This review appeared in the June 2006 issue of The American Spectator. To subscribe, click here.p> strong> em> Man in the Shadows : br> Inside the Middle East Crisis With a Man Who Led the Mossad /em> br> by Efraim Halevy br> (St. Martin’s Press, 292 pages, $24.95) /strong> /p>
READERS EAGER FOR SENSATIONAL tales of espionage and intrigue will be sorely disappointed by Efraim Halevy’s Man in the Shadows. Though he served in Israel’s formidable intelligence agency, the Mossad, for 40 years, headed that organization for four-and-a-half years, and — among other high honors — received the CIA’s Director’s Award, “in recognition of his unswerving commitment and dedication to the relationship between Israel and the United States of America,” Halevy has precious little to say about the Mossad’s covert operations. Instead, his book is filled with sharply drawn portraits of Arab and Israeli leaders, absorbing accounts of hitherto undisclosed diplomatic missions in which Halevy played a leading role, and astute observations on the war on terror. All this makes Halevy’s book a solid, informative, but (alas!) totally unsensational overview of recent Middle East history.
Efraim Halevy was born in London in 1934. In 1948 he and his parents moved to Israel. In his early twenties he was president of the National Union of Israeli Students, and participated in numerous international gatherings around the world. Halevy joined the Mossad in 1961, served in several “senior postings,” including Washington and Paris, and rose to become deputy chief in 1990. In 1995 he left the Mossad for an uneventful tour of duty in Brussels as Israel’s ambassador to the European Union, but was recalled to Israel by prime minister Netanyahu in 1998 to lead the Mossad. In 2002 he was asked by Prime Minister Sharon to head up Israel’s National Security Council, but he left after a year’s service, deeply disturbed by Sharon’s decision to endorse the so-called “Road Map” — a plan for resolving the Palestinian-Israeli dispute, sponsored by the United States, Russia, the European Union, and the United Nations, that Halevy fears will culminate in an unfavorable settlement being imposed on Israel. Today, Halevy heads a foreign-policy think tank at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
In the course of his long career in the Mossad, Halevy developed an extraordinarily close personal relationship with King Hussein of Jordan (how this came about is not revealed) and some of the most interesting vignettes in Man in the Shadows deal with Halevy’s role first in initiating, and then in salvaging, the Israeli-Jordanian peace treaty of 1994. Of course, Israel and Jordan had enjoyed relatively friendly covert relations long before 1994, based on the fact that the two countries shared a host of common adversaries — including Syria, the PLO, and the Muslim Brotherhood. But since the majority of Jordanians (some estimates run as high as 80 percent) are Palestinian in origin, and since their feelings toward Israel are anything but cordial, it seemed highly unlikely that Hussein would ever take the plunge and sign a formal peace treaty with Israel.
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