Used to be that if you wanted to work for one of the world’s best espionage agencies, you had to be recruited under some bridge at dusk by a gentleman in a fedora twirling his umbrella. These days, however, you can just answer a Facebook ad. But not if you’re old.
The Mossad, never too chatty about its hiring practices, came into a spot of trouble this week after Israeli papers revealed two embarrassing details. First, the Jewish state’s celebrated spymasters are now attracting candidates by advertising on social media. And second, the Mossad’s Facebook ads are designed to appear only on the timelines of individuals aged 21 to 45.
This discriminatory practice received wide coverage last month when ProPublica reported that dozens of companies, including Amazon, Verizon, UPS, and Facebook itself were using the social media platform’s algorithms to exclude older users from seeing their job ads.
The Mossad being a government agency, it is almost certainly in violation of Israeli law, which prohibits employers from discriminating against job applicants based on their age. The Mossad denied the report, saying that it “invested significant efforts in making its variety of positions more accessible to the population at large. The various job openings in the Mossad, those advertised on the Mossad’s website and those featured on Facebook alike, are open to everyone and no one is restricted from applying. The Mossad’s policy is to recruit employees without placing limitations on age as a prerequisite for application. Any request to join its ranks is examined according to the demands of the position and the candidates’ resumes, without giving special weight, for good or for bad, to the candidates’ age.”
The Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security service, was likewise reported to advertise on Facebook exclusively for candidates aged 23 to 34, and similarly denied the allegations.
On a related note, Eli Cohen, one of the Mossad’s most celebrated agents, was 38 when he first departed for Syria, where he lived under a false identity for three years, transmitting crucial information back to Jerusalem. Isser Harel, who took over the agency a year after it was created, flew to Buenos Aires to personally oversee the abduction of Nazi war criminal Adolph Eichmann. He was 48 at the time. And, as far as we know, neither Cohen nor Harel were particularly active on Facebook.