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Rise and Kill First: The Secret History of Israel's Targeted Assassinations Paperback – 10 October 2018
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'A gripping investigation of Israel's assassination policy' Sunday Times
'Riveting' Daily Mail
'Compelling' John le Carré
Winner of 2018 National Jewish Book Award
The Talmud says: "If someone comes to kill you, rise up and kill him first." This instinct to take every measure, even the most aggressive, to defend the Jewish people is hardwired into Israel's DNA. From the very beginning of its statehood in 1948, protecting the nation from harm has been the responsibility of its intelligence community and armed services, and there is one weapon in their vast arsenal that they have relied upon to thwart the most serious threats: Targeted assassinations have been used countless times, on enemies large and small, sometimes in response to attacks against the Israeli people and sometimes preemptively.
In this page-turning, eye-opening book, journalist and military analyst Ronen Bergman - praised by David Remnick as "arguably [Israel's] best investigative reporter" - offers a riveting inside account of the targeted killing programs: their successes, their failures, and the moral and political price exacted on the men and women who approved and carried out the missions.
Built from interviews with Israeli Prime Ministers as well as high-level figures in Mossad, and the country's military and intelligence services - Rise and Kill First includes never-before-reported, behind-the-curtain accounts of key operations, and based on hundreds of on-the-record interviews and thousands of previously unseen files. Bergman traces, from statehood to the present, the gripping events and thorny ethical questions underlying Israel's targeted killing campaign, which has shaped the Israeli nation, the Middle East, and the entire world.
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Ronen Bergman has set out in incontestable detail the history and scale of Israel's use of extrajudicial killing as an instrument of defence and foreign policy. His material is stark and sensational, but he steers a steady course through it ... The result is a compelling read whatever your point of view. (John le Carré)
A gripping investigation of Israel's assassination policy (Sunday Times)
Riveting...Based on 1,000 interviews and vast numbers of leaked documents, his book often reads like a John le Carre novel. But it took considerable courage for him to publish it. (Daily Mail)
A masterpiece! Only Ronen Bergman's extraordinary research could have achieved it (Christopher Andrew, author of 'The Defence of the Realm: The Authorised History of MI5')
Exciting, sometimes moving and always considered...Not only is Bergman's book a stunning feat of research and a riveting read, it is also testament to the author's personal courage (Sunday Times)
With remarkable access to officials and reports, Ronen Bergman's revealing book lays bare Mossad's kill operations (Observer)
The Israeli government did its best to prevent Bergman from writing this ...fascinating new book about the history of Israeli assassinations, published during Israel's seventieth anniversary year. Rise and Kill First not only sheds light on that most secretive of subjects, Israel's intelligence services, but also has wider significance: how and why a state uses extra-judicial killing, and the consequences of doing so. (TLS)
You think the Krays were rough? Try the Mossad. This is an amalgam of the secret and often lethal special operations they carried out over the years. (Daily Express)
Terrific ... It's easy to understand why Bergman's book is already a bestseller. It moves at a torrid pace and tells stories that would make Jason Bourne sit up and say 'Wow!' It is smart, thoughtful and balanced. (The New York Times Book Review)
"A remarkable feat of fearless and responsible reporting . . . important, timely, and informative."
John le Carré
* AN ECONOMIST BOOK OF THE YEAR * THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER *
The first definitive history of the Mossad, Shin Bet, and the IDF's targeted killing programs.
- Publisher : John Murray (10 October 2018)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 784 pages
- ISBN-10 : 147369471X
- ISBN-13 : 978-1473694712
- Item Weight : 1 kg 70 g
- Dimensions : 15.8 x 5 x 23.2 cm
- Country of Origin : India
- Best Sellers Rank: #262,969 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The book is a very well-written and valuable account of Israel’s various intelligence agencies and their use of assassinations and terror tactics against the Palestinian resistance and its supporters over the period 1948-2016. This is the kind of narrative where one person’s freedom fighter is another person’s terrorist. The author is an Israeli and writes from a liberal Zionist point of view.
The book is substantially sourced from material provided by members of the Israeli intelligence community, some of whom became disillusioned. It is basically a lengthy inventory of extra-judicial killings, interspersed with occasional commentary from those involved in them. Although there is always the danger of misinformation, this is probably as authoritative an account as anyone could hope for at the present time.
The book also provides a broader historical context, looking at the origins of these agencies in various Zionist terror groups, which murdered anti-Zionist Jews as well as other opponents of the future Jewish state. As Bergman puts it, ‘guerrillas, assassins [and] terrorists’ were at the heart of the new Jewish state’s army and intelligence community.
The book exposes the Israeli state’s determination to extinguish all forms of Palestinian opposition, including the political wing of various organisations. Bergman describes the fate of one Hamas intellectual, who was an Islamic theorist and historian, a dentist and a university lecturer. He was murdered, along with some associates and a child playing in the street, when two Apache helicopters fired four hellfire missiles at his car when he was on his way to give a lecture to students at the Islamic University of Gaza. As Bergman makes clear this kind of state terrorism is colluded in by the west.
Another of Israel’s innumerable crimes was the murder of the Palestinian novelist and poet Ghassan Kanafani. This was one of the great cultural crimes of the twentieth century, although it has been largely written out of history, like so much Palestinian suffering. Kanafani was accompanied by his teenage niece when Israeli agents blew up his car, killing them both. The calculated murder of a child, Bergman notes, ‘was never discussed or investigated’.
The book ends by acknowledging ‘the limits of force’. The Palestinians are a people broken by extreme violence but whose spirit of resistance to the dispossession of their land remains intact. By the end of his career the head of the Mossad, Meir Dagan, was in despair. He believed that the Two State solution could have brought peace and bitterly regretted that this solution was repeatedly rejected by Israel’s political elite and its voters. In its place was the rising power of the global calls for an economic and cultural boycott of Israel, together with the proposal for ‘a binational state with parity between Arabs and Jews’. This would be, said Dagan, ‘the end of the Zionist dream’.
That equality should be seen as a bad thing aptly sums up the Zionist mind-set which lies behind the programme of assassinations which Bergman describes in this highly readable although heavily factual book.
The book is also fascinating it its detail and like a thriller to read. The Israeli use of IEDs and roadside bombs, later copied by the opponents it was used against in Lebanon and Israel-Palestine. The first ever use of drones to kill and the development of real time "war rooms". The detail of many news-worthy items from the past including botched assassination attempts. All of the leaders of Israel were involved in the development and planning of assassinations, since assassination required a "red letter" from the prime minister. Some, like Sharon, Begin and Ehud Barak were involved in planning and executing assassinations before they became ministers.
Anyone who is interested in middle eastern affairs should read this book. Whether you are "pro" or "anti" Israeli policy, this is the best book to give a comprehensive account of this aspect of Israeli policy. He has interviewed and talked to many of the people involved and the book contains much material that is to be found nowhere else.
Then you get the feeling that he despises, these very same men, for killing without mercy.
Whatever your political leanings this book will open your eyes to the "Middle East question " that greater men with intelligence have ever managed to explain.
Simply put this book will leave you with questions , and a respect of these brave men whose lives are lived at 100 miles an hour.
"Israel contested with God and with men yet prevailed" Genesis 32:28.