by way explanation

By Way of Deception

By way of deception: The making and unmaking of a Mossad Officer is a book written by Victor Ostrovsky and Claire Hoy about Ostrovsky's career as a katsa in the Israeli Mossad.

Life story

This claims to be a true story about Mossad as seen by Victor Ostrovsky. The first part describes his experiences with the organization. It starts when Victor is first approached by the Mossad during his service in the Israeli Defense Forces and is subjected to numerous tests, including psychological ones. While at first rejecting an offer to be trained as a recruit for the assassin's squad, Ostrovsky eventually accepts an offer to become a katsa and joins a class of Mossad candidates going through tradecraft training. After successfully completing the training Ostrovsky begins working as a katsa (case officer).

Throughout the book, Ostrovsky claims to reveal details of the internal workings of the Mossad itself. Ostrovsky claims that Mossad has access to Jewish helpers all around the world called sayanim (sg. sayan). Their services can supposedly be requested on short notice and no questions are asked. Because of this, Mossad only needs 30-40 active case officers at any given time. He also explains the different departments functions and how liaisons are conducted with foreign intelligence agencies.

As he progresses as a katsa, Ostrovsky experiences growing disillusionment with the organization and its leaders, and begins to question its motives. This culminates in his retirement from the Mossad after being scapegoated for a failed attempt at capturing top PLO officials.

The title of the book is a translation of what Ostrovsky alleges is the former Mossad motto: be-tahbūlōt ta`aseh lekhā milkhamāh (Hebrew: בתחבולות תעשה לך מלחמה, "For by wise counsel thou shalt make thy war: and in multitude of counsellors there is safety." – Proverbs 24:6) where deception stands for wise counsel.

Mossad operations

The book describes not only his own experience but devotes the second half to other operations that Mossad allegedly carried out between 1971 and 1985, including:

  • Operation Sphinx – A Mossad operation where Iraqi nuclear scientists were recruited while in France to gather information about Iraq's nuclear reactor Osiraq, ultimately ending with the Israeli air strike in 1981.

Legal affair

In 1990 Israel tried to stop the sale of the book, by the means of a preliminary injunction. This was the first time that a sovereign state tried to stop a book publication in another sovereign state. However this claim was rejected by courts in the United States.


  • Ostrovsky, Victor. By Way of Deception. Wilshire Press. ISBN 978-0971759503
  • Publisher: Wilshire Press Inc. (January 1, 2002)

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