With special thanks to our newest contributor, Jack Cohen of AACI’s Netanya branch.
Jack has many talents and interests, and among them, he has a blog called Isblog at http://commentfromisraelblog.blogspot.com/. This is from his December 8, 2011 post. Posted with permission.
On Tuesday we went on a trip (tiyul) with AACI to the IICC. AACI is the Association of Americans and Canadians in Israel, our English-speaking club in Netanya and IICC is the Israel Intelligence Heritage and Commemoration Center. I have lived in Israel for 15 years and had never before heard of this organization, that was established in 1985 to commemorate the Israeli heroes who died in the service of the State while carrying out intelligence operations.
The IICC was formed by the three arms of Israel’s intelligence services; the Shin Bet (responsible for internal security), the Mossad (responsible for foreign intelligence gathering and analysis) and Aman the Intelligence Corps of the IDF. More than that, the IICC sits in an obscure location on a small side street, which I used as a short cut going home from work and passed it many times without realizing that it was there. It would indeed require information and intelligence to find it.
It was founded by former intelligence officers to commemorate their fallen colleagues. The memorial consists of a stone maze with the names of the deceased carved on the walls.
There is also a small synagogue containing a 120 year old Syrian Torah scroll that was one of over 100 rescued by the Mossad during the rescue of Syrian Jewry, and adjacent is a library containing a file on each individual, that contains official letters as well as material added by family members and friends. It should be emphasized that all this information is now public, although some individuals still cannot be named.
Part of the Center includes the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center that has a large library on intelligence and terrorism information as well as a tiny museum on terrorism (see www.terrorism-info.org.il) . This is a private organization that has ties to the formal State intelligence organizations and produces reports on various topics that contain only publicly available information. For example they produced the Report that was submitted as the official Israeli reaction to the Goldstone Report.
We were shown an introductory video on the Center, then a video about one of the successful operations carried out in 1953, soon after the State was founded, in order to rescue Jewish children from Morocco, under the aegis of “Nativ” that was a part of the Mossad given the responsibility to rescue endangered Jews from anywhere in the world.
For this operation the Mossad recruited a young British Jew named David Littman, code-named “Mural,” who was living in Switzerland with his wife and child. David was anxious to help Jews who were endangered, partly because as a historian he had studied the Holocaust. He was asked by the Jewish Agency to go to Morocco and see if he could rescue 500 Jewish children, but he was unaware that he had been recruited by the Mossad.
He took his family with him and posed as a British Christian under a false identity. He set up an office in Casablanca that was a charity offering free holidays in Switzerland to children under stress. He made contacts with the Swiss and British diplomats and Moroccan authorities. He was accepted as genuine by them and he then signed up children for the holidays, all of whom incidentally were Jewish. The Moroccan authorities granted him mass visas for 100 children at a time, and he successfully rescued 530, some by boat and some by plane. From Switzerland, from a genuine holiday villa, the children were then transported to Israel. Neither the children nor their parents actually knew that Israel was their destination, although many suspected this. After the success of Operation Mural, the Moroccan authorities, maybe partly out of embarrassment and partly out of the realization that they could not prevent the Jews from leaving, allowed 100,000 Jews to be transported by sea via France and Italy to Israel. The parents of the rescued children joined them in Israel.
Incidentally, Littman’s wife, Gisele, who was expelled from Egypt with her parents in 1957, writes under the nom-de-plume of Bat Yeor and authored a famous book entitled “Dhimmi,” the Arabic for protected minorities.
After lunch we also heard a lecture by Prof. Yoram Kahati on “Radical Islam”, in which he described the modern origins of radical Islam from Hassan al Banna who founded the Muslim Brotherhood in 1928 and Said Kuttub (Sayid Qutb) in Egypt in the 1940’s to Yussuf Qaradawi, the Muslim cleric who has justified under Islam much of the current terror used against Israel and the West. He also explained the symbolism that is used by the terrorist groups such as Hizbollah and Hamas in their flags and slogans and described their world-view. Altogether not a pleasant subject but very interesting and informative.
(You can expect to hear more from Jack who was born in London, UK, lived in suburban Washington DC area for 30 years, moved to Israel in 1996. A retired Professor. Thanks again, Jack!)