April 19, 2013
Creative, like travel? Mossad wants you
BY:SHEERA FRENKEL From: The Times April 20, 2013 12:00AM
DO you see yourself as a "creative person" living an "irregular" lifestyle? Fancy living in Israel but taking "brief and numerous trips overseas"?
If your answer to these questions is yes, then Mossad may have just the job for you. Israel's spy agency has just launched an aggressive online recruitment campaign to try to target a new generation of potential agents.
Rather than rely on word-of-mouth whisperings and elite military units, which have traditionally formed the base of Mossad's recruitment efforts, the agency has decided to reach out to Israeli youth directly with pithy online advertisements and videos.
In one video, which has gone viral, a woman texts her husband: "How was your day at work?" Her husband (clearly a Mossad agent) texts back: "Don't ask." At the end, a tagline reads: "Mossad is open. Not to everyone. Not to many. Maybe to you." On the website www.mossad.gov.il a banner advertisement flashes: "With enemies like these, we need friends."
According to the job ads on the site, you are more likely to get in if you were conscripted through the various Israeli military intelligence units and have fluency in Arabic and Farsi.
So why the new outreach program? According to Israeli officials, dwindling interest in public service has left Mossad with fewer applicants than in decades past.
The agency's recent blunders may also have served to put people off what was once considered a glamorous career.
Most infamous was the assassination of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, the Hamas military chief, at a hotel in Dubai in January 2010. Several of what were believed to be Mossad agents, disguised unconvincingly as tennis players, were caught on CCTV in the hotel corridor. Later, it was alleged the agents used fake British, French, German, Irish and Australian passports. Mossad has refused to comment on the case.
According to author Yossi Melman, another factor hampering Mossad recruitment is that Israel is becoming a less ideological society the older it gets.
"It's less glamorous to work for Mossad than it used to be 20, 30 years ago, but that is because Israel is changing and the notions of idealism, collectivism and state interest are not as attractive as they used to be."
Former agents who remember the days when recruitment often happened through close-knit groups of friends or family said that they were worried the new methods would bring "untested, unreliable" candidates.
"They need a large pool of applicants because, let's be honest, of every 100 men who think they may be the next James Bond, only one will actually have the necessary skill set," said one agent, who retired last year after serving for more than 30 years. "The candidates who walk in with the most bravado and arrogance are often the first to be ruled out."
He said that, years ago, a candidate like Ben Zygier would never have been recruited. The story of Zygier, also known as "Prisoner X", was made public earlier this year when it was revealed an unnamed prisoner who hanged himself in one of Israel's highest security prisons was a Mossad agent with dual Israeli-Australian citizenship.
Zygier is widely suspected of being behind an intelligence leak that endangered operations in Lebanon. Friends say he enlisted by filling in the form online.
The Institute for Intelligence and Special Operations, known universally as the Mossad, acquired a reputation for ruthlessness and ingenuity after its creation in 1948. High-risk clandestine operations have involved the use of cloned identities, sophisticated disguises and cutting-edge technology
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