Israel deemed ‘impossible to destroy’
With Americans trying to quell Iran’s nuclear ambitions, a former Israeli diplomat on Saturday told a Kimball Junction crowd that the Islamic nation is a "deadly threat" to the Jewish state but exuded confidence by saying that Israel will not be destroyed.
Efraim Halevy, the former director of the Mossad, Israel’s intelligence agency, appeared at the Spotted Frog Bookstore at Redstone Saturday night on a book tour for his "Man in the Shadows: Inside the Middle East Crisis with a Man Who Led the Mossad." He recounted his days as the chief of the Mossad and spoke about current affairs like Iran, the Iraqi war and Israeli-Palestinian relations.
Halevy said that the global community must join to stop Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.
"Iran is a serious threat to Israel," Halevy said.
But, without providing details, he said the Jewish state would not succumb to its enemies.
"It’s impossible to destroy Israel," he said, adding, "Israel’s existence is not in question."
Halevy, meanwhile, sees another country in the region, Saudi Arabia, as a potential threat in the future. He said Saudi Arabia is unstable and that the government could be overthrown for the worse, describing the situation there as, "instability even resulting in regime change there."
Organizers reported 135 people at the Spotted Frog for Halevy’s remarks. The bookstore was jammed with people listening to Halevy, who left the Mossad in 1995 after his identity was publicized.
He told stories of his days in the Mossad, like when the agency tried to kill a prominent Hamas member but failed and six agents were caught in Jordan, and discussed the faith members of intelligence agencies have in their leaders.
The crowd was attentive and people at the bookstore asked detailed questions after Halevy’s prepared remarks.
He provided a survey of Middle East conflicts, discussed the U.S. role in the region and described history as being wrought with displaced peoples moving into land where others had already settled.
In an interview afterward, Temple Har Shalom Rabbi Joshua Aaronson agreed with Halevy’s assessment of Saudi Arabia, calling it the "most problematic" Arab country and saying that there is "great disdain for Saudi Arabia."
The rabbi was impressed with Halevy’s background.
"I would say his intuition in these matters is far more reasonable and bankable than anyone else’s," Aaronson said.
Halevy discussed Israeli-Palestinian relations, saying that the Jewish emigration to the Holy Land with the belief of a right to the biblical land of Israel is unprecedented in history.
He said a "mutual recognition of rights" is necessary before the Israelis and Palestinians can make significant progress.
"Once there’s mutual acceptance of this, all the rest is technicalities," Halevy said, admitting that such respect has not yet occurred.
Halevy said the U.S. will defeat the insurgents in Iraq unless Congress pulls the American troops too quickly, a scenario that he does not want to occur.
"If that happens, God help us or God help you," he said.
He said the American forces have accomplished much in Iraq and he said the casualty toll is surprisingly low.
"For a war of this scope, the number of casualties is amazingly small," Halevy said.
He described intelligence work as being accomplished by small groups, contrasting the spies to the battalions, brigades and divisions that the military mobilizes. Intelligence officers, he said, see themselves as being pivotal and he admitted that writing his memoirs was perhaps a "touch of arrogance."
When he led the Mossad, Halevy used to tell his agents about the importance of their role.
"I am no longer head of the Mossad," he said he would tell them "You are the heads of the Mossad."
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