Book Review: How the British Helped the Birth of Israel’s Intelligence Service – Matti Friedman interviewed by Calev Ben-Dor (Fathom via Daily Alert)

Mar. 1, 2019

  • How the British Helped the Birth of Israel’s Intelligence Service – Matti Friedman interviewed by Calev Ben-Dor
    Spies of No Country, by Matti Friedman, tells the little known story of the origins of Israeli intelligence by following four young Jewish men from the Arab world who form the beginnings of Israel’s spy network through the 1948 War of Independence. Friedman said they were “recruited by a small, ad-hoc intelligence outfit within the Palmach called the Arab Section, which encourages Arabic-speaking Jews to cross enemy lines and gather intelligence in the Arab world….At the onset of the war, the section was no more than 20 agents, only half of whom survive.”
    “In Haifa they carried out a pre-emptive attack on a garage where the Arab militia was preparing a car bomb in the spring of 1948. And then when Haifa fell to the Haganah in 1948 and the Arabs begun to flee, the people in charge of the Arab Section realized that they have an opportunity to insert their agents into the Arab world by disguising them as refugees. They ran away to Lebanon and spent the first two years of Israel’s existence as Palestinian refugees.”
    “The roots of the Arab Section lie with the British….In the early years of the Second World War, when it looked like the German army was about to enter Mandatory Palestine through North Africa, the British and Jewish community in Palestine have a shared sense of panic. They realize they face real danger and plans are drawn up for a last defense of Haifa….Alongside those efforts, the British began using Jews as intelligence agents….They discovered in Palestine they had a Jewish population that came from across the world, who could pass perfectly for dozens of nationalities and they made use of it.”
    “One of the first things the British did was to set up ‘The German Section,’ comprised of German Jews who were supposed to pass as German soldiers were the Germans to invade Palestine….At the same time they needed people who could pass in the Arab world, which was pro-German in orientation….This is how the Arab Section is born, and it is populated with Jews from Arab countries. Some of the most important roots of the Mossad lie with the British SOE in 1941.” Matti Friedman is a former journalist for AP in Jerusalem (2006-11). (Fathom-BICOM)

Leave a Reply