The question on many Arab-Israeli enthusiasts’ lips this week is did Israel’s ex foreign minister Tzipi Livni have sex with Arab men in service of her country?
Hardly surprisingly, the speculation was planted by a segment of the Arab press, who are today raking up a shady subject previously aired and buried in 2009. The thorny topic of a female 'spy' sleeping with the enemy has now resurfaced, courtesy of widely circulated Egyptian daily ‘Egypt Today’.
We know there’s no smoke without fire, but sometimes the Arab media – even more often than the BBC - gets carried away. Hacks in the Arab world are known for trading in conspiracy, and between questions of sex scandals getting lost in translation, and the obvious mistrust and mud-slinging that goes on, it can be quite the challenge to separate fact from fiction.
This week’s Israeli response to Egyptian sources suggests the latter - that it’s all fabrication and falsification. The Times of Israel hit back  with a strident denial of the Arab smear campaign's allegations, and counter-accused the Egyptian source of misconstruing comments made by Livni on her duties in service with Mossad. Contrived or selective misrepresentations are not unheard of between the two hostile camps and have cost the two sides 'peace' before.
Israeli voices traced the Livni libel that set Arab news wires on fire last week to a 2009 London interview that did indeed provoke questions of playing honeytrap for state security. They claim the interview- in which she said she had not been asked “to go to bed with someone for [her] country" - was originally conducted for Israeli media and re-published by the UK's Times.
In the original interview, Livni did touch on the loneliness she felt in the line of duty as a fresh Mossad agent in London. Also, she didn't spare any expense in sharing her gratitude to the Mossad for their countless rescues when she was operating for them. But the Egyptian report took this candid comment to a seedy and potentially besmirching conclusion.
Strands from the interview that probed into the ex-foreign minister's time with Mossad imply that the Israeli ex-stateswoman was given the green light by a high-ranking national Rabbi to sleep with the enemy to further security interests. A popular Jewish leader, Rabbi Ari Shfat, apparently issued a religious edict (similar to fatwas in the Muslim world) making it kosher for “Israeli women to have sex with the enemy in return for important information.”
Just this weekend, a Lebanese newspaper, Al Dayar, has stoked the Arab-Israeli sexual fire by naming Livni's Arab ‘flames’. A couple of names already - Saeb Erikat and Yaser Abed Rabo - which don't quite make a 'string' of conquests, but give substance to the suggestions. This journal also corroborrates the Rabbi role, which is extracted from the Times report of February 15, 2009.
Reading between the lines
The main difference between the story outlined by the Egyptian media to the London Times and Israeli press's recounting of the allegations is in the pinning-down of Livni to having actually admitted to conducting sexual relations with Arab officials. The Egyptians are happy to make the leap of faith in their arguably loose-lipped report from her ambivalence to an out and out 'confession'.
When asked about the subject of trading sex for information of strategic value to the state, she did not seem averse to the idea of applying herself to pillow talk with the enemy for a patriotic cause. And while staying non-commital, she simply acknowledged that she had never been asked while in service to sleep with anyone: “If you ask me if I was ever asked to go to bed with someone for my country, the answer is ‘no.’ But if I’d been asked to do it, I don’t know what I’d have said."
She adds that she places absolute trust in Mossad to divy out the agents' tasks as fit for purpose: "In the ‘office’ [Mossad’s term for itself] there is a job tailored for everyone.” Each spy to their own calling! She does not sound like one who would question orders, nor defect from duties.
But the Arab press have all they need to cast aspersions on her Arab-hating record, (denying any humanitarian crisis for Gazans in 2009 while in 'office'), confident that she bedded at least a few from the other side. In the Egyptian words, placed in her mouth: "I had sex with Arabs in return for ‘political concessions.’”
Still, why Livni, why now? What would possess the Arab press to break defamatory news of this has-been political player and pedal exaggerations just now (apart from an ongoing enmity)? Well say sources close to the compromised ex-Minister: “There are apparently those who fear Livni’s return to politics."
Those curious about whether the Israeli politician covorted with men over enemy lines, will do best to assume nothing until further evidence, preferrably from non-interested parties or press - that could stand up in a court of law - should come to light.
What do you think? Did Livni sleep with the enemy on numerous occasions? Was the lady spy involved in shady sexual dealings with Arab officials, or was she simply hinting at a willingness as a servant to Israel's national security interets to do as called upon?