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Meet Yossi Cohen, the Israeli spy chief seen as the heir to Netanyahu

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is fighting for his political survival, but it is clear also to him that at some point, there will be a post-Netanyahu era. He has already broken Ben-Gurion’s record of 13 years at premiership, but he doesn’t want a shift to happen too fast. When he recently called for snap Likud primaries in order to secure his standing, he panicked when his rival Gideon Sa’ar tweeted “I’m ready”. Netanyahu went chickenshit, reversed the decision within an hour and said it wasn’t primaries, only a confirmation of his leadership.

Netanyahu wants heirs that are loyal to him, and that he has suggested, at the time he finds suitable.

Enter Yossi Cohen, chief of the Israeli Mossad:

If there is someone whom we eliminate without hesitation, it’s Hamas people abroad,

said Cohen in an interview this week for the ultra-orthodox newspaper “Family” (“Mishpacha” in Hebrew), where he boasted of the spy and assassination agency’s achievements under his leadership since 2016.

Cohen is one of the two people directly suggested by Prime Minister Netanyahu as his successors in the future – the other being Ron Dermer, who is now Ambassador to US. 

Cohen is playing it smooth: “People tell me that I can step into Netanyahu’s shoes. I certainly see myself in the Israeli leadership also in the future. But I have not yet decided.”

Cohen is likely to continue his job for a couple of years, to end up with a five-year term like his predecessor Tamir Pardo, and then he would have to be on a three-year “cooling-down” period before entering politics. Benny Gantz went into politics right after his period was over, after he was army Chief of Staff.

So, even if you have “not yet decided”, it’s always a good idea to promote your image. And what better way to do that, than to boast of having “killed many Arabs”, as Naftali Bennett puts it. Benny Gantz, Netanyahu’s supposedly liberal rival, knew that too, when he boasted of his own extrajudicial assassination operation and of returning Gaza to the “stone age”, when he entered politics earlier this year.  

These murderous credentials really give points in Israel. It helps if you have that legacy. Cohen also has that family legacy, with a father who was a Jewish terrorist in the Irgun. So what can be more fitting, than to speak about those Zionist family values, in the “Family” newspaper. Cohen also has the religious background, he went to Yeshiva, he’s got it all. He’s even got the looks, and is regarded as “the model”, as is noted by the laudatory recent Jerusalem Post coverage on him.

Cohen brags about how being a Mossad assassination target is a matter of “prestige”, as he said about the alleged attempt to kill Iranian Revolutionary Guard commander, General Qassem Soleimani:

With all due respect to his bluster, he hasn’t necessarily committed the mistake yet that would place him on the prestigious list of Mossad’s assassination targets… He knows very well that his assassination is not impossible.

But when it’s Hamas people, they are apparently prestigious almost no matter what they do. Cohen says that the Hamas assassination targets range “from local agents to those who manage acquisitions of weapons pointed towards Israel”. But these are not acts of vengeance, he said, merely a “removal of threats”.

Yet when Hamas merely capture – not kill – an Israeli soldier, it’s terror, and that’s a mainstream view. That’s how Benny Gantz addressed it in his video about extrajudicial assassinations:

Ahmed Jabari, Hamas arch-terrorist, responsible for the kidnapping of [Israeli soldier] GIlad Shalit, feels safe… IDF Chief of Staff Gantz thinks otherwise… (video features explosion killing Jabari) Only the strong wins. Gantz. Israel before anything.

Capturing an enemy occupation soldier is not kidnapping. Gilad Shalit was a prisoner of war. This can’t even qualify as terror. Of course when Israel doesn’t capture, but simply decimates whole families in Gaza, that’s not terror, it’s just war… So who’s the “arch-terrorist” – Jabari, or Gantz?

But most Israelis don’t even think about these things. They just know that Hamas are the bad guys, and they love the fact that people like Yossi Cohen are after them, and that they kill them “without hesitation”. So this recent interview with Cohen will no doubt give him points, also in comparison to Dermer. Dermer was born in USA and only emigrated to Israel at age 25, without any military record. Yossi Cohen’s family background goes several generations back in Palestine (oh, Eretz Israel!), with a rabbinical connection to Al-Khalil (oh, Hebron!), he celebrates his birthday according to the Hebrew calendar, he was a Paratrooper, and he’s killed many Arabs. He dresses nicely and he’s so humble about leading the country, one day. What a hero.

H/t Ofer Neiman   

Jonathan Ofir

Israeli musician, conductor and blogger / writer based in Denmark.

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6 Responses

  1. JLewisDickerson on October 14, 2019, 12:25 pm

    RE: “Only the strong wins.” ~ Benny Gantz

    “Netanyahu’s credo, ‘weak are slaughtered, strong survive,’ echoes Hitler”, Phil Weiss, 9/1/18
    LINK ~

    • Misterioso on October 15, 2019, 10:12 am

      Meanwhile, “Israel’s” brutal oppression, terrorizing and dispossession of the indigenous Palestinians continues unabated:

      The Palestine Liberation Organization, Department of Public Diplomacy & Policy

      Press Release:

      “Dr. Hanan Ashrawi: ‘Israel is waging war against everything Palestinian in Jerusalem'”

      (October 14, 2019): “The Palestinian leadership strongly condemns the illegal detention of Jerusalem Governor Adnan Ghaith in an overnight raid of his home in Jerusalem’s Isawiyeh neighborhood. This is the second time in less than a month that Israeli occupation forces target this senior official as part of its wider and systematic campaign to terrorize and provoke the residents of occupied Jerusalem, especially Isawiyeh, which has seen 450 of its residents detained in the past four months. Governor Ghaith’s detention is an act of political persecution. It is an illegal abduction that must be roundly and firmly condemned by all concerned parties.

      “Israel is waging war against everything Palestinian in Jerusalem. It is targeting cultural centers, commercial activity, and neighborhoods. It is persecuting leaders and targeting youths through arbitrary arrests, daily raids and other crimes such as home demolitions and evictions, ID revocation and forced transfer.

      “Israel is intentionally provoking Palestinian national and religious sentiments through a myriad of illegal actions and policies, including its determined efforts to change the demographic and cultural composition of Jerusalem and its declared reckless intention to change the historical status quo in Jerusalem’s holy sites, particularly the Holy Aqsa Compound. All these actions and policies are flagrant violations of international law and relevant UN Security Council resolutions, which affirm the illegality of Israel’s presence in occupied East Jerusalem and warn against any unilateral change in the City by the occupying power.

      “The international community has a responsibility to put an end to this Israeli agenda of religious and political extremism because it is primarily unjust, illegal and oppressive as well as a threat to the fragile stability of the region. We call on all relevant and responsible international actors to intervene immediately and put an end to Israel’s lawless behavior in occupied Jerusalem and elsewhere in the Occupied Palestinian Territory in order to avoid further destabilization and protect the status and future of Jerusalem.”

  2. JWalters on October 14, 2019, 7:42 pm

    An Israeli leader experienced in terrorism, spying and assassinations fits Israel’s character perfectly. Here is Whitney Webb’s in-depth article on the Mossad’s ties to organized crime in America, and their systems of entrapment and blackmail to ensure they get their way in American politics.
    “Mega Group, Maxwells and Mossad: The Spy Story at the Heart of the Jeffrey Epstein Scandal” * pressnews * .com/mega-group-maxwells-mossad-spy-story-jeffrey-epstein-scandal/261172/

    It also fits Israel’s infiltration and bugging of key software systems, along with other operations, described in this in-depth article by Whitney Webb.
    “How the CIA, Mossad and ‘the Epstein Network’ are Exploiting Mass Shootings to Create an Orwellian Nightmare” * pressnews * .com/cia-israel-mossad-jeffrey-epstein-orwellian-nightmare/261692/

    Note: Remove the two asterisks in each link in order to use them.

    • JWalters on October 14, 2019, 9:51 pm

      When I posted the above comment with the two links as active and clickable, the post immediately disappeared (no “awaiting moderation” message). This indicates something in the post triggered the automatic spam detection and discard software. I then modified these links with extra characters, which let the post go through. This proves these links are on the spam list at Akismet, the discussion service used by Mondoweiss.

      A previous post with these two links also immediately disappeared. That post, and a discussion of its disappearance, are in the comments for the article here.
      “With friends like Israel, who needs enemies?”

      That comment too was posted after these two links were modified to be non-clickable. In that discussion I suggested that these two links were being targeted. James North later posted a comment stating that the MW head webmaster had looked into the matter. Here was his report.

      “The [Mondoweiss] spam filter grabbed the earlier comments. Perhaps it’s because he included a bunch of links and it read it as spam. The spam filter is the cloud-based Akismet and it’s a really solid one. Any comment with a bunch of links is going to read like spam.”

      The previous post had six links originally, so four remained when the first two were eliminated, which allowed the comment to go through. The “bunch of links” explanation cannot apply to the current case, however, since this comment has only two links, less than the four links allowed in the previous post. Two links are common in articles at MW and elsewhere.

      So clearly the problem in this case is not “a bunch of links”. The problem is that one or both of these two specific links are on the spam list at Akismet. It appears the MW head webmaster was misinformed by Akismet with the “bunch of links” explanation. There seem to be three logical possibilities. (1) Israeli intelligence hacked the spam list and put one or both these links on it. (2) Israeli intelligence has a mole at Akismet (perhaps an AIPAC agent). (3) Akismet is a wholly owned subsidiary of Israeli intelligence.

      It’s easy to understand why the Israelis would want to minimize the number of people who see the deep and meticulous research in these Whitney Webb articles.

      • James North on October 14, 2019, 10:31 pm

        It’s being looked into.

  3. Elizabeth Block on October 15, 2019, 8:34 am

    At our weekly vigil outside the Israeli consulate in Toronto, I like to carry a placard showing Netanyahu’s face and the words WANTED FOR WAR CRIMES. But I have to say that the people waiting in line to replace him are even worse.

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