Advertisement

Israeli Commander Dismissed for Ordering a Spy Operation into Palestine Bring Back Sesame Paste

I'm not one to dive into international relations on a wiseassy sports and comedy website. Especially when it comes to the situation in a tense, ancient, war-torn hotspot like Israel and Palestine. I don't have a broad understanding of the issues in that long troubled land. 

But I do have a small understanding of Middle Eastern food, thanks to a job I had cooking when I was in my 20s. Enough to know about tahini, the delicious paste made from sesame seeds. And that you can't get a decent hummus or a Baba Ganoush worth a damn made without this amazing, magical ingredient. 

What didn't know about tahini is that to some people over there, it's worth risking a regional, and possibly global war over. 

Source - Senior Israeli military intelligence officials have been disciplined for their part in the dispatching of agents to acquire tahini from a West Bank village, in what Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi said Friday was “a harsh violation of moral and professional ethics.”    

A lieutenant colonel ... would be dismissed from the army, the IDF spokesman said in a statement. The IDF’s Chief Intelligence Officer Yuval Shimoni, the unit’s commander and two other commanders would be reprimanded. ...

 [I]n two instances, the elite unit operated agents to purchase boxes of tahini, a traditional sesame seed paste, for Shimoni. Top commanders at the unit ordered a senior handler to dispatch an agent to the West Bank to buy the tahini from a Palestinian village.

This was conducted solely for that purpose, and not as part of any operational activity. Shimoni had been unaware at the time that the boxes were acquired in a special operation and paid for them.

First of all, let's state the obvious that we are all relieved no one was caught in the act. Getting captured as a spy is the kind of thing that will not only get you shot, it could spark all sorts of conflict. From the Greeks and Romans to the Mongols. From Louis XIV's Cabinet Noir to Benedict Arnold to Gary Francis Powers's U2 plane being shot down over the Soviet Union. International spying is a serious business that can lead to all sorts of bloodshed. 

That said, you have to hand it to these Israeli Defense Forces for a job well done. Security has to be tight in that part of the world, and way they were able to complete their mission must have taken some top notch spycraft. Some real Ethan Hunt, IMF-level espionage. Slipping in across the heavily guarded border undetected. Disguising themselves. Hiding in plain sight. Finding just the right tahini and paying a decent price for it. Then smuggling it out past customs. I don't know how they did it, but those guys must have nerves of steel and the balls of brass monkeys. 

I'd like to think our own military produces this same breed of special men. That in the trenches of WWI that if a commanding officer needed some eggs and fresh tarragon for a nice Bernaise that he was making, some of our Dougboys would've slipped past the German lines and brought him some. Or in WWII when they'd established a beach head at Anzio, that the GIs would've made it through the Axis encampments for pizza sauce if their C.O. needed it. I truly believe that's the stuff our fighting men are made of. 

So sure, you can hate the mission. But you have to give a pat on the back and a hearty "Job well done" to those brave Israeli enlisted men who carried it out. I just hope the hummus turned out OK so that it was worth it.