Breaking The "Unwritten Rule" In Israeli Espionage

Dan Raviv is a National Correspondent for CBS News Radio and co-author of
Every Spy a Prince: The Complete History of Israel's Intelligence Community.
I've been covering Israel's espionage agencies for almost 20 years, and suddenly this morning there was a blast from the past – an arrest in what FBI personnel for years had called "the hunt for Agent X." American investigators refused to believe Israel's official contention that the Jonathan Pollard affair – running an agent with U.S. Naval Intelligence, who delivered thousands of secret documents to the Israelis – was an isolated incident.

The long memory and long arm of the law finally grabbed Ben-Ami Kadish, whose alleged crimes apparently took place before Pollard was arrested in November 1985. According to prosecutors, Kadish and Pollard were tasked by the same "handler" – a science attaché at Israel's Consulate-General in New York. That man vanished from the U.S. within hours of Pollard's arrest. Pollard eventually was sentenced to life in prison.

The diplomat's boss was Rafi Eitan, a legendary intelligence agent who took part in Israel's capture of Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann in Argentina in 1960. Eitan, a man who pushes the envelope in many ways, is now an Israeli cabinet minister.

Eitan, the ex-attache (named Yossi Yagur), and other Israelis who ran Pollard – and now allegedly also ran Kadish – have all stayed well away from America. They fear that they would be arrested if they set foot in the United States.

Even though Eitan's then-secret agency – the Science Liaison Bureau – which had a major focus on acquiring technology and equipment for Israel's unacknowledged nuclear weapons program – was disbanded after Pollard's arrest, it seems only logical that someone in Israeli intelligence is still doing similar things.

But in the U.S.? Only to the slightest degree, I would think – such as asking Israelis who do some work in the U.S. if they've seen anything "interesting" that perhaps they want to share with their government.

Would Israel again run an American Jew as an agent in America? Probably not. The Mossad has had a rule against that for half a century, knowing that it would likely lead to horrible conflicts of dual loyalty – and perhaps oppression of Jewish minorities in a certain country if they all came under suspicion of being "Israeli spies." The Mossad might use a British citizen to spy in India, or a U.S. citizen to spy in China. But not a U.S. citizen to spy in the U.S.

Eitan's Science Liaison Bureau didn't follow the unwritten rule. And now Kadish – a man in his early 80s who worked for the U.S. military but is alleged to have shown unforgivable disloyalty – will be a new example. Prosecuting him serves as a warning to others doing classified work in America's defense structure not to share secrets with any foreign country – not even with an ally such as Israel.

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    Dan Raviv is a correspondent for CBS Radio News based in Washington, host of CBS News Weekend Roundup, and co-author of "Spies Against Armageddon: Inside Israel's Secret Wars"