Rise and Kill First: The Secret History of Israel's Targeted Assassinations

by Ronen Bergman

Other authorsRonnie Hope (Translator.)
Book, 2018



Call number

891 BER


New York : Random House, 2018


NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER * The first definitive history of the Mossad, Shin Bet, and the IDF's targeted killing programs, hailed by The New York Times as "an exceptional work, a humane book about an incendiary subject." WINNER OF THE NATIONAL JEWISH BOOK AWARD IN HISTORY NAMED ONE OF THE TEN BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY JENNIFER SZALAI, THE NEW YORK TIMES  NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The Economist The New York Times Book Review * BBC History Magazine * Mother Jones Kirkus Reviews The Talmud says: "If someone comes to kill you, rise up and kill him first." This instinct to take every measure, even the most aggressive, to defend the Jewish people is hardwired into Israel's DNA. From the very beginning of its statehood in 1948, protecting the nation from harm has been the responsibility of its intelligence community and armed services, and there is one weapon in their vast arsenal that they have relied upon to thwart the most serious threats: Targeted assassinations have been used countless times, on enemies large and small, sometimes in response to attacks against the Israeli people and sometimes preemptively. In this page-turning, eye-opening book, journalist and military analyst Ronen Bergman--praised by David Remnick as "arguably [Israel's] best investigative reporter"--offers a riveting inside account of the targeted killing programs: their successes, their failures, and the moral and political price exacted on the men and women who approved and carried out the missions. Bergman has gained the exceedingly rare cooperation of many current and former members of the Israeli government, including Prime Ministers Shimon Peres, Ehud Barak, Ariel Sharon, and Benjamin Netanyahu, as well as high-level figures in the country's military and intelligence services: the IDF (Israel Defense Forces), the Mossad (the world's most feared intelligence agency), Caesarea (a "Mossad within the Mossad" that carries out attacks on the highest-value targets), and the Shin Bet (an internal security service that implemented the largest targeted assassination campaign ever, in order to stop what had once appeared to be unstoppable: suicide terrorism). Including never-before-reported, behind-the-curtain accounts of key operations, and based on hundreds of on-the-record interviews and thousands of files to which Bergman has gotten exclusive access over his decades of reporting, Rise and Kill First brings us deep into the heart of Israel's most secret activities. Bergman traces, from statehood to the present, the gripping events and thorny ethical questions underlying Israel's targeted killing campaign, which has shaped the Israeli nation, the Middle East, and the entire world. "A remarkable feat of fearless and responsible reporting . . . important, timely, and informative."--John le Carré… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member RuMuse
I tried to read this book. I was not prepared for its content and I did not get far before I had to stop reading, feeling physically ill and heartsick.
LibraryThing member drmaf
I doubt there has been a nation in history that has so vigorously pursued an organizing campaign of eliminating perceived enemies around the world as Israel has since 1948. Totalitarian regimes (Soviet Union, Iran, Libya and most recently Putin's Russia) have certainly undertaken ad hoc executions
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of dissidents residing in other countries, but Israel's campaign of eliminating mostly Palestinian enemies wherever they live has been unrelenting and ongoing for the best part of 70 years. The Mossad, Shin Bet and the IDF have all played their part, and this book effectively and grippingly details the various successes and failures of particular programs aimed at taking out so-called terrorist leaders. The moral questions regarding these attacks is closely examined from the viewpoint of the participants themselves, from extreme hawks to conscience-tested doves.
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LibraryThing member HandelmanLibraryTINR
The first definitive history of the Mossad, Shin Bet, and the IDF’s targeted killing programs, hailed by The New York Times as “an exceptional work, a humane book about an incendiary subject.”
LibraryThing member prichardson
My word this book really communicated the dilemmas at the heart of the Israeli secret service. At times brutal, the pursuit of security for the state of Israel crossed moral and legal boundaries that alternately fascinates and appeals in equal measure. It is an incredibly detailed book running a
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chronological narrative of the history of Mossad operations giving an insight into a shadowy part of the Israeli state.
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LibraryThing member evatkaplan
BERGMAN HAS AN AGENDA--WE DID ALL THIS KILLING (MOSSD, SHIN BET) AND re still not ahead. We are still in same place with the Arabs still trying to get us out of Israel. Therefore, we should try a different way--BUT MY QUESTION--WHAT & WITH WHOM?
Bergman gives a lot of detain and facts & details make
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a bad image of Israel.
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LibraryThing member ikeman100
This is an intense and tragic book. It is to much death to read all at once. This is a well balanced look at hundreds of things Israel did right and completely wrong in the defense of their nation and Jews everywhere. It left me believing there can never be peace in this region of the world. There
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is simply to much dirty water under the bridge.
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LibraryThing member arosoff
This is a very detailed history of Israel's targeted assassination program, and to a lesser extent of its intelligence services. Ronen Bergman was able to interview many of the figures involved, and it's sobering and fascinating reading. Bergman doesn't shy from a moral judgment of the program:
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that although it was superficially successful, it came at a huge moral cost, and that Israeli leaders became overly reliant on it as a tool to avoid first war and then political negotiations. At the same time, he's aware of what drove them to use the tactic--a knowledge that Israel, especially in its early years, could not win an open war, and that other countries would not back them up (brutally illustrated in the story about Munich).
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