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BOOK REVIEW

 

GIDEON'S SPIES: THE SECRET HISTORY OF THE MOSSAD

By Gordon Thomas

St. Martin's Press 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, New York 10010  Copyright 1999    354 pages    ISBN: 0-312-19982-1    U. S. $25.95 

Reviewed by Mark Dankof for Christian News

 

Orthodox Lutherans are not known as enthusiastic supporters of the existence of the State of Israel, or of the political and exegetical arguments advanced for its place in the world by one of the most diverse coalitions ever assembled in history. After reading Gordon Thomas' meticulously researched tome, Gideon's Spies-The Secret History of the Mossad, they will be even less so inclined.  Thomas, the gifted author of Journey into Madness, Pontiff, and Chaos under Heaven, provides the reader with initial and concluding sections of information that may well serve the uninitiated best by being read prior to chapters 1 through 17 as preparatory information to set the stage and context of the actual narrative itself.

The first of these is the Glossary which precedes the first chapter. Here the novice to the world of intelligence generally and to Israeli intelligence specifically is treated to a list of 107 terms and acronyms which provide an effective briefing and synopsis of the demonic world of espionage and intelligence wars between Israel and its adversaries into which Thomas subsequently introduces the serious reader. Among these terms is The Institute--the formal name of Mossad-Institute for Intelligence and Special Operations; originally called Institute for Coordination. Some of the remaining listings in the Glossary are suggestive of what the reader will learn in the chapters to follow. These include better world--a euphemism for killing an enemy agent; send a person on vacation--to injure him/her-the extent of the injury depends on whether the `vacation' is to be brief or long; blow-back--fake stories fed to foreign news media; honey trap--sexual entrapment for intelligence purposes; kidon--an operative specializing in assassination; and measles--an assassination that appears to stem from natural causes. The second section that should be read prior to beginning chapter 1 are the concluding Notes on Sources and Select Bibliography. These concluding sections acquaint the reader with the professional background of Gordon Thomas, the disturbing significance and unquestioned credentials of his sources, and the wealth of previous work and research on intelligence which the author has conducted prior to the initiation of Gideon's Spies. In Notes and Sources, Thomas references a conversation with a Mossad katsa which may underscore the reader's own evolving feelings about the clandestine world of operational intelligence after 337 pages of riveting text:

I still remember completing a long interview with a former katsa who provided an account of how he had killed. Suddenly he looked around at the comfortable living room with its views of a biblical landscape and sighed deeply and said, "This world is not this world." The words have stayed with me. I think that what he meant was that, compared to his former work, beneath ordinary rhythms and appearances of life, a darkness and menace had never left him. I found that with several of the others with whom I spoke. It was a sobering reminder that the world of intelligence is, as Saint Paul glimpsed heaven, all too often indeed "seen through a glass, darkly."

A palpable, inescapable sense of darkness and menace may well begin to subsequently permeate and engulf the reader of this engaging, fascinating, but terrifying chronicle. Especially sobering are the portions of the narrative which document the role of the United States and its intelligence community in a long-standing supportive alliance with the Mossad through some of the latter's most hideous operations abroad. Pages 29 and 30 of chapter 2 document the cementing of this clandestine collaboration in 1954 during an official meeting between then Mossad Director General Isser Harel and Allen Dulles of the American Central Intelligence Agency:

Another coup came when he [Harel] traveled to Washington in 1954 to meet Allen Dulles, who had just taken over the CIA. Harel presented the veteran spymaster with a dagger bearing the engraved word of the psalmist: "the Guardian of Israel neither slumbers or sleeps." Dulles replied: "You can count on me to stay awake with you." These words created a partnership between Mossad and the CIA. Dulles arranged for Mossad to have state-of-the-art equipment: listening and tracking devices, remote-operated cameras, and a range of gadgets that Harel admitted he never knew existed. The two men also formed the first intelligence "back-channel" between their two services, through which they could communicate by secure phone in the case of any emergency. The channel effectively bypassed the normal diplomatic route, to the chagrin of both the State Department and the Israeli foreign ministry.

As Thomas proceeds to demonstrate, this collaboration would continue to the present, despite the paradoxical exposure in recent years of Israeli intelligence operations within the borders of its most significant ally that have clearly been to the detriment of the national security interests of the latter. And it would survive the revelations about the activities of the Mossad abroad which raise the most compelling questions of American complicity or acquiescence in Israeli sponsored acts of murder, kidnapping, torture, electronic surveillance, theft, and military occupation which clearly violate known tenets of international law, along with a developed body of orthodox Christian and Jewish moral axioms which would seem to be contraindicated by the motives and methods of the participants in the secret wars and counterinsurgencies of nation-states.

Thus, from genesis to conclusion, Thomas' weaves a multitude of the most questionable and sinister plots and operations into the unfolding 17 chapter portrait of the mind and actions of the masters of Mossad and the Israeli intelligence mosaic. All are compelling. Three (3) in particular serve to provide the reader with a core mass of data with which to re-assess the wisdom and morality of the actions of both Israel and the United States in the international arena since 1948. These include first, the "cold approach" in June-August of 1997 of a Mossad katsa to Henri Paul, the substance abusing director of security of the Ritz Hotel and the ill-fated driver on August 31, 1997 of the car carrying Princess Diana and boyfriend Dodi Al-Fayed, along with Paul, to their deaths on the westbound roadway of the underpass beneath the place de l'Alma in Paris.

At the time of the crash, according to Thomas, Mossad's desire to recruit Paul as an active agent/source was rooted in its knowledge of Paul's expensive vices, susceptibility to bribery, and the Israelis' desire for a highly placed source at the hotel widely known as a "meeting place for Middle Eastern arms brokers and their European contacts." Thomas raises the unanswerable question as to whether or not the Mossad pressure on Paul and the latter's disintegrating mental and emotional state played a role in the tragedy and accompanying fatalities. The author outlines the concern that:

Some of Maurice's [Mossad katsa in Paris] colleagues have increasingly felt that the attempt to entrap Henri Paul was additional proof that Mossad has lurched a little further out of control, carrying out reckless international operations without taking into account the potential long-term consequences for itself, for Israel, for peace in the Middle East, and, ultimately, for the relationship with the Jewish state's oldest and closest ally, the United States of America. Several officers claimed that since Benyamin Netanyahu became prime minister in 1996, matters have worsened.

Secondly, Thomas chronicles the most daring pre-Jonathan Pollard Mossad operation launched against the United States after the inception of the Jewish state in 1948--the purloining of 100 pounds of fissionable material from an Apollo, Pennsylvania based nuclear material processing company, for employment at Dimona in the Negev Desert. The silver-domed, thinly disguised nuclear plant had been publicly proclaimed by Ben-Gurion as a "pumping station" to turn the desert into an "agricultural paradise by desalinating a billion cubic gallons of seawater annually." In reality, as was well known within both Israel and the United States, the Dimona operation was from the beginning an attempt at the acquisition of nuclear weaponry for the Jewish state. This recognition reached into the White House itself, where Thomas informs the reader that in February of 1961, President John Kennedy wrote to Ben-Gurion suggesting that Dimona should be regularly inspected by the International Atomic Energy Agency. What followed would be a primer for Mossad penetration of the United States and the compromise of the latter's national security interests and secrets. Ben-Gurion would recruit Abraham Feinberg, a Zionist supporter of Israel's nuclear aspirations and not coincidentally, the leading Jewish fund-raiser for the Democratic Party in America and an important financial backer of the Dimona project. As Thomas puts it:

Feinberg's method was straightforward political pressure--the kind that had already infuriated Kennedy when he was running for office. Then, Feinberg had bluntly told him: "We are willing to pay your bills if you will let us have control of your Middle East policy." Kennedy had promised to "give Israel every possible break." Feinberg had agreed to provide an initial campaign contribution of five hundred thousand dollars--"with more to come." Now he used the same direct approach: if President Kennedy continued to insist on an inspection of Dimona, he should "not count on Jewish financial support in the next political election." . . . The president did at the last minute grant two concessions. In return for access to Dimona, the United States would sell Israel Hawk surface-to-air missiles, then the most advanced defensive weapon in the world. And the inspection need not be carried out by the International Atomic Energy Agency, but by an American-only team--that would have to schedule its visit weeks in advance.

Thirdly, Thomas underscores in chapter 10 of Gideon's Spies, the incredible story of the Mossad recruitment and subsequent alleged physical elimination of Robert Maxwell, the British media magnate of the Mirror Newspaper Group. As the sordid tale emerges, Maxwell is shown to have purchased the Newspaper Group with money lent to him by Mossad. After the acquisition of the papers, Maxwell began a sophisticated embezzlement scheme aimed at the pension fund of his own employees, to finance Mossad operations throughout the European theater. Thomas also outlines the role of Maxwell in the world-wide promotion of Promis, a computer program designed to increase the world-wide computer surveillance capabilities of police and intelligence agencies worldwide. The relationship of the Institute to one of its leading media moguls in the world would sour, however, with the developing financial problems of the Maxwell empire, his envelopment in signs of increasing mental and emotional instability, and the derivative concerns of Mossad that Maxwell had evolved from asset to a potentially dangerous liability and embarrassment. On October 29, 1991, Maxwell received orders from Israeli intelligence in Madrid to come to Spain, fly to Gibraltar, and board his yacht, the Lady Ghislaine, for a subsequent sailing to the Canary Islands. Thomas tells the reader what happened next:

In what it claimed was a "world exclusive," headlined "How and Why Robert Maxwell Was Murdered," Britain's Business Age magazine subsequently claimed that a two-man hit team crossed in a dinghy during the night from a motor yacht that had shadowed the Lady Ghislaine. Boarding the yacht, they found Maxwell on the afterdeck. The men overpowered him before he could call for help. Then, "one assassin injected a bubble of air into Maxwell's neck via his jugular vein. It took just a few moments for Maxwell to die." . . . More certain, on the night of November 4-5, Mossad's problems with Maxwell were laid to rest in the cold swell of the Atlantic. . . . On November 10, 1991, Maxwell's funeral took place on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, the resting place for the nation's most revered heroes. It had all the trappings of a state occasion, attended by the country's government and opposition leaders. No fewer than six serving and former heads of the Israeli intelligence community listened as Prime Minister Shamir eulogized: "He has done more for Israel than can today be said."

Thomas's book has only one glaring weakness-its obvious omission of any investigation or reference to the rumors of strong intelligence connections between the Mossad and some of American Protestant Evangelicalism's leading lights, who have served to evangelize their faithful in the gospel of incessant support for the modern State of Israel. Has Mossad influenced or purchased some of America's leading television evangelists, authors, and pastors? Does American Evangelicalism have its own versions of an owned-and-handled Robert Maxwell, putting a well-financed and desired pro-Israel political spin into the print pages and electronic media outlets of the mainstream political and religious right at the behest of a foreign intelligence agency? Thomas would have provided a public service to the Christian public specifically and the American people generally had he explored this long suspected link, complete with names and documented money and paper trails. A sequel is definitely in order. Reading Gideon's Spies is an enlightening and fascinating experience. For the post-World War II American conservative movement, and for the religious right long influenced by the teachings of the school of prophetic interpretation known as dispensational premillennialism, the work serves as a warning--of the dangers of an uncritical support of the American and Israeli political, military, and intelligence establishment's agenda worldwide, and the dangers of equating support for the modern State of Israel and its "this-world" methodology with the Kingdom of God and the latter's eternality, transcendence, holiness, and ethics.


(Mark Dankof (med1chd2@concentric.net) is a correspondent and staff writer with Global News Net and an occasional correspondent with the orthodox Lutheran weekly, Christian News.  A graduate of Valparaiso University and Chicago's Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, he has pursued post-graduate theological study in recent years at Philadelphia's Westminster Theological Seminary. Formerly the 36th District Chairman of the Republican Party in King County/Seattle, and later an elected delegate to Texas State Republican Conventions in 1994 and 1996, he entered the United States Senate race in Delaware in 2000 as the nominated candidate of the Constitution Party against Democratic candidate Thomas Carper and incumbent William Roth.  His writings are frequently reposted in the Iranian Times, Sam Ghandchi's Iranscope, San Francisco and Palestine Indy Media, the London Morning Paper, Nile Media, and Table Talk, the official publication of the Lutheran Ministerium and Synod--USA.)


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