Ron Ben-Yishai

Many questions remain unanswered

Op-ed: 'Prisoner X' affair shows Mossad, PM's Office do not understand how media works in information revolution era

The details that have been released so far regarding the case of "Prisoner X," now known as Ben Zygier/Alon, appear to indicate a basic violation of human rights and proper legal proceedings on the part of the Prime Minister's Office.


However, when analyzing the affair, one must keep in mind that in certain cases related to the covert war Israel is conducting against terror elements and countries that threaten to annihilate it - it is justified to place a lengthy gag order on the incarceration of an individual. The High Court of Justice supported this policy, but it remains unclear whether the State of Israel's security was threatened in such a way that justified Zygier's arrest under a false identity and his placement in solitary confinement.


When the Australian ABC network broke the story on Tuesday, senior Israeli security officials were quick to convene the Israeli Editors Committee and take steps that were meant to minimize the damage. Actually, it is unclear if they took these measures to minimize the damage to their image or because Israel's interests were actually in jeopardy. In any case, it is obvious that the Mossad and officials in the Prime Minister's Office do not understand how the media works in the age of the information revolution. In the age of social networks and YouTube, Israel can no longer get away with things it could get away with in the 90s. You cannot shut the gate after the horses have already left the stable, and they can be seen from Australia to Israel.


Another aspect of the affair relates to the fact that Zygier was found dead in his prison cell after he committed suicide. Conspiracy theorists will claim that Zygier killed himself after being tortured or accused of something he did not do and found himself defenseless against a system that crushed him both physically and mentally. Others will claim that he committed suicide because he recognized the severity of his offences and could not bear the guilt. As long as we do not know the full details, both versions are valid. But Zygier has family in Israel – a wife and two little children. He also has parents in Australia, and they want to know the truth.


The Israeli public also has an interest in knowing whether Zygier was a criminal who compromised our vital security interests or whether the system trampled over a man who made aliyah from Australia with the best intentions in mind. These questions demand an answer, even in the midst of the justified covert war the security establishment is conducting. It should be remembered that Ben Zygier committed suicide in 2010. Mossad had enough time to minimize the damage.


The third aspect of the affair is diplomatic. It is unclear what the Australian government knew, but in any case the diplomatic damage will not be extensive due to the fact that Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr is an old friend of Israel's. Moreover, the Australian government understands that accidents occur in covert wars. Those responsible should be publicly reprimanded, and then we must move on. Let's hope this is how things will develop and that the Australian government knows more about the affair than we, the citizens of Israel, maybe ever will.



פרסום ראשון: 02.14.13, 09:45
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