Flirting is fair game when it comes to national security. ‘A man who wants to gain access to a forbidden area has less chance of being allowed in… A smiling woman has a bigger chance of success’
In an unprecedented move, five high-ranking serving Israeli agents have been allowed to give on-the-record interviews to a media outlet.
The agents, who use pseudonyms, told the Hebrew-language women’s magazine, Lady Globes, that while flirting is encouraged on behalf of Israel’s national security, sexual intercourse is not.
One of the agents, named “Yael”, told the magazine that “a man who wants to gain access to some forbidden place or closed location has less chance of being allowed in. A smiling, flirtatious woman has a greater chance of success.”
Another agent, “Efrat”, added: “Using our femininity is a valid tool. But we draw the line at having sex. Even if sleeping with Iranian President Ahmadinejad’s chief of staff, would advance the mission, our commanders in the Mossad would not allow us to do so.”
Famously, in the 1980s, a female Mossad agent called “Cindy” entrapped Israeli nuclear traitor Mordechai Vanunu, who sold what are believed to be the secrets of Israel’s nuclear arsenal to the London Sunday Times. Posing as an American tourist, “Cindy” lured Vanunu from his safe house in London to accompany her on a romantic weekend in Italy, where Vanunu was then ferried away by other Mossad agents and taken by ship to Israel to face trial.
Before being captured, Vanunu also granted interviews to the (London) Daily Mirror, and it has long been rumored that the late British-Czech businessman Robert Maxwell, who at the time owned the Daily Mirror, tipped the Mossad off as to Vanunu’s whereabouts. Maxwell also assisted Israel in 1947-48 when as a young Czech Jew he helped to secure airplanes in Czechoslovakia for what would become the Israeli Air force. After drowning in what is presumed to have been a boating accident, Maxwell was buried with full state honors on the Mount of Olives, with both the Israeli prime minister and leader of the opposition in attendance.
“WHEN THEY’RE GOOD, THEY’RE VERY GOOD”
In their interview last week, the female agents also described a life that imposes extreme strain on the families (many have husbands and young children at home). They described a life of sleepless nights and intrigue, as well as putting their lives on the line in several cases.
However, they were severely limited by their Mossad handlers on what they could tell the magazine. Several have been involved in some of the Mossad’s most daring and successful operations, the existence of many of which have never been made public.
In extremely rare public comments to the magazine, the director of the Mossad, Tamir Pardo, praised what he called the agents “exceptional work.”
He commented: “In many cases, you see that women’s abilities are superior to men in terms of understanding the territory, reading situations, spatial awareness. When they’re good, they’re very good.”
Mossad's 'Honey Trap' Use Is Kosher, Rabbi says
Rabbi Ari Shvat, an expert on Jewish law and modern politics, says Israeli women can sleep with the enemy in the interests of national security.
The scholar has found that it is not a breach of Jewish law for a woman to seduce terrorists and other dangerous enemies in order to gain vital intelligence to save lives.
The scholar's views on "Illicit Sex for the Sake of National Security" were published in Tehumin, the annual journal of the Zomet Institute in the West Bank, which researches the application of Jewish law to such modern-day issues as technology, medicine, politics and security.
Orthodox Judaism generally frowns on premarital sex, but it is not explicitly forbidden. However, Jewish law says there are technical problems if a female agent is married.
Shvat says it is preferable for a woman setting a honey trap to be single. If she is married, he suggests a technical solution: getting a quickie divorce from her husband before each mission and then re-marrying afterward. Otherwise, she is guilty of adultery, no matter how vital the asset.
He suggests obtaining a paper divorce that can be used for each mission to avoid the embarrassment -- and possible security leak -- of repeatedly returning to the rabbinical court.
Shvat takes as a precedent the case of Queen Esther, who married the Persian King Ahasuerus -- believed to be another name for Xerxes -- and saved the Jewish people from genocide. He also cites the story of Yael, a married woman mentioned in the Book of Judges, who seduces the enemy general Sisera and then drives a tent peg through his head in order to save her people.
Shvat says orthodox Jewish law has much to say about "initiating and making use of illicit sex in isolated and extreme cases when it is clear that this is the fastest and most efficient solution to acquire vital information or to prevent an act that endangers national security."
The Mossad's most famous honey trap was sprung by a seductive agent named Cheryl Bentov, who posed as an American named "Cindy" to lured atom spy Mordechai Vanunu from London to Rome in 1986.
Shvat is not the first rabbi to consider spy seduction. Ancient Jewish sages argued in the Talmud more than 1,000 years ago that it was praiseworthy to have sex with a non-Jew in the pursuit of vital national interests. "Our sages of blessed memory elevate such acts of dedication to the top of the pyramid of commandments in Jewish law," Shvat says.