My mind has been filled, like much of the news, with what Anat Kam, the 23-year-old “journalist” did with documents she stole during her army service. I’ve spoken to many people about it, to regular Israelis, to friends, to family, to soldiers. And as I thought…I remembered something.
About three years ago, the US Consulate in Jerusalem decided to hold an auction, selling off used furniture, computers, file cabinets, etc. Our company was about to establish a Training Center in Har Hotzvim and this seemed like the perfect opportunity for us to furnish and decorate the new offices. Items were organized in Lots. If you wanted the computers, for example, you had to bid on all of them. We put bids on several Lots of items and a short time later learned that we had “won” on the Lot of file cabinets.
When we had the cabinets in place, I was shocked to discover hundreds, even thousands of documents. Some stamped “Secret.” When piled on a table, the stack reached over a meter high. There were social security numbers of US Marines who had served in Israel; travel instructions and documents; proposals for programs the US supported in Israel (joint Israeli-Palestinian projects; Peace Now projects, etc.). There were pictures of Arafat shaking hands with US diplomats, and much more.
My first thought was to call the Consulate and ask how they could be so stupid. I had Mohammed’s number – he was the one in charge of the sale and, I would assume, the one responsible for having prepared the items for sale. In the end, I closed the cabinets and decided to think what to do.
More time passed than I care to admit. The documents were shoved behind hundreds of plastic cups, coffee, sugar. Life goes on here in Israel at an incredible rate and with work, five children (one who got married, one who entered the army), my thoughts didn’t return to the documents for a long while.
Ultimately, for the good of the US, as Anat Kam would most assuredly say, I was given a contact at Fox News. They promised not to use, publish, or release any document. Their angle was the incredible incompetence and stupidity that could have led to a major security breach.
Fox News aired the report, but before they did, they contacted the US Consulate for a comment. Years later, they still had no idea they’d compromised themselves. At first they denied it, but in the face of a faxed copy of some of the documents, they had to admit their mess up.
Two American representatives came to my office, after checking their records, and demanded the files. I didn’t like their attitude; or their threats. They went to the Israeli police, who came and demanded the files. They said that I was holding stolen property; so I showed them the receipt that I had bought it. The Israeli police decided to be judge and jury; threatening me with arrest if I didn’t give them the documents. I again showed them the receipt from the US Consulate – there had been no theft, no treason. Any damage that might have been done, was done because of the sheer incompetence of the US Consulate who was now harassing an Israeli citizen to cover up their negligence.
I decided in the scope of things, my point had been to make the US Consulate realize what they had almost allowed to happen with their carelessness. There had been no security breach…because I didn’t allow it. Never were the social security numbers published; never the travel details and tax information compromised. The only thing Fox News focused on was the fact that the documents had been left in the cabinets and never on specific details of what was in the documents themselves.
This is where it gets interesting and relevant to today. I gave the Israeli police the papers, feeling that they would thus be my witness to their having been returned. They immediately turned them over to the Americans, but still it wasn’t good enough for them and so the Israeli police continued to do their bidding.
I was called down to the police station and interrogated. “I’ve given you the papers, what more do you want?” I asked the police. They told me I had to come down and so I did.
Did I have any more papers? I was asked and threatened. Would I sign a paper saying I had given them all over? Would I sign a paper promising not to do anything more with them. I’ve gone to Fox News, you idiots, I wanted to say. What more could I do? My goal was never to damage the US security; only to show how they themselves had compromised their own people.
“Why is it,” I asked the Israeli police, “that when the Americans ask you to jump, you simply ask them how high?” The policeman smiled at me and said, don’t be right, be smart. I have always hated that phrase.
Out of my own good will, I had returned them. If the Americans wanted to pursue this, let them – to their own embarrassment. I was finished, I told the Israeli police. Tell the Americans they should count themselves lucky that I bought those papers and not someone else.
This all came back to me as I heard about the recent scandal with Anat Kam. In this case, there was no error – she went looking for these documents. She stole them, violating the trust of the nation of Israel, her superior officers and more. To work in that office, she must have passed extensive security checks and promised not to violate the trust. All this she broke and one can only assume that her motives were as dirty as her actions.
If the Israeli justice system was prepared to charge me with theft of documents I had never stolen, they certainly should be charging Anat Kam with that and much more. The media is quick to defend Kam as their darling representative. What she did was reprehensible and wrong. Whatever those documents contained, there seems to be no question that she stole many related to sensitive operations that have nothing to do with anything beyond the security of Israel and the safety of our citizens and soldiers.
The sheer arrogance of this young woman thinking she has a right to endanger our nation, or the intelligence to even know if she has done this, is staggering. Truth is not built on lies; honor is not built on dishonorable acts. There is no honor here, no whistle blowing, no integrity. This is a woman who wanted her time in the lime light. She approached different journalists until she found one willing to trade with her, willing to profit for his paper over the honor and safety of our people. Anat Kam got her fame; now it is time for jail.
In my case, the documents were returned with no security compromise, no theft, no dishonor, and certainly, no blackmail or bribery.
The Israeli police assured me that they were prepared to follow the instructions of the US Consulate and file charges against me (for a theft that did not exist, against documents that were returned and never compromised). I assume in this case that the Israeli police will do no less for the State of Israel than it was prepared to do for the United States Consulate.