Shabtai Shavit

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Person.png Shabtai Shavit   NNDB PowerbaseRdf-icon.png
(spook)
Born 17 July 1939
Mandatory Palestine
Nationality Israel
Founder of International Institute for Counter-Terrorism
Shabtai Shavit was the Director of Israel's Mossad intelligence agency from 1989 to 1996.[1]

Career

Shavit held a variety of positions within the Mossad for over 32 years, prior to becoming head of the agency in 1989. He was Military Governor of the Southern Command from 1958-1959, served in Sayeret Matkal, and received an advanced degree from Harvard University.[2]

After retiring from work in the security services, Shavit was the CEO of Maccabi Health Services Group for five years.[3]

Since 2001 Shavit has been the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism (ICT), Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya, Advisor to the Israeli National Security Council, and Advisor to the Sub-Committee on intelligence of the Knesset, Committee on Foreign Affairs and National Security. He is also President and CEO of EMG Israel, and Chairman of Athena Human & Technology Integrated Solutions Ltd.[4]

Lebanon War

In the wake of the 2006 Lebanon conflict, Shavit emphasised to journalist Seymour Hersh that Israel's decision to go to war was independent of the United States:

We do what we think is best for us, and if it happens to meet America’s requirements, that’s just part of a relationship between two friends. Hezbollah is armed to the teeth and trained in the most advanced technology of guerrilla warfare. It was just a matter of time. We had to address it.[5]

On Iran

In December 2007, Shavit criticised a US intelligence assessment that Iran had abandoned its nuclear weapons programme:

I believe we should be very hesitant in accepting this (US assessment). First, intelligence exists to err. Second, American intelligence time and again has made mistakes in the past. Three, we shouldn't rule out the possibility that often intelligence is being used for political purposes and hidden agendas.[6]

In a November 2007 brief for the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs Shavit advocated a hardline approach to analysing Iranian intentions:

Still, for all practical purposes, for the intelligence officer this question is academic. The recommendation of any intelligence officer would be that the state should prepare for the worst-case scenario and not for any lesser eventuality. In this case, it means that Israel and maybe others should prepare for the eventuality that a nuclear Iran will use this capability.[7]

He went on to advocate a doctrine of pre-emption towards pre-emptive threats:

My opinion is that since there is an ongoing war, since the threat is permanent, since the intention of the enemy in this case is to annihilate you, the right doctrine is one of pre-emption and not of reaction. To use reaction as the main strategy means to sit quietly and wait until the enemy comes to attack you. But when we are dealing with an enemy which plans all the time and waits only for the opportunity in order to attack, what is the point even morally to wait and only do something when he comes to attack?[8]

Herzliya Conference

At the eighth Herzliya Conference in January 2008, Shavit said that the Middle East conflict was more complex and more threatening than at any time in the past":

"The axis of evil is Iran – Damascus – Hezbollah - Hamas. These four entities work in collaboration. The main threat is their aim to break the backbone of Israeli citizens, and not necessarily to cause damage for its own sake. To this we must add the rocket and missile capabilities of Syria and Iran, and the advanced anti-aircraft missiles that will soon be deployed in these countries by Russia – even though Russia is still denying this."[9]



References

  1. About Us - Directors, Mossad, accessed 24 May 2009.
  2. Mr Shabtai Shavit, International Institute for Counter-Terrorism, accessed 24 May 2009.
  3. Mr Shabtai Shavit, International Institute for Counter-Terrorism, accessed 24 May 2009.
  4. Mr Shabtai Shavit, International Institute for Counter-Terrorism, accessed 24 May 2009.
  5. Seymour Hersh, Watching Lebanon, New Yorker, 21 August 2006.
  6. Greg Sheridan, Israel's Fear and Loathing, The Australian, 8 December 2007.
  7. Shabtai Shavit, The Challenge of Intelligence Assessment Regarding International Terrorist Organizations, Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, 5 November 2007.
  8. Shabtai Shavit, The Challenge of Intelligence Assessment Regarding International Terrorist Organizations, Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, 5 November 2007.
  9. Shabtai Shavit, former head of the Mossad: "the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a greater threat today than in the past", Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya, accessed 25 May 2009.