Thursday, May 19, 2016

Book review: The Labyrinth of Power: By The Former Director of the Mossad, Danny Yatom

Excellent memoir written by Danny Yatom, an ex-director of the Mossad, Israeli intelligence agency. Important for several reasons.

1) I do not know of any other ex-director of Mossad venturing to write his memoir. This is probably the first. It is such a secretive organization that till recently Israel had a policy of not disclosing the name of the current head of Mossad. (Correction 27 May 2016: Efraim Halevy, the man who replaced this very Danny Yatom also had written a book in 2006. I have read that also. Forgot about it completely. The name of the book is - Man in the Shadows: Inside the Middle East Crisis with a Man Who Led the Mossad. A very good book. )

2) He is the only director of Mossad to have resigned. That too because he took full responsibility for two failed covert operations which went drastically wrong and brought Israel a lot of disrepute and diplomatic embarrassment.

3) In this memoir, he dispassionately dissects what really went wrong with those two failed covert operations. One was to assassinate senior Hamas terrorist leader Khalid Meshal in Amman, Jordan and the second was surveillance against a Hezbollah operative gone wrong in Switzerland. Both operations were not safe and had too much risk. But the political leadership was in no mood to listen to the recommendations. As true professionals, the agents of Mossad tried to carry them out but failed. Then it became the responsibility of this man to clean up the mess and in the process write his own resignation letter. Good that he got an opportunity to tell his side of the story. Accepts some of his mistakes, shows what can be learned from them and moves on. Hallmark of a leader.

4) That one failure was not the end. Ehud Barak made him his senior aide and that gave him the opportunity to see the Israel & Palestine peace process from very close and be part of it. Majority of the book describes some of the major events such as peace talks with Syria, Jordan, Palestine. Excellent primer on conflict resolution and negotiation skills.

Not much in it if you are looking for the sensational covert operations and details. For that you better read some other books on Mossad. But if you want to read great memoir by a leader, read this!


sunaath said...

Mahesh, Thanks for telling us about the former head of Mossad and his integrity.

Mahesh Hegade said...

Thanks Sunaath, Sir.