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December 2, 2016 / 2 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘United Press International’

Why Israel spies on the US

Monday, July 30th, 2012


A recent AP piece tells us that the CIA considers Israel its “number one counterintelligence threat” in the Middle East.

The CIA considers Israel its No. 1 counterintelligence threat in the agency’s Near East Division, the group that oversees spying across the Middle East, according to current and former officials. Counterintelligence is the art of protecting national secrets from spies. This means the CIA believes that U.S. national secrets are safer from other Middle Eastern governments than from Israel.

The article describes several incidents illustrative of the mistrust between the intelligence agencies of the two nations, including of course the cases of Jonathan Pollard and Ben-Ami Kadish.

One wonders why this article appears now. Did the story idea suddenly pop into the heads of the AP writers? I don’t think so. Someone at the CIA decided to stick it to Israel today, when Mitt Romney is going around (correctly, in my opinion) criticizing the Obama Administration for tilting against Israel.

The piece strains mightily to find an example of a case in which Israeli spying actually damaged US interests (at least, interests that the CIA is willing to publicly admit). The best it can do is point to a Syrian scientist who was working for the CIA who might have been caught because of an Israeli leak.

It’s very probable that the massive damage to US spy networks in the USSR that Jonathan Pollard was accused of causing was actually attributable to spies Aldrich Ames and Robert Hanssen:

[US Defense Secretary Caspar] Weinberger publicly stated that Pollard was the worst spy in American history: “It is difficult for me, even in the so-called year of the spy, to conceive of a greater harm to national security than that caused by the defendant.” Despite his plea agreement to the contrary with the government, Pollard was given the maximum sentence, life in prison. Weinberger later said that he wished Pollard had been shot.

A week after the sentencing, the Washington Times reported that the United States had identified Shabtai Kalmanovich as the Soviet spy in Israel who supposedly worked for the Mossad but was actually working for the KGB; he had betrayed American secrets to Moscow. Kalmanovich had been flying under a false flag. Washington insiders winked knowingly at one another: Pollard’s contact in Israel had been caught.

Just to make sure that Pollard was blamed, U.S. intelligence sources, several months later, leaked word to the press of the Kalmanovich connection. “A Russian mole has infiltrated the Mossad and is transmitting highly sensitive American intelligence information to the Russians,” was the report flashed around the world by United Press International on Dec. 14, 1987. Citing “American intelligence sources,” the UPI announced that the “sensitive intelligence material relayed to Israel by Jonathan Pollard had reached the KGB.”

But it was all untrue. Every bit of it. Pollard wasn’t the serial killer. The Jew didn’t do it. It was one of their own WASPs-Aldrich Ames, a drunken senior CIA official who sold the names of America’s agents to the Russians for cash. Pollard was framed for Ames’s crime, while Ames kept on drinking and spying for the Soviets for several more years. In fact, Israeli intelligence later suspected that Ames played a direct role in framing Pollard. But no one in America then knew the truth.

Ames was arrested in February 1994, and confessed to selling out American agents in the Soviet Union, but not all of them. It was only logical to assume that Pollard had betrayed the rest of them, as one former CIA official admitted shortly after Ames’s arrest. Even one life lost was too many. So Pollard continued to rot in jail. No one dreamed that yet another high-level Washington insider had sold us out to Soviet intelligence. Years passed, and eventually a Russian defector told the truth. A senior FBI official-Special Agent Robert Hanssen-had betrayed the rest of our agents. Hanssen was arrested in February 2001, and soon confessed in order to avoid the death penalty. He was sentenced to life in prison without parole.

One must ask what, exactly, is the aim of Israeli spying against the US? It is certainly not — as  with Soviet and contemporary Russian espionage — to weaken us diplomatically and gain a military advantage in a possible conflict. Nor does it, as is the case with Chinese spying, also include a massive component of industrial espionage to erode America’s competitive advantage in world markets.

Vic Rosenthal

Hannah Szenes And George Soros: A Study In Moral Contrasts

Wednesday, December 8th, 2010

This is the story of two Hungarian Jews and their diametrically opposed responses to the unimaginable horrors of the Holocaust. The reactions and their consequences for Israel and the Jewish people to this day bear examination.

One, Haganah heroine Hannah Szenes (often spelled Senesh) returned from the relative safety of Palestine to parachute into war-torn Europe in a courageous – yet ultimately doomed – bid to save her fellow Jews. Born in Budapest, Szenes became an ardent Zionist and went to Palestine at age 18 in 1939. She joined a kibbutz and the Haganah, becoming a member of the Palmach, its elite strike force.

With the war raging, the British military hatched a plan to drop Haganah fighters with radio transmitters into Yugoslavia to help in the intensifying battle between Tito’s partisans and the Nazis. Szenes willingly entered the dangerous battle, spending several months in Yugoslavia.

But with the Nazis occupying adjacent Hungry and gearing up their deportations of the Jews there, she crossed into her homeland, planning to help her brethren resist.

A short time after crossing the frontier, Szenes was arrested by Hungarian fascist soldiers, thrown into prison and charged with treason. The Nazis, not content to wait for a trial, summarily placed her before a firing squad. She refused a blindfold, bravely facing her executioners at age 23.

In 1950, her body was returned to Israel and she was buried among the heroes of the Jewish people on Har Herzl. A prolific poet, she had left a large body of her writings at her kibbutz and they are known widely in Israel. One, “Eli Eli,” an ode to love, hope and beauty, has been put to music and is now a haunting anthem to Yom HaShoah and the lost of the Holocaust.

The other Hungarian Jew, George Soros, now 80, is a billionaire financial wizard who runs a New York-based hedge fund. He moves international currency markets with his pronouncements and, through a maze of foundations and front groups, bankrolls and backs a slew of radical far-left campaigns intended to, in his words, “puncture the bubble of American supremacy.”

Just like Szenes, he was born to assimilated parents. His father changed the family name of Schwartz to Soros both to avoid anti-Semitism and to try to shed the family’s Jewishness. But faced with the Nazi occupation, his father realized there was no shedding the Nazis’ hatred. He saved his family by splitting them up, providing them with forged papers and false identities as Christians and bribing gentile families to take them in.

The young Soros, then fourteen, posed as the godson of an official of Hungary’s fascist regime – a member of the Agricultural Ministry. The official was assigned to deliver deportation notices to Jews and confiscate Jewish property and the young Soros accompanied him on his rounds.

In interviews and his memoir, Soros acknowledged he understood the gravity of what was occurring. Asked on CBS’s “60 Minutes” if it had psychologically scarred him, he said, “it created no problems at all.”

Of course, we who didn’t live through the nightmare of the Holocaust can’t say how we would react in such circumstances, but Szenes and Soros were both put to the test and their very different reactions are worth examination. Szenes’s selfless bravery has inspired hundreds of young Israelis to join paratroop commando units and fight for the Jewish people. Soros is now a leading Israel basher who calls Zionism “a tribal” behavior that turns Jews into “oppressors” of the Palestinians and creates worldwide anti-Semitism. He also is involved with the J Street lobby, which espouses positions commonly associated with the far fringes of anti-Israel rhetoric.

Both the Szenes and Soros stories are presently very much in the public discourse. Manhattan’s Museum of Jewish Heritage in Battery Park City is running a multimedia exhibit on Szenes through next August. Conservative television and radio commentator Glenn Beck, a staunch Israel supporter, recently explored Soros’s history and political backing of radical causes. As a result, some in the Jewish community have charged Beck with anti-Semitism – a patently ridiculous accusation given his support of Israel during the Second Lebanon War and the Gaza blockade battle.

Sixty-five years after the Shoah and when Israel is encircled with enemies – including “delegitimize, boycott and divest” leftist campaigners in America – Jews should reflect on history and who our heroes and friends really are.

Ed Lion

Conquering the Shoah: Reflections on the 70th Anniversary of My Father’s Deportation

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

Seventy years ago this autumn, the Nazis rounded up my father, grandparents and some 6,000 other Jews, shipping them from southwest Germany to the Gurs internment camp in southern France.

The deportation in packed railway trains cast my family into an anguished struggle for survival and spelled the disappearance of an oft-forgotten segment of German-Jewry – the observant country folk of the Rhine River Valley.

To this day my father, Kurt Lion, now 84, remembers the 7 a.m. pounding on the family door, the cries of “Raus! Raus!” and his mother’s terror as they found six Nazis screaming on the doorstep.

It was October 22, 1940, and the Nazis had begun an operation to deport Jews from the Franco-German border region – including Germany’s Baden province where my father was born.

The Nazis shrieked for the Jews in my father’s village of Ihringen to assemble on the main street within twenty minutes – and each was only allowed to carry a small suitcase of belongings.

My father remembers that a crowd of the gentile villagers had turned out to gape at the expulsion of Ihringen’s last remaining Jews – but some did more than gape, seeing them off with cruel jeers.

Vibrant Jewish Life

At my father’s birth in 1926, the village of about 3,500 people had some 250 observant Jews, engaging mostly in farming and commerce. Most of Germany’s half million pre-war Jews lived in the bigger cities and were decidedly assimilated.

Not so with the country Jews farming along the Rhine River. But because of their small numbers, history has largely overlooked them and their lives characterized by cattle and vegetable farming, wine-making and small-scale commerce mingled with Torah observance.

In his earlier years my grandfather had been a kosher butcher and chef who had worked in a hotel in Karlsruhe – a German equivalent of Grossinger’s. By middle age, he engaged in cattle dealing and farming in Ihringen.

His brother Benjamin ran the kosher butcher shop in the village. He even exported kosher meat to nearby Basel, Switzerland because the Swiss restricted kosher butchering.

My father’s maternal uncles ran a large kosher wine- and vinegar-making business. Their father, Jacob Guggenheim, had, in his younger years back in the 1800s, single-handedly saved Ihringen’s important grape crop from a blight threatening the region’s vineyards. Knowledgeable in agriculture, he grafted hardier stock onto the vines, ensuring they could withstand the disease.

For the rest of his life, he was honored with the nickname “The Master” by area Jews and gentiles alike who gratefully remembered his rescue of the village’s grapevines.

My father’s earliest memories are of friendly interaction between Ihringen’s mostly Protestant population and its Jewish community, one of the biggest among the region’s villages.

Ihringen’s concentration of Jews was reflected in its large well-kept Jewish cemetery filled with Hebrew-inscribed gravestones, the final resting place for some 1,000 souls.

My father remembers his early childhood visits there, the tidy plots and grave markers studded with piles of small stones, a sign of the living honoring the dead in a tradition linking the generations.

The most visible marker of Ihringen’s thriving Jewish community was its century-old three-story synagogue, one of the most prominent buildings in the village. My father remembers gazing up at its stained glass windows and depictions of the twelve tribes of Israel when he prayed and studied there with his father.

During my father’s earliest years, Jews continued to enjoy prosperity and peace in Ihringen and throughout the region.

Persecution, Deportation and Death

But that all changed with Hitler’s rise, with Nazi laws stripping Jews of all rights, and with Kristallnacht, when the synagogue was burned to the ground. My grandfather and his brothers were held for several months in Dachau. My grandfather, then in his late 60s, never recovered his health though his spirit remained unbroken.

During this terrible time, Ihringen’s Jewish population had steadily shrunk as many moved to the anonymity of bigger towns and the more fortunate secured visas to emigrate. By 1937, my father’s two elder sisters were among the latter, managing to relocate to New York City.

But on that fateful morning of October 22, 1940, my father, grandparents and the other Ihringen Jews were subjected to an ordeal that remains vivid in my father’s mind.

SS officers backed by rifle-toting soldiers escorted the Jews to the village hall and announced their expulsion while their neighbors looked on. My father remembers that a number of them showed sadness, but none said a word of protest.

Others in the crowd shouted anti-Semitic slogans. The most hateful were the teen-aged boys, proudly sporting Hitler Youth uniforms and taunting the deportees. One spit at my father and jeered, “You’ll be dead soon, Jew!”

At this point, when my father recounts the scene, his voice seems to change from that of an old man to the teenager he was seventy years ago. He proudly recalls that he spit right back at the German and answered, “I’ll be back to bury you!”

My family and the others were forced onto a truck and driven to a nearby town where the Germans had gathered up another thousand Jews from the area. Without explanation they were crammed into an old passenger train with blacked-out windows.

So began a terrifying four-day journey with little food, pails for toilets and conditions so crowded that many had to stand or sit in the aisles. Today my father’s voice grows hoarse remembering the suffering of the sick and elderly on that train and the stunned faces of people who had ridden that same rail system in times past, times of normalcy that were now gone forever.

The stop-and-go journey, plagued by numerous delays, ended some 800 miles to the southwest in remote southern France. There, the French Vichy government had set up internment camps on the orders of the Germans.

For the next 18 months, my father endured lice, hunger and deprivation as he nursed his ailing parents, first in the Gurs camp, later at Rivesaltes two hundred miles away. His father, Philip, 69, died from the horrible conditions; his mother Rosa was eventually transported to Auschwitz where she was gassed. She was 59.

Both had reiterated to him the same burning wish – that someday he make it to America for a new life and a reunion with his sisters. My father, just 16 then, vowed to survive and avenge his parents’ suffering.

Escape – and Striking Back

At Rivesaltes, he was forced to hide in crawlspaces to evade the SS squads that increasingly sought young Jews for lethal work details. Certain he must flee to live, he slipped away with falsified papers provided by a Swiss nun permitted to do charity work at the camp.

The nun vowed to save as many lives as she could and the papers classified my father as “French-born.” This enabled him to secure a place in an agricultural school run by the Jewish refugee charity ORT (Organization for Rehabilitation and Training) on a farm 300 miles to the north in La Roche.

After four months, my father was suddenly arrested and taken to the Casseneul holding depot for shipment to a concentration camp. But that night, he managed to escape by squirming through a sewage pipe and jumping into a nearby river.

Attaining freedom, he lived on foraged food and eventually was able to get identity papers for himself under a gentile name. With this alias, he found work as a laborer for a farmer in a village in East-Central France.

There, he managed to replenish his strength. But with his increased strength, something else within him grew stronger – his desire to strike back against the Germans for their crimes.

And strike back my father did, first by attacking German troops while fighting in the French Underground. Later, after D-Day, when the underground was formalized into a reconstituted French military, he served as an aerial gunner in an American-supplied “Free French” B-17 bomber that rained explosives on Germany in raids coordinated by the U.S. Air Force.

After a dozen successful bomber missions, my father’s plane was shot down and he ended the war performing other duties for the French military.

Conquering the Shoah

With Germany’s surrender, he returned to Ihringen in a French military jeep and found the Jewish cemetery there vandalized.

The villagers were wary at seeing a uniformed French military man. But their wariness turned to outright fear when they recognized him – a Jew deported from the village five years before but now returned with the conquering Allies.

With a hand on his rifle, he ordered those who had gathered around his jeep to clean up the cemetery. A few had been there jeering at his expulsion and now they trembled, their faces drained of color.

“You’re not so big now, are you?” my father said. “Go clean up the cemetery. I’ll be coming back to check.”

The villagers, still white-faced, nodded in wordless fear.

He was stationed in the area and returned several times to the village over the next few weeks. And soon the cemetery was indeed cleaned up.

Another victory for my father in those months after Germany’s collapse was the help he was able to provide Jewish refugees newly freed from the concentration camps. Jewish soldiers from among the Allies, most notably the British army’s “Jewish Brigade” drawn from Palestine, had set up a smuggling network; my father worked with it to help refugees escape the graveyard of Europe.

With his French military status he had access to military vehicles and “borrowed” them for what he called “unauthorized refugee transport.” In concert with the smuggling network, he made numerous trips taking refugees, hidden under blankets, from inside Germany across the Rhine River to the French city of Strasbourg.

During a furlough, he revisited the ORT school in La Roche, where the Nazis had arrested him. Now he happily discovered it was being used as a place to prepare freed camp inmates for transport to Israel. A Zionist shaliach lived there, teaching Hebrew and farming skills.

My father had a French military van at his disposal and was able to transport a number of the refugees to a beach outside Marseilles, where they awaited boat pick-ups for clandestine crossings to Palestine.

A few months after that furlough, in April 1946, my father immigrated to the United States.

Just as his parents had wished, he reunited with his sisters. In the ensuing years, he married my late mother Giselle, herself a Holocaust survivor, raised my two sisters and me in northern New Jersey and crafted a successful career as a textile designer.

In 1969, my father visited Israel for a joyful reunion with a man who had been in the camps with him.

At the reunion, my father was amazed and delighted to see several familiar faces – a few of the other boys who had been at the ORT school with him. They had been bedraggled refugees when he knew them. But now they were Israelis, citizens of the thriving Jewish state, which gave my father enormous satisfaction.

Three years later in 1972 my parents traveled to Europe and visited Ihringen with a dual aim – my father wished to show his birthplace to my mother and also “to show the Germans in the village that I was still around and doing just fine.”

They immediately paid their respects at the Jewish cemetery and discovered it choked with weeds. My father angrily stormed into the village hall and confronted the burghermeister.

“You Germans made sure there weren’t any Jews left here to take care of our graves,” my father fumed. “So now the responsibility falls to you to do it, to treat them with respect.”

Stung, the burghermeister nodded his assent. As he did, my father suddenly noticed a carved wooden clock hanging on the wall above the desk. It was the very same clock that had hung in his parlor throughout his childhood, a century-old timepiece that his father had carefully maintained.

Reaching up, my father lifted the clock from the wall and pointed to marks on the back identifying it as “Lion property.”

My father brought that clock back home with him. Ever since, it has had pride of place hanging in my father’s living room, its hourly chime poignantly cutting across the years.

When my father had arrived in America, his only pre-war possession was a small Hebrew-German prayer book, a memento of his lost Jewish life in Ihringen.

Five years ago when his grandson, Sam, became bar mitzvah, my father brought our family to tears by presenting the book to him with a heartfelt message.

My father explained that his bar mitzvah had occurred less than six months after Kristallnacht when German Jewry was perched on the very brink of extinction.

The tiny prayer book, inscribed “from the Jews of Ihringen” was the sole present my father received for his bar mitzvah – and he cherished it. So much so that on that terrible October morning when his family was expelled to the camps, he took the prayer book with him. Throughout the war, he managed to keep it safe.

He hid the book in his clothing, stashed it near where he slept or buried it.

After he landed his farm laborer job, he hid the book under a loose brick in the farmer’s wine cellar.

The book remained there undetected until the war ended. In early 1946, preparing to immigrate to America, he returned to retrieve it.

For most of his life here, my father kept the book in a night table by his bed. But five years ago he decided to pass it along to his grandson to mark the boy’s bar mitzvah.

In an emotional note, my father told Sam that “All of our relatives, the living and even those who passed long before” would rejoice at his bar mitzvah. “They would be proud,” he said, that Sam would be carrying the family into a new generation, the latest link in the chain of Jewish continuity.

And then, with a smile of love and pride, my father presented his grandson with the book, an embodiment of his own survival and, in a wider sense, that of the Jewish people.

Ed Lion, formerly a reporter with United Press International, is a writer who lives in the Poconos.

Ed Lion

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/front-page/conquering-the-shoah-reflections-on-the-70th-anniversary-of-my-fathers-deportation/2010/11/17/

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