Sefi Rachlevsky writes: Ben Zygier didn’t betray his country. Ben Zygier was betrayed. Between his two home countries, he was placed in a situation he couldn’t deal with. Those who know the facts can attest to this. From the outset of this affair, Israeli contempt for the feeble Jews of the Diaspora knew no boundaries. According to foreign sources, the desire to make use of Ben Zygier’s identity and passport overrode the fact that he was screamingly incompatible for the mission.
The story is a simple one, really. According to foreign sources, Israel allowed itself to cross three boundaries: a Mossad man was asked to retain Australian citizenship – leading to a dual-loyalty dilemma; the identity that he was instructed to use as a cover was his real Australian identity; and, worst of all, he was sent to operate in his homeland.
According to foreign sources, after he was told to change his name in his home country multiple times, an entirely foreseeable problem arose. Zygier’s activities raised suspicions in Australia and its security services called him in for interrogation. He didn’t cooperate with the enemy. Not on his own initiative, nor voluntarily. He was forced to talk to his country’s security services, who threatened to harm his father’s honor, and who sent journalists to speak to him.
Israel is the one that placed him in an impossible dilemma. And then, despite the furor over passports, according to foreign sources, Israel used dozens of them not against the main enemy, Iran – but against Hamas targets, which was probably not a worthy reason to risk these passports’ use. Only then did Australia retaliate by exposing its citizen.
The crass Israeli habit of concealing its misdeeds lost all proportion. Instead of achieving, after a brief inquiry, silence and good will (silence from a man who broke after being left to deal with his identity issues alone, silence obtained for instance even by bringing his father and whole family to Israel to care for them here) – Israel abandoned an Israel-Australian patriot to a fate worse than death.
Those who were raised in Kfar Yehoshua as I did were exposed to a practice whereby chickens that were suspected of carrying diseases were killed before they could infect the others. At the age of eight, I couldn’t bring myself to kill them with my bare hands like my father did. So I found a "humane" solution. Next to the coops were pits full of the rotting corpses of dead birds. I threw the birds that were suspected of being ill into these pits. And Ben Zygier was thrown into such a pit.
The cell in which Ben Zygier died had been built for a prime minister’s murderer. Ben Zygier is that man’s polar opposite. The prime minister’s murderer is the worst traitor in Israel. He was not caught between the dilemmas of dual nationalities. For the murderer, the messianic-religious dilemma superseded his Israeli identity. He was not placed under brutal pressure in his cell to reveal the identities of rabbis who influenced him. He remained smiling and victorious. He was not subjected to suffocating pressure.
During the existential days of the War of Independence, one Meir Tobianski was shot. He was suspected of treason, sentenced in a lightning-quick trial, and was eliminated. His widow, who was not sentenced to silence, fought to restore his honor. A year later, Ben Gurion exonerated him and wrote to her: "Your husband was innocent."
Two things must come out of the Zygier affair. One is clear: the establishment of a quasi-secret state commission of inquiry. The commission must examine the links between Zygier’s death and his identity. But it must also do more than that. There must be genuine examination of how Israel exploits the goodwill of its Jewish supporters, and a clear demarcation of its boundaries.