THE SPYMASTERS OF ISRAEL by Stewart Steven

THE SPYMASTERS OF ISRAEL

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A thoroughgoing factual account of the development of Israeli intelligence from a handful of competing pre-independence units to its present preeminence in Middle East spydom. Today's internal security and counterintelligence are off-limits; the book concentrates, rather, on Israeli intelligence operations overseas, military intelligence, and political intelligence. The greatest coup for Israel was the merger of Mossad with the Egyptian intelligence service during the Camp David accord, an event which ousted PLO senior intelligence officials (""creatures of the Egyptians"") from Egyptian intelligence and, in effect, emasculated the PLO more thoroughly than any previous disaster. Israeli intelligence had an uneasy genesis among European Zionist movements as they planned for post-independence wars with the Arabs. The new state's first successes--such as pirating a shipload of arms bound for Syria, transferring them to Israeli ships and then ""disappearing"" (sinking) the Syrian-chartered freighter without trace--seem almost nostalgically simplistic beside the furious triumphs and blunders which follow. Colonel Chaim Herzog, a senior intelligence officer with the British in World War II, became the chief of Military Intelligence, rid the service of its early cowboy image, turned it into a modern, sophisticated machine, and arranged for the exchange of intelligence secrets with the CIA as well as training in electronic gadgetry. Meanwhile, the Political Department of the Foreign Ministry (Shai) was formed with Boris Guriel as its high-spending intelligence honcho. Out of their rivalry, Mossad arose as a Central Institute for Intelligence and Special Missions (""ops""), soon to be shaped into a superior intelligence-gathering outfit by roly-poly Isser Harel. Among the stories told here are: Harrel's crushing of the Irgun as an armed force and the defusing of its splinter group, the Stern Gang; the kidnapping of Adolph Eichmann from Argentina; the diversion of Mirage III jet blueprints to Israel after de Gaulle canceled delivery of the plane; Mossad's activities against Black September; the invention of special guns and explosives; and much, much more. Detailed and involved, but always readable.

Pub Date: Jan. 7th, 1980
Publisher: Macmillan