Once bitten twice shy

July 23rd, 2011 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Derek Cheng at NZ Herald reports:

 The Israelis at the centre of spying suspicions say the allegations are ridiculous and insulting – and they are demanding an apology. …

Mr Jordan said last night he and his friends were backpackers, not spies.

“It’s a big lie, and it’s rubbish,” he told 3 News.

“When I was in New Zealand, I was just a backpacker and was travelling New Zealand.” …

Israeli search and rescue team head Hilik Magnus said he helped facilitate their quick departure.

It was “ridiculous, impolite and even rude” to think that their swift departure was suspicious, he said.

“What should three youngsters do when one of their friends has died? Stay in the park without their belongings? Should they sit in the park and wait? Or should they go home, hug their families and share their sorrow with the family of their friend [who died]?” …

Mr Magnus, who led a seven-person team to Christchurch, said it was “total bullshit” to think that any spy activity was going on.

He denied reports that his team was caught in the Red Zone and had to be escorted out by police.

He said the team was allowed in the restricted area only once – under police supervision – to retrieve to belongings of dead Israelis Mr Levy and Mr Ingel.

“We are going to demand an apology [from the Southland Times, which broke the story] and if they don’t do it, we are going to sue. It is a stupid story. Nothing connected to reality.”

I have great sympathy for the three young backpackers who not only lost a mate, but had these allegations to deal with. Likewise it has been tough on the families of other Israelis killed.

And if there were factual errors in the Southland Times story, they should of course be corrected.

But in terms of the issue of the initial suspicions of the security agencies, the reality is once bitten twice shy. The attempt to get false NZ passports a few years ago by Israeli intelligence agencies was incredibly stupid and damaging. If that attempt had never occurred, then I doubt this whole issue would have occurred. But it is natural for our security agencies to be more vigilant or suspicious when there is a track record like has.

I am a defender of much of what Israel does, as they do get treated unfairly and discriminated against in many ways. But I am not an uncritical defender. Actions have consequences, and if you abuse a friendly country’s hospitality once, then it is no surprise that security agencies will be more vigilant in future.

The young Israelis and their families (and the USAR team led by Mr Magnus) are innocent victims in all this, and will be justifiably angry at having to defend their names and reputations. They have my sympathy. But some of their anger should be directed at the former Israeli Government which authorised the attempted passport identity theft in the 2000s. If they had not done that, this whole episode might not have ever happened.

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43 Responses to “Once bitten twice shy”

  1. krazykiwi (9,186 comments) says:

    But some of their anger should be directed at the former Israeli Government which authorised the attempted passport identity theft in the 2000s. If they had not done that, this whole episode might not have ever happened

    You think the media, braying liberals and closet commies only go after anything Israelii because of that passport fraud?

    As for directing anger and the actions of former Governments, we seem not to demand that of our many German visitors. Or Russian. Or English.

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  2. reid (16,471 comments) says:

    Yes an interesting unanswered question about that whole passport affair was how come Clark dropped her demand for the Israelis to publicly reveal why they wanted that passport in the first place. She publicly said that was part of the deal to resolve this issue but when they announced the resolution there was no mention of it and unfortunately none of the MSM at the time was astute enough to notice so it just disappeared off the radar.

    It’s quite obvious that if the Israelis who incidentally were behind Stuxnet at Bushehr did hack in then they would have access to any data that raised issues about the identity of any passport who their agents had in use or was in their stockpile. That would be quite useful to know, on an ongoing basis. But who knows that’s not necessarily the only benefit.

    What is quite obvious is that neither our side or theirs are going to discuss it in public. I do like the almost typical outburst from the father, I’m amazed we haven’t yet been accused of anti-semitism but if not, we soon will be.

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  3. Johnboy (16,597 comments) says:

    Does anyone know if any French citizens were involved in the Christchurch earthquake? :)

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  4. Lance (2,655 comments) says:

    So is our SIS like the Keystone cops?

    Because leaks to a paper by a secret service kinda smacks of incompetence. Not to mention the at best flimsy grounds for suspicion.

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  5. reid (16,471 comments) says:

    So is our SIS like the Keystone cops?

    Maybe our SIS is like our SAS Lance. I certainly hope so and there is no reason why it shouldn’t be. It’s been along time since the pie and playboy in the briefcase incident and now and then some interesting events pop up. I remember about ten years ago there was that incident where someone got taken out on the Vic Park flyover in Auckland, can’t recall the details but that had SIS/SAS all over it. MSM of course completely missed it.

    But seriously the SIS and GCSB are both quite likely not to be staffed with incompetent, stupid people, just like our SAS probably doesn’t have a lot of pussies in its ranks.

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  6. Viking2 (11,471 comments) says:

    Faux outrage. They should get on with their life i.e. get over it., instead of bleating like socialists.
    As for suing. Good luck with that. you need a visa to come to NZ.
    Got one that will let you in when called to Court???

    Some people.

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  7. Southern Raider (1,830 comments) says:

    The thing that pisses me off is the ignorance of the Southland Times editor who’s complete basis for the story was the fact the Israeli’s had more than one passport each.

    As soon as I read this I said to the guys at work that the article didn’t state they had different names on them or were not legitimate.

    FFS I know heaps of people who have multiple passports. One of them is a 4 year old kid and no he’s not Israeli.

    What the hell was this editor smoking if he thought building the story of his career around the passports was a good idea?

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  8. Southern Raider (1,830 comments) says:

    And pissing off a reasonable sized group of potential tourists is a real good idea for the Southland economy. Lots of Israelis like to spend time and money in NZ. They also tend to go to the out of the way locations which is good for regioal towns.

    The people of Southland should be the ones demanding an apology from their idiot editor.

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  9. David Bisman (4 comments) says:

    DPF, you make a simple error. You state, “The attempt to get false NZ passports a few years ago by Israeli intelligence agencies was incredibly stupid and damaging”. Yet there is absolutely zero evidence whatsoever that this is the case. Helen Clark (a woman who chose to extend a meeting with the Iranian Foreign Minister who had 48 hours earlier called for the destruction of Israel in contravention of International Law, rather than show her face at the Parliamentary event following the desecration of Wellington’s Jewish Cemetary), made the claim AFTER the criminals had served their time and been deported. No charges were ever laid with regard to espionage.

    Indeed, even though goverments typically do not apologise for the actions of their citizens abroad (cf. John Kirk, Malcolm Fraser, Chris Carter, etc.) when the President of Israel issued a fulsome apology (as La Clark had demanded) it was summarily rejected and another demanded. The second, weaker, apology was sat on for six weeks and finally accepted on the eve of a National Party Conference in a cynical (and successful) attempt to distract the attention of the media.

    There has never been a shred of evidence offered that intelligence agencies were involved. Until there is then I’ll stick with Westminster Law and declare: “innocent until PROVEN guilty”.

    [DPF: Two Israelis were found guilty in a court of law. It is of course possible they were not acting for the Government, but this is incredibly unlikely - in fact beyond reasonable doubt. As they would not testify, of course one can not prove whom they were working for, but it is obvious]

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  10. adze (2,126 comments) says:

    Of course, summarily judging a nation’s rescue effort as “incompetent” from the other side of the world isn’t rude at all.

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  11. Lance (2,655 comments) says:

    @reid
    So leaks to a paper by a secret service is a competent act according to you?

    Wow

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  12. reid (16,471 comments) says:

    So leaks to a paper by a secret service is a competent act according to you?

    Firstly Lance we don’t know who the source(s) are so I’m not sure why you’re assuming it was necessarily an SIS insider for it doesn’t have to be unless you know something I don’t.

    Secondly if the allegation is true: i.e. they were spies and they were up to something, I don’t quite get the hacking connection and the van but assuming it were all true for the sake of argument and I were the SIS, there are a number of reasons I can think of as to why it would be advantageous to leak it to the MSM.

    So I don’t quite see what your point is.

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  13. Lance (2,655 comments) says:

    @reid
    Oh… I don’t know, maybe a spy who can’t keep a secret is fucking useless.
    But you clearly think otherwise

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  14. Paul G. Buchanan (294 comments) says:

    Good point David.

    Reputation and precedent are important referents in the international security business. Israel has a reputation for using sayanim (“helpers” who are Jewish citizens of other states or Israeli travelers who provide information and do tasks for the Mossad in foreign countries out of loyalty to Israel), and are known to send young intelligence officers, often in male/female pairs posing as couples, on foreign training missions where they pose as travelers. Israel also has a precedent for engaging in covert operations in NZ in the form of the 2004 attempted passport fraud in which there was at least one local “helper” involved. It has a reputation for using “cloned” foreign passports when undertaking foreign intelligence missions, and the NZ passport is known to be very valuable on the black market and intelligence circles because of its perceived neutrality. Thus, when the 3 surviving Israelis left the country with unusual speed, facilitated by the Israeli embassy, warning flags went up at the SIS.

    The issue of multiple passports for one victim hinges on the number and the identities and nationalities on them. If there were just two (as the government states) for the deceased driver that would be understandable given that israeli passports are refused in many places and dual citizens routinely use more than one travel document. Even a third passport in the same name is not unusual for someone who has been raised and lived in several countries. But if there was indeed five or six passports as has been alleged in the original story, and these had multiple identities as well as nationalities, then things get suspicious. We may never learn the truth of the matter in this regard.

    The issue of the unauthorised SAR team has to do with the victims’ families desperate attempts to get a focused search going for their loved ones at a time when local SAR was stretched thin and things were chaotic in the quake zone. The families hired a private Israeli SAR team that had the last known locations of the victims as their search target, and this team did not obey diplomatic niceties in securing permission because they were on a very time sensitive private mission. The fact that at least one of the Israeli SAR crew had past military and intelligence ties is no surprise given Israeli conscription and its network of helpers, but means little in this context. As for the Israeli forensic team helping with victim ID–they would have had access to police and other public records as part of their assigned duties with regard to identifying the dead and wounded. If Netenyahu and Key spoke more than once about the quake that would be unusual, but more likely that was due to genuine Israeli concerns with quickly recovering the 3 deceased compatriots for proper burial (since Jews bury their dead quickly).

    In any event, given precedent and reputation, the SIS launched an investigation triggered by the hasty exit of the three survivors while the cops did a forensic accounting of their data banks given the access of the Israeli forensic team. The SAR team was made to leave, Israeli cultural sensitivities regarding their dead compatriots notwithstanding. The govt says nothing untoward was found by both investigations, and I guess we have to take its word for it unless further revelations come out. If the Israelis are innocent of any wrong-doing as the survivors claim, then they are just another reminder of how innocents can get caught up in international disputes due to the actions of their governments. They are, in other words, victims of reputation and precedent, not prejudice.

    It was unfortunate that PM Key’s original statement on the matter was defensive and obfuscatory, since as Minister of Security and Intelligence he signed off on the SIS investigation and would/should have known the results prior to the story breaking. Had he just fronted on the facts as outlined above, the story would have died by mid day. But his comments just fueled the speculative fires for several hours until a crafted press release was issued, but by that time the conspiracy theorists and Israel-haters were in full flight.

    I think that on this matter, the SIS is to be commended for flagging the hasty exit and moving to investigate the activities of the 6 Israelis leading up to their being n Christchurch on Feb 22, as well as coordinating with he Police with regards to the SAR and forensic teams. That is simply good counter-intelligence trade-craft.

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  15. Johnboy (16,597 comments) says:

    We know you are a Jew Southern Raider! (self confessed).

    Bet you are their Mossad controller and currently hatching an evil plot to circumcise us all!

    Do your worst. I will die before giving up pork chops! :)

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  16. Johnboy (16,597 comments) says:

    Paul G Buchanan’s posts are almost as long as his blog name and just as riveting! :)

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  17. David Bisman (4 comments) says:

    Paul G. Buchanan: You miss my point and repeat the canard. There is not one single shred of evidence to link Mossad (or any other agency) or the Israeli authorities to the 2004 passport scam. BTW, that same year a group of Saudi nationals was caught with 50 fake NZ passports. What was the difference between these tow cases? Nothing other than Helen Clark’s Socialist inspired anti-semitism!

    And the beat goes on…

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  18. Mark53 (12 comments) says:

    Lets not rule out the possibility that a hick journalist from a hick paper made it all up. Time for him to get back on his lithium. The article is full of inaccuracies and based purely on a conspiracy theory.

    As for the SIS, they present in this case as rank amateurs. Surely they have better things to do with their limited resources than this.

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  19. reid (16,471 comments) says:

    It was unfortunate that PM Key’s original statement on the matter was defensive and obfuscatory, since as Minister of Security and Intelligence he signed off on the SIS investigation and would/should have known the results prior to the story breaking. Had he just fronted on the facts as outlined above, the story would have died by mid day. But his comments just fueled the speculative fires for several hours until a crafted press release was issued, but by that time the conspiracy theorists and Israel-haters were in full flight.

    I think that on this matter, the SIS is to be commended for flagging the hasty exit and moving to investigate the activities of the 6 Israelis leading up to their being in Christchurch on Feb 22, as well as coordinating with he Police with regards to the SAR and forensic teams. That is simply good counter-intelligence trade-craft.

    Paul, welcome back.

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  20. reid (16,471 comments) says:

    Lets not rule out the possibility that a hick journalist from a hick paper made it all up.

    Apparently he used to be the head reporter for the Dom Post Mark.

    Why would someone like that do anything journalistically unethical let alone with something as so obviously globally explosive as this?

    Why would a man in his position with his reputation, make it all up?

    Is it an unsolvable riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma?

    ???

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  21. mikenmild (11,247 comments) says:

    There was a definite story here: there was a security investigation and there now appears to be an inquiry into the source of the revelations. Good journalism.

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  22. Mark53 (12 comments) says:

    Reid

    perhaps there is a reason that hick journalist is no longer at dompost

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  23. MyNameIsJack (2,415 comments) says:

    Hello Little Bird.

    I don’t think we required a fulsome applogy from Israel, all though that is what they often give, I think we demanded a full appolgy.

    I don’t know the truth of this latest story, neither do you, but there is some sort of smell that warrants further investigation, especially in the light of the PM’s comment about National Interest.

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  24. David Bisman (4 comments) says:

    I know why they were in Chch, what they were doing, why they left so quickly, why they have not commented, why they each had two passports, who helped them, how and why. All that means that I know, to a moral certainty, that they were not anything other than backpackers.

    I also know that there has not been one shred of evidence produced to link the 2004 criminals ro rge Israeli authorities.

    Once bitten…

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  25. MyNameIsJack (2,415 comments) says:

    (OT)

    David, are you still in Dunners, or have you moved to warmer climes?

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  26. David Bisman (4 comments) says:

    Still in Sunny Dunedin.

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  27. metcalph (1,430 comments) says:

    I also know that there has not been one shred of evidence produced to link the 2004 criminals ro rge Israeli authorities.

    Except for the public statements of the Israeli Ambassador:

    A third group of Israelis, a victim identification unit sent by the Israeli government, had been welcomed as soon as it arrived and worked alongside groups from other countries helping to identify the earthquake victims, Mr Tzur said. Members of the unit had a lot of experience and were asked to stay on helping for 10 days.

    “I am very upset that intelligence agencies are telling you they had suspicions of any of these people.

    “Yes, there was some regrettable history of Mossad involvement in New Zealand, in 2004, and they have apologised for that and we have put it beyond us. Now, we are moving forward.”

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/5311497/Quake-victims-no-Mossad-agents

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  28. valeriusterminus (243 comments) says:

    Hey DPF
    The Oslo news has been around a while now… and reputable media has already posited the name of the raving Zionist allegedly responsible for the carnage. Appears the Norsk TV2 screening last evening of the Young Labour campers on Utoya Island holding the “Boikott Israel” banner may have been too much for Anders B. Breivik.
    I had hoped you would have posted on this by now.

    P.S. – Philbest – It appears Anders B. Breivik is a desciple of FJORDMAN – maybe like you – should you worry us?

    Some suggest ABB is one and the same FJORDMAN – probably not eh?

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  29. valeriusterminus (243 comments) says:

    Link to Norway TV2 story

    http://translate.google.com/translate?js=n&prev=_t&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&layout=2&eotf=1&sl=auto&tl=en&u=http%3A%2F%2Fpolitisk.tv2.no%2Fnyheter%2Fst%25C3%25B8re-om-israel-palestina-konflikten-%25E2%2580%2593-okkupasjonen-ma-opph%25C3%25B8re-muren-ma-rives-og-det-ma-skje-na%2F

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  30. side show bob (3,660 comments) says:

    There would have been a lot of lefty wives with smiles on their faces last week. Many of their menfolk would have had a hard on all week such would have been the excitement. What marvelous news, bring on the hate, Israeli spies, does it get any better. Just a another beat up from the dark side.

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  31. Luc Hansen (4,573 comments) says:

    Paul’s right, of course, but I thought I said the same the other day, just more succinctly:

    (In these matters)

    Israel has form!

    So, if our SIS were NOT suspicious then they would be truly as incompetent as most of us think they are anyway.

    And the more Israelis protest, the more we think that they protest too much.

    I mean, for God’s sake, they’ve been sprung once, what do they expect, a standing ovation as they furiously steal passports from countries around the world?

    So that’s all well and good.

    But wait, there’s more!

    DPF:

    I am a defender of much of what Israel does, as they do get treated unfairly and discriminated against in many ways.

    Please, DPF, can you give examples of this “treated unfairly and discriminated against in many ways” ?

    Just one would be nice, to start with :-)

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  32. valeriusterminus (243 comments) says:

    SingleSideBand
    “Just a another beat up from the dark side”
    I see what you mean;
    -Sayanim Murdochs
    -Chch allegations
    -Subsequent recollections of Resnick – (Was that Tony I saw at the Krellies in MBGH!!?)
    -Flotilla issues in the air and on the water
    -Poor old Greece being so vulnerable right now, they just do what they are told.

    Yep my missus missed it these weeks – too much else to focus on

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  33. TripeWryter (716 comments) says:

    Here is my conspiracy theory:

    Israel did have an operation going. What, why, who knows? I didn’t think we had anything useful to Israel that they just couldn’t come and ask.

    The earthquake endangered it.

    Israel has been rumbled. The police and the SIS caught them with their fingers in the jar. Ooops…

    The ‘leak’ to the editor of The Southland Times was deliberate. Why the Times, who knows? Fred Tulett is an old-style journalist with huge experience.

    Perhaps whoever authorised the ‘leak’ decided that putting it under Tulett’s nose would be taken more seriously than if a story was broken by Jonathan Marshall in the Sunday Star-Times, or by some other downmarket tabloid such as the NZ Herald, its Sunday sister, or the Dompost.

    The leak has been deliberate. Israel has been publicly told: “We SEE you…”

    All the rest is flim-flam. Government denials? Par for the course. Governments always deny spy operations, always have.

    People denying they were spies? Well, they’re not going to admit it, are they? And then there is the definition of ‘spies’. None of the media spelled out what that meant.

    Of course they weren’t spies or working for an intelligence agency. They would have had cover-stories to back up everything that they said they were – just backpackers. Plausible deniability by everybody would be king.

    Add to that the outraged indignation and the being very quick to make jabs about being anti-Semitic.

    Did the Israeli Embassy expend the same effort in getting other Israelis out of Christchurch as they apparently did the trio concerned?

    The inquiries into who the ‘leaker’ was will not produce a leaker. The ‘leak’ was deliberate. Therefore the inquiries and all the hand-wringing attending them are just smoke and mirrors — a show.

    The point is, that the Israelis have been told that they’ve been rumbled. Yes, John Key will do enough to spare Israel’s feelings, but he, the police, the SIS, and other Intelligence agencies will KNOW what really happened.

    And the SIS, as in 1974 with Bill Sutch, and the pie and the Penthouse in the briefcase, and a couple of other occasions, is quite happy for its detractors to go on believing and promoting the view that they’re incompetent. But the Israelis now know different.

    Of course there was nothing in it. Heh…

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  34. joana (1,983 comments) says:

    Valeri
    He is not Fjordman.

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  35. Luc Hansen (4,573 comments) says:

    ah, but tell me this, Joana:

    Is he Mohammed?

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  36. gump (1,649 comments) says:

    Hilik Magnus said:

    “We are going to demand an apology [from the Southland Times, which broke the story] and if they don’t do it, we are going to sue.”

    Good luck with that Magnus. You can be sure that NZ lawyers will be more than happy to take your money.

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  37. joana (1,983 comments) says:

    I have just been reading in” Uncensored” that Israeli military Intelligence {MI} expanded its overseas activity ”monitoring foreign left wing organizations.”
    It continues..Ha’aretz reported that ”Israeli Miltary Intelligence is collecting information about left wing organizations abroad that the army sees as aiming to deligitimize Israel.”
    MI officials said the initiative reflects an upsurge in worldwide efforts to deligitimize Israel and question its right to exist.
    ”The enemy changes , as does the nature of the struggle , and we have to boost activity in this sphere,” an MI official said.
    The new MI group will monitor western groups involved in BDS campaigns against Israel [boycott, divestment and sanctions].
    The unit will collect information about groups that attempt to bring war crimes or other charges against high ranking Israeli officials , and examine possible links between such organizations and terror groups.
    Well this at least gives a clear reason for increased Israeli activity. There are also various sites to refer to.

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  38. Luc Hansen (4,573 comments) says:

    Hmm

    I wondered why this black car and its strikingly blonde female driver is always in my street when I leave home…

    Maybe I should tell her I wouldn’t mind being caught in a honeytrap? ;-)

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  39. kiwi in america (2,454 comments) says:

    Paul Buchanan

    An excellent summary – I believe the SIS were right to investigate given Israel’s prior form (as Luc describes it). As I posted earier in the week, the Tulett story was rather too full of supposition, juxstaposing of unrelated issues and plain incorrect facts all designed to lead to his conclusion that an Israeli spy ring was operating in NZ.

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  40. Right of way is Way of Right (1,122 comments) says:

    I don’t know if it’s just me, but when people start banging on about Jewish conspiracies, I get very nervous.

    But maybe that’s because both my parents, and my step-father, all lived in Holland during the early 1940’s!

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  41. Rodders (1,755 comments) says:

    As well as regarding Kyle Chapman as “a good guy” and John Key having “dead eyes”, joana believes what she reads in “Uncensored” magazine.

    Well, at least she’s consistent.

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  42. Neil (586 comments) says:

    As a somewhat reluctant local reader of the Southland Times, Mr Tulett’s efforts are pathetic. With all the enthusiasm that Biggles used to show Mr Tulett resembles Don Quixote riding around flailing at windmills.
    Mr Tulett would be far better improving the quality of a once excellent paper. So much of the news is unsourced from within NZ. You read of rapes and you think “My god is that happening in Southland, then squirreled away near ther end of the article is that it happened somewhere near Auckland.”
    The Southland Times is supposed to be the Provincial Paper of New Zealand. Either there were no other entries or the quality is so bad. The Otago Daily is making major inroads in fringe areas in Eastern Southland and Central Otago.
    Fred do something with your paper, not try to be Carl Bernstein and Robert Woodward and the Watergate scandal.

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  43. MCos (12 comments) says:

    I don’t know if it’s just me, but when people start substituting the word “Jewish” for “Israeli”, I can see which way this is going.

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