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Censorship And 'Every Spy A Prince'

August 26, 1990

Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi's review of our book "Every Spy a Prince: The Complete History of Israel's Intelligence Community" (Book Review, July 29) is an exercise in professional disinformation.

As an Israeli resident and commentator on its defense, Beit-Hallahmi knows full well how Israel censorship works. We did not "volunteer to submit" our manuscript to the military censor, as he asserted. As explained in our acknowledgements, some chapters (roughly half the book) written by Yossi Melman were submitted to the authorities, not because we volunteered but (because) Yossi Melman, as an Israeli citizen, was compelled by Israeli law and censorship regulations to submit his part of the book to the military censor.

The reviewer also accuses us of "a clumsy attempt" to compare the Shin Bet to the FBI. With his heavily loaded political bias he calls Shin Bet "secret police." As professional and objective journalists, we preferred to define it as "Israel's domestic security service." Indeed, as we clearly state in the book, Shin Bet is in charge of fighting subversion, terrorism and foreign spies. The best evidence to refute Beit-Hallahmi's argument comes from the FBI itself, which has a permanent agent in the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv, where his main task is to serve as liaison officer to Shin Bet.

He further writes that "the authors' loyalty to Israel also seems blinding when they attempt to explain away some notorious Third World contacts," and he continues to argue that we omitted Israeli government links with dictators such as Amin, Mobutu, Pinochet, Vorster and Noriega. The truth is that we clearly wrote that Israeli intelligence and the Israeli government helped Amin's Uganda and Mobutu's Zaire, armed Pinochet's Chile and Noriega's Panama, and secretly cooperated with the South African regime.

DAN RAVIV, YOSSI MELMAN

CAMBRIDGE, MASS.

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