One of the most annoying things about living in a small, insignificant country like NZ, is the way that the bigger players treat us with impunity. Even within our own borders. Of course the prime example is the 1985 bombing of the Rainbow Warrior by agents of the French foreign intelligence services. That was a highly visible event, and two of the agents involved got caught. But what of other operations? What else goes on in NZ that we never become aware of?
Obviously the current case in point is the presence of what appear to be a group of four Israeli agents in Christchurch. This has come to light one of them was among those tragically killed in the February earthquake. A detailed article in The Press (/ Southland Times / Fairfax) summarises a huge amount of detail:
Allegations of spying have received “angry” denials from the Israeli Ambassador and a similar response from the local Jewish community (see discussion by Audrey Young). A TVNZ piece originally titled “Key says not in ‘national interest’ to discuss spy allegations” has since been updated to read “Questions remain over Israeli spying claims”. There’s a good overview of coverage in NZ Politics Daily (at time of writing only online here). Tracy Watkins at Stuff says what many of us will be thinking:
Key will have to say more on Israeli spy claims
John Key’s reaction to today’s allegations about Israeli citizens operating out of Christchurch at the time of the earthquake is extraordinary.
Key was repeatedly asked today whether he could confirm or deny the facts of Fred Tulett’s explosive story carried by Fairfax today but refused, because he “deemed” that it was not in the national interests for him to do so. But he left enough unanswered questions that no-one can seriously believe it is in the national interest to let the story lie. …
But what Key can’t or won’t offer assurances on is what the Israelis were up to. His answers to date only fuel the perception that they were engaged in clandestine activity. …
At the moment, the huge blanks in Key’s response will only allow the impression to take root that maintaining good relations with Israel is what passes for the Government’s “national interest” test.
I couldn’t have put it better myself.