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Ben Zygier: the silence surrounding Prisoner X

When Melbourne man Ben Zygier, an alleged agent of Mossad, or perhaps a double agent, died in December 2010, his end was barely perceptible. He had been held anonymously in solitary confinement at a high-security…

Melbourne man Ben Zygier died in a top security Israeli jail cell. Numerous questions remain about his arrest, detention and death. AAP/Julian Smith

When Melbourne man Ben Zygier, an alleged agent of Mossad, or perhaps a double agent, died in December 2010, his end was barely perceptible.

He had been held anonymously in solitary confinement at a high-security prison in Israel. A notice of his death appeared on the Internet, and then promptly disappeared. His name was not made known at the time.

It had to be secured by Australian investigative journalists. Australian authorities were informed of the death, and the unfortunate man’s body was returned to his family in Australia, but leaving behind his wife and children in Israel.

Ben Zygier (also known as Ben Alon, Ben Allen and Benjamin Burroughs) was supposed to have disappeared quietly, and neither Australia nor Israel seemed in a hurry to shine any light on the incident.

Ben Zygier had been locked in the high-security Ayalon prison for ten of the eleven months after the much-publicised death of a senior Hamas figure, Mahmoud Al-Mabhouh, in Dubai on 19 January 2010. The timing is most important, as Zygier was reportedly taken into custody a month later.

Hamas members at a memorial for slain senior military commander Mahmoud al-Mabhouh. It is suspected that his assassination was carried out by Mossad agents. AAP/Ali Ali

Al-Mabhouh’s assassination had been organised for Israel by 26 agents of its external intelligence agency, Mossad. The majority of these had travelled on UK or other cloned European passports. Four had fake Australian passports. Their cover was blown by Dubai authorities, who relatively quickly amassed a great deal of evidence, including CCTV footage of the agents following Al-Mabhouh to his hotel room.

In the maelstrom of press coverage that followed Dubai’s revelations, the third-party countries whose passports had been counterfeited raised very vocal protests against Israel for the unconscionable use of false passports to perpetrate covert action.

Australia’s then Foreign Minister Stephen Smith, generally a taciturn politician, was in important ways quite blunt and certain in his views on the situation, emphatically stating that “no government can tolerate the abuse of its passports, especially by a foreign government”. A member of the Israeli Embassy in Canberra (presumably the resident Mossad agent) was expelled. And then silence.

The use of counterfeit passports dominated the airwaves. In the year before the Al-Mabhouh killing, there had been other Australian press investigations going on regarding the use of our passports, but at that time the focus was on dual citizens and a technically legitimate use of the passports (through name changes).

Zygier was caught in that particular net, but protested vehemently that he had nothing to do with a covert role. The question is, where did the leads that allowed our journalists to pursue the story come from? They came from our own “intelligence sources”.

What all of this suggests is that our agencies (both news and, presumably, security) had been working hard on the use of passports by dual citizens. This may have extended to breaking the cover of one such user, Zygier. Normally, such an action will not result in the measures taken against “Prisoner X”, as Zygier became known, after being detained by Shin Bet (Israel’s internal security agency). An agent whose cover has been blown becomes all but useless to the agency they work for, and, if they have been working deep in cover in hostile areas, potentially endanger themselves.

Incarceration in Ayalon Prison was not to protect Zygier, and, as it has been pointed out by authoritative commentators, the way in which he was dealt with by Israel was really quite unusual.

But equally so, one could argue, was the “hands off” approach adopted by Australian authorities in a case where an Australian citizen had been deprived of his identity, held in a maximum-security prison, investigated and tried in camera, but whose wife had known where he was, brought in an Israeli lawyer seasoned in the human rights area, and, it would seem, have urgently pressed for something to be done concerning her husband’s plight.

Ben Zygier may well have been “turned” by Australian intelligence after his involvement in procuring passports for Mossad agents. ABC/Foreign Correspondent

Did she also contact the Australian Embassy in attempting to exhaust each and every possible method of exerting pressure on the Israeli Government? Presumably that did happen, but there was a general silence about that.

In a recent Parliamentary Committee hearing, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade gave an entirely plausible explanation as to Zygier’s case and why it had not appeared on its radar: the files were being investigated by our intelligence agencies, and, presumably, not by DFAT itself. But would Zygier’s wife not have tried to deal with the Australian authorities here regarding her husband’s desperate situation? There is general silence on that question too.

We know from what the Israeli government has said that opening up this case could cause considerable embarrassment, but it did not say for whom specifically: Israel itself, or Australia.

We have also heard the conjecture that one of the reasons why Zygier found himself in such a situation was that perhaps he could no longer bear the crisis of conscience of having his morality challenged by what he was instructed to do, or alternatively what he saw done, by Mossad, and therefore blew a whistle.

These aside, there is, of course, another potential explanation, and that is that Zygier had been a double-agent, but a very well concealed one until, presumably, his name became known to journalists, and, by extension, to the general public. If this was the case, who might his other “masters” have been?

The Zygier case has been remarkable in that, even with the scant information that has emerged since the story broke, it has provided tantalising insights into intelligence agencies both here and in Israel. However, and as so often happens, clandestine agencies, and governments, have a habit of relying on deep and stubborn silence to obliterate the sensations that emerge in such cases. If it does here, we can only conclude that the Israeli and Australian governments would prefer to have the matter buried with Zygier. The reasons why remain intriguing.

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68 Comments sorted by

  1. Gavin Moodie
    Gavin Moodie is a Friend of The Conversation.

    Adjunct professor at RMIT University

    You should also ask how Zygier could have committed suicide as Israel claims in a cell it built as suicide proof.

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    1. Bruce Tabor

      Research Scientist at CSIRO

      In reply to Gavin Moodie

      I think this is a very important question. Shouldn't the press report that Zygier is "claimed to have committed suicide", or even, "died under suspicious circumstances". There is substantial evidence of the collusion of Israeli institutions & authorities - including the courts - in covering up and denying Zygier due process. Surely it's inappropriate, without compelling evidence, to take their word on his ultimate fate. "We were too incompetent to construct and properly monitor a 'suicide proof' cell", just doesn't wash.

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    2. Leo Kerr

      Consultant

      In reply to Gavin Moodie

      lets face it - he was executed and the order must have come from the person who has tried so vigorously to make this all invisible - Benjamin Netanyahu - something is very smelly in the state of Denmark

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    3. Ahmad Abu-tukit

      Plumber

      In reply to Leo Kerr

      No shadow of doubt - you can see Netanyahu's own fingerprints on Zygier's neck under the gravestone...

      Get real people - The comments here show a lot of wild imagination

      Unfortunately we have not learned much from the learned article either, which is nothing but a jumbled list of unrelated facts and media speculations.

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    4. In reply to Leo Kerr

      Comment removed by moderator.

  2. Trevor McGrath

    uneducated twit

    The farce of dual citizenship. As far as I am concerned it should not be allowed. Apart from that as a citizen of the other country named, Mr X appears to have been employed by one of the most respected and efficient military and security services in the world. If you cross them or stuff up it is well known that they ”take no prisoners”. No sympathy here I’m afraid. If he did contact the Australian security services and the others found out, the question is, who is the mole within our service. Cheers

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    1. Marilyn Shepherd

      pensioner

      In reply to Trevor McGrath

      WEll how nice of you. His nationality is not the point here. The point is secret prison without charge or trial and then death.

      It would make no difference who he was, he did not deserve to be treated this way and I would guess you are part of the Howard gestapo youth who seem to think anything goes.

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    2. William Grey

      Philosopher

      In reply to Trevor McGrath

      Zygier's incarceration and death certainly reinforce Mossad's reputation as ruthless enforcers -- not that that should ever have been in doubt. Zygier almost certainly talked to someone he should not have (possibly ASIO, though it's unlikely we'll ever know), and given the timing very likely in connection with the Al-Mabhouh assassination. An upside is that Mossad will now have trouble recruiting Australian passport-holders, thought that isn't likely to seriously inconvenience them. If they want an Australian passport they will no doubt print one out.

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    3. Trevor McGrath

      uneducated twit

      In reply to Marilyn Shepherd

      Nice of you to say so . It is my point that his nationality has very much to do with it.... This is what they do to their own. If you are carrying the passport of the spy agency that you are working for, others such as yourself have no right the claim Australian protection for him... he is a traitor to Australia and live by the sword, die by the sword. Ps Soft and cuddly does not maintain the peace. And you don’t really want to know which party I belong too. It really might surprise you. Just because you belong to a party does not mean that you agree with all aspects of the platform. I’ll take the ‘Turnbull defence’… I’ll tell you what the party line is, but don’t ask me what my personal opinion is. People (including international spies) must take responsibility for the stuff that they get up to, such a job entails the risk of being killed, even by your own side. Cheers

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    4. Peter Redshaw

      Retired

      In reply to Trevor McGrath

      Trevor, who knows there may have been a mole in our intelligence agency, but I would suggest that Mossad/Israel's attitudes of paranoia, distrust and fear, would be more likely the reason. Countries like Israel with intelligence agencies like Mossad are just as likely to be spying on their own as they are their perceived enemies. And I would suggest that their sense of paranoid and distrust would also including keeping a close watch on countries that include their so called friends, including…

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    5. Lynne Newington
      Lynne Newington is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Researcher

      In reply to Peter Redshaw

      In relation to your first paragraph Peter, Israel has been living in a constant state of emergency for decades, mistaken by many as a State of paranoia by those not interested in historical facts.

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  3. Tony Simons
    Tony Simons is a Friend of The Conversation.

    Dodgy Director

    Bob Carr needs to ask "was Zygier tortured and was he murdered"? And have the Rudd/Gillard governments been accessories after the fact in the aftermath of the assassination of Al-Mabhouh and the coverup? Carr needs to disclose all the facts relating to this murky and illegal activity. And Zygier's and others with multiple identities must be urgently scrutinised. Mossad operates just like a criminal and terrorist organisation and Gillard/Carr must apply maximum pressure to get the full truth. But like their weak and hypocritical stand on the Palestinian state I don't have much expectation.

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    1. Tony Grant

      Student

      In reply to Tony Simons

      Get real!

      The big hairy chest thing, you are delusional mate!

      Wait for Abbott, hes' got the hairy chest but not the "ticker" for the job!

      How many killed in Iraq and Afghanistan?

      How about war crimes...didn't think so! BS!

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  4. Tony Grant

    Student

    Because you can obtain an Australian passport (immigration) or born to Jewish academics doesn't automatically make you a ordinary Aussie?

    Is this family of post English/French et al intervention into Palestine late 1940's (formation of the state of Israel) Or European Jews... Palestinian Jews?

    We have shown "no sympathy" for Australians (passports) that have ventured overseas and got caught up in "difficult situations"like David Hicks...under the Howard government!

    The media want to play…

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    1. Stephen Ralph

      carer

      In reply to Tony Grant

      I'm not a great fan of Israel, among other things , to me there is the decade in, decade out replaying of the holocaust and / or persecution to elicit Western sympathy and to justify their often hypocritical approach to other countries and international diplomacy.

      I don't think there is ever a time when there is not a program on tv about Hitler or the hunting down of nazi war criminals. I mean fair suck of the sav...............

      I dont know if this saga of Ben Zygier is to create a hero out…

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  5. lavinia kay moore

    child and family counsellor

    This is a decidely murkey affair. And those who have attempted to hide the truth of its occurence have good reasons (from their own points of view) to keep it hidden.
    Once again the real question is about how succeeding Australian governments have neglected to protect their own citizens when they get up the nose of powerful so-called friends.
    There should be an independent enquiry, not by DEFAT because they are possibly up to their necks in this, but by someone with the same kind of status as those leading Royal commissions.
    Hoping, not dreaming.

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  6. Christopher Seymour

    Business owner

    If someone works for another country's secret service, should they not surrender their Australian citizenship?
    I think too, from the unthinking safety and security of Australia, we should respect the position of Israel, surrounded by 19 larger and more populous hostile.countries, many of which would ruthlessly destroy Israel if they had the chance.
    Another aspect of this affair is the surprising silence of his family.

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    1. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to Christopher Seymour

      And bloody silent the family should be too - and they should be elsewhere.

      Australians don't get themselves entangled with overseas intelligence operations aimed at murder. No different to being a mercenary - even if you are committed to the cause. And that is actually illegal here.

      A quiet chat and we send all these folks home I reckon.

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    2. Lynne Newington
      Lynne Newington is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Researcher

      In reply to Christopher Seymour

      Up there for thinking Chris, up there for thinking.
      Paragraph two is spot on.
      I know you would enjoy Lionhearts Heroes of Israel. It was published to celebrate the 50th state of Israel anniversary.
      It gives a good example of the patriotism of the young men and women, at the cost of the lives of many, whether it was in intelligance or armed forces.
      Remember Entebbe?
      Prime Minister Netanyahu lost his brother in that daring mission to resue Jewish hostages at the mercy of Idi Amin.
      He went in as every mother's son.

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    3. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to Lynne Newington

      Incidentally, there's been a few mentions here about the pattern of ruthlessness in Mossad's operations. Not exactly.

      All such operations - where international laws are to be broken - under Israeli law, must be specifically authorised personally and formally by the Israeli Prime Minister.

      Not "Mossad's ruthlessness" at all really is it?

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    4. Lynne Newington
      Lynne Newington is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Researcher

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Peter in matters of national security, and I'm not referring to the case in hand, it is normal for a prime minister to listen to his trusted "cabinet" and decisions are never made by just one.
      Golda Meir during her time is a good example.

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    5. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to Lynne Newington

      No argument at all Lynne - but the point is that both the operation against Hamas and the subsequent arrest and imprisonment of "prisoner X" came not from Mossad but from the very top. Mossad is on a very short leash and the hand on that leash in Netanyahu's and the Israeli cabinet's security committee.
      Don't expect any serious investigation. From anyone, including us.

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  7. Jack Arnold

    Director

    Another Australian citizen abandoned overseas by the DFAT bureaucrats and politicians. Even the Greens are silent on this one. David Hicks, Julian Assange, Ben Zygier ... and how many more in the future?

    It appears that Australian politicians & their Ambassadors are too prepared to kowtow to foreign governments having a track record of denying human rights rather than stand up for our citizens.

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    1. Stephen Ralph

      carer

      In reply to Jack Arnold

      Hi Jack

      the guy had at least four names, and was allegedly a Mossad agent.........something doesn't add up.

      If it smells like a rat.............

      He was voluntarily up to some clandestine stuff in Israel - dont make this guy a hero.

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    2. Jack Arnold

      Director

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      Hi Stephen ... I am not making Zygier out to be a hero. Rather I am bemoaning the cultural cringe that infests this land and the Canberra bureaucrats who sit up in comfortable air-conditioned offices avoiding the critical issues of protecting the interests of Australian citizens abroad.

      There is adequate evidence to show that Israel is a Zionist state ignoring the human rights of the Palestinians with impunity and the conventions government at will for their own reasons in all matters. Here Zygier, an Australian citizen, was placed in indefinite secret detention without trial ... and the Australian government says "Oh, we knew about that; it is OK".

      Sounds like the Abbott refugee policy of detention without trial at Camp Morrison on Manus Island or Camp Abbott on Nauru.

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    3. Trevor McGrath

      uneducated twit

      In reply to Jack Arnold

      Just a little analogy here. If one of your colleges started working clandestinely for the competition and started passing on sensitive company information about your firm; I can see how all would be forgiven when you found out and the other mod had finished with him after getting all the information that they wanted.

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    4. Marilyn Shepherd

      pensioner

      In reply to Stephen Ralph

      Who said anything about being a hero? He was a human being just like you with the same rights as you.

      Why is it that oiks claim defending human rights for everyone is an attempt to endow hero status on them?

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  8. Geoffrey Payne

    retired

    Ladies and Gentlemen, please wait for the Television Documentary, incessant speculation about a non event is beyond me. It seems every one is an Australian expert, let the spooks kill each other, that is perfectly fine, it IS in their job description. I suppose it fills up the news for the moronic main stream media.

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  9. Peter Hindrup

    consultant

    Why is it that people can hold dual passports? Isn't it time that --- in thiis case --- Israeli/Jewish people made up their minds as to whether thay are Israeli or Australian citizens?

    Why give anybody the comfort of, as in the case of Israelis, they stuff up the neighbourhood, knowing that when it finally explodes they can scammper off to Australia, or wherever esle they have a passport for, leaving the rightful owners to try and clean up the mess?

    The question in this instance is why Australia handed out passports in four (sequential) different names. Surely the automatic response would be that this person is (was) misusing his Australian passport?

    Some are bemoaning the lack of the Australian governments response, I wonder why they didn't simply cancel the man's passport.

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    1. Marilyn Shepherd

      pensioner

      In reply to Peter Hindrup

      His passport is not the issue. Why do you stupid little people bring it down to simplistic slogans like passports.

      The man died in a covert prison without charges or trial and it was covered up for over two years.

      That is the issue.

      Jesus wept, can you get past childish hate and nonsense?

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    2. Peter Hindrup

      consultant

      In reply to Marilyn Shepherd

      Marilyn:
      Often I agree with you, but not on this. The four passports are the issue. That he was apparently working for Mossad, or at least facilitating them in their affairs is fairly obvious from the multiple name changes, and getting passports in those names.

      I have less than no sympathy for anybody involving themselves in the criminal enterprises of any secret service, and care very little about how they die, just so long as they die.

      You can include anybody involved in the use of drones in that category as well.

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  10. Whyn Carnie

    Retired Engineer

    My first reacton to this affair is there are no leaders in parliament. Whether elected under duress or not, we don’t elect them to be leaders. They are self styled leaders but don't know how to lead. We elect them to be our representatives in the particular parliament they stand for. None of them are asked to prove leadership qualities or experience when they go for party preselection.

    They are supposed to be followers, if anything. Followers of the wishes of their electorate, not dictators…

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  11. Stephen Prowse

    Research Advisor at Wound CRC

    Surely this is a matter of principle. Any government that is committed to justice and human rights should not hold people in secret, indefinite detention without trial. Despite the threat to its existence, Israel deserves no sympathy in this matter as shown in its treatment of many Palestinians. Australia is not far behind (Hicks, Haneef, Habib, Rau and many refugees), keeping people in detention to achieve political advantage. Hicks was held in detention until he became a political liability for a Government facing a tight election, Habib was involved in who knows what and Rau got caught up in the wave of Government promoted xenophobic sentiment, all for political advantage. So much for justice and human rights.

    If Zygier committed a crime, why was he not tried and punished? Instead he was imprisoned and maybe murdered.

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    1. Marilyn Shepherd

      pensioner

      In reply to Stephen Prowse

      We here hold tens of thousands of people in secret prisons that our worthless pollies don't visit and our media ignore.

      They are simply people who have asked us for help.

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  12. Cheryl Howard

    writer

    Felix Patrikeeff,
    I take it that when you end this article with 'the reasons why remain intriguing' that you are using the word 'intriguing' in the sense of some secret plan to do something illicit or detrimental to someone, and not merely arousing interest or curiosity. It is hoped that this matter will not slide imperceptibly into the backgound as interest wanes. It is clearly a matter of importance for democracy. The power of the state has to have constraints put upon it. And hard won human rights have to be protected. And the point about the latter is that it does not matter who they were are or what they were doing the basic human rights remain the same.

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  13. Graham Houghton

    Archaeologist, Writer

    My first reaction to this was that Zygier needed a new cover for reassignment to other tasks elsewhere. Nothing like hiding right out in the open. And by leaking just the right amount of information at the right time you send everyone down the wrong path in a frenzy of blame, news headlines and the inevitable hand wringing. Now, whether it was the Israelis, or the Aussies that put this together is another question. My feeling is they're in cahoots with Israel taking the lead. Why don't we have a look under the gravestone to see exactly who, or what is there.

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    1. Sean Lamb

      Science Denier

      In reply to Graham Houghton

      Yes, that was my feeling as well.

      In the end, who cares? The family don't seem to want to have more information and we will never be able to distinguish between the various breathless nudge-nudge wink-wink versions that are leaked by people who claim to be in the know.
      The first version of Prisoner X was he was a high ranking Iranian general - breathlessly leaked by sources in the intelligence community. Since we insist that the Intelligence community doesn't have to be open to scrutiny, then we should treat any of their little dramas with the indifference these self-absorbed clowns deserve.

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    2. Catherine Shirley

      Educator

      In reply to Graham Houghton

      Well said Graham Houghton! However, it does not reduce the culpability of religious zealots brain-washing their children to taken on a fight in a foreign land.

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  14. Lynne Newington
    Lynne Newington is a Friend of The Conversation.

    Researcher

    Reading the comments and the speculations, it like a dog chasing it's tail.
    For a Jew, to have been even rumoured in the world of espionage a traitor is a shame.
    Henry Benjamin Editor of J/Wire has written an article making a valid point.
    The Ben Zygier case....

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  15. Pat Moore

    gardener

    Thanks for Silverstein link md. But a subsequent event that pricked my ears was the newly appointed Attorney General Mark Dreyfus, head of ASIO, and Jewish himself, over ruling & quashing Bob Carr's call for an enquiry.

    Just what is the nature of this Labor government's Israeli/US Zionist policy? What is Bruce Wolpe's role in the Gillard government's Israeli/US relationship? Is it policy that ASIO/DFAT issue Australian passports and false identities or is it not? New Zealand has taken a clear moral stand against this Anglo identity annexation for Israel's purposes in the Middle East. Why can't we? Compromised?

    Some people bring up the story of Australia abandoning its citizens. Don't think it's quite that simple in the Jewish case.

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    1. mark delmege

      self employed

      In reply to Pat Moore

      I have no desire to get into a Jewish/Israeli bashing exercise here but PM Gillard has made a point of appearing before Zionist establishments when she has made major speeches. I have often wondered why and can't think of any good reason. It certainly hasn't stopped the establishment from attacking her or the ALP.

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  16. Peter Dawson

    Gap Decade

    After reading most of what has been put out about Ben Zygier in the last few weeks, this recent article seemed to ring true to me:

    http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/ben-zygier-was-no-traitor-he-was-betrayed.premium-1.504672

    Paywalls aside, part of the article I can pass on is this:

    "According to foreign sources, after he was told to change his name in his home country multiple times, an entirely foreseeable problem arose. Zygier's activities raised suspicions in Australia and its security…

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    1. Mia Masters

      pensioner

      In reply to Peter Dawson

      The passport and multiple identities is a small element in this story. The already posted link http://www.richardsilverstein.com/ gives some insight. I do not believe for a minute that the multiple identity is an issue. The problem is that his identity and link (dual citizenship, AU passport, Dubai assassination) came to light. From there it is relatively easy to consider the implications of the story, as Silverstein writes:
      "During his spy service, Zygier plays a key role in setting up a Mossad…

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    2. Peter Hindrup

      consultant

      In reply to Mia Masters

      One point from the Judges report:
      ' The judge says she cannot determine whether the bruises on his body were caused before or after death. This is but one important question to answer. What caused the bruises? An instrument? Another person?'

      Somebody with medical training may pick me up on this, but I am as certain as I can be that it is not possible to bruise a dead body.

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    3. Peter Dawson

      Gap Decade

      In reply to Mia Masters

      Yes Mia, there are lots of loose ends still worth chasing up. And I think the Iranians would now be the ones most interested in looking into the activities of his italian company! Israel was still hoping to keep his identity secret a few weeks ago, so it must still be of some significance.

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  17. Catherine Shirley

    Educator

    Appalling scenario for any person to be detained, ignored by the protection of the law of so-called democratic countries, then die alone in such circumstances.
    However, I do question Zygier's upbringing in all of this. Why was he driven to take on the fight of the Jewish state when born and raised in a peaceful country such as Australia? What, or who, persuaded him to take on the fight of a foreign country? Was he simply brain-washed from childhood?
    My heart goes out to his wife and small children, but wonder whether his parents will ever regret their decisions?

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    1. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to Catherine Shirley

      There's something dreadfully biblical in all this ... sacrificing one's son on orders from on high...

      Here's what Netanyahu had to say:

      "Without citing any specific case, Netanyahu told his cabinet he “absolutely trusts” Israel’s security services and what he described as the independent legal monitoring system under which they operated.

      “We are an exemplary democracy…but we are also more threatened, more challenged, and therefore we have to ensure the proper operation of our security branches,” he said in remarks aired by Israeli broadcasters.

      “Therefore I ask over everyone: Let the security services continue working quietly so that we can continue to live in safety and tranquility in the State of Israel.”

      And this bloke believed him. So did his mum and dad. I wonder if they still believe it.

      Safety and tranquility. Straight from the Book of Orwell.

      [the quote's from: http://forward.com/articles/171388/benjamin-netanyahu-pleads-for-mossad-quiet-amid-is/?p=all]

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    2. Peter Hindrup

      consultant

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Peter: thanks for the link. It is one I didn’t have.

      To pick up on a point:

      “We are an exemplary democracy…but we are also more threatened, more challenged, and therefore we have to ensure the proper operation of our security branches,” he said in remarks aired by Israeli broadcasters. “Therefore I ask over everyone: Let the security services continue working quietly so that we can continue to live in safety and tranquillity in the State of Israel.”

      While the reasons that Israel is ‘more…

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  18. Whyn Carnie

    Retired Engineer

    Pontificating on the way the jews run their country is not helpful.
    They are proud and arrogant and nothing we say or do will divert them from their attemps at reasserting Judaism in the middle east.
    What we Australians could pursue is how our Government aided and abetted in this shabby affair. We don't have to be like them. Come on Julia, try hard on this one, it may get you back a few votes.

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  19. Willy Bach

    Post Grad UQ School of History

    Sorry to say that Felix Patrikeeff has not really added much to the existing body of knowledge, a lesson for any academic wanting to get a scoop article out in the heat of the moment. I agree with other comments that point to the blog of Richard Silverstein, who is much closer to the issue and the Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, which sometimes dares to criticise their government.

    There are many questions that arise from the Ben Zygier affair, especially ones that the Gillard government should answer…

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    1. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to Willy Bach

      Agree with all of that Willy - except for the last sentence.

      Once an Australian citizen starts to serve the interests of a foreign country I reckon they give away whatever protection was afforded them by their birthrights and the luck of being born here..

      Prisoner X believed in the Zionist cause. He trusted Netanyahu's reassurances about the "exemplary democracy". Now he's dead. A human sacrifice for democracy apparently. Bad choice. Moreover, by providing fake Australian identities for Mossad, he endangered any Australians travelling in those parts. He didn't give a toss.

      But like that idiot Hicks, wandering off and getting into other folks' wars he puts his fate in their hands. I think we should have no sympathy for mercenaries - whether they are volunteers or on the payroll.

      Sure we should jump up and down and try and rescue them - even better expose the treatment and injustice they receive - but don't mourn them. They are not ours to mourn.

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  20. Yoron Hamber

    Thinking

    Reading the article I don't know a thing more after than before? Was he a Israeli agent? Why was he then imprisoned by them? Don't think that will make other agents feeling more secure, will it? And yeah, looks quite healthy on the photo, doesn't he? Just to die in solitary after some months?

    Could be just a coincidence naturally, but I sincerely doubt it.

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  21. Dan Benn

    Wood hewer

    In the midst of all this, lies a very personal story. I suggest we don't forget it. How a family managed to bring their son home to Melbourne, bury him and mourn for him THREE YEARS AGO and no one in the Jewish community picking up on it, strikes me as most extraordinary. Lots of food for thought. I picked up this which reflects what I was thinking. http://ori-golan.blogspot.com.au/

    D.B.

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  22. Ahmad Abu-tukit

    Plumber

    Now of course, an interesting question is, if the exact same story was to occur to a Chinese Australian dying in a Chinese cell or a Lebanese Australian dying in a Hezbollah camp or an Australian Tamil dying in a Sri Lankan jail will it have gotten this kind of publicity and interest? Will we have gotten these kinds of xenophobic comments? Or is anything to do with Israel a special case and is always news-worthy?

    My suspicion is that we would be unlikely to know about it - and even if we did, not many in Australia would care - racial standards still hold for that matter (we non-Whites are still worth less).

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    1. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to Ahmad Abu-tukit

      To be honest Ahmad I'm not particularly concerned by the fate of this foreign agent. Lots of people get killed in that neck of the woods - he knew that - he participated in it. He might have been surprised that it was his own country that did it to him - Israel.

      What concerns me more directly is that this bloke was able to get four Australian identities and four separate Australian passports which - because of their very security and technical wizardry - are regarded internationally as A…

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    2. Willy Bach

      Post Grad UQ School of History

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Peter, there is much in what you say here that I agree with. I would, however, see Ben Zygier as an Australian while he kept his citizenship, whilst he was an Israeli as well. He just should not have worked for Mossad while carrying an Australian passport.

      I emphatically agree that it should not have been possible for him to obtain more than one Australian passport, let alone four. Whatever were officers at DFAT thinking? Were they being instructed to perform this illegal action by ASIO? What…

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  23. Pat Moore

    gardener

    Dan Benn ..."most extraordinary" it is not. That link & backlink you gave are propaganda, so bad it was funny as in Ron Ben-Yishai's "...a passionate Zionist (who) could not bear the guilt and committed suicide. He did not betray the country, he simply could not live up to his own expectations and those of his family and his surroundings. The burden became too heavy for his tormented soul." Fairy story....RBY must have been in that suicide proof cell with BZ then talking over his options & examining…

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  24. Felix Patrikeeff

    Associate Professor, International Politics at University of Adelaide

    Willy Bach, I refrained from entering the discussion until now, but need to correct a few of the details in your comments, as well as ones that are echoed in some of the other contributions here:

    1. As far as I know, Zygier did not hold a number of valid Australian passports simultaneously. Australian citizens are allowed to apply for a new passport within a year of their performing a *registered* name-change. If that was the case, what he did was to *legally* change his name, and then applied…

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    1. Willy Bach

      Post Grad UQ School of History

      In reply to Felix Patrikeeff

      Felix, thanks for the corrections. I am sure there is as you say much to know about this affair and not very much has been confirmed. Stepping around the evidence is a bit difficult, however, we do have more details of the Dubai assassination affair and I repeat my comment that Mossad is an organisation that holds Australian citizenship and the safety of Australians in hostile contempt.

      1, You say, Zygier did not hold a number of valid Australian passports simultaneously. Bob Carr did not clarify…

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    2. Whyn Carnie

      Retired Engineer

      In reply to Willy Bach

      At least Willy Bach has got the real issue in focus. Let's no forget that someone was incarcerated, died and was buried by family under great collusion and secrecy by TWO Governments. No good making excuses for whatever the Jews did. We don't really care.
      Some of us do care that the Australian government was complicit in it all and has not come clean or even gives he impression that it cares at all.
      Politicians! Bah, and a pox on them all. Pity some of them can't be disappeared like Ben Alon or whatever his name was,

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