Thursday September 3, 2015
Israel Hayom
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Yaakov Ahimeir

Mossad doesn't owe the media explanations

The affair surrounding suspected Mossad agent Ben Zygier, as it has appeared in the foreign media, and the obsessive media frenzy in Israel, has yielded a lot of insight into how to potentially prevent future Mossad-linked mishaps. These insights have been kindly provided by news commentators, who don't always know exactly how the Mossad operates, as well they shouldn't.

The commentators' insight included one piece of advice that would likely do more damage than good should the Mossad ever find itself under such close scrutiny again in the future: To appoint a spokesperson. Well, I have some advice of my own, and I direct this at Mossad chief Tamir Pardo: Don't heed the commentators' suggestion and appoint a spokesman. It is a bad suggestion.

There are apparently journalists who dream of calling up the (imaginary, as of yet) Mossad spokesperson, should one be appointed. What do they expect? Perhaps they expect to be provided with press releases from the Mossad saying something like: "Yesterday, our forces managed to track down a nuclear scientist in Tehran. Now we are debating how to prevent him from continuing his essential efforts to expedite nuclear enrichment at the underground Fordo plant." Or, on another day, that same spokesperson could just inform the public that "a senior Mossad agent met with the head of the Saudi intelligence agency, with which we are in extremely close contact, at a villa near Riyadh."

Indeed, these examples are entirely preposterous, just like the suggestion to appoint a spokesperson. A spokesperson could easily fall into a media trap and create huge problems — problems that a spokesperson wouldn't be able to fix.

There were also commentators who said that as taxpayers, the public has a right to know the precise nature of the last Mossad snafu, if indeed there was one. The reasoning: Our taxes pay for the existence of the agency. What can I say? Iron clad logic in the age of transparency. We could even expand the transparency further and by the same logic provide taxpayers with reports on how many fighter jets in the Israel Air Force are operational and how many are not. After all, the jets also belong to the taxpayers.

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