Friday, March 04, 2011

Spies and Lies, 60 years later

A cold dose of Israelity came a decade after the wedding day for ten Israeli Arab women who were told about their husbands' deceit by government officials.
Mistaarvim and Mrs? Ten odd couples are revealed in a fascinating piece running in Ynet's magazine. Shin Bet orchestrated double lives for their agents, with a plausible cover story for "young vigorous men" to find spouses in Arab communities inside Israel, from Jaffa. Read about the fallout six decades later:

"Your husband is not who you think he is. He is not Arab. Your husband is a Jew who was sent into your village on a mission by the defense establishment." This was the news a few Israeli Arab women received from the head of the Mossad Intelligence Service
mission in France in 1964. This was how they discovered that the fathers of their children were serving in a top secret Israeli unit sent to spy in their villages.

Ten Jewish men assimilated into Arab communities in the early 1950s, marrying local women and starting families with them, all the while serving in the Shin Bet as "mistaarvim," (literally, masqueraders) - undercover agents posing as Palestinians.

The goal of the unit, which was established in 1952, was to have men on the inside in case a war breaks out, and the Israeli Arabs join the enemy. Shumel Moriah, a senior Shin Bet officer who came to Israel from Iraq, and had plenty of experience smuggling Jews into Israel, led the unit. He recruited 10 other Iraqi-born men for the complex mission.

The unit was disbanded over a decade after its establishment, which was when the wives were informed of the deception. Most of them converted and lived in Israel as Jews. Their children were recognized as Jews without undergoing an official conversion procedure.

The training process took one year; the men learned the Palestinian dialect, studied the Koran and espionage techniques in an Intelligence Corps base near Ramla. With a new identity and a detailed cover story, they were sent into Palestinian villages and cities. They pretended to be refugees from the 1948 war returning home. Their real families in Israel were kept in the dark about their whereabouts and activities; they were forbidden from trying to discover where their loved ones served.

Hat tip to Gideon for this link. The full story is here.,7340,L-4031176,00.html

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