First, if you’ve not read Elissa Goldstein’s fantastic story about her native Melbourne Jewish community, which has been benumbed by Prisoner X saga involving its own Ben Zygier, then you ought to have a read:
The question of how Zygier, raised by a prominent Zionist family, came to be imprisoned by the Israeli government in the harshest, most isolating conditions possible is one that is now dominating conversations in every quarter of the Melbourne Jewish community. Worldwide, there’s been a tsunami of media coverage, speculating on everything from the reason for his imprisonment—the dominant narrative was that he was a Mossad agent who betrayed Israel—to the whereabouts of his Israeli wife and two young children. But among Melbourne’s Jews these questions have a slightly different tenor—one of distress and sympathy for the Zygier family. In quiet conversations, everyone is wondering: How did this happen to one of ours?
For the rest of us invested in this story from a distance, it appears as though some contours of a narrative may be sharpening. Many papers are reporting the link about Zygier and the now-infamous Mossad hit on a Hamas weapons dealer in Dubai back in January of 2010. Speculation is swirling that Zygier may have been somehow involved in procuring the European and Australian passports for the job when he was caught in a vise that led to his demise.
Al Jarida, a liberal opposition newspaper, said that Mr. Zygier had provided the authorities in Dubai with “names and pictures and accurate details” in exchange for protection, but Israel kidnapped him from a hiding place and imprisoned him on charges of treason about a month after the Jan. 19, 2010, operation.
The Dubai plot, for which Israel has never acknowledged responsibility, led to diplomatic sanctions against Israel because fake passports from Europe and Australia were used in the operation. Australian journalists reported Thursday that Mr. Zygier, one of several people under investigation by the Australian intelligence service on suspicion of passport fraud, was arrested just before he was set to disclose Israeli secrets about the passports to the Australian government or the news media.
I’m sure we’ll have more soon.