The Lavon Affair: How to Make Jews Look Good and Muslims Look Bad

There’s so much talk — usually derogatory — these days about “conspiracy theories” and “false flags”.

Contrary to a widespread understanding of this term, the noun “theory” does not have a connotation of falsity or groundless, far-fetched speculation.

Science is made of theories. Relativity is a theory, and so is quantum mechanics. Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo, Newton created theories that gave birth to the science of physics.

A theory can turn out to be false but can also turn out to be true.

Specifically, I’ll describe a historical case — one of the many — in which a real event was dismissed and derided as an “anti-Semitic conspiracy theory”, just as it happens today.

What is also interesting about this case, known as the “Lavon Affair,” is that it illustrates many of the traits that are typical of the way the organised Jewish community thinks, operates and covers their tracks.

Exactly 10 years ago (give or take a few days), on 30 March 2005, Israel honoured nine Egyptian Jews recruited by its Military Intelligence as spies and terrorists, and Israel’s President Moshe Katsav presented the three surviving members of the bomber ring with certificates of appreciation.

Katsav went as far as calling them “heroes” when he said: “Although it is still a sensitive situation, we decided now to express our respect for these heroes.”

This was Israel’s official admission, after having publicly denied any involvement in the incident for 51 years, of its responsibility in the Lavon Affair, to the point of even celebrating and honouring the Jewish  terrorists who had attacked American targets.

It’s important to note that these spies were Egyptian citizens who had been recruited by the Israeli military, which says a lot about the loyalty of diaspora Jews. Of course, it’s no surprise that the ADL continues its policy of labeling any and all charges of dual loyalty against diaspora Jews as “canards” despite the well-known sayanim phenomenon where diaspora Jews are recruited for work in their countries of origin.

Didn’t hear much in the media about that, did you? Israel seems to have completely escaped any blame in the West for this. Wikispooks explains why thus:

Israel used Egyptian Jews as fifth-columnists to mount terrorist attacks on American and British-owned targets in Cairo and Alexandria. That it was actually Zionist terrorism was discovered when one of the saboteurs was caught planting a bomb in 1954. Israel blamed antisemitism in Egypt for the accusations and anyone who dared repeat them, silencing almost all western comment. [Emphasis added]

Let the Lavon Affair be described by a Jewish source, Israeli newspaper Haaretz:

Israel’s plan was to bomb Western targets, make it seem as though Egypt was behind the attacks…

[T]he strategic goal its operators had set: the cancellation of the planned British evacuation of the Suez Canal…

The Lavon affair — also known locally as esek habish, “the rotten business” — was a plan to discredit Egypt’s government, then headed by Gamal Abdel Nasser, by bombing theaters, post offices and U.S. and British institutions, and making it seem as though Egypt was behind the bombings. The thinking in Israel at the time was that if the British were to give up control of the Suez Canal, it would be left in Egypt’s hands, putting Cairo in a better position to exert pressure on Israel.

The agents were told “to undermine the West’s trust in the [Egyptian] government by causing public insecurity” while concealing Israel’s role in the sabotage.

Noteworthy in the Haaretz article — and for that matter in all other Jewish sources I consulted — is the concern for the fact that the operation was unsuccessful, rather than for the use of violence and deception against allies, one of which, the United States, has been Israel’s main benefactor and defender, militarily, financially and politically.

The Lavon Affair was a “false flag” operation, also called a “pseudo operation.” The name “false flag” has its origin in the naval attacks in which a flag other than the belligerent’s true battle flag is used as a ruse de guerre to deceive. It has come to mean operations conducted under false identity to cause an enemy to be blamed for them.

In 1954, Egypt’s President was Gamal Abdul Nasser, who had some backing from the United States. After WWII, an impoverished Britain was withdrawing from its colonial interests and wanted to give up the giant military base it had in the Suez Canal Zone. Israel was afraid that US policy of support for Egyptian nationalism would encourage Britain to withdraw its military forces from the Suez Canal.

Israel feared that, after British withdrawal, Egypt would nationalise the Suez Canal, and wanted to induce the British government to retain its occupying troops in the Canal area; but diplomatic means had failed. Israel also wished to prevent Washington from becoming too friendly with Cairo.

The Jewish state then thought of another way to alienate the US and Britain from Egypt and Nasser and to damage Egypt’s relationship with the West.

In the Summer of 1954, Israeli Military Intelligence — helped by David Ben-Gurion — conceived such a plan.

Israeli agents had already laid the groundwork, by infiltrating Egyptian society and recruiting some Egyptian Jews, who were then trained in Israel and deployed back in Egypt, with the idea of creating a fifth column in a future war against Egypt. But the intended spies were given different commands: bomb American and British buildings and plant evidence implicating Egyptians, specifically the Muslim Brotherhood. The operation was code-named “Operation Susannah.”

If Americans could be made to believe that the Egyptians did it, they would turn against Egypt.

Here’s another Jewish source, JTA:

Within weeks, an Israeli military intelligence unit known by its code-number, 131, recruited nine young Egyptian Jews to stage terrorist attacks that, they thought, would be blamed on local insurgents and would discredit Nasser’s rule

What was more hurtful was Israel’s refusal to take responsibility for Ninio, Natanzon and their accomplices, who had undergone secret military training in Tel Aviv before the mission

“Givli overlooks the fact that we were soldiers in active service who were dispatched by the State of Israel. We went through the officers’ course, were mobilized and were sent to carry out a mission in enemy territory,” fumed Robert Dasa, who, like Ninio, got a 15-year sentence…

It is hard to believe that there were those in the political or military echelons who believed that by planting improvised bombs in public buildings in Egypt it would be possible to shake the regime there and drive a wedge between Gamal Abdel Nasser and the West,” Ha’aretz correspondent Yossi Melman said. [Emphases added]

The targets were sites frequented by foreigners. On 2 July the Israeli agents bombed an Alexandria post office. On 14 July, they exploded bombs inside libraries of the U.S. Information Agency in Alexandria and Cairo.

But the campaign ended when a firebomb prematurely detonated in the pocket of one of the terrorists, Philip Natanson, when he was about to plant it inside a cinema in Alexandria, setting his clothes on fire and nearly killing him.

A fire engine waited in front of the cinema, as double agent Avri Elad allegedly had informed the Egyptians of the Israeli false flag operation and the Egyptian Intelligence Service had followed Natanson. Egyptian authorities arrested him, found incriminating evidence in his apartment and got him to name his accomplices.

On 23 July the Israeli agents still at large set off firebombs inside two Cairo cinemas and in Cairo’s central post office and railway station. By 27 July all the members of the cell are apprehended. Two commit suicide. Two Israeli commanders escape and flee back to Israel.

If this terrorist operation had succeeded, it could have provoked an American war against Egypt, an innocent country, on the side of Israel, which was perhaps Israel’s hope.

Characteristically, when the operation became known and a scandal erupted, Israel responded with claims that there was no spy ring and it was all a hoax perpetrated by “anti-Semites.”

The events of the Lavon Affair were later documented in the diaries of the Israeli Prime Minister of the time Moshe Sharett, who did not know of the plot until after its end. They formed the basis of the book Israel’s Sacred Terrorism: A Study Based on Moshe Sharett’s Personal Diary and Other Documents (Amazon USA)  (Amazon UK) by Livia Rokach.

In the book we find the following statement by Moshe Sharett to Israeli Parliament’s 514th meeting on 13 December 1954:

In my speech in the Knesset on November 15 I said “The uncontrolled behavior of Egypt . . . does not indicate . . . that its leadership . . . is seeking moderate approaches and peace. How far Egypt is from this spirit [of moderation and peace] can be learned from the plot woven in Alexandria, the show-trial which is being organized there against a group of Jews who became victims of false accusations of espionage, and who, it seems, are being threatened and tortured in order to extract from them confessions in imaginary crimes.”…

The government of Israel strongly rejects the false accusations of the general Egyptian prosecution, which relegates to the Israeli authorities horrible deeds and diabolic conspiracies against the security and the international relations of Egypt. From this stand we have protested many times in the past persecution and false accusations of Jews in various countries. We see in the innocent Jews accused by the Egyptian authorities of such severe crimes, victims of vicious hostility to the State of Israel and the Jewish people. If their crime is being Zionist and devoted to Israel, millions of Jews around the world share this crime. We do not think that the rulers of Egypt should be interested in being responsible for shedding Jewish blood. We call upon all those who believe in peace, stability and human relations among nations to prevent fatal injustice.

Although there are good reasons to believe that Sharett was not aware of the plot behind the false flag operation when he delivered this speech, the latter reveals the well-known pattern of Jews’ closing ranks and defending members of their own group against an accusation from the outgroup as their first reaction, before and without learning the details. At the same time the pattern includes an automatic blaming of the accusers: that’s how the concept of “anti-Semitism” must have been invented.

Even after Israel has admitted that its role in the Lavon Affair was real and not “imaginary” and therefore the corresponding conspiracy theory was true, Jewish attitudes are typically different from those that Westerners would display. I’ve already observed earlier that the main concern seems to be with the fact that the operation resulted in a “fiasco” rather than whether it was ethical. The participants were honoured and given military titles. They seem proud of what they’ve done and Israel is proud of them:

More than a decade later, the five surviving Egyptian spies, and Natanzon’s widow, have asked the Education Ministry to incorporate the episode into the history syllabus of Israeli high schools. The ministry said it would pass the request to the professional educational committees that meet on the syllabus before every school year.

The innocent Prime Minister Moshe Sharrat was replaced by one of the perpetrators, David Ben-Gurion. From Wikispooks:

Ben-Gurion went on to conceive and carry out a number of wanton provocations and killings, including the 1956 attack on Suez, the mass-killing of Egyptian POWs and the first major destruction in Gaza…

Israel suffered no adverse public relations consequences in the West, while generating significant antisemitism in Egypt and elsewhere in the region.

Here again, we see an example of anti-Semitism being provoked by legitimate reasons, as a reaction to having been targeted and damaged by Jewish interests.

This hatred was of great assistance to Zionist efforts to ingather Jews needed to work in the fields and to protect the new borders of Israel (far beyond what had been claimed in the Declaration of Independence).

Prime Minister Moshe Sharett denounced “the show trial which is being organized there against a group of Jews who have fallen victims to false accusations”. The trade union newspaper Davar claimed that the Egyptian regime “seems to take its inspiration from the Nazis” and lamented the “deterioration in the status of Egyptian Jews in general” For Haaretz the trial “proved that the Egyptian rulers do not hesitate to invent the most fantastic accusations if it suits them” and added that “in the present state of affairs in Egypt the junta certainly needs some diversion”. The Jerusalem Post headlined “Egypt Show Trial Arouses Israel, Sharett Tells House. Sees Inquisition Practices Revived.”[9]

Egyptian Jews with skills and contacts did their best to get to Europe or the US, those with only manual skills (often brown-skinned and speaking no Hebrew) were put to work in the fields. An additional part of their duty was to be armed and to kill any Palestinians attempting to return to their homes and lands. [Emphases added]

Nice. I guess those Palestinians — if they survived — were yet more “anti-Semites”.

The attacks are still known in English by the Zionist narrative, the “Lavon Affair,” with little recognition that this was a quite straightforward terrorist campaign aimed at the US and the UK.

Zionist sympathisers at the Wikipedia have been hostile to calling it a “False Flag Operation” and all such references have been repeatedly removed from the WP again in June 2011 (a top admin and personal friend of Jimbo Wales) and Jan 2012… Some Israeli sources have claimed that the fire-bombing was an “Intelligence Operation” rather than an attack.

It is also underplayed in Commentary (a Jewish website) and the Jewish Virtual Library, where, once again, a terminology is used that seems to point to Israel as the victim and not the aggressor (“a nasty mark on the young state”). This paragraph from the Jewish Virtual Library sets the tone:

The “Zionist spies,” as they came to be called, hadn’t been well treated before they admitted they had been working on behalf of Israel. But it was bearable. That all changed after their association with Israel was known.

Wikipedia describes the affair as a “covert operation,” and declares: “There were allegations that evidence had been extracted by torture”. Is this another Jewish victimology pattern? I found the same pattern in contemporary reactions to Ariel Toaff’s book on the Trent trial of ritual child murderers. However, in the Lavon Affair no-one can dispute the veracity of the confessions, no matter how they were obtained.

False flag operations are not used only by Israel, of course. But, for a country with such a short history, they seem to be employed relatively commonly by Israel which, from its early days, has made regular use of them:

It is therefore a fact that Israel has a prior history of setting off bombs with the intent to blame Arabs for them.

This is not the only example of a “False Flag” operation designed to trick the United States into attacking Israel’s enemies. According to Victor Ostrovsky, a Mossad defector now living in Canada, Ronald Reagan was tricked into bombing Libya by means of a radio transmitter smuggled into Tripoli by the Mossad, which broadcast messages designed to fool the United States into thinking Libya was about to launch a massive terror attack on the west. On the basis of this fake evidence, the US bombed Libya, killing Khadaffi’s daughter.

The Jews of Iraq is a story by a Jewish writer revealing yet another false flag operation where Israelis used bombs and planted the blame on Arabs.

More recently, Captain Ward Boston, who served as senior legal counsel for the Navy’s Court of Inquiry into the Israeli attack on USS Liberty, has come forward to report that the Court of Inquiry was ORDERED to conclude that the attack was an accident by President Lyndon Johnson. In hindsight, given the use of unmarked aircraft and boats by Israel during the actual attack, it appears that Israel intended to sink the US ship and frame Egypt for the attack, tricking the US into the war against Egypt.

Think about the fact that most American and British people have never heard about this Israeli terrorist attack against them, and probably never even heard of Jewish terrorism. It shows the power of controlled media.

Israel, which could be described as an illegal state because its recognition by the United Nations in 1948 was conditional on the country’s allowing the return of Palestinian refugees (which Israel has never allowed), is in an understandably and justifiably very precarious situation. It needs to manipulate the public opinion of the world — particularly public opinion in world powers like the U.S. and the West generally — so that they will be persuaded by deception and against their interests to protect this rogue state despite the fact that it is ultimately responsible for many of the problems that the West is currently experiencing with the Muslim world, not the least of which is the Iraq war.

Making the US and Britain believe that enemies of Israel like Egypt committed terror attacks on them in 1954 or that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction in 2003 is the way Israel and its lobby sometimes operate.

Enza Ferreri is an Italian-born, London-based Philosophy graduate, writer and journalist. She has been a London correspondent for several Italian magazines and newspapers, including Panorama, L’Espresso, La Repubblica.

She blogs at




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