In Tapes of Talks With Pearlman, Shin Bet and Its Target Both Use Cloak-and-dagger Tactics

Two days after the arrest of a right-wing Jewish extremist, Chaim Pearlman, dozens of hours of recordings of the suspect's meetings with an alleged Shin Bet agent known as Dada are being released by Pearlman's political allies.

Contrary to Pearlman's claims that the security service tried to recruit him as a source, the Shin Bet contacted him in recent months after receiving information that he was linked to murders of Palestinians.

Initially, meetings were held with Pearlman at a hotel. Pearlman thought the Shin Bet was trying to recruit him as a source so he would give them information for money.

In practice, he was a "target" the security service was trying to incriminate. As is the practice with the Shin Bet, the agents tried to pinpoint Pearlman's weak points; when they learned he was having financial problems, they offered him money for the meetings.

For the next stage, after Pearlman said he did not want to cooperate anymore, the Shin Bet came up with a new trick. An "agent" came into Pearlman's life. A fake advertisement was tailored to his needs and capabilities, and brought him in touch with Dada, a Shin Bet agent whose mission was to extract information from Pearlman about his past.

To do this, the agent used techniques approved by the prosecution. Pearlman told of incidents in his past like spray-painting graffiti. Dada expressed doubts and asked him repeatedly about serious actions he was involved in.

At a certain point Pearlman realized what was going on and began recording the conversations. The recordings reveal an unusual scene: Pearlman tries to encourage the agent to say incriminating things, while the agent tries the same ploy. The transcript of the conversations provides a glimpse into the relationship between the two.

For example, during a conversation between the two, while Dada had employed Pearlman as a dogcatcher, Pearlman tells of his difficulties in making a living because he cannot find a job as a teacher because of his criminal record.

Dada: "You cannot be employed by the Education Ministry. That is how bad your situation is? Why are they giving you so much trouble?

Pearlman: "While people were sitting on their couches watching TV, I walked for hours handing out leaflets and pasting them on walls."

D.: "These are stories for a 3-year-old, not for me. Surely they must be giving you trouble for something else. If you are fine with that, things are good for you, great."

P.: "I was a youth leader, organizing demonstrations. I organized demonstrations in front of a pork shop."

D.: "What did you get out of it?"

P.: "I tried to put this in leaflets so people wouldn't buy there."

Dada, however, is not satisfied with this confession of taking part in demonstrations. He makes a suggestion in an effort to expose Pearlman.

D.: "Isn't it easier to show up at night and throw in a firebomb, and then people will get the message? You throw a firebomb twice; insurance will no longer give them coverage."

Pearlman shakes him off.

P.: "You can't do it for long. Two or three times; they'll catch you and its all over."

D.: "You throw once, you throw twice, insurance will not cover them. No one will open [a shop] there again."

P.: "It's prison for a few years. I'm talking about activity of disseminating ideas. Activity for the long term, not a one-off. I'm talking to you about long-term things ... "

D.: "Let's do something, me and you. I don't know. Let's act."

P.: "Now my family is more important."

Pearlman then tells Dada about his educational activities, and Dada tries to encourage him to slip up.

D.: "It must be in tandem. Both small and large. I don't believe in only doing small things, but fine. But if you pay for something you know you enjoyed, don't be sorry about it. Every delay is for the good."

P.: "I believe that whatever I have done was right for that time."

D.: "If I could live my life, I would do everything all the time ... "

P.: "I would hand out leaflets for hours and write slogans, from the north to the south. An entire night, 15 spray cans. They used to arrest us all the time."

D.: "That's not serious ... "

P.: "I believe that slogan, I believe it, and I want it to get into people's heads."

At this stage Dada tries to present new ideas to Pearlman; he tests his willingness to take part in various activities. Dada uses this opportunity to raise the level of the conversation and talks about targeting Arabs. Pearlman fends him off once more.

D.: "Why not take those people, get down to a nice village and turn it into a fireworks display. That is something ... you go with the people you believe in."

P.: "The Shin Bet is everywhere. Every second or third person is linked [to the Shin Bet]. They take people in for warning talks all the time. They arrest them for nothing. They take people and frighten them. They frighten people, questioning, administrative detentions. They listen in on conversations."

D.: "No one told you to take a telephone with you ... writing slogans and things like that mean nothing."

P.: "It's changing people's opinions."

D.: "A person, until it affects him personally ... Look at public opinion, look at Gilad Shalit. Does public opinion matter at all in bringing him home? Until they do something extreme, something to set an example, just an example, trouble. Why haven't soldiers killed Ra'ad Salah, may he die?"

P.: "Do you think he will die on his own?"

D.: "No. Someone should take care of him, send him to the next world. I can carry it out."

P.: "Who is keeping you? Really?"

D.: "How many bodyguards does he have around him, a few here, a few there. There is someone behind him. If I had grown up where you have grown up, and that is how I lived, I would do it."

P.: "The question is whether it's worth getting in trouble?"

D.: "The question is why do you think you must get in trouble? How many things have you done that no one knows about, and no one got in trouble? Are there such things?"

P.: "Someone like you, if he did something like this, there is really little chance he would be caught."

D.: "I am not known, fine. But listen."

P.: "You don't look like me."

D.: "You too can shave your beard and look like me. They will suspect me less. I need to link up with a person, sit down and study. It's no big deal to hit him and get in trouble. The hard thing is to hit him and get away, bye-bye.

"Like the guy who did the youth club. And for this you need another person. Alone you can't do such a thing. You need someone to get you out. You need another pair of eyes, someone to tell you what's happening.

"I tell you that if I had grown up with you where you did, in your activities I would not be spraying graffiti ... I would use this time with these friends ... friends I believed in."