By Way of Deception: The Making and Unmaking of a Mossad Officer
File:By Way of Deception.jpg
Author(s) Victor Ostrovsky
Country United States
Language English
Subject(s) Mossad
Publisher St. Martin's Press
Publication date 1990
Pages 372
ISBN ISBN 0-9717595-0-2
OCLC Number 52617140
Followed by The Other Side of Deception

By Way of Deception: The Making and Unmaking of a Mossad Officer is a book written by Victor Ostrovsky and Claire Hoy about Ostrovsky's career as a katsa (case officer) in the Israeli Mossad.

Life story[edit | edit source]

This claims to be a true story about Mossad as seen by Victor Ostrovsky. The first part describes his experiences with the organization. It starts when Victor is first approached by the Mossad during his service in the Israeli Defense Forces and is subjected to numerous tests, including psychological ones. While at first rejecting an offer to be trained as a recruit for the assassin's squad, Ostrovsky eventually accepts an offer to become a katsa and joins a class of Mossad candidates going through tradecraft training. After successfully completing the training Ostrovsky begins working as a katsa.

Throughout the book, Ostrovsky claims to reveal details of the internal workings of the Mossad itself. Ostrovsky claims that Mossad has access to Jewish helpers all around the world called sayanim (sg. sayan). Their services can supposedly be requested on short notice and no questions are asked. Because of this, Mossad only needs 30–40 active case officers at any given time. He also explains the different departments functions and how liaisons are conducted with foreign intelligence agencies. One topic in his book is the suicide bombing of the U.S. Marine compound in Beirut that killed several hundred U.S. Marines in Lebanon: Ostrovsky maintains that the Mossad knew there was going to be an attack on the Americans' peace mission in Beirut and intentionally withheld that information from the Americans. According to Ostrovsky, a Mossad contact at a local body shop in Beirut told them a truck had come in for major modifications that were consistent with creating a very large truck bomb (in fact the biggest truck and modifications for a truck bomb that anyone in war torn Beirut had ever heard of), in the weeks prior to the suicide bombing of the Marine barracks. The American peacekeeping mission in Beirut was the only likely target of such a large bomb, and the Mossad did not pass on this knowledge to their American counterparts in the intelligence services. Ostrovsky does not attempt to describe why the Mossad, and by extension Israel, allowed the American peacekeeping mission to be attacked.Others have suggested that Mossad did not want the US peace keepers to stop hostilities because it was in the advantage of Mossad to see the civil war in Lebanon to continue as long as possible to keep Lebanon a weak and unstable country.Ostrovsky discusses how Mike Harriri, the former head of Metsada, used Mossad resources to traffic illegal drugs for Manuel Noriega. Ostrovsky also discusses how Mossad was involved in trafficking heroin as a source of raising funds for operations that were outside government regulation .Ostrovsky also discusses how Mossad assasinated Khadir, a PLO diplomat who was sent by Arafat to start peace negotiations with the Israeli government to prevent an invasion of Lebanon. This again served Mossad's interests to promote an Israeli invasion of Lebanon to wipe out the PLO.

Ostrovsky refused to use a pen name for the controversial book, saying that if he wanted to hide, he would not have written the book in the first place. Many of Ostrovsky's claims have not been verified from other sources nor have they been refuted, and arguments continue to rage over the credibility of his accounts. However he was named in a lawsuit by the Israeli government saying he was part of the Mossad. Critics such as Benny Morris, David Wise and others have argued the book is essentially a novel and that a case officer would not have had access to so many operational secrets. They write that intelligence organizations practice strict compartmentalization of confidential or secretive information.

As he progresses as a katsa, Ostrovsky experiences growing disillusionment with the organization and its leaders, and begins to question its motives. This culminates in his retirement from the Mossad after being scapegoated for a failed attempt at capturing top PLO officials.

The title of the book is supposedly a translation of part of Proverbs 24:6, which Ostrovsky alleges is the former motto of the Mossad: be-tahbūlōt ta`aseh lekhā milkhamāh (Hebrew: בתחבולות תעשה לך מלחמה. Ostrovsky claims this translates, "By Way Of Deception, Thou Shalt Do War." The Hebrew word בתחבולות translates into English as, "Ploys, Tricks, Trickery, Subterfuges, or Stratagems" (Source: Google Translate) Alternatively, translations of בתחבולות into English in Proverbs 24:6 in Christian Bibles substitute a different meaning from the original Hewbrew. For example, the King James translation of Proverbs 24:6 is "For by wise counsel thou shalt make thy war"; the American Standard Bible translation is, "For by wise guidance thou shalt make thy war"; the New American Standard Bible translation is "For by wise guidance you will wage war."[1] In contrast The Jewish Study Bible published by Jewish Publication Society at Oxford University Press (2004) under the editing scrutiny of Michael Fishbane, Adele Berlin and Marc Zvi Brettler reads "For by stratagems you wage war, and victory comes with much planning".

Mossad operations[edit | edit source]

The book describes not only his own experience but devotes the second half to other operations that Mossad allegedly carried out between 1971 and 1985, including:

  • Operation Sphinx: A Mossad operation where Iraqi nuclear scientists were recruited while in France to gather information about Iraq's nuclear reactor Osiraq, ultimately ending with the Israeli air strike in 1981.

Israeli attempt at pre-publication censorship fails[edit | edit source]

In 1990 Israel tried to stop the sale of the book, by means of a preliminary injunction. This was the first time that a sovereign state tried to stop a book publication in another sovereign state. Lawyers for Israel convinced Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Michael J. Dontzin to issue the injunction, preventing the publication and distribution of "By Way of Deception." On Sept. 13, less than 48 hours after the injunction was issued, an appeals court threw it out. "By Way of Deception" thus became an instant best seller, reaching #1 on the New York Times best seller list. [2]

References[edit | edit source]

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