The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

Israel honors terrorists

Egyptian-Jewish spy ring gets belated salute
, Jerusalem Post:

Fifty years after an Egyptian court convicted them of being Zionist agents, and 37 years after their release from Egyptian prisons, Marcelle Ninio, Robert Dassa and Meir Zafran were accorded military ranks Wednesday in recognition of their service to the state and their years of suffering. The three are the last surviving members of Operation Susannah, an Israeli spy and sabotage network.

Entry on the Lavon Affair, Wikipedia:

The aim of the 1954 Israeli Mossad project, codenamed Operation Suzannah was to bomb United States installations in Egypt, such as the United States Information Service offices, and blame Arabs, hoping it would harm Egyptian-American ties. It became known as the Lavon Affair or the Unfortunate Affair (Hebrew: העסק הביש pronounce: haesek habish), after the Israeli defense minister Pinchas Lavon who was forced to resign because of the incident.

Israeli Mossad agents from "Unit 131" planted bombs in several buildings, including a United States diplomatic facility, and intentionally left behind evidence implicating Arabs as the culprits. The conspiracy was intended to disrupt U.S. relations with Egypt but one of the bombs detonated prematurely and the Egyptian police swiftly found one of the terrorists. This arrest quickly led to the capture of eleven of the thirteen members of the spy ring. Some of the spies were Israeli, while others were Egyptian Jews recruited by Mossad. Two of the conspirators were sentenced to death and executed. Six others were sentenced to lengthy prison terms.


The legacy of the Lavon Affair was especially unpleasant for Egyptian Jews and for Jews living in other Arab countries. They faced suspicion as a potential Fifth column and even persecution (including having their banks accounts frozen). While the Lavon affair may have acted as one catalyst for emigration to Israel, it could add little to the overall persecution of Jews which started roughly at 1948, and which reached a peak in the wake of the 1956 Suez War, when the Egyptian government expelled almost 25,000 Egyptian Jews and confiscated their property, and sent approximately 1,000 more Jews to prisons and detention camps. The Lavon Affair also generated deep suspicion of Israeli intelligence practices and encouraged speculation and conspiracy theories that terrorist attacks against Arab and American targets could be the result of Israeli false flag intelligence operations or agent provocateurs working on behalf of Israeli intelligence, a belief that is still popular (especially in Arab countries).