By Way of Deception
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|Publisher||St. Martin's Press|
|Followed by||The Other Side of Deception|
The title of the book is a translation of part of Proverbs 24:6, which Ostrovsky alleges is the former motto of the Mossad: be-tahbūlōt ta`aseh lekhā milkhamāh (Hebrew: בתחבולות תעשה לך מלחמה), which loosely translates to "By Way of Deception, Thou Shalt Do War."
Ostrovsky has stated that his name is not a pen name, and that if he wanted to hide, he would not have written the book in the first place.
The book starts with Victor's service in the Israeli Defense Forces, when, after taking psychological and other preliminary tests, he rejects a potential job as a Mossad assassin, but accepts a training katsa position. He specifically addresses the suicide bombing of the U.S. Marine compound in Beirut that killed several hundred U.S. Marines in Lebanon. He says Mossad learned of the time and location of the attack in advance through its network of informants, but only told the Americans general information, without the specifics. He attributes trafficking heroin as a source of raising funds for operations that were outside government regulation. He blames Mossad for assassinating Khadir, a PLO diplomat sent by Arafat to start peace negotiations with the Israeli government to prevent an invasion of Lebanon, as such action would promote an Israeli invasion of Lebanon to wipe out the PLO. His disillusionment grows, culminating in retirement after being scapegoated for a failed attempt at capturing top PLO officials. The second half alleges other operations between 1971 and 1985, such as Operation Sphinx 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.
Criticism by Benny Morris
Controversial Israeli historian Benny Morris has argued that the book is essentially a novel, as a case officer would not have had access to so many operational secrets, and intelligence organizations practice strict compartmentalization of confidential information.
In 1990, Israel tried to stop the book sale with a preliminary injunction, arguing that publication would "endanger agents in the field". This was the first (and to date, only) attempt of a sovereign state to stop a book publication in the United States. Lawyers for Israel convinced Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Michael J. Dontzin to issue the injunction, preventing the publication and distribution of By Way of Deception.
On Sept. 13, less than 48 hours after the injunction was issued, an appeals court threw it out. For the week of 7 October 1990, the New York Times best seller list  rated the book #1 on its non-fiction list.
- "BEST SELLERS: October 7, 1990". The New York Times. 7 October 1990.
- Bamford, James (October 14, 1990). "Mossad: From Zion to Gehenna : BY WAY OF DECEPTION The Making and Unmaking of a Mossad Officer By Victor Ostrovsky and Claire Hoy". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 26, 2012.