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.

Read more at Bloomberg

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

Strengthening the Abraham Accords at Sea

In an age of jet planes, high-speed trains, electric cars, and instant communication, it’s easy to forget that maritime trade is, according to Yuval Eylon, more important than ever. As a result, maritime security is also more important than ever. Eylon examines the threats, and opportunities, these realities present to Israel:

Freedom of navigation in the Middle East is challenged by Iran and its proxies, which operate in the Red Sea, the Arabian Sea, and the Persian Gulf, and recently in the Mediterranean Sea as well. . . . A bill submitted to the U.S. Congress calls for the formulation of a naval strategy that includes an alliance to combat naval terrorism in the Middle East. This proposal suggests the formation of a regional alliance in the Middle East in which the member states will support the realization of U.S. interests—even while the United States focuses its attention on other regions of the world, mainly the Far East.

Israel could play a significant role in the execution of this strategy. The Abraham Accords, along with the transition of U.S.-Israeli military cooperation from the European Command (EUCOM) to Central Command (CENTCOM), position Israel to be a key player in the establishment of a naval alliance, led by the U.S. Fifth Fleet, headquartered in Bahrain.

Collaborative maritime diplomacy and coalition building will convey a message of unity among the members of the alliance, while strengthening state commitments. The advantage of naval operations is that they enable collaboration without actually threatening the territory of any sovereign state, but rather using international waters, enhancing trust among all members.

Read more at Institute for National Security Studies

More about: Abraham Accords, Iran, Israeli Security, Naval strategy, U.S. Foreign policy