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:
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:
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:
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:
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:
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.
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