What Was the Mossad Director Thinking?

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Mossad chief David Barnea, President Isaac Herzog, and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett at a ceremony, in Jerusalem, last week.
Mossad chief David Barnea, President Isaac Herzog, and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett at a ceremony, in Jerusalem, last week.Credit: Haim Zach / GPO

Here is what Mossad director David Barnea said: “Iran will never have nuclear weapons – not in the coming years, and not ever. This is my pledge; this is the Mossad’s pledge.”

I couldn’t believe my ears. I wanted to see it with my own eyes. A video of this official event shows the president lighting Hanukkah candles, the prime minister spouting historical nonsense and the Mossad director spouting clichés. But the sentence quoted above – nothing. It’s disappeared. 

Presumably it was left on the cutting room floor in the hopes it would be forgotten. Nevertheless, there’s no doubt the Mossad chief said what he did, and his comments deserve to be discussed.

First, the Mossad director needs to grasp a painful truth – he doesn’t decide anything. Not whether Iran will have nuclear weapons, and not whether Iran won’t have nuclear weapons. Because what can you do, the Mossad director only belongs to the servant class, not the decision-making class. And like all service providers (including secret services), the Mossad director is authorized to do only what he’s told to do.

Here’s an incident from the past that proves the point. Some decades ago, the heads of the secret services were ordered to assist the (evil) secret services of Iran’s then-ruler by providing equipment and training. And of course, they obeyed.

And that’s what will happen in the future as well. If any Mossad director, including the current one, is again asked to help an Iranian tyrant (perhaps because of his support for the settlements or something like that), he too will obey. After all, that’s the essence of his job – obedience. Perhaps not blind obedience, but definitely squinting obedience.

Moving on, the Mossad director also declared that his pledge was “forever.” That’s a bit presumptuous, isn’t it? Especially coming from someone whose term will end in another five and a half years at most. 

His lifespan – to everyone’s great regret, of course – also isn’t eternal. In just another 55 years, he’ll turn 120. And that, as everyone knows, is the upper limit God set for human longevity, according to Jewish tradition.

But it’s still permissible to hope that the world will go on for a few years after that. Therefore, the Mossad director’s “personal pledge” that Iran will never have a nuclear bomb is about as coherent and impressive as a personal pledge by his Iranian counterpart that Israel will never have a nuclear bomb.

Moreover, the Mossad is undoubtedly an efficient assassination enterprise, and assassinations are very good for the ego, morale and the enthusiastic media. But they don’t produce any real benefits. The Mossad also has a successful “dirty tricks” department that knows how to plant viruses in electric razors, disrupt the timetables of cable cars and even cause centrifuges to spin out of control. This department, too, is good at tactical annoyances but fails to produce any strategic benefits.

By contrast, the Mossad and its ilk around the world have been consistent failures for many years at anything connected to actual intelligence and strategic analysis. As proof, consider the collapse of the Soviet bloc, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Yom Kippur War, the first intifada, the Iraq war, the attack on the Twin Towers, the war in Afghanistan and more and more and more resounding, embarrassing strategic failures that have escaped my gaze. But the top-secret operations are all really terrific.

Therefore, the Mossad director should try to enhance the functioning of his modesty gland and practice lowering his nose in front of a mirror. That might help him later on. 

In his defense, I will say one thing only. His remarks were so arrogant, conceited, aggressive and inflated that together they create a frighteningly accurate reflection of Israel in 2021 – arrogant, conceited, aggressive and inflated. And for that, he has my thanks.

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