• Is Brussels, Belgium unsafe for Jews? Israel says couple killed in Jewish museum were victims of “hate,” but investigators believe duo was part of secret spook recruitment network.
By Richard Walker —
Israel’s leaders have made much ado about a Jewish couple who were gunned down in broad daylight at the Brussels Jewish Museum, claiming that the two retired accountants were targeted because they were Jews. In truth, however, it looks like the two were Israeli spies and were targeted not because of their ethnicity but due to their work in espionage.
The Israeli government has claimed the murder was a “hate crime” caused by growing anti-Jewish incitement across Europe, but investigators have a different interpretation.
On May 24, the couple was shot along with two other people in the museum in Brussels. A gunman armed with an AK-47 assault rifle first shot the couple and then the other people. He calmly chose his targets like a professional assassin, left the museum immediately following the shooting and then vanished in a maze of side streets. The two Israelis and one other person died at the scene while the fourth victim was left in critical condition.
Within hours, Israeli Prime Minster, Benjamin Netanyahu denounced what he called growing anti-Jewish sentiment in Europe, and accused European leaders of hypocrisy for not being loud enough in condemning the shooting as a hate crime.
Some commentators later suggested Netanyahu deliberately chose to react in a bellicose fashion to make headlines that would overshadow the Pope’s meeting with Palestinians, an event opposed by Netanyahu and his Likud Party.
It was not long before the media, especially Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz, questioned Netanyahu’s analysis of the shooting.
Journalists learned the dead couple, Miriam Riva, 53, and her husband, Emmanuel Riva, 54, were linked to Nativ, an organization with ties to Israel’s notorious spy agency, the Mossad, and to Netanyahu’s personal office.
The Israeli government was quick to insist the Rivas were merely accountants who had worked for Nativ, an organization that functioned effectively during the Cold War to bring Jews from the former Soviet Union to Israel. In other words, it was simply a tool used in an immigration process. Miriam Riva was also reported to have worked for the prime minister’s office and in Germany for six years. One Israeli news outlet announced the couple had been in “government service,” which was shorthand for saying they had been spies.
On May 30, Brussels police arrested a Muslim man from France on suspicion of the murder. According to reports, it is believed that the man, Mehdi Nemmouche, had been to Syria and trained with terrorists fighting the Syrian government. Those same terrorist groups have received weapons and training from the Central Intelligence Agency as well as Israeli intelligence. Nemmouche is resisting extradition to Belgium and “his legal team wants any potential trial to take place in France.”
A retired European intelligence officer, speaking to this writer on condition of anonymity, claimed most European intelligence agencies had long ago “logged Nativ as a Mossad asset for recruiting spies throughout Europe, especially Eastern Europe.”
He said Nativ had always portrayed itself as a social tool, enabling it to use the cover of being an immigration bureau to spy and recruit spies.
“It has played that same role in the Russian republics since the end of the Cold War. It remains the major player in the recruitment of spies in Jewish communities in Russia. No one in the intelligence world is fooled by its public persona, and my sources tell me the couple in Brussels had a history of espionage,” he stressed.
In 1998, a Russian security officer branded Nativ “extremely perfidious,” accusing it of running a spy network. His comments followed the ouster of a Nativ operative for passing classified plans for a new Russian battle tank to Mossad.
In the wake of the Brussels museum shooting, Russia has turned down several requests from Israel to allow Nativ to set up shop in Russia and its republics. The latest request was from Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, a former Soviet bloc immigrant, who was a Nativ operative when he lived in Moldova during the Cold War. The Russian Foreign Ministry rejected Lieberman’s request.
Richard Walker is the pen name of a former N.Y. news producer.