Opinion

Ventilators by Cloak-and-dagger

Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy
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Head of the Mossad Yossi Cohen,July 1, 2019
Head of the Mossad Yossi Cohen,July 1, 2019Credit: Moti Milrod
Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy

The Mossad is the new Red Cross. Tuesday’s episode of the investigative journalism series “Uvda,” on Mossad operations to bring medical equipment to Israel, was maddening and embarrassing. Leaving aside the fact that this saccharine, loathsome public service announcement has nothing to do with journalism, does its host, the covert operations groupie Ilana Dayan, have any idea how many of the stories of heroism she’s been told by the superspies are actually true? Based on what?

What kind of journalism is it when the super-investigative reporter already knows, and states: “When this battle ends, the Mossad agents will be on the correct side of the commission of inquiry. They did their part.” The coincidental – of course coincidental – meeting in an alley with Mossad Chief Yossi Cohen, in his designer sunglasses and designer bag, is not journalism. Neither are starry-eyed gazes and hymns of praise.

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Haaretz Weekly Ep. 72

But the message sent by “Uvda” is much more important than any TV review. The Mossad agents boasted about stealing medical equipment ordered by other countries. As Dayan chuckled, ”H.,” the head of Mossad’s technology division, said with a wink: “We stole, but only a little.” The senior spy, who admitted that until a few days ago he didn’t know what a ventilator was, who says “me and him went” and thinks jarred baby food is given by injection, explained: “We don’t steal in that manner ... to put a hand on supplies that someone else ordered.”

How do they “put a hand”? By what methods? Threats? Guns? Robbery? Like with the Boats of Cherbourg, only more criminal? That, of course, H. wasn’t asked. Why spoil the party, and this of course we’ll never know. Only the outcome: “The citizens of Israel will have no shortage. In the world in general there will be a great shortage. People are dying because of a lack of equipment. In Israel people won’t go without.”

The whole world can die, as long as Israel has what it needs. Forget the boasting, that’s the defense establishment’s middle name. We can even ignore the question of why we have to show it off during an ongoing crisis. The Mossad probably doesn’t know how many ventilators it will manage to “put its hands on,” after the commander of its war room pledged that there will be no shortage. H. certainly doesn’t know how many ventilators will be needed. Nobody knows. Maybe there will be a shortage, maybe not, without any connection to the men of “silence.”

What is new is the agency’s pride in its actions. Not only do they not hide them, now they take pride in them. They steal, and even before they finish stealing they run to tell the tale. Shouldn’t they at least finish first?

Above all: What does “putting a hand” on supplies that another country has ordered really mean? When the Mossad steals, other people will die of asphyxiation.

In circumstances of shortages and distress, can any one of us go into an intensive care unit, disconnect a patient from a ventilator and attach it to our nearest and dearest? Is that legitimate? That’s just what the Mossad is doing right now, and proud of it.

We can assume the Mossad is working wonders in its efforts to obtain essential equipment for Israel, and we should be grateful to it for this. Any one of us might need it. Of course we can justify the insane chase of any country after equipment, but at what price? Unchecked? Unashamed? What will the people of that country think about Israel having robbed it of the ventilators that were meant for them?

Germany is bringing in seriously ill people from Italy, and Israel is stealing equipment that other countries have ordered, giving new meaning to the expression “light unto the nations” receives: Germany is much more of a light unto the nations than Israel is.”

Once again, we deserve more. Once again, we are a special case. Once again, the Holocaust. Once again, the world can’t tell us what to do. Once again, no one can preach to us. Once again, to us anything is permitted. Even when it comes to the coronavirus.

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