Barry Rubin is a first-rate writer, scholar, and person, but no one would ever mistake him for Mario Andretti. He’s the kind of guy you might want with you as a partner on Jeopardy, but maybe not if you’re trying to find your way out of the Istanbul bazaar.

This is all by way of saying we got lost yesterday on our way driving [REDACTED] of Tel Aviv to an appointment at the Meir Amit Intelligence & Terrorism Center (ITC) at the Israel Intelligence Heritage & Commemoration Center (HCC). Barry took a couple of wrong turns and we ended up at the gate of the new headquarters of the [REDACTED] agency — an organization that has been written about frequently in novels.

Naturally they were surprised to see us. A young man with an M4 stepped out of a car and asked to see our IDs. He stared at our U.S. passports with some amusement as Barry explained at length (possibly more than was necessary) in Hebrew who we were. Then the young man sent us on our way with the proper directions.

A few minutes later we wound up rather miraculously at our destination where we were met by Dr. Yoram Kahati, deputy director & senior analyst of the aforementioned center. It was worth the wait — and the confusion.

The Meir Amit Intelligence & Terrorism Information Center is actually a tiny museum on a military base. consisting of blood-curdling displays of the history and activities of Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, etc, a kind of Madame Tussaud’s of terror organizations. (Note to B. Obama: Al Qaeda existed before bin Laden and did not vanish at his death,)