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Last week Meir Dagan stepped down after heading Israel’s Mossad since 2002. He turned the reins over to Tamir Pardo, who was Dagan’s deputy for two stints and is seen as ensuring continuity with his tough, results-oriented approach.
Dagan’s parting words on Thursday to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee can only be seen as encouraging. Yossi Melman, a writer on intelligence issues for the Israeli daily Haaretz, reports that Dagan said
Iran was still far from being capable of producing nuclear weapons and that a series of malfunctions had put off its nuclear goal for several years. Therefore, he said, Iran will not get hold of the bomb before 2015 approximately.
That forecast is especially heartening considering earlier Israeli assessments. As Melman notes,
In 2003, Israeli intelligence officials thought Iran would have its first bomb by 2007. In 2007, they thought it would be 2009, and a year later they put it at 2011. Now the date has moved to 2015. These adjustments were not the result of mistaken evaluations, but due to the difficulties Iran has encountered in advancing its program, largely because of the Mossad’s efforts.
And considering that, before 2002, the Mossad had registered some failures—particularly the botched 1996 attempt to assassinate Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal in Amman—and lost its once formidable, legendary status, the restoration of that status is the work of Meir Dagan.
On the day Dagan took over the Mossad, according to the Jerusalem Post’s editorial on his legacy, he “hung a photo on the wall of his office …of an elderly bearded Jew draped in a prayer shawl kneeling down in front of two Nazi soldiers with fists in the air.”
Dagan would tell visitors to “Look at this picture. This man, kneeling down before the Nazis, was my grandfather just before he was murdered. I look at this picture every day and promise that the Holocaust will never happen again.”
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