So, you’re planning a trip to Israel? Then again, given this travel advisory by the British Foreign Office, maybe not:
"UK passport holders should be aware of a recent Serious Organized Crime Agency investigation into the misuse of UK passports in the murder of Mahmud al-Mabhuh in Dubai on 19 January 2010. The SOCA investigation found circumstantial evidence of Israeli involvement in the fraudulent use of British passports. This has raised the possibility that your passport details could be captured for improper uses while your passport is out of your control. The risk applies in particular to passports without biometric security features. We recommend that you only hand your passport over to third parties including Israeli officials when absolutely necessary."
Disguised as tourists from Britain, France, Germany, and Australia, 27 Mossad agents traveled to Dubai on forged passports created by the Israeli government from information taken at airports by Israeli customs and security officials. According to a comprehensive piece on the affair by Kim Sengupta and Donald MacIntyre in the London Independent,
"The results of the investigation by the UK’s Serious and Organized Crime Agency (Soca) remained under wraps last night, but The Independent understands that the passports of 12 people were cloned after they were taken away from their owners at Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv for up to 30 minutes, so that ‘immigration officials’ could carry out ‘checks.’
"It is also believed that subsequently, some of the passport holders received telephone calls in the weeks before the Dubai assassination, from officials purportedly seeking to arrange appointments to discuss immigration issues. The officials went on to ask them about upcoming travel plans and when they would not be available."
The fake passports were of such high quality that there is little doubt they were created by a state agency, and no one doubts which state we are talking about here. The Israelis, to date, have so far refused to admit they did it, let alone apologize. "The Israeli government has shown no signs so far that it will acquiesce in Mr Miliband’s demand that it pledge that ‘the state of Israel would never be party to the misuse of British passports in such a way,’" reports Sengupta in a follow-up article. "Such a declaration would be tantamount to an admission of Israel’s guilt in the killing of Mr Mabhouh, something it denies. [Israeli foreign minister Avigdor] Lieberman said: ‘There is no proof of Israeli involvement in this affair.’"
Isn’t it a shame that, at a time like this — when Israel really is in some very deep trouble with its Western allies — someone like Lieberman is acting as the Jewish state’s spokesman? The clown of the international diplomatic corps, Lieberman’s sinister views are no joke. He once suggested that Israel bomb the Aswan dam: his party is the successor to Rabbi Meir Kahane’s Kach movement, an openly fascist outfit that advocated violence against and deportation of Israeli Arabs. As a former bouncer and a somewhat thuggish character, it’s not to be expected that Lieberman, a semi-criminal type who has been under a perpetual legal cloud, understands or cares about the trouble Israel is in.
This is the sort of thing one might reasonably expect the North Koreans to engage in, and the Western world is genuinely shocked. If the Israelis are now "cloning" passports via information that falls into the hands of "immigration" officials, then the entire international security system is compromised. Our first line of defense against terrorism – knowing who is coming into the country, and for what purpose – is breached. The irony is that we are constantly told we must learn from the Israelis how to fight terror. Now we discover they are actively undermining that fight, and have been doing so for quite some time. As the Guardian reports:
"Surrendering documents at check-in or at immigration has hitherto been considered a necessary evil for all those traveling in and out of Ben Gurion. But the evidence that the Israeli state has been taking the information gleaned from these inspections to create cloned identities for its spies introduces a new level of risk to the experience.
"The report by the UK’s Serious Organized Crime Agency (Soca) into the use of cloned British passports in the Dubai assassination makes clear their view that this is what happened as Britons traveled through the airport in the months and years before the plot was hatched to kill the Hamas commander Mahmoud al-Mabhouh."
The Soca investigation reveals what may be the tip of a very large iceberg: "In some cases," says the Guardian, "this information theft had taken place several years before the assassination. One of the Britons involved told investigators he had not traveled out of Israel for more than two years."
While most of those who had their identities stolen are dual nationals who emigrated to Israel, in theory the Mossad could clone anyone’s passport once they got their hands on the original. As far as we know at this moment, no Americans were so victimized, but given the large number of US citizens who have taken up residence there, I would think this is a valid – and pressing – concern of the US government. What assurances do American travelers to Israel have that their identities haven’t been stolen and their passports haven’t been "cloned"? It seems our own State Department should have something to say about that.
I suppose this will put a bit of a dent in the Israeli tourist trade for quite some time – and what about the aliyah campaign? The strategic vision of the Zionist project requires a worldwide effort to persuade Jews of the Diaspora to come live in Israel, their natural homeland, and make the desert bloom. Will the Jewish Agency for Israel now make their appeal with a new slogan: "Come to Israel and get your identity stolen"?
As the British foreign minister put it, that this "intolerable" violation of British sovereignty came from a close friend and ally "adds insult to injury," and one of those who should be most insulted are citizens of both Israel and Britain, or France, Germany, and Australia who have been used in such a shameless manner. This affair underscores not only the deep disdain the Israeli government has for its Western allies, but also the contempt in which it holds its own citizens.
There is currently an international campaign to boycott Israel, which I have never been all that enthusiastic about. It’s absurd to target an entire people, as if they were all of one mind: that’s collectivist thinking, a mindset I abhor. At any rate, the idea behind the boycott strategy is to isolate Israel, and turn it into an international pariah. It looks, however, like the Israelis are doing everything they can think of to accomplish that task all by themselves: the boycott is rendered redundant.