Tuesday, February 23, 2010

BBC: 1 in 10 Jews work with spy agency assassins

Last week, BBC Radio 4 broadcast an interview in which it was stated that between 500,000 and one million Jews around the world are available to facilitate assassinations committed by the Israeli spy agency Mossad. This story has already been covered by a number of blogs (starting with Judeosphere). I had an opportunity to listen to the interview today and found that, although the BBC has claimed that this bizarre conspiracy theory came at the end of the broadcast and so could not be rebutted, the entire interview is a shocking series of absurd assertions concerning information the guest claims to have learned directly from anonymous Mossad agents.

The interviewee, an author named Gordon Thomas, starts by stating that the assassination of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh had "all the hallmarks of a Mossad operation". He then attempts to list these hallmarks, but names only one: that al-Mabhouh was killed in a hotel bedroom, and Mossad assassins are "trained in that very tactic". By this standard, any killing in a hotel bedroom could be blamed on the Mossad. The claim that this means the killing had "all the hallmarks" is quite a leap.

The interviewer then comes to Thomas' aid with a question about the fraudulent passports allegedly carried by the assassins, asking whether this was a sign of Mossad involvement. Thomas replies: "Oh, yes indeed!" But then, left again to his own devices, he veers off course. Objecting to the very idea of needing to provide evidence of Mossad involvement, he talks himself into the following maze:

I think it's futile to say, as Mossad does, "prove it!" That's a standard Mossad question (sic). I know from the time I've met with them. "Prove it!" That's what they say all the time!

When someone accused of a killing says "prove it", that is hardly extraordinary. To describe Mossad's asking for evidence as one of their standard devious tactics is sheer idiocy. Thomas seems to argue in favor of just knowing that Mossad is guilty without providing evidence, implying that a request for evidence indicates complicity.

At about the 3:50 mark of the interview, Thomas says the following of Mossad assassins:

Usually, as I said, they would like to carry out their mission killing somebody in the bedroom. That's easy for them because -- what they do -- they have a whole backup system called asayanim (sic) who are local residents -- Jewish, uh, people who will help the Mossad. And there's estimated to be in the world about half a million. Some people say (there's) a million; I tend to say it's about half a million, from what I've learned from the Mossad people.

Thomas argues incoherently that Mossad assassinates people in bedrooms because they have the support of 500,000 Jews to do so. The bigotry and shoddy thinking behind that statement are obvious. Even an interviewer or audience who might be receptive to an anti-Israel message might well ask for some further explanation of this absurd connection between bedroom murders and a global Jewish conspiracy.

Thomas was interviewed on this subject because he has written a book called Gideon's spies: the secret history of the Mossad . Much of that book relied on a single, not entirely reliable, source: Ari Ben Menashe. (Read here. An earlier book Thomas wrote about Robert Maxwell also relied extensively on Ben Menashe. Read here.) In turn, Ben Menashe provided a blurb for the Mossad book, calling it “(o)ne of the few books that have captured the true nature of the Israeli government and the...Israeli power elite.” Not surprising that he would think so considering that much of the book derives from him. Ben Menashe is probably best known for work he did in the employ of Zimbabwe's dictator Robert Mugabe. He was secretly paid by the Mugabe regime, reportedly to entrap Mugabe's political rival Morgan Tsvangirai for treason. He failed in this attempted set-up, although he did testify against Tsvangirai at trial. Ben Menashe was accused by the judge who heard Tsvangirai's case of falsely creating the impression that Tsvangirai attempted to hire Ben Menashe to assassinate Mugabe. (Read here.)

The other Mossad source credited by Thomas is the equally unreliable Victor Ostrovsky, author of purported exposés of the Mossad called By Way of Deception and The Other Side of Deception. (Read here and here.) According to the New York Times, Ostrosky's first book
claim(ed) that Yitzhak Hofi, the head of Mossad, personally participated in the murder of two minor Palestine Liberation Organization representatives in Athens in the mid-1970's. That the chief of Mossad would risk exposure of himself and Israeli intelligence by serving as a hit man strains credulity, as does much else in the book.
Of the second, it's been called by critics more a sex-drenched potboiler than real world exposé.

Were Ben Menashe or Victor Ostrovsky the source for Gordon Thomas' theory about 500,000 - 1,000,000 Jewish spies? Gordon Thomas doesn't say and his interviewer doesn't ask.

As others have already pointed out, the idea that 10% of the Jewish population are assisting Mossad in conducting assassinations should set off anyone's BS alarm, no matter how paranoid about Jews they may be, or how credulously they rely on dodgy sources. The larger the alleged conspiracy, the less likely the conspiracy theory is to be true.

Moreover, Thomas states that there is a connection between bedroom slayings and a massive Jewish support system, but doesn't state what that connection is. What on earth could he be thinking?

Most importantly, what is the BBC doing about this? Do they intend to correct the record, or will they stand by the claim that 1 in 10 Jews are available to assist Mossad assassins? That sort of conspiracy theory is not the sort of thing a reliable news organization should promote.

By the way, if asked by the Mossad, I will not facilitate assassinations. They're just going to have to ask nine other Jews to find someone to help them.


ModernityBlog said...

very well put.

IO said...

Good point. However, when one considers the munich incidents and the fact that even non jewish intelligence agencies do use local population for help, it does seem likely. However, the number does seem highly inflated. I think its more around 50 000 a round the world. And most likely the main concentrations of people willing to assist would be found in cities were jews are more numerous i.e. London, NY, Montreal. But like I said that is not really different from how China and other nation states operate when seeking local support for their ops.

Adam Holland said...


Just wondering: how did you come up with the 50,000 figure? While your results are different from his, your methodology seems to have a lot in common with that of Gordon Thomas.

Anonymous said...

I've always understood that, from the time of the country's founding, it was Israel's policy never to use Jews in Diaspora for Mossad operations. Pollard's contact was not with Mossad; in fact, his activities were done without Mossad's knowledge.

Non-Israeli intelligence agencies (not non-Jewish, there's no such thing as a JEWISH intelligence agency) all use local personnel. It's standard practice for any intelligence agency to have handlers who recruit local agents. But recruitment has nothing to do with any shared ethnicity with the agency, so it is no argument in favor of the interviewee's "500,000 Jews" claim.

When listening to the video, I noticed that Gordon Thomas piled on facts (or what sounded like facts) that were not really relevant to the question.
For instance, he bandied about Hebrew or Hebrew-sounding terms and mentioned details like where Israelis were supposedly trained(Herzliya and the Negev). Although not at all relevant, points like these created the impression of expertise, and they filled air time.

Thomas also tried to imply expertise by mentioning his work "with Mossad" in preparing his book. I raised my eyebrows at that one! Why would Mossad ever cooperate with him?

I also noticed something interesting about Thomas's speech pattern: When his non-too-substantive answers ran out of steam, he started talking faster and then quickly changed the subject. This pattern gave the false impression that he had so much to say, he was trying to get it all in. His speeding up like that implied momentum, whereas it was really due to a lack of things to say on any one topic.

And there are the other points:

*Israelis are trained to kill in bedrooms? What other bedroom killings can he name? And don't other services train their staff to kill in bedrooms? That Israelis have...uh...killed in bedrooms before doesn't mean that every bedroom killing was done by Israelis.

*Israel sends funeral wreaths or puts obituaries in papers? This is totally off-the-wall. It sounds more like Mafiosi intimidation. Why would a professional intelligence agency engage in such juvenile acts? And why would they compromise their own advantage of surprise? Warn the enemy so he can improve his security in time? Not likely.

*Why would a well-funded agency like Mossad steal passports or use inappropriate photos? Why would it need to?

*I noticed how, when describing Mossad history, Thomas only referred to a few famous failures (the waiter in Oslo, for instance), as if they were representative of Mossad's record. As if every intelligence agency didn't have failures. This immediately shows his orientation.

*Getting back to the 500,000 claim: Why would a highly professional organization like Mossad use the services of eager-but-untrained and perhaps clueless operatives numbering in the hundreds of thousands? If you train your own agents so thoroughly, why put your operations at such risk. Even if it were just a matter of doing a drop or maintaining a safe house, this would be a tremendous risk. A pointless risk.

*This is an argument that I read elsewhere: How would half a million or a million people be able to keep their activities secret for six decades. With no leaks whatsoever? Considering this fact, one sees how the 500,000 claim is astoundingly stupid.

If I bothered listening to the tape again, I'm sure I could come up with other howlers. But I don't have the time, and I'm sure I've made my point already.

Sorry for the length of the post, but I couldn't resist. I'm really surprised that such a crank was given BBC exposure, and such polite, indulgent treatment.


Anonymous said...

I know I may be beating a dead horse here, but there is just one small point that I thought of after my submitting my last comment:

If there are 500,000 Diaspora Jews ready to serve Mossad at present, there may have been similar numbers going back decades.

That means that the secret would have been held by well over half a million people, since some Jews would have retired or died and been replaced by others. So, after 62 years, that would mean upwards of a million people around the world keeping that secret for over a half century. Uh huh.

That's it. I'm done here. I promise!


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