward UNIFIL.” The peacekeeping force has had a presence in south Lebanon since 1978, serving first to maintain calm between Israel and the PLO, and later between Israel and Hizballah. But, Schenker explains, it seems to be accomplishing little in that regard:

In its biannual reports to the Security Council, UNIFIL openly concedes its failure to interdict weapons destined for Hizballah. While the contingent acknowledges allegations of “arms transfers to non-state actors” in Lebanon, i.e., Hizballah, UNIFIL says it’s “not in a position to substantiate” them. Given how ubiquitous UN peacekeepers are in the Hizballah heartland, this perennial failure to observe—let alone appropriate—even a single weapons delivery is a fair measure of the utter failure of UNIFIL’s mission. Regardless, Washington continues to pour hundreds of millions of dollars into this failed enterprise, and its local partner, the Lebanese Armed Forces.

Since 2006, UNIFIL patrols have periodically been subjected to Hizballah roadside bombs in what quickly proved to be a successful effort to discourage the organization proactively from executing its charge. In recent years, though, UN peacekeepers have increasingly been targeted by the terror organization that runs Lebanon, and which tightly controls the region that UNIFIL was set up to secure. The latest UN reports tell a harrowing story of a spike in the pattern of harassment and assaults on the force. . . .

Four decades on, UNIFIL’s mission has clearly become untenable. Not only is the organization ineffective, its deployment serves as a key driver of the economy in south Lebanon, employing and sustaining Hizballah’s supporters and constituents. At $500 million a year—$125 million of which is paid by Washington—the deployment is also expensive. Already, the force is in harm’s way, and during the inevitable next war between Israel and Hizballah, this 10,000-strong contingent will provide the militia with an impressive human shield.

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Read more at Tablet

More about: Hizballah, Lebanon, Peacekeepers, U.S. Foreign policy