Seventeen years since this column last discussed the Mossad’s tasks, we return to the matter under happier institutional circumstances.
Back then, in a column titled “Ephraim’s Mossad” written following Danny Yatom’s abrupt resignation, I explained that the fabled spy agency had fallen ill and required surgery following several failures, most notably the botched assassination attempt on Khaled Mashaal.
Fortunately, though the transition matured only during the subsequent directorship of Meir Dagan, the Mossad recovered and displayed the originality, daring, and reach for which it had earned fame.
Unfortunately, this tale of institutional recuperation is contrasted by the outside world’s spreading decay, which in turn is fast redefining the Mossad’s aims.
By sheer coincidence, this week’s announcement of the change of guard at the Mossad’s helm followed on the heels of the terrorist attacks in France and California.
Politicians in various quarters have yet to concede this, but ordinary people increasingly realize that civilization is at war, and that the enemy is Islamist jihadism.
Yes, Barack Obama is still trying to change the subject from the enemy’s identity and motivation to its tactics and weapons, but many in his audience no longer inhabit the denialist realms where he still prefers to reside.
The French majority that in this week’s local elections voted for the Right and the far Right; the Polish electorate that has just replaced a centrist leadership with its conservative rival; the critical mass of Americans who tell pollsters they will vote for Donald Trump – all indicate that people throughout the West feel increasingly insecure. They smell war, and the war that they smell will in the foreseeable future dominate the Mossad’s agenda.
THE WAR whose approach a growing number of people smell will not be the last century’s kind of conventional war. It will not feature naval battles like Midway, fields of blood like Stalingrad, or armored showdowns like El Alamein. Rather, it will be – it already is – a war of jihadist attacks on civilians and intensifying raids on jihadism’s ideologues, commanders and troops.
And this war will deploy spooks and computer geeks much more than pilots, sailors, or marines.
Hence the Mossad’s new agenda, which will be split between the two wellsprings of Islamist terrorism – the Sunni, to our north, and the Shiite, to our east.
Incoming Mossad director Yossi Cohen – who grew up in a two-bedroom apartment where a black-and-white photo of his mother’s fair-faced brother, killed in the War of Independence, stared at the living room’s every guest – is believed to fully share Netanyahu’s Iranian agenda. It follows that this scourge will remain a main focus of the Mossad’s scrutiny. Should Tehran choose to violate its nuclear commitments, it will not announce this in a press release; someone will have to expose it, and that someone should be the Mossad.
At the same time, the Mossad’s historic concern with the surrounding conventional armies’ abilities and plots will recede to the back burner. There is no sense today in assigning a spy to reach the Syrian Army’s outposts, as Eli Cohen did; the Syrian Army is now distracted, besides being disgraced and partly dismembered.
There is also no need now in counting daily the Iraqi army’s artillery barrels and armored brigades, as was necessary when that army was big, cohesive, and commanded by a trigger-happy adventurer.
There is also no need today to penetrate a hostile East Bloc’s entrails. The USSR is gone, the Jews are free, and East Europe is friendly. Indeed, the entire Jewish agenda that once figured prominently on the Mossad’s to-do list is gone. North African Jewry, the Jews of Iraq, Yemen and Ethiopia have long been brought to Israel.
Gone are also the days when the Mossad pursued Nazi war criminals. The targets which legendary spymaster Issar Harel wanted to continue pursuing after Adolf Eichmann’s capture were sidestepped after David Ben-Gurion rightly ruled that a massive chase after yesterday’s enemies would sap resources that the current wars demanded.
Yes, there still is reportedly a department in the Mossad that deals with anti-Semitism, detecting among other things what European neo-Nazis are up to, but this too should now be sidestepped as the confrontation with Jihadism – locally, regionally, and globally – should marginalize all the Mossad’s Jewish concerns.
All, that is, except one: BDS.
THE MOVEMENT that calls to boycott, divest from, and sanction Israel is seen in the Mossad as the Foreign Ministry’s business, for two reasons – one an assumption, the other an excuse.
The assumption is that the threat is merely verbal, and the excuse is that its theater of operation is friendly territory.
Well the assumption is wrong and the excuse is immaterial.
The BDS campaign is not merely verbal.
The religious libel that the Jews killed God, the secular canard that the Jews control the world, the fascist fingering of the Jews as traitors, and the biological damnation of the Jews as subhuman, also began as mere words. They began as words and they ended as murder.
BDS follows this pattern, libeling Israel with the most preposterous crimes, and it does this in systematic, organized, and well financed methods that deploy many people in many places to steadily drip its poison in multiple hearts.
That is what the Medieval Church, Czarist Russia and Nazi Germany did, all of which were not stopped in their tracks because the Jews thought their enemies’ darts were mere words.
BDS is a strategic threat to the Jewish state, and must be fought the way the Jews’ previous libelers were not. It should not be debated. It should be hounded. The Mossad should penetrate its gatherings, sabotage its plans, follow its money, track its leaders, and get them into trouble.
Yes, all this will have to be done legally and with America’s enlistment. But enlisted America will be, because Americans are sensible people and they will realize that the way jihadism libels them, BDS libels us, and the way jihadism’s libels just killed Americans, BDS’s will kill Jews.
www.MiddleIsrael.net Editor’s note: The Jerusalem Post congratulates Amotz Asa-El on the 20th anniversary of this column.