Spooks with tzizit: Mossad, Shin Bet, cyber haredi agents speak for first time

Publication Date15 Apr 2021
The Mossad, the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and special sensitive cyber units of the police are filling up with haredim.

Since 2019, there has been a smattering of articles about the organization Pardes, which is leading the charge to incorporate some of the smartest and most talented ultra-Orthodox men aged 24 to 34 into analyst and cyber units of the security establishment.

But recently the Magazine became the first to sit down with four of these new recruits.

Arrangements leading up to the meeting took months, requiring sign-offs from the highest levels of the Mossad, Shin Bet and police in order to allow us to meet face to face with secret agents who, in normal circumstances, would never come anywhere near the media.

With all four individuals who the Magazine met – known as "G" (from the Mossad), "Y" (from the Shin Bet), Yisrael and Yoni (from the police) – only their wives are in the know, with even their parents not having a clue what their real day jobs are.

G: the Mossad's haredi agent

G describes his attraction to the Mossad as a natural process.

"I grew up in a family connected to the technology and security sector. That was always in the background."

These simple early sentences were spoken haltingly by someone already in the clandestine world, not used to talking to journalists, but over the course of the meeting, he became more comfortable.

He implied that even as a child he dreamt of either the Mossad or some kind of contribution to the nation's security apparatuses.

But G said that it was "Pardes which gave the opportunity. A friend saw an advertisement on the Internet. I eventually went through the very long process for getting selected and being endorsed by Pardes."

Pardes's founder is Rabbi Dr. Moshe Kahan, a graduate of the leading Tifrah and Mir yeshivas after years of Talmudic study, but also a lecturer on Arabic and the Koran, and at Ben-Gurion University on Semitic languages.

Pardes enables haredi youth to train in a track that is managed and run within a haredi framework, with the candidates free to continue studying Torah alongside their coursework in an ultra-Orthodox environment.

After passing the obscenely competitive screening process, each went through pre-academic preparatory courses in the fields of computer science, geopolitics and international relations before applying for jobs in the security establishment.

Describing his experience in the Mossad after passing through the whole process, G said he was "very happy to learn he had arrived at this place. It has fulfilled all of my expectations… From the beginning, the things that were revealed to me and what I learned were incredible."

The Mossad official said he hoped to do his entire career with the spy agency.

One thing that was striking was that though G was thoroughly haredi, dressed in black and white, he truly spoke like a seasoned Mossad veteran about achieving national security results. He was very polished, talked the talk and if my eyes had been closed, I would have had no idea he was ultra-religious.

In an uncommon reveal, the spy world analyst related how in recent weeks his critical Talmudic training to constantly examine presumptions tipped him off that something was missing from a specific intelligence picture.

"I went and checked and the issue had come up some years earlier, and I found something else that led to real-world implications recently," G said, using implied Mossad-speak for the world of operations.

Addressing differences between himself and his fellow Mossad agents, he noted that both he and others all brought their "unique perspectives and different backgrounds so that everyone around the table has a different perspective on intelligence issues."

He said this singular Israeli diversity gives the Mossad an edge over other countries' intelligence agencies that might be more homogeneous, which could lead to missing important sides of a problem.

Y: the Shin Bet's haredi agent

Unlike G, Y working in...

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