The Mossad Should Stay Out of the Limelight

Oct. 13 2021

In a recent speech to the Knesset, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett referred to a “complex” endeavor by Israeli intelligence operatives to find out the location of the body of Ron Arad—an Israeli airman who was captured in Lebanon in 1986. Dramatic stories soon followed in the Israeli press of the kidnapping of an Iranian general and other feats connected to this operation. Zev Chafets argues that Bennet erred by drawing attention to the Mossad’s activities:

One of the secrets of the Mossad’s success has been the success of its secrecy. The organization is under the direct control of the prime minister. It reports to no one else and has no spokesperson. Until recently, even the name of the agency’s head was a state secret.

[More to the point], the operation Bennett announced was an apparent failure. Arad’s body was not found. The Mossad doesn’t normally publicize its failures and things got more confusing after the new Mossad chief David Barnea later claimed it had been successful, though he did not elaborate.

There was no need to know and the Mossad’s credibility, as well as its effectiveness, is critical for Israel’s security. . . . The Mossad is built to be opaque. If it becomes transparent it will inevitably raise questions in friendly foreign agencies about the safety of shared information and joint operations. If prime ministers make a habit of flaunting successes, it can serve as an invitation and a justification for enemy retaliation. And misrepresenting operational failures as successes from the Knesset podium is neither good statecraft nor good politics.

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Read more at Bloomberg

More about: Israeli Security, Lebanon, Mossad, Naftali Bennett

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