Snopes is not the Gospel on Double-Naught Spies


Note: I'm taking the week off on the Off the Beaten Path segment. I'll have a new post on that topic next Friday.

Perhaps you have seen this apparent chain email in your Inbox:

...Juval Aviv was the Israeli Agent upon whom the movie ' Munich was based. He was Golda Meir's bodyguard -- she appointed him to track down and bring to justice the Palestinian terrorists who took the Israeli athletes hostage and killed them during the Munich Olympic Games.

In a lecture in New York City a few weeks ago, he shared information that EVERY American needs to know -- but that our government has not yet shared with us.

He predicted the London subway bombing on the Bill O'Reilly show on Fox News stating publicly that it would happen within a week. At the time, O'Reilly laughed and mocked him saying that in a week he wanted him back on the show. But, unfortunately, within a week the terrorist attack had occurred.

Juval Aviv gave intelligence (via what he had gathered in Israel and the Middle East ) to the Bush Administration about 9/11 a month before it occurred. His report specifically said they would use planes as bombs and target high profile buildings and monuments. Congress has since hired him as a security consultant.

Now for his future predictions. He predicts the next terrorist attack on the U.S. will occur within the next few months…
The document goes on to list several predictions by Aviv about future terrorist incidents in the US. If you search this topic on Snopes.com, the useful debunking site, you’ll find this post:

FALSE (Claim)

Juval Aviv is indeed the president of New York-based Interfor Inc. (a corporate investigations firm), he was reportedly the source for the 1984 book Vengeance: The True Story of an Israeli Counter-Terrorist Team (the basis for the 2005 Steven Spielberg filmMunich), he is the author of Staying Safe: The Complete Guide to Protecting Yourself, Your Family, and Your Business, and he has made predictions about imminent terrorist attacks on the United States (and the forms they might take) similar to the ones described above.

However, some critics have expressed skepticism about Aviv's background, claiming that he has grossly exaggerated his "spymaster" credentials, as the Guardian maintained in a 2006 article about the film Munich:

“Our investigations show that Aviv never served in Mossad, or any Israeli intelligence organization. He had failed basic training as an Israeli Defence Force commando, and his nearest approximation to spy work was as a lowly gate guard for the airline El Al in New York in the early 70s. The tale he had woven [in Vengeance] was apparently nothing more than a Walter Mitty fabrication.”
I use Snopes regularly and, in general, they do good work. It is important to remember that Snopes and other informative sites on the Internet are simply tools and not necessarily the gospel on a given subject.

In this light, I think the people from Snopes are actually misleading on the subject. Reading their response, it is clear to me that Aviv's past and predictions should be labeled as "Unsubstantiated" rather than "False."

Though there are indications that the guy's spy credentials are misrepresented, the information offered by Snopes as from "critics" is far from conclusive. Also, Snopes' inclusion of his failed future attack prediction is irrelevant regarding his past employment experiences.

The most humorous thing in the Snopes post (and a significant clue that the author is far removed from his/her comfort subject area) is featuring those critics who called Aviv a "gate guard" as opposed to an employee involved in sensitive espionage. I’ll let the author in on a little secret--if one reviewed the resume of a former CIA or Mossad agent, you can be assured to see a misleading job history. One should actually expect to see a person involved in that occupation with vanilla previous employment listings including technician, security guard, buyer, janitor, or whatever.

Using only the Guardian's article as a basis for determination, does the Snopes author really expect the resume to list: "Covert Operative" or maybe “Double-Naught Spy?”

If Snopes’ researchers found Aviv’s resume to include the line: "1980-1997: Mossad Secret Agent who regularly shot small caliber rounds through an apparatus disguised as an umbrella"-—now, that would be something impressive-sounding but easily labeled as “False.”

5 comments:

Debbie said...

Great food for thought! I rely on Snopes for many things, and I have "heard" their slanted view often enough to not fully believe their take on everything.

The idea that an Israeli spy's credentials could be questioned because they can't be confirmed - that made me laugh! (Obviously they are doing their job well!!!)

J. J. in Phila said...

And Valerie Plame was just an energy consultant. :)

Erin said...

Haha great point! This is slightly off topic, but I think people saying the Swine Flu is getting blown out of proportion forget that scientists and the government have a better idea of the potential dangers of this thing that the average citizen. The virus' potential is probably worse than we think, and all this hubbub in the media is helping people be cautious and thus contain the outbreak.

The general public isn't party to a lot of information for reasons of security, mainly. How covert would a covert agent be if, like you wrote, his *true* occupations were reflected on his resume?

Erin said...

P.S. I didn't intend on sounding like a conspiracy theorist just then.

Slamdunk said...

Debbie: Thanks for the feedback.

Erin: Ha, too late Erin--you are first on my list to market any conspiracy theory t-shirts and coffee mugs that I make in the future for sale on the blog.

Happy Mothers Day!