The Secret Wars of Israel
Late Israeli Prime Minister, Menachem Begin�s doctrine stated that �Israel must destroy any enemy plan to develop a nuclear weapon.�
Photo: Israel Sun, 1980
By Gad Nahshon
The secret wars of Israel, at least, from 1947-1948 to 2011 are a remarkable, unique, contribution to its security, survival, and well being. It is a non-stop fight of Israel's intelligence community. It is the fight of the legendary Mossad (the Institute for Intelligence and Special Tasks), and the Shin Bet. This fight has been based on Aman, the military intelligence Service also on the Bureau for Scientific Relations (Lakam), Security, Defense Establishment (Malmab) and Nativ (Jewish Immigration).
This fight has unique dramatic history, this Israeli intelligence, this unique heroism, devotion, struggles, confrontations, spy stories for everyone, every reader, this excellent touching printed documentary was exposed by Yossi Melman, a well-known journalist, researcher, scholar, expert of the Israeli intelligence community, rich with many sources, an author of six books. Today, he is an editor in Wallak, Tel-Aviv, truly exposing secrecy in his new-book, written together with Dan Raviv, a writer who works for CBS :"Spies Against Armageddon: Inside Israel's Secret Wars" (Levant Books), Sea Cliff, NY - 2012 and Media Connect, Washington, D.C.
This book was praised by many writers and experts, such as James Woolsey, former CIA director. The book was praised and Yossi Melman was interviewed by the New York Times in its new page. Melman's first book about Israel's intelligence, a pioneer work with Dan Raviv, Every Spy A Prince, was a best-seller of the Times!
Yossi Melman exposed the many achievements of the intelligence organizations. But he also exposed mistakes, failures, and the death of many agents or workers. He also exposed tensions, or disagreements inside the intelligence establishment. Melman did not ignore the relationship between governments, political leaders, and the intelligence organizations. Melman noted that, to understand the activities of the intelligence services, today, or I the future, we must study their history. Those who ignore or forget the past will have to repeat it!
Melman also discussed the syndrome of the Middle East and the intelligence activities. He discussed the relations of Israeli intelligence with its counterparts such as the CIA. In Melman's Spies Against Armageddon, he had an analytical approach based on ample evidence and facts. In his illuminated conclusions he wrote: "The community history has demonstrated both the maximum achievements and the inescapable limitations of intelligence."
Melman presented the uniqueness of Israeli intelligence. First, there is, and was Israel's human assets. The Mossad, a legendary organization whose achievements have been based, not on its power, information, and modern technology, but on its fighters, agents, and people who devoted their lives to Israel's security and survival. Recently, former Mossad director, Meir Dagan, wrote that these people were, and are, the most important assets of Israel. Melman wrote that our enemies do not have such assets.
Second, the Mossad has benefitted from the huge aliyah to Israel because it was a treasure trove of people who spoke many languages. It gave Israel a great advantage. Third, the Mossad has been an alternative to the foreign ministry. Fourth, Israel did not share the secrets of its sources of information. Even the CIA does not get information of Israel's sources! Fifth, Melman, like Meir Dagan, wrote that today an enemy of Israel does not have to be a certain state but a certain terrorist organization. It changes the essence of the fight and the operations. Sixth, as to the need to follow, as well as implement, new technology, we must also understand that our enemies will follow us and try to demolish it. Seventh, we must use intelligence as our national asset. It is our future.
Melman also remarked: "Cyber war turns every individual in the country into someone who could be hit and could suffer." He discussed the most important threat to Israel's survival today: the Iranian nuclear weapons project. There are many discussions in Israel: what should Israel do? Should it prevent a 'second Holocaust' by bombing the Iranian nuclear reactors? There is a strong opposition to this bombing. Bombing is a governmental issue. There is, Melman wrote, the 'Begin Doctrine' which stated that Israel must destroy any enemy plan to develop a nuclear weapon. The opposition is arguing against it.
Meir Dagan, Israel's former Mossad director (2002-2010) is the leader of this opposition. First, Melman explained, there is the Iranian policy. Iran wants to control and lead the Muslim world! Iran wants to control the world's energy. It has an asset of 60% of the oil production. Melman also argued that the Iranian religious dictatorship, Shiite regime, views this nuclear weapon as a defense for their regime. The leaders view the weapons as a way to prevent their collapse.
Melman also noted that other countries, like Iraq and Turkey, also follow the Iranian example. This trend is an anti-American one. This product is not an Israeli survival threat. How to stop Iran? Did Israel already stop its other enemies? Melman presented the story of the Israeli surprise attack on Iraq's nuclear reactor (Osiris). In 1981, Prime Minister Begin decided to bomb Iraq's nuclear reactor. It was known as 'Opera' or 'The Tamus Project'. Some leaders, such as Shimon Peres, today Israel's President, objected to this act. Should we follow this achievement? By the way, Mossad destroyed some factories in France, which supply Arabs with materials for nuclear projects.
Could Begin find alternatives? It is a political question but the intelligence always helped. It discovered a Syrian project in Al Kibar, North Korea, supported this nuclear reactor. Prime Minister Olmert told the USA about this but Melman wrote: "They did not know about the Syrian goal." Olmert decided to attack in 2007 although some were against it.
Ehud Barak, until recently Israel's Defense Minister, said that it was too early. Aman, the military intelligence leader, was for the attack. Meir Dagan, then the Mossad director who, today, is against an attack on Iran, was for the attack then. Melman argued that since that time, Dagan disliked Barak. Melman wrote that in 2007, the Mossad murdered General Muhammad Suleiman, an aid of Assad who supervised all sensitive military matters and who was an enemy of Israel.
Should Israel bomb Iran's nuclear weapons reactors which are located deep underground? Iran has an atomic organization and weaponization area. Recently, the Wall Street Journal said that the father of Iran's nuclear weapons project, Muhasin Pahrizadu, returned to work on this project. He is 'wanted' by the USA and Israel. He may very well be able to give a push to accomplish the project. There are many so-called reasons and doubts to justify inaction, delay action, or use alternatives. Meir Dagan believes in sanctions, but they failed. Diplomacy? Obama's solution, also failed.
Many countries, such as China or India, do not care about the USA's acts. Iran is mocking America and Obama. The U.N.? Iran never obeyed the U.N.'s demands. Recently, 120 members of the U.N. and its Secretary General had no hesitation in going to a conference in Teheran, indirectly helping to boost Iran's propaganda. Dagan always believed that the Mossad must use covert actions. As a Mossad director, he sent Kidon, the Mossad's special commando unit, Sayeret Matkal, the military headquarters elite patrol, to Iran in order to kill Iranian nuclear experts. It was done from 2007 to 2010. Israel denied these killings but Melman remarked that it was Kidon's style of action: bombs and motorcycles� at the same time Israel destroyed an Iranian center of missiles.
Iran also tried to build a long-range one which could hit the SA, the great Satan! Dagan was a fighter, a former general and an admirer of Arik Sharon. Dagan used one more act: using the Stuxnet virus. Dagan was against the bombing of Iran's nuclear weapons. Like others, he wants to wait and see. He wants to use economic means. He has doubts as to the real achievement of the attack. Melman argued that there is a gap between the government (second Holocaust) and the military-security establishment. Many said that without American backing it is a mistake to attack Iran. Others ask: What will be the price of the attack? Will Iran, Hamas, and Hezbollah attack Israel?
Today, Iran is a winner and Israelis are afraid that Obama would ignore the Iranian victory and say that the second Holocaust syndrome is just an Israeli bluff. Using the killers is not the only system of Mossad's actions, it is only one of them. Iran, like Syria, has biological, chemical weapons. Melman presented many stories which are worthy of a special or a film. Some are much better for the reader than James Bond or espionage novels.
Melman wrote about the 'fathers' of the intelligence organizations and their non-stop reforms: The father and founder of the Mossad, Reuven Shiloh, General Amit who modernized the Mossad, Amos Manor of the Shin Bet, and Avi Dichter-Shin Bet. The most famous leader of Israeli intelligence was Isser Harel who founded Shin Bet in 1948 and later was also the director of the Mossad. His title was 'Hamemuna' (the appointed one). There were many other men who devoted their lives to Israel's security such as Binyamin Blumberg. We must remember men like Saul Aigun who established 'Nativ' (Jewish Intelligence) in 1952.
Israel defends every Jew abroad. It was also the mission of Israel's Mossad. For example, the kidnaping of Adolf Eichmann in Argentina was a great Mossad action Avi Malkin told me the story of this event. He pushed Eichmann into the car. He told me that Eichmann lost his glasses and Zvi could not find them. He spent time with Eichmann in the secret apartment before he was taken by El-Al to Israel.
There were many actions to find Nazis who ran away after 1945. Isser Harel lost his job because of the issue of former Nazi scientists who came to Egypt in order to help the Egyptian military. Melman did not forget to tell the story of those who sacrificed their lives for Israel as spies and agents. The most famous of them was Eli Cohen who spied in Syria. He was a genius who later was arrested and hung in Damascus.
The American-Jewish spy for Israel, Jonathan Jay Pollard. The Pollard case, November 1985, was a crisis between the USA and Israel that shocked everyone. All the efforts to pardon him have failed. Melman noted that President Bill Clinton was going to pardon Pollard but his CIA director objected and threatened to resign.
Melman praised the Shin Bet (Shabak) or 'security services'. It is a counter-espionage agency. It is basically a domestic agency. It is the main fighter against Palestinian terrorism. Shin Bet challenged the problem of terrorism inside airports, against the hijacking of airplanes. Avi Dichter, former director of Shin Bet (2000-2005), told the American after 9/11 "I told you". He said that the USA refused to study the systems of preventions from the Shin Bet. Dichter, an excellent director, today a Minister in the government for domestic defense, explained: "There were no Sky Marshals" in the American civil airplanes and no security against the terrorists. Shin Bet's great success is that, since 1965, no airplane was hijacked.
Melman discussed many success stories. For example, a journalist and Polish Zionist, Victor Grayevski, visited his girlfriend, Lucia Baranovski, who worked for the Secretary General of the Polish Communist Party, and secured a document, the April 1956 Khrushchev speech about the crimes of Stalin which was delivered at the 21st Conference of the Communist Party. It was a bombshell revelation. Grayevski gave it to Shin Bet agent Barmar, who gave it to Manor, who gave it to Ben-Gurion. Israel gave it to the CIA which gave it to the New York Times.
In 1965, the Soviet Union had advanced design secret Mig 21. The Israeli Mossad learned that Iraq received a Mig 21 from the Soviets. Operation Mig 21 was a success: an Iraqi pilot, Munir Redfa, landed in Israel with Mig 21. The USA and the West were more than happy. The Mossad became a legend in the world.
Melman also discussed the story of spies in Israel. Poland planted a spy, Levy Levy, Egypt planted a spy who served in the Israeli army. There were two imported spies. They were looking for science and technology. One, was Kurt Sita of the Technion in Haifa and the other was Marcus Klingberg of the Biological Institute in Nes-Ziona. Both were arrested, but they caused a lot of problems to Israel.
These days, the Israeli intelligence organizations must challenge two terrorist organizations: Hamas, which is a state with government, the strongest party in the West Bank (which probably would like to murder P.A. President Abu-Mazan, and the King of Jordan); and Hezbollah, an organization which will occupy Lebanon. Perhaps we will learn about this from a third book written by Melman.