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Iranian Israeli Spies On Israel For Iran

Usually, it's American Jews who have double loyalties that occasionally bleed over into out-and-out espionage on Israel's behalf. But Ha'aretz reports that an Israeli citizen has been arrested for funneling sensitive defense information to his birth nation, Iran, through the … Read More

By / May 27, 2008

Usually, it's American Jews who have double loyalties that occasionally bleed over into out-and-out espionage on Israel's behalf. But Ha'aretz reports that an Israeli citizen has been arrested for funneling sensitive defense information to his birth nation, Iran, through the Iranian consulate in Istanbul.

Thus far, there are no details about the man's motives, so let's try to make due with wild speculation. Is it possible that a Persian Jew could have enough nationalistic feeling for his ancestral homeland to betray Israel to the Islamic Republic? Or was he simply a mercenary? The latter explanation, though comforting and prima facie intuitive, raises as many questions as it answers. For example, if the spook was just cashing in, there are plenty of countries that would have paid well for Israeli secrets. Conversely, if the Iranians were just looking for someone to hand over Israeli intelligence, they could have recruited anyone with the right access.

So perhaps there's an enormous shoe left to drop — a network of Israelis (the man is an expat, so likely had accomplices inside the country) selling secrets on the international market, say, or else a concerted and successful effort by Iran to recruit Israeli turncoats. Otherwise, the likely explanation is that an Israeli Jew is committed enough to Iran to betray the Jewish state to a regime whose official ideology consists in part in antisemitism. Go figure.

Either way, the good news is that Israeli and American Jewish irredentists who might have been nursing a grudge against Moshe Katsav for shaking hands with Muhammad Khatami now have something real to be angry about. On the other hand, there are over one hundred thousand Persian Israelis, many of whom still have relatives in Iran and travel to Turkey to make contact with their families, and they might now be subject to greater scrutiny and restrictions on their travel.

Let us know what you think: Is there any precedent for Israelis maintaining double-loyalties, let alone with avowed enemies of Israel? Is there likely to be more where this came from?

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