- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 15, 2000

JERUSALEM At a time when Israel's economy is flying high, more than 1,000 highly educated young men and women have responded to unprecedented newspaper ads seeking candidates for for modest-paying jobs with Israel's secretive intelligence agency, the Mossad.
Most of the applicants, aged between 25 and 35, are reportedly high-caliber personnel who could almost certainly reap much richer rewards in the booming high-tech or business sectors.
The want ads, which come years after the CIA and Britain's MI6 similarly advertised for agents, were particularly startling in view of the Mossad's traditional aversion to publicity.
Until four years ago, the name of the serving head of the Mossad was never made public. The agency still does not have a spokesman, leaving announcements to be made by the office of the prime minister, to which it is attached.
Traditionally, the Mossad recruited agents among veterans of prestigious military units, at universities and among new immigrants from various countries.
Discreet ads were occasionally placed by an unspecified "government office" looking for ex-army officers. However, these methods are no longer adequate for recruiting the outstanding personnel the organization is seeking.
"For the younger generation, the Mossad is something from the past," said Nahik Nevot, one of a battery of retired Mossad personnel asked by the agency to brief journalists about the ad campaign. "They are not aware that it is still needed."
According to another veteran, Aliza Magen, the only woman ever to serve as deputy Mossad head, many of the new applicants are women.
"From what we've seen so far, many are of a high caliber," she said. "We hope to get many more applications." She estimated that perhaps one in 100 applicants would be hired.
The ad, which also appeared on the Web site of the prime minister's office (www.pm.gov.il), shows a gate with the emblem of a candelabrum opening onto a distant horizon dotted with candle flames.
"The Mossad Opens Up," says the headline over the Hebrew text. "Only you, in your heart, know that you are capable of much more of thinking differently, of going beyond the familiar to where the rare and the essential, ability and daring, intelligence and creativity converge." Applicants were asked to fax resumes.
The prime minister's office, in a press release, noted that the Mossad was competing directly with Israel's booming high-tech sector and business world.
"They are attracting quality people with high salaries, good conditions and social status, none of which the Mossad offers," the release said. The Mossad offers no social status since employees can never admit they work for it.
Most of the recruits are wanted as "case officers" to run agents abroad.
"To be a case officer," said one of the ex-Mossad briefers, Aharon Sherf, "one needs to know languages, to think creatively and to be daring and intelligent. The rest you'll learn."
Agents presumably are also needed to man the advanced electronic equipment the organization uses to tune in on its quarry. Given the close-in nature of the battle against terrorism, the Mossad has in the past resorted to assassination, but there is no indication that new recruits are being sought for that department.
The Mossad has also in the past staged spectacular kidnappings, including that of former Nazi official Adolf Eichmann from Argentina 40 years ago.
The prospect of peace with the Arab world is now closer than it has ever been, but the uncertain nature of that peace will require Israel to monitor its neighbors and others with a discerning eye for a long time.
"In a time of peace, intelligence is not less important," said Miss Magen. "It is more important."

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