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Undercover spy exposed in NYC was one of many (apnews.com)
464 points by wglb 5 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 171 comments



I personally was approached by what I now believe was an undercover spy agent in San Francisco. I believe he might have been Israeli.

How we got there is a long story. But, the person (agent) came to a coffee shop that I frequented and made himself very visible talking audibly about certain areas that were my interest.

I'm a very outgoing person so after over-hearing him by the second or third encounter there, I approached him or he approached me by asking to share a table. Don't fully remember.

After several meetings, he tried to goad me into saying things which were utterly antisemitic and anti-Israel. So I started to suspect something was off and those days I had a very good memory and I started noticing some contradictory stories from meetings to meetings.

So suspecting something was wrong, I dropped all contact. Then he started calling me and asking me why I'm not coming to the coffee shop anymore and used other phone numbers that were not identified as his to try to call me.

After a while of ignoring him, he stopped calling. But, the whole experience was rather strange and made me realize how easy it is for the Israelis to run a spy network (or a soft spy network) in the open.

So when I see stories like these, I'm not only not surprised but I'm wondering why there are not more of these published on the press.

edit some related news:

1 - An Israeli spy firm was reportedly hired to dig up dirt on ex-Obama aides involved in the Iran deal

- https://www.vox.com/world/2018/5/7/17327278/ben-rhodes-black...

2 - UK campaign to smear Corbyn. Note, the source here might be a biased here as they're fighting what they perceived to be Israeli occupation

- https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/asa-winstanley/new-chal...

3 - Additional reporting on Israeli spying on American citizens

- https://www.thenation.com/article/how-israel-spies-on-us-cit...


Please reach out to the FBI counterintelligence unit at the San Francisco field office.

It sounds like nothing came of it, but screenshots of text messages, call logs, or other information you have may be of assistance in other investigations.


Why would you want to paint a target on your back?


Do you really believe the Mossad is going to assassinate (or otherwise seriously mess with) someone in the United States for reporting a funky, antisemitic conversation?


Obviously, no one said anything about "assassination" by Mossad. Your attempted use of reductio ad absurdum was in bad faith.

One would likely be more concerned with being accused of "anti-semitism" and having your name google-bombed by a Zionist smear campaign like Canary Mission. [0] Imagine having a potential client or employer finding your name on a list of "anti-semite Israel haters" for doing nothing more that suggesting Palestinians have human rights or that Israel engages in an aggressive espionage campaign against the United States?

[0] https://canarymission.org/


Can you give an example of someone who is on that list for nothing more than suggesting Palestinians have humans rights, or that Israel engages in espionage in the United States? I clicked on a few people at random and they were all there because they advocated killing jews.



[flagged]


I thought that it was pretty self evident that supporting BDS is different than "suggesting Palestinians have human rights or that Israel engages in an aggressive espionage campaign against the United States?", but apparently not everyone has caught on to the fact that words have meanings.


If they believe the person will carry out an attack, why not??


I believe the speculation is that they were on a fishing expedition to dig up political dirt / leverage, not perform some type of dangerous attack.


In theory a good suggestion, but Israel specifically gets a lot of free passes, especially from current US govt, so I wouldn't expect any benefit or positive outcome from this, just troubles for OP.

Now if it would be an Iranian spy for example, they would hunt him/them down with the full force.


>Israel specifically gets a lot of free passes, especially from current US govt

The US has been very aggressive against Israeli espionage [0,1,2] and the president doesn't exercise much control over counter-intelligence investigations.

[0]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jonathan_Pollard [1]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yosef_Amit [2]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ben-Ami_Kadish


0 and 2 were accused of passing along US classified information to Israel, not industrial espionage or on third parties.

1 was spying on Israel for the US and was arrested and convicted by Israel.


What if it's an Iranian spy who managed to convince the person he was an Israeli spy?


Israel uses the tactic of antisemitism quite often, even when you clearly criticize a government policy of Israel, not the people. So this is nothing out of the ordinary for them and I see no reason to blame Iran for everything Israel does that's unethical. In fact that's their tactic as well.


> Israel uses the tactic of antisemitism quite often, even when you clearly criticize a government policy of Israel, not the people.

China has been doing this too. Any time someone brings up Chinese civil rights abuses, there's always one or two people crying racism, even though the victims are (mostly) also Chinese.


The current US govt? More like, any US govt.


Having just finished reading Rise and Kill First on the history of Israel's targeted killings, getting your target to introduce themselves by talking loudly about their interests around them for several days is a tried-and-tested Mossad strategy. That way, the target will trust the agent more, as they think that they initiated the contact themselves.


It could definitely have been a "bump" (a manufactured 'accidental' introduction). If you work in a sensitive field, I'd definitely report it. If you hold a clearance, you should have already reported it.

I wouldn't spend much energy trying to second-guess who was ultimately behind the meeting. Especially if it is nefarious, often the initial contact is done with a cut-out or other intermediary and true affiliations are almost never disclosed initially (or perhaps ever).


I don't quite get why an Israeli spy would like to get you to say something anti-semitic/anti-Israel. Would he want to blackmail you then? Did he want to make sure you are supportive of Isreal, sort of reverse-psychologically?


It depends. It could've been grooming for recruitment or unwitting exploitation: either he was trying to prove he wasn't Israeli by dabbling in anti-semitism and/or collect Kompropat that could ratchet up leverage from one minor ask to gradually larger ones.

Several agencies of the US govt are known to deploy facial recognition monitoring of social media for known foreign agents and place calls to employers if their employees take selfies with them, in order to scare the employees that they're a) being watched and b) to make them more paranoid around unknown individuals. Even if it's a casual hang-out at a conference, the US government will nudge average people to make sure they don't associate with people on certain watch-lists if they work for a large corporation in a sensitive field.

PS: If you watch Thom Hartmann and TRNN, Mossad and the Israeli government actively sabotage BDS and nonviolent pro-Palestinian groups on American college campuses with a deep, well-coordinated campaign of dirty tricks and manipulation in order to cover up and confuse people about the Likud hard-liner apartheid state. They're well-funded and student activist groups are absolutely no match to their tactics, resourced and support from both Christian evangelicals and Likud.


I sense some anti-isreali sentiment among somewhat valid criticism right there.

The issue is complicated by Israel being a US-ally so technically it's not that much of an issue of Israeli "agents" talking to Americans.


That's partly why this is such an effective tactic for Israeli (government or private) intelligence. The presence, or mere accusation, of anti-Israeli government sentiment can be pretty easily spun into accusations of anti-Israeli and/or anti-Semitic beliefs. So it can kind of create a chilling effect on these discussions in general, like in this comment sub-thread. There are so many outlandish conspiracy theories out there about Israel and Jewish people that they can group you in with those types of people and paint you as a kook or bigot when there actually is some merit behind a theory.

There's always a middleground. Never forget that a country's government and intelligence services are not its people. Just as someone criticizing the NSA or CIA or Blackwater shouldn't be assumed to hate Americans, someone criticizing Mossad or Black Cube shouldn't be assumed to hate Israeli or Jewish people.


The difference between criticism of the Israeli government and Antisemitism is the simplification of the problem and putting the blame solely on the Israelis without making an effort.

"Apartheid state" doesn't make it better, either.


>The difference between criticism of the Israeli government and Antisemitism is the simplification of the problem and putting the blame solely on the Israelis without making an effort.

Actually antisemitism is being against Jews, and criticism of the israeli government is about particular political and military actions of a certain set of people and a certain state.

If one doesn't have a problem with e.g. Brooklyn jews, then they are not antisemites, no matter how much they disagree with Israel (which they might even believe has no right to exist).


If you can convincingly support how misguided "Apartheid state" is then yes, I would agree. Unfortunately Israeli policy does seem to support the definition.


Is it not essentially official state policy in Israel to label anyone criticizing the Israeli state as an antisemite? Hasn't this been one of their primary weapons against the boycotts?


What of the criticism is not valid, so it can only be explained by "anti-Israeli sentiment"? Is someone who is critical of some of the doings of the NSA or CIA "anti-American"? The issue is complicated by antisemitism being very real, just like there's people who hate America as such. But there is no need to jump to that, especially when you haven't even said what in your estimation makes the criticism only "somewhat" valid.


"Likud hard-liner apartheid state" is a pretty strong hint.


For anti-Israel sentiment? Leibovitz and others also dropped pretty strong hints, but you can hardly call them anti-Israel, and Desmond Tutu also urged people to recognize Israeli as being an apartheid state. When the shoe fits, it's time to stop buggering messengers.

http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.720653

> "In general, Israeli society is a healthy society, and the majority of it is sane and aims for a Jewish, democratic and liberal country," Ya'alon said. "But to my great sorrow, extremist and dangerous elements have taken over Israel and the Likud Party and are shaking the foundations and threatening to hurt its residents."

http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.720715

> Responding to the resignation of Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon earlier in the day, Barak said that it "should be a red light for all of us regarding what's going on in the government."

> "Life-sustaining Zionism and the seeds of fascism cannot live together," Barak told a Channel 10 interviewer.

> Ya'alon's resignation is "the end of a chain that began with the case of the soldier who shot [a wounded Palestinian assailant to death]," Barak said. "Such incidents give us an X-ray image that is opposed to the will of the people.

> "What has happened is a hostile takeover of the Israeli government by dangerous elements. And it's just the beginning."

> To illustrate his point, Barak referred to legislation promoted by members of the coalition, including the law to lift the parliamentary immunity of Knesset members who allegedly support terrorism and a bill to impose Israeli law on Israelis living in the West Bank.


Also https://www.reuters.com/article/us-israel-palestinians-repor...

>U.N. Under-Secretary General and ESCWA Executive Secretary Rima Khalaf said the report was the “first of its type” from a U.N. body that “clearly and frankly concludes that Israel is a racist state that has established an apartheid system that persecutes the Palestinian people”.

Article points out however, that the statement does not represent the position of the UN secretariat.


Considering that South Africa views many of the current Israeli government's actions as similar to what they had[1], I am not sure "apartheid" is such a wrong word to use here.

1 - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apartheid#Forced_removals


In my opinion it is one thing to compare Israels policies to Apartheid, it is another to equate and judge them.


The foreign agent might have had some suspicion that the target wasn't a fan of Israel or that he was sympathetic to the Palestinians so the agent played a hard-line approach in hoping that he would fall more towards anti-semite than just a person that disagrees with Israel's policies. When you can bond with someone over a passion for something, some technical topic and antisemitism in this case, the target might be more open to sharing more about themselves. They may see the agent not only as a colleague but a comrade. Now the agent has an in as a friend, they can hang out with the target more and share information that two colleagues who don't work at the same place might not necessarily share. Trade secrets, non-public business plans, classified information, and even just access to more people in the community the agent is trying to infiltrate. "Hey Jim, meet my new friend Ben. He's working with blahblahblah right now, I knew you were trying to get funding for some new blablahblah design at work so I figured maybe you two should bounce ideas off eachother". Sounds pretty innocent but maybe Jim is dumber than the first target so the agent gets even closer to the true goal. Maybe Jim has access to source code or production servers for some system the Israelis are trying to hack. Maybe Jim is into fringe activities and can be blackmailed or is careless with his work laptop while the agent is hanging out at Jim's house. Either way, the "cold call" meeting is probably just the beginning of a complex plan to get close to the real targets.


Massive discredit for any cause you push?


it's just a bit outside what I/we consider spies roles. This sounds more like the usual PR trick.


It's because it isn't the Israeli government/Israeli intelligence who's doing this (even if many or most of the operatives are ex-intelligence): it's people in private industry. It's plausible some aspects of the Israeli government also have a hand in this stuff, but I think it's explainable without that as well.

NSO Group, the firm mentioned in this and other articles, and firms like Black Cube (hired by Harvey Weinstein to spy on accusers) seem to be effectively running an intelligence-agency-as-a-service model. They'll deploy agents and compromise devices to discredit any potential witness, gather reconnaissance on potential stories that are being written, spread disinformation, influence policy, etc. All you have to do is give them money.

As for the motive: no idea. But this seems to be a popular tactic for discrediting people, especially recently after some people accused NSO Group of helping spy on Jamal Khashoggi (edit: and there's also at least one lawsuit). Tarring their accusers as anti-Semites is one way of dealing with bad PR. I don't know what the parent poster may have done or what their situation might be, but they or their employer may be in competition, or a feud, with some resourceful Israeli companies or individuals.


Something similar happened in 2016 in Romania, with the chief prosecutor of the national anti-corruption agency.


that's what I was trying to say, boldly discrediting people seems outside the spying field. I defined it as 'stealth information acquisition'. Not political con artistry.


s/some people accused/lawsuit was put against/g


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motives_for_spying

>Compromise [...] Coercion [...] Extortion


> Note, the source here might be a biased here

That’s putting it mildly: I’m entirely aware that there’s a concerted campaign in the UK to smear Corbyn by fabricating a story from out-of-context quotes and, despite not being a fan of Corbyn, I’m entirely on board with the idea that he’s being unjustly targeted and probably isn’t actually antisemitic. But so far there’s no evidence that Israel is behind this effort. A more likely explanation is that he’s a thorn in the side of the Tories and the conservative-leaning establishment media, and the campaign successfully undermined Labour’s (and specifically Corbyn’s) public support (which the polls clearly reflect: they’re losing out agains the most incompetent and least-liked UK government this generation has seen).

There’s no need for Israeli operatives to get involved, and considering the potential fallout if this got out, it would seem to be a risky undertaking. Much easier to publicly denounce Corbyn, as both Netanyahu and the Israeli ambassador to the UK have done (along with the Foreign Ministry, if I remember correctly).


One of the things that annoys me about this debate is that anti-semetic !== Anti Israel

I've no issue with the Jews (I don't actually know any) but specific things the Israeli government does sure I do.

Of course it's useful for people to conflate the two as they do with Corbyn or anyone who condemns Israel.

Frankly I've no dog in the fight, I think Israel and the Palestinian's are frequently in the wrong.

It's quite possible for there to be no 'good guy'.


The problem with criticism of Israel is that it tends to be disproportionate compared with their criticism of other countries. While some call to boycott Israel due to it's illegal settlements in the west bank - an area it invaded in 1967, few also call for boycotts of Turkey (invaded Cyprus in 1975), China (invaded Tibet in 1950), Russia (annexed Crimea in 2014 and parts of Georgia a few years earleir), UAE (occupied Socotra last year)


> few also call for boycotts of Turkey (invaded Cyprus in 1975), China (invaded Tibet in 1950), Russia (annexed Crimea in 2014 and parts of Georgia a few years earleir), UAE (occupied Socotra last year)

I think that this statement is false in almost every case. (I hadn't heard about UAE, so don't have any perspective there.)


"boycott x", number of google results

  x = israel -- 616k
  x = china -- 57k
  x = saudi -- 50k
  x = russia -- 28k
  x = turkey -- 15k
  x = america -- 15k
  x = iran -- 11k
  x = korea -- 11k
  x = uae -- 10k
  x = britain -- 6k
  x = sudan -- 4k
  x = venezuela -- 2k


Sure, and this may be regarded as good first-approximation evidence of your initial claim, that criticism of Israel is disproportionate to criticism of other countries; but I don't think it is good evidence of the claim that few people call for boycotts of China, Russia, and Turkey, which was the specific claim to which I was responding.

Anyway, as far as using Google results to measure societal trends goes, "boycott Microsoft" yields 3.83m results, and I don't think it's fair to conclude that criticism of Microsoft is disproportionate compared to that of all the countries you listed.


"boycott microsoft" is 11,200 [0]. apple 27k, google 20k, facebook 30k, twitter 15k, uber 13k.

Amazon is the only one that comes "close" - 98k -- 15% that of "boycott israel".

Boycotting Israel is an order of magnitude more than China, and 40 times that of Turkey, despite China doing far worse things over a constant period, and Russia and Turkey actually occupying developed countries

"Few" is obviously a relative term, and given that even China is less than 10% of Israel shows that Israel receives a disproportionate amount.

[0] http://imgur.com/s7wC8yTl.png


> the west bank - an area it invaded in 1967

Or more specifically: an area it occupied in 1967 during a defensive war against an attacking coalition of neighbour states.


Sure, it's not the first time Israel was attacked either.


>One of the things that annoys me about this debate is that anti-semetic !== Anti Israel

That's the point. People on the pro-Israel side of things know that being antisemitic is very much not acceptable for anyone in a position of power in the 1st world to be in this day any age so they try their hardest to conflate the two.

It's much more obvious when the conflation is much more of a stretch, e.g. "how dare you not support gun control, don't you care about children" or "how dare you not support corporate tax cuts, are you some sort of communist." Conflating Israel as a nation with all Jewish people is subtle enough that you can get away with it most of the time.

It's basically a reverse straw-man where you conflate your position with something that nobody can tear down in a sufficiently politically correct manner (like a race of people) or the opposing position with something so politically incorrect that nobody will stand behind it.

If you're looking for it you'll see this behavior a lot on HN though people are typically slightly more tactful about it.


It works in reverse too, where you can dog-whistle any anti-Semitic statements by saying that you were refering to "Israeli government" or "globalists" or "bankers", not Jews.


This is a significant point; it's definitely not a one-way thing.

At the simplest, there's genuine confusion over symbolism, like people mistaking the Magen David for the Israeli flag. A lot of other times, there's way less excuse; I think the infamous example here is (ex London Mayor) Ken Livingstone comparing a Jewish reporter to a concentration camp guard. His justification was that people are afraid to criticize Israel - despite having been speaking to a British reporter covering a domestic beat.

Honestly, I think that's part of what makes the conflation so enduring. If it stemmed from one side, people would get used to dismissing it as a partisan move. But depending on who you're appealing to and what you're justifying, it can be run from all different political starting points, so no one is putting it in political cartoons as "that thing the other guys do".


My experience is out and out anti-Semites aren't into making subtle distinctions.


Well, this is the widely accepted definition of anti-semitism [1]. As long as you don't do anything on the list you should be OK.

[1] https://www.holocaustremembrance.com/working-definition-anti...


Is "the jews" considered offensive? If someone were to say "the blacks" I would automatically suspect them of racist tendencies.


I can't edit the original comment because it triggered the flame war filters, but I'm curious why this is such a controversial question and garnered so many downvotes. I sincerely wanted to know what popular the consensus is.


You're right, when someone who isn't Jewish says "the Jews" it sounds weird and is followed by "control the banks" often enough that it sets me on edge.


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jews

ctrl+f "the Jews". I wouldn't make your opinion of what is "offensive" depend on an ad-hoc poll in times where even the most rudimentary looking into things for oneself seems to be getting rare. (or where people think clicking a button constitutes an argument, for that matter)

In this case, the comment also said "the Palestinians", and if you hear someone say "the blacks", as well as "the whites", yet you only retain the one and discard the other, that says more about the absurd climate than that person.


You're grammar rules here are inconsistent. The comment said "The Palestinians" not "the Muslims" because they were talking about Palestinians, people who live in Palestine. There are Muslims, Jews, Christians and agnostics living there. Israel's, people who live in Israel, include all varieties of religious groups. When you critique Israel's government policies but say "the Jews" you are incorrectly describing an entire religion when you claim to be talking about a group of people that live in Israel. Any "mistakes" with this logic are suspicious, but maybe they just skipped that part of the grammer?


> When you critique Israel's government policies but say "the Jews" you are incorrectly describing an entire religion when you claim to be talking about a group of people that live in Israel.

I totally agree, but they wondered if saying "the Jews" is offensive as such. It's not, as such.

When someone who cares a lot about the issue constantly mixes that up, that's very different from not getting it perfectly right on the first attempt because they're not familiar with the subject. And hey, even confusing Jews and Israel doesn't necessarily mean a person as an anti-semite, they could also belong to one of several schools of right-wing Israeli thought. But your point stands regardless.


Pretty much this, the only time I’ve interacted with Jewish people was my ex-partners family been Jewish (she wasn’t religious but her family where).

I didn’t feel the need to defend myself since a charitable reader wouldn’t assume malice and an uncharitable reader.. what would be the point.


No idea, the Jewish people, judaists insert whatever works for you.


I've noticed people can be offended when you refer to them by their adjectives. E.g. "blacks" instead of "black people", "autists" vs "autistic people".


One term encourages the idea that they're people first-and-foremost, with the adjective used to describe a particular subset of people.

The other removes the emphasis on them being people and is pretty depersonalizing.

As you can imagine, it's much worse when it's a historically marginalized group--as an example, fewer people will care if you say "blondes" vs. "blonde-haired people".


My understanding is that people object to this as it is a means of defining them rather than describing them. In fact, I know people who would be insulted with the use of "autistic people" as opposed to "people with autism"


I don’t deliberately go out my way to offend anyone but nor can I be responsible for offending someone looking to be offended, it’s a fine line.

Though this thread has been fascinating.


You can just say, "Jews." The article isn't necessary.


Yeah, but it's also perfectly fine to use it. Jews use it, Wikipedia uses it. The commenter also said "the Palestinians" in the very same comment in which they said "the Jews", making this whole subthread slightly silly. Not that dragging conversation into accusing others of "sentiments" they cannot disprove and one cannot prove them to have, before or even instead of dealing with the factual stuff that all parties can examine and elobarate on, is ever not silly.


What's offensive is that the OP (or generally people like him - not clear of his exact point) thinks he knows Jewish identity well enough that he can divorce it by whatever line he thinks it is (artificially) separate from Israel. Only a tiny minority of very unrepresentative Jews object to the modern state, and they do so only under an even more extreme ideology of what that country should be and who should live in it.


> a tiny minority of very unrepresentative Jews object to the modern state

[Citation Needed]

I think your comment is far more offensive than someone claiming they take issue with the actions of a nation state.


All denominations of Judaism aside from a few Haredi sects and maybe extreme secularists recognize the modern state of Israel as a legitimate country. Many adherents may not like how certain aspects of it are run, but they hold not anything remotely like what the totality of a position would entail to be "anti-Israel". The general acceptance of the country is about as common knowledge in Judaic studies as anything, and is uncontentious. I challenge you to find otherwise.


> denominations of Judaism

Which is mostly irrelevant, given the large and diverse groups of secular Jews worldwide. More importantly, you've moved the goalposts from having to defend a fairly extreme statement to trying to defend something like "Jews are more likely than average to support the modern state of Israel", which is just kind of obvious.


The majority religion of a Nation can be irrelevant when criticizing the nation's actions.

I find it surprising more Jewish people don't get angry at the use of their religion to justify/cast smoke clouds around human rights violations by the Israeli government. What a shield to put up - someone's religion! A history of Holocaust! It seems dirty to me, but I don't practice Judaism so I can only comment from the outside looking in.


I never heard of the Torie angle before, is there any evidence to assume that?

There is quite a bit of evidence that pro Israel Lobby groups, as well as Israeli Embassy Staff are heavily involved.

There is a documentary about the whole issue from Aljazeera, which allegedly got censored due to intervention by the Qatar government.

https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-parts-of-censor...

Some reporter went undercover for 6 month with a hidden camera infiltrating some of the groups.

https://www.aljazeera.com/investigations/thelobby/

As a result, one embassy official had to resign

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/01/israel-diplomat-force...


Totally agree here. I worked quite closely with Corbyn for a bit on human rights issues (esp. Israel/Palestine) and though I might disagree with him on a lot of things - he most definitely is not Semitic. It is very clear to me for reasons unfortunately I don't have time to outline that there is a very clearly orchestrated campaign against him. Basically, it follow the exact same methods, people, talking points etc of other similar smear campaigns against people in the UK holding views that the Israeli right wing government doesn't like.


> I worked quite closely with Corbyn … he most definitely is not Semitic.

Presumably (although I guess your sentence is also true) you forgot an 'anti'?


Doh. Yes. Autocorrect!


Maybe Corbyn is just not a very good politician who wants to try a socialist experiement in right wing Britain.

I sat down and did the maths based on tax revenues and so on and Corbyn's plans roughly call for £500bn of additional borrowing. I'm not saying don't do it but it's scary this isn't communicated clearly to people the costs of renationalising water/rail/university fees etc. etc.

What makes you think there is a campaign against him or just that he simply isn't that popular apart from with a small section of society for whom he can do no wrong (i.e. Labour party members)?


> What makes you think there is a campaign against him or just that he simply isn't that popular

Because his policies are virtually never mentioned, he’s being attacked for made-up allegations instead. This very fact that, as you point out, his policies are not discussed in the media is why people think there’s a smear campaign against him. People wish the press would engage him on policy grounds. As for the borrowing specifically, when this policy was initially proposed by McDonnell, it was made abundantly clear that this would involve large-scale borrowing. See e.g. this article in the Economist: https://www.economist.com/buttonwoods-notebook/2017/05/16/ol...

On a more political note, whether this large-scale borrowing is a good idea is obviously worth discussing. But it would almost certainly be more popular than the Tories’ continued twin policies of privatisation and austerity, which, besides being phenomenally unpopular, is largely based on bad science, to boot.


I actually think that’s clearly not true otherwise Jeremy would be miles ahead in the polls... people do understand what he’s offering they just don’t want it!


The spy vs spy comic strip gave us some early lessons on how deep these deceptions can go. Double and triple agents, even people creating anonymous accounts online to put forth whatever unfounded and creative stories they wish about anyone they choose.


Reputation is everything.


Please report this to a local FBI office, this was obviously an agent trying to co-opt whatever movement you're associated with.


"Ah, glad to hear Agent Johnson's been doing his job."


Disappointed to hear Agent Johnson was so obvious


A very similar thing happened to a friend of mine in a coffee shop in LA about 15 years ago.


Did he have colored cards that he used during conversation?


Don't forget the anti-BDS laws state politicians have passed at the behest of israel. I think more than a dozen states have already passed this unconstitutional ( in my opinion ) law. Now congress is looking to enact it nationally.

https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2019-02-06/anti-b...

Replace israel with russia. Can you imagine any politician passing a law criminalizing any company from protesting or boycotting russia? The hubris to even think up such an anti-american law like this is worrying.


This message sounds like propaganda


Either you're leaving out a lot of important parts to the story or you're just being paranoid?


Sounds like he was just trying to hit on you.


I disagree. Even if it was meant as flirting, the repeated calls from multiple phone numbers approaches harassment, not "just hitting on" someone.


You’ve clearly never had a stalker.

The behaviour sounds almost exactly like how my stalker inveigled his way into my life and then behaved when I cut him out.


I would consider stalking closer to "harassment" than "hitting on someone".


Yes, of course, I can see how it looks like I conflated the two. But, I mean, it started out as being hit on, I guess.


Yes, and harassers - including stalkers - take advantage of the fuzziness. Including by using terms like "just hitting on" for something which is much better described as "harassment".


I would love to throw in a joke in response to this comment but I get the feeling it would not age well.


It's fine just say it anyway.


Corbyn smears himself. With you quoting a site called “electronic infitada” you weaken your case dramatically.


> The targets told the AP that the covert agents tried to goad them into making racist and anti-Israel remarks or revealing sensitive information about their work in connection with the lawsuits.

Presumably they recorded the meeting with a hidden camera and planned on blackmailing the researchers into altering or stopping their research. It must be an effective tactic, because that's just so blatant and obvious.

> one man caught up in the litigation said he recognized Almog-Assouline because he’d been approached by the same operative under a different identity several years ago. “I recognized the individual, down to the accent and the anecdotes,” said the man, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation.

Hmm, I wonder if they did manage to find something to blackmail him with and that's what he means by retaliation and hopefully not something more sinister...


To clarify: NSO is a private company, mostly owned by US firm. The involvement of "Israel" in whatever NSO is doing is as follows:

1. As a vendor of security sensitive products, any NSO deal would be approved by Israel's MOD.

2. They naturally employ loads of secret service "graduates" because it's good for business.

Consequently, calling an apparently clumsy NSO employee "an Israeli spy" comes across as kind of fake news. Not to say there aren't Israeli spies in NY, I just don't think he's one of them.


The New York Times identified Lambert as Aharon Almog-Assouline, a former Israeli security official living in the plush Tel Aviv suburb of Ramat Hasharon.

Maybe not "spy" but ex-security official at least. Not sure how thinly that's splitting hairs though.


Ex security official is virtually every Israeli in a country with forced conscription at age 18.

Also as an unrelated nit: Ramat Hasharon isn't a "plush suburb", it's where people without enough money to buy an apartment in Tel Aviv go live (Tel Aviv being "valley" expensive)


Ramat Hasharon is less expensive than TA, but kind of marginally so: https://www.numbeo.com/property-investment/compare_cities.js... (Cf. with Ramat Gan, for instance: https://www.numbeo.com/property-investment/compare_cities.js...)

Also people who live there identify it as a “plush suburb” themselves.


I appreciated the data and response. Those prices are entirely off though. Here is a local and more accurate source it's common for Israelis to check (other ones are yad2.co.il , homeless.co.il, newspaper sites and surprisingly a facebook group called "Apartments between friends"):

https://www.madlan.co.il/local/%D7%A8%D7%9E%D7%AA%20%D7%94%D...

https://www.madlan.co.il/local/%D7%AA%D7%9C%20%D7%90%D7%91%D...


It’s hard to compare apples to apples here: there is, for instance, a 5-bedroom apt in North TA for 4850k and a slightly bigger on on RSh is 4500k, 7% difference. Other pairs with higher percentage difference can be found, but it’s hard to extract the median or average.

But even if your estimate is correct and the difference in prices is “categorical”, the author of the piece could simply have had in mind the streets with private houses, which mostly cost north of 1.5-2 million USD. This is rather plush, I guess.


"Defense"/"Military" is not the same as "Security", and "Conscript" is not the same as "Official".


By this pretty liberal phrasing I'm also "an Israeli spy".


Not unless you are doing actual spying.


I'm not saying it's totally equivalent but the story told in "Confessions on an economic hitman" suggest that it's common for government agencies to use private firms in order to allow for plausible deniability, amongst other things.

Now, that book has been denounced by some but large parts of it seem plausible.


I've yet to hear a credible attack on John Perkins that has stood up to scrutiny. They are almost always ad hominem attacks that don't address the meat of his positions/stories.


I think it doesn't help that the second half of the book ... especially in "Further confessions..." it dives into shamanism and so on. It's almost like he handed his critics a script with which to discredit the rest of what he has to say.

I'm not saying I agree with that line of attack; it just feels like an own-goal.


I enjoyed the book, and think it's a reasonable fictional description of how US colonialism works (aka debt slavery for the third world), but pretty much none of it stands up to scrutiny, and the author is definitely a teller of tall tales.


I’m not sure why this is downvoted - this is absolutely true.

NSO is a private company who is US owned and at odds with the Israeli government often.

As an Israeli I’m pretty confident Israel would not send spies in order to do things related to NSO’s private business.

If anything - these are US spies and not Israeli ones. It just doesn’t make sense for Israel to do this.

Not that Israel doesn’t do shabby spywork or it’s ethically above this - just not for NSO.


> NSO is a private company who is US owned and at odds with the Israeli government often.

But is stuffed full of ex-officers from Israel's military. Don't you find it odd? Why they seem to keep coming, while at the same time switching back and forth in between army and "civilian" career?

That's a rather dumb cover.


Is this a serious question? It's like asking why would Lockheed Martin be employing US veterans.


> But is stuffed full of ex-officers from Israel's military. Don't you find it odd?

I also don't get why this is being downvoted... this is a legitimate question. And actually:

I do, and I think it's abuse that private companies have been stealing the army's IP to develop their own infrastructure and sell it for a profit.

While the army mass-producing good software engineers is a boon for the economy it has also spawned a bunch of companies that use army-related IP.

That's even _more_ for a reason for this not being an Israeli spy though. It doesn't make sense for the government to do this.


Computers and internet are privatized military technologies. Military technology transfer is the backbone of American industrial development.

Does it enrich the selected few? Yes it does. But enriches the country as a whole as well.


Israel has a draft. Most people are veterans.


What I find odd is that their staffers may join the company, and leave for the military/intelligence agency again after less than a year, and like that few times over.

That's not how anybody's career can work. And nobody in his sane mind will accept severe demotion on rejoining the service, nor will choose a very different branch of service.

A diplomatic security corps officer, will not be making a good sailor. Those things are just screaming "a good pretext to station uniformed spy abroad" - these two for example, are pretty much the only two ways Israel can put a man in uniform into another country legally.


>What I find odd is that their staffers may join the company, and leave for the military/intelligence agency again after less than a year

What is the source for this?


>> What I find odd is that their staffers may join the company, and leave for the military/intelligence agency again after less than a year

> What is the source for this?

NSO Group Technologies founders are Unit 8200 alumni (Niv Carmi, Omri Lavie, Shalev Hulio). While the "revolving door" between NSO and 8200 is pretty well understood and undisputed in many security circles, I don't have any other public reference. But I'd like to point something: confusing 8200 veterans and common veterans is extremely naive. I don't think anything going on inside NSO is unknown to the government/intelligence (even if they're supposedly separate entities).

I gave a tip in the previous HN discussion (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19006477), and now a broader pattern has been publicly exposed. How many other "phishing expeditions" can you discover by going to look for websites that follow the same pattern (Namecheap, Wix, etc)?

Christiana Markou -> www.eneinvestments.com , Alaa Mahajna -> www.lyndonpartners.com , Masri Mazen -> www.apoiconsulting.com , John Scott-Railton -> www.cpw-consulting.com

Following the crumbs would give more reasons to think that distinguishing whether these are orchestrated by NSO or Israel is pointless.


I know that 8200 veterans[0] are well represented in the Israeli startup/hi tech scene, I'm asking for a source for the other direction which I have never heard of: 8200 (or other intelligence units) veterans going back to the army for anything other than reservist duty.

[0] Of which there are tens of thousands, since 8200 is one of the biggest units in the IDF (maybe the biggest). And if you count veterans of 8200 spin-offs then you're at some 10s of % of Israelis working in software.


Israel has mandatory universal military service with a few exceptions, not a "draft". A draft is "Selective" service, where some people get picked (as in the US Vietnam war or NBA/NFL college-grad hiring process).


> I’m not sure why this is downvoted

probably because of this:

> comes across as kind of fake news.

I have lots of Israeli cousins and see their Facebook posts. I think maybe there's not widespread awareness over there how far apart we are on this.


> To clarify:

Was it just me, or was it difficult to follow this article without already having a lot of background info on the principals? What ever happened to putting "who, what, where, why, when" in the first paragraph?


Same here. Every paragraph some other person was introduced and that made it very hard for me to follow the story.


'By Way of Deception', written years ago by a former high ranking Mossad officer, made it seem like American government institutions in NY and Washington were crawling with Israeli intelligence, some acknowledged, many not. The book was well sourced and generally considered credible.


I wonder what the media would say of there were as many dual citizenship Russians in Congress as there are dual citizenship Israelis... Yet, not a peep... but you can be sure "ze Russians are coming"!


For those interested in the activities of Mossad there’s a great documentary on Netflix at the moment called “Inside the Mossad”. They talk a lot about the tactics used in this article. I presume the operatives in this scenario are all ex-Mossad.


Having worked on Israel/Palestine human rights issues over the years and protected organisations who have been targeted by Israeli private/state intelligence due to their work. Here are just a few other methods our organisation has seen used against well respected human rights defenders (all of these are confirmed by the way, not speculation):

-Sending people to their homes claiming to sell paintings, usually in order to fix their location, get current pictures of them, ask neighbours questions, scope their homes and/or offices etc.

-Sending of verbal and written death threats. Calls on phone, stuff sent in the post.

-Covert entry operations against individual's homes and/or offices

-Following and open photography of human rights defenders (living in European cities) and their children in parks and outside schools.

-Pictures or knowledge of their children, schools etc sent to them.

-Smear campaigns design to make them look like terrorists (even through they were human rights defenders / lawyers) sent to people in their community. Designed to make them either look radical or in some cases attack them on a personal level (sexual in a conservative community). Sometimes this included organised protests against offices based upon totally false representation.

-Overt and covert physical surveillance of them as they travelled to and from their place of work and home.

-Doxing of their personal details online so people knew where they lived and called

-Threats made to them based upon knowledge that likely could only have been gathered through bugging and in other cases insider threats.

-Attempts to entrap individuals with online conversations (personal/sexual information etc)

-Abuse of flight stop lists and other measures to prevent people doing their work and travel.

-Abuse of bank, company, charity, data protection complaints etc to try to harass them in their work

-Abuse of medical healthcare (e.g allowing relatives who live in Gaza to travel to get urgent cancer/heart treatment) to pressure individuals to stop investigating human rights abuses.

-Sending of fake journalists etc as send above.

-Malware etc as above. Also DDoS, orchestrated campaigns online etc


Heh, coming on the heels of MLK day, this looks like the table of contents of the USA FBI playbook for civil rights advocates.


Sounds about right



Not just that but they also seem linked to the Bezos incident! https://www.philly.com/opinion/commentary/jeff-bezos-nationa...


I think you are confusing them with "Blackwater". The article doesn't mention "Black Cube".


I mean NSO, not Black Cube.


Excuse me, but isn't "undercover" redundant in "undercover spy"?.. I mean, all spies work undercover :-)


There are spies with official cover and non-official cover[0]--the latter of which is normally to what "undercover spy" refers.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Non-official_cover


Also spies is really an overarching term and means shedloads of different things in reality.

I mean if you break it down in the simplest way possible (for example what the public see on TV and call a spy), what they are seeing is various people who are:

-Handler

-Agent

-Agent of influence

-Analyst

-Mobile Surveillance Officer

-Tech officer

etc etc etc


Not really, some spies have official diplomatic status. Their public job title may not be "spy", but it's generally assumed that the host country knows what's up.


I actually liked "talking audibly" better... it reminded me of the movie "Naked Lunch" where Bill Lee was conversing "telepathically" about something completely different from the inane verbal chit-chat he was having with Tom Frost in the medina... http://www.criticalcommons.org/Members/adiab/clips/FF_Cronen...


What is the... point... of all this? It seems like a lot of money spent on, what, finding out not-very-secret information from journalists?


When key figures in a legal case can be manipulated, you can often affect the outcome. There are countless instances of this across all legal systems across the globe, across pretty much all of civilisation.


blackmail


I'm a little late to the conversation, but this seems to be hijacked into an anti-Israel/anti-Semitic discussion rather than about spying, so I'd like to suggest one (hopefully obvious) point: nationality and ethnicity seems to intermixed too much. If I don't like the Syrian regime, it doesn't mean I'm anti-Arab or anti-Alawite. Similarly, it should be possible to oppose actions of policy of a nation state without being accused anti-WhateverTheEthnicMajorityOfThatNationIs. I assume if someone opposes a U.S. policy, it isn't because they are anti-WASP (White Anglo Saxon Protestant)... they just genuinely dislike American policies :)


So if I/anyone gets lured to a luxury hotel, don't go.


Everyone spies on everyone. It's a fact of life nowadays.


[flagged]


I think AP is neutral. They are cooperative association -- every member submit whatever they see fit.


Reporting on Israeli espionage stuff is not anti-Israeli per se. The Israelis are just, next to the US/5 Eyes and China/Russia, the most capable nations on Earth when it comes to espionage skills and scope of their programs.

And every so often, scandals get dragged through the media. The US / 5 Eyes had Snowden, Russia the whole Trump/Democrat email hacking, China a boatload of industrial espionage and now it's this Israeli half-scandal here.

I would not throw this into the bin with the usual anti-Israeli agenda pieces that arise e.g. with reports about the Palestine conflict.


[flagged]


This comment was correctly flagged because it crosses into ideological and nationalistic (or racial or religious, your call) flamewar, as well as veering onto grandiose tangents that are way off topic. All of this is bad for intellectual curiosity, which is the core principle here, so please don't post like this to Hacker News.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


[flagged]


And HN just turned into reddit.

The jews and their magic money, right?

AIPAC spent 3.5 million on lobbying in 2018. Do you have any idea how infinitesimal that is?

https://www.opensecrets.org/lobby/clientsum.php?id=D00004696...

There was $5.7 billion dollars spent on lobbying during the mid term elections.

https://www.opensecrets.org/news/2019/02/cost-of-2018-electi...

In 2018, Google spent $21 million

https://www.opensecrets.org/lobby/top.php?indexType=s&showYe...

The Healthcare industry spent $556 million

The Mexican government spent 2.3 million

https://www.opensecrets.org/fara/countries/87

But AIPAC is by far and away the real problem.


Not just the politicians, much of the mainstream press too.

Exhibit: that NSA shares US citizen's private data with Israeli spooks is not newsworthy to NYT [0], even though Israeli paper Haaretz thinks otherwise [1].

[0] https://www.dailydot.com/layer8/new-york-times-nsa-israel-no...

[1] https://www.haaretz.com/report-nsa-sharing-u-s-citizens-data...


Interesting but is it state sponsored? At least civil not ...


More than one spy in NYC? I am shocked!


You'd do well to read the article and understand what's being discussed. The headline is supposed to be short and not convey the entire story.


> When mysterious operatives lured two cybersecurity researchers to meetings at luxury hotels over the past two months

How does one go about luring cybersecurity reaserchers?

Surely a cybersecurity researcher is not you’re average mark?

Luring is generally something an adversary does to an one who is unsuspecting.

I wouldn’t go so far as to say the us of the word is dishonest, but it sure seems to be leaning toward hyperbolic, or histrionic.

Maybe targeted would be a better word?


They got baited by the spies presenting themselves as investors, it fits imo. Furthermore I think people who are well-practiced in HUMINT and academics/researchers building up a legal case against a hacking group don't really overlap that much.


I don't know if a lot of academics/researchers would be able to explain even the basic concepts of "MICE" if asked. They're a soft target.


I’m not security expert, so I had to look that up.

MICE: Money, Ideology, Compromise or Coercion (depending on source), and Ego or Extortion (depending on source).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motives_for_spying


Somewhat ironically, the Israelis have their own, cruder, initialism for this.


Hence the organizing of entire overseas conferences in order to lure them in.


I recall reading a similar article regarding Citizen Lab where the researchers were also baited through interviews for new positions or capital/sponsorship in their relevant studies.

Edit, found the previous HN article (this is the same article but on a different site, the NY Times article is no longer accessible):

https://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/citizen-lab-toronto-under...

HN discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19006477


The article this discussion is about starts with a mention of Citizen Lab. It's true that the first sentence doesn't directly mention Citizen Lab, but it's tied together starting with the 8th paragraph.


> luring cybersecurity reaserchers

In the same way you do it in Silicon Valley - pretend to be a member of a VC fund with a lot of money. Plenty of people have been duped into giving up secrets and product ideas to fake and real VC members.


Create a fake identity, fake company, then contact the researcher claiming you want to hire him/her. Get the researcher to come to a restaurant and secretly record the meeting while using leading questions to try to force the researcher into saying unpleasant things.


> How does one go about luring cybersecurity reaserchers?

Given the overwhelmingly male demographic of people who describe themselves as "cybersecurity researchers", probably with $2000 escorts and hotel rooms rigged with cameras.

It's not rocket science, literally one of the oldest espionage compromat tricks in the book.


No need to count out the females of SV being lured by that scenario either. Lets not be sexist, when both sexes sex.


Pretty sure escorts also come in the "male" variety.

...not that I would know...


Note that I didn't specify gender of the escort, either way is equally possible once a person's orientation has been identified.




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