I don’t know exactly what started it, but I have become very interested in Krav Maga. Krav Maga, which translates to “contact combat” in Hebrew, is an approach to hand-to-hand combat and self-defense that is used by the Israel Defense Forces and Israeli security forces. It takes the best techniques from several different martial arts and street-fighting, but it arranges them in its own style, with an emphasis on simultaneous attacking and defense and improvisation. It is mesmerizing to watch skilled kravists fight each other.
I watched a litany of videos on the history of Krav Maga, which started with a man named Imre Lichtenfeld fighting fascists during the anti-Semitic 1930s riots in his hometown of Bratislava, Czechoslovakia. (We are talking legit fascists, not “fascist” in the sense of people who offend your delicate sensibilities or disagree with your political blathering on the interwebs. He lived in an era of intense, physical personal risk and thus turned himself into a human weapon.)
Anyway, learning about Lichtenfeld’s role in the early stages of the Israeli military made me want to learn more about Mossad, Israel’s famed intelligence agency.
Here are some of the books I have been reading:
Mossad: The Greatest Missions of the Israeli Secret Service by Michael Bar-Zohar and Nissim Mishal – This is a catalog of the agency’s most daring black-ops, from capturing Nazi mastermind Adolph Eichmann to going after Iran’s nuclear program.
(Related: I watched Alex Gibney’s documentary, Zero Days, on how Mossad et al developed the Stuxnet virus to take down some of Iran’s nuclear structure, years ago, which I’d highly recommend if this sort of thing interests you.)
Harpoon: Inside the Covert War Against Terrorism’s Money Masters by Nitsana Darshan-Leitner and Samuel M. Katz – This book is all about the financial networks that fund terrorist groups like ISIS, Hamas, Hezbollah, and others, and how Mossad came up with a strategy for busting them apart.
And finally, Spies of No Country: Israel’s Secret Agents at the Birth of Mossad by Matti Friedman – This book is about a proto-Mossad spy ring called the “Arab Section.” This was a group of Jewish spies who were natives to the Arab world, handling clandestine missions in Beirut during Israel’s War of Independence – gathering intelligence, carrying out assassinations, sabotaging operations in a totally chaotic political and social landscape.