Jacob Cohen, author of Le Printemps des Sayanim, explains in the following interview that Mossad has built up a secret network of volunteers across the world.
Who are the Syanim ?
The Hebrew word, Sayan (plural Sayanim), denotes a Jew who loves Israel and who, by patriotism, collaborates with Mossad in two areas in particular: espionage or in activities linked to propaganda, manipulation and the spread of false information.
Sayanim can be found in all areas of society: government, parliament, the economy, the press and the media and in other professions.
Let’s take, for example, the case of a Mossad agent who needs somewhere to hide : a mechanic could lend him his garage. So Mossad attempts to make connections with a whole series of different people who could one day help them.
Are you not often criticised you for being a supporter of “conspiracy theory” ?
Yes, but we must admit that if Israel is what it is today it is thanks to its diaspora. This country could never have become what it is today, having attained such a high level of economic development, without the support of the diaspora, that is to say the various Jewish communities spread across the world.
Let’s take American and French support for Israel as an example; there are clearly supporters who push in this direction. Whether we call it a conspiracy theory or not, there exists, objectively, a community of interest groups which benefit from very real financial and material support. This cannot be denied. And if some people attempt to deny the facts by calling this “conspiracy theory”, then we are not too far away from the well-known trick, which consists of saying that all people who criticise Israel are anti-Semitic.
How do the Sayanim use their influence in the media ?
I must say that I do not work within this field. But there is, nonetheless, something which can help us answer this sort of question. There is a case which is particularly revealing: the way in which the name and the photo of Gilad Shalit, the young Israeli soldier who was held captive in the Gaza strip, was publicised around the world. The whole of Europe and America know his name, his age. This illustrates how it works in the media.
But this case also illustrates the influence of the Saynim in other domains, notably in diplomatic and political circles.
As somebody who reads the Israeli press, I noted that the solidier’s parents were invited by all major Western powers. By Angela Merkel, five or six times, Nicolas Sarkozy, likewise, by Bush, then Obama, and by the European government.
A corporal’s father, for whom they roll out the red carpet, seems to get treatment that even the family of a general of one of these countries wouldn’t receive. There is clearly some serious organisation behind this, because significant financial and diplomatic resources are needed for this. And we must remember that the family of a humble army corporal does not dispose such resources.
To come back to the media, we can give another brilliant example: the Palestinian elections, won by Hamas. But directly after the elections, everybody said that we must not negotiate with Hamas. There was a media outcry, which appeared to be orchestrated, at a time when the most basic logic would have been for the European Parliament to say to the Palestinians “Ok, we have acknowledged your choice, we will negotiate with your democratically chosen representative”. And in less than two or three days, the so-called “international community” submits and obeys this absurd commandment. From the Israeli point of view, however, it was perfectly logical to communicate this message.
I really do believe that the Sayanim did everything they could to prevent what Israel didn’t want : Hamas as a negotiating partner. This is because Hamas is not corrupt in the same way as the Palestinian authority has been for a very long time.
Do Sayanim receive rewards for their services ?
No, I don’t think so. It’s very simple for Mossad. They have no problems finding Sayanim. For instance, it is easy for them to find people willing to help them within the Jewish Freemasons (B’nai B’rith), whose membership totals some 500 000 people across the world and comprises members from the lower middle classes as well as from the highest echelons of society. And the members of this institution, by its very nature, are precisely those who support Israel unconditionally. Out of half a million people, its not difficult to find people who will help.
Victor Ostrovski (a writer who once worked for Mossad) once said that were definitely a million Jews in the world prepared to support Israel without even thinking. But this country does not need a million: a network made up of 50 000 people is already very effective.
By devoting themselves to Israel, are certain Jews attempting to make up for a lost Jewish identity and consciousness which they have somehow lost by not being Jewish in a strictly religious sense?
First of all, let’s just say that Zionism as a political ideology was extremely rare in Jewish communities before 1948. When I was a child in Morocco, our community leaders warned us against Zionism. Zionists were in the minority, and not just in Morocco : in France, Germany and the US, Zionists were seen as being somewhat mad and foolish.
Even in the Jewish communities living in Palestine, Zionism was not widespread, especially as Zionist militants would beat up Jewish employers who hired Arabs; they even killed a Jewish community leader who wanted to go to London to complain about Zionist activities.
It was after 1948 that the Zionists succeeded in seizing control of the Jewish communities, that is to say they created this mechanism that automatically links a Jew to support for Israel.
There is a great deal of psychological conditioning and propagation of fear, implying that if we do not defend Israel, there will be another holocaust. One notable example: very recently, an Israeli minister declared that a return to borders that existed in 1967 would be a new Auschwitz.
This really is just a case of brain-washing. Israel is portrayed as a fortress under siege. In France, I get the strong impression that the Jewish community believes that the situation is bad, that the entire world hates them, and I see a retreat into isolation. And Israel does a lot to create this impression, which allows it to reinforce its links. For example, Jewish French students can easily study in Israel for three or five years, all fees paid.
Do you have idea of how many Sayanim there could be in France?
I would say there are probably about five thousand of them. Why five thousand ? Victor Ostrovski, in his books, talked about three thousand Sayanim for London alone. By a little extrapolation, we can say that for France they must easily be some five thousand of them.
An anecdote told by Ostrovski gives a practical case of the Sayanim at work in France. During the 1980s, following an agreement for a nuclear power station, Iraqi students came to study at the Saclay Nuclear Research Centre (CEA).
Obviously, in this sort of case, Mossad is obliged to obtain intelligence and gather all possible information on the students, see whether it is possible to manipulate them, etc. Any other intelligence service would have needed several weeks for this sort of difficulty infiltration work.
For Mossad, it’s much easier! They were able to rely on the support of a Sayan. They contacted him and he photocopied the files they asked for, put them back in their place and sent the copies to Mossad. That was all that was to it!
The KGB in Paris, for example, would have needed at least a hundred agents for this sort of operation. Mossad can count on six or seven Saynim, because they are already at the heart of institutions.
But why does nobody talk about the Sayanim ?
That’s a difficult question for which I do not have a clear answer. They are talked about in the Anglo-Saxon countries but not at all in France and the former French colonies. It seems that the atmosphere in France favours a cover-up, because people are scared that they will be blamed. It’s not a question of threats or direct restrictions. In any case, as Noam Chomsky pointed out, people are specially selected in advance, and the journalists who hold the key posts support the established order and are not about to overturn it.
And those who do not conform are simply fired. Three editorial directors at International French Radio (RFI – Radio France International) were forced to resign after having expressed dissenting views on the Israeli-Palestine conflict.
I know of one journalist who worked at Europe 1. I won’t mention her name. After having made a report on the plight of Palestinian children, she came in for criticism that was so severe that she decided to no longer talk about this issue.
But, at the end of the day, is it not common practice for all nations to form networks overseas ? An example is the Moroccan government which calls upon such networks wherever there are Moroccan immigrants abroad. Or is there something that is specifically Israeli to all this?
We really cannot compare the two, because the Syanim network is so powerful and impressive. Of course, all other nations attempt to construct networks abroad, but Morocco would have a great deal of difficulty in building up the equivalent of three thousand Syanim in Belgium, for instance. And it would be difficult for the Moroccans to obtain operatives who would, unquestioningly, do for Morocco what the Sayanim do for Israel. There are several reasons for the differences. First of all, Israel is at war and is an occupying power, so it is obliged to be as active as possible. Secondly, the Jewish community has a very particular attachment to Israel, a devotion that does not exist for other states.
What is your view on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as it stands today? How do you see this developing?
Well, as far as I am concerned, one thing is clear : Israel does not want peace. There can only be one form of nationalism between Jordan and the Mediterranean, this is a clear and definitive principle, which was established with the creation of the Israeli state in 1948. Definite proof of the fact that the Israelis do not want peace, despite these apparent concessions, is that the process of colonisation continues uninterrupted.
In any case, from the Israeli perspective, Palestine didn’t exist for three decades. The Israelis believed that it was just Arabs from Jordan and Syria, and all they had to do was to go back to where they came from , and that there was nothing that could justify that these people be attached to Palestinian territory. This strategy wasn’t effective and, at the end of this period, towards the end of the 1980s, they changed tactics. The Israelis were prepared to give them a flag, a few territories, scattered here and there, and some semblance of autonomy.
Even Yithzak Rabin, portrayed as a man of peace, the author of the peace agreements with the Palestinians, was above all a very intelligent man and a Zionist right to the very end. His masterpiece was to have created a peace agreement which opened diplomatic and trade relations with a number of countries which were previously reticent (India, China, to name but a few) in exchange for what appeared to be autonomy and a few limousines given to a very weak and ineffectual Palestinian authority.
I know that an Israeli soldier once made a Palestinian minister get out of his car and forced him to walk across the check point! This just goes to show how unimportant they were. Arabs have a terrible image in Israel and it’s common practice over there to stick a label to an Arab’s car that reads “Death to Arabs”.
And how do you see the conflict developing ?
I think Israel will become increasingly entrenched in this deadlock and that the logic of colonisation will prevail to the point of triggering a severe crisis, especially in relation to the European Union which will no longer be able to simply ignore the situation in the Middle East. Public demonstrations will most likely become more important, putting increasing pressure on political leaders.
What will that lead to ? It is difficult to say. There will either be a bloodbath, I’m afraid, or the world super powers will radically change position vis-à-vis Israel. After all, if the European Union and the United States support Israel today, they could very easily change their minds in fifteen or sixteen years time. And, in this case, I think a state-based solution would be perfectly possible, as the Israelis would be forced to negotiate and give in. In any case, I think that the situation can only really end with a state for the Palestinians; this is not a question of what I personally would like to see, but is based on what I observe. I just hope that not too many lives will be lost in the process…
Article Translated from French
Jacob Cohen was interviewed by Aurore Van Opstal and Abdellah Boudami.
Jacob Cohen’s blog can be found here: http://jacobdemeknes.blogspot.co.uk/