A 46-year-old Jerusalemite is being held on suspicion of offering himself as a spy for the Iranian regime. Israeli media reports that the suspect has not yet been named, but is being held on charges of espionage and abetting an enemy in time of war.
The suspect allegedly belongs to the anti-Zionist Neturei Karta Hasidic sect, which holds a theological view that is against the founding of the State of Israel. They deem that self-determination of the State of Israel is a violation of God’s Messianic plan and that a sovereign Jewish state will be established only when the Jewish Messiah arrives. For them, the Zionist ethos stands in sharp contrast to the traditional attitude of waiting patiently for the Messiah.
According to the indictment, the suspect flew to Berlin in January 2011 to meet with Iranian officials at the country’s embassy in the city. He attempted to enter the embassy on January 17, but found it to be closed. Returning the following day, he was led into an inner room at the embassy and there met with three unidentified men, however according to suspect’s testimony one man apparently introduced himself as Haji Baba.
The suspect told the Iranian officials that he denies the existence of the State of Israel and offered to spy for Iran. He also explained to the officials that he was not interested in asylum, and was “willing to murder a Zionist.”
The Iranian officials gave the suspect a note with an email address where they said he would find a message. They also asked the suspect to maintain telephone contact with them.
Three days after the meeting, the suspect returned to Israel and began to check the email address repeatedly and even attempted to contact “Haji Baba” by phone.
He was arrested in mid-July, but a gag order was placed on the case.
Attorney Yair Nehorai, who is representing the suspect, states that his client did not harm national security. “It’s important to remember that no harm was caused to the state or any other party. The [indictment] refers to events that took place over two years ago. We will study the evidence and deal with these serious accusations,” Nehorai said.
Israel faces a continuous battle not only for political and economic legitimacy on the international stage, but also internally with not only socio-religious divides but inter-religious conflicts that have the potential to destabilize Israel’s security more than any of Israel’s external enemies. In the words of columnist Bob Londsberry, “the only enemy to fear is the enemy within, the demon that speaks in your own voice, the assassin in the mirror.”