Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login

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"):



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.

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact