Joseph Katz: From Soviet Master Spy to Technical Adviser for James Bond Films

Born in Lithuania in 1913, Joseph (Yeiske) Katz came to America with his family seven years later, became an ardent Communist in his youth, and started working for the KGB in the 1930s. Although his skills reportedly included safecracking, lock-picking, electronic bugging, jujitsu, and sharpshooting, his real expertise lay in getting people to trust him. and he handled several important agents and sources, including Harry Gold of the Rosenberg spy ring. When one of his agents defected, he fled for France and later settled in Israel, remaining but a few steps ahead of the FBI until his death in 2004. Harvey Klehr, John Earl Haynes, and David Gurvitz describe his remarkable life and eventual disillusionment with Communism:

Defectors from Communism have often spoken of a Kronstadt moment—the event that finally shatters illusions and precipitates a break with the cause to which they have devoted their lives. . . . As Stalin’s anti-Semitic campaign gathered strength in the late 1940s and early 1950s, KGB officers with a Jewish background were shunted aside, demoted, or discharged, and foreign Jewish agents like Katz came under suspicion. . . . Katz [later] told his Israeli contact Aviva Flint that suspicion about him in 1950 had ended his nearly two decades of revolutionary commitment. . . .

In October [of that year, in a letter to his brother, the Yiddish poet Menke Katz], he lamented the choice he had made in a cautious but nonetheless clear reference to his work for Soviet intelligence. . . He had, finally, come to the realization that “my life up to now, all I believed and worked for, is a fraud and a lie.” . . . Either to evade the KGB or because he was spooked by inquiries from French counterintelligence, he took a four-month vacation in the Basque country, writing that “how I came here is a long story” but adding that there was a legend that Jews escaping the Inquisition found refuge in the Pyrenees. . . .

In the 1960s, Joseph went to work for a film-equipment company and received patents in fiber optics, film-lighting techniques, and the development and installation of double-filament lighting and automated grid systems. . . . Harry Saltzman and Albert Broccoli—the producers of the James Bond movies from 1962, starting with Dr. No through 1974’s The Man with the Golden Gun—hired Katz as a technical adviser on lighting in 1967, and he remained in that capacity until 1975. . . . As Saltzman’s Israeli representative in 1972, Katz negotiated for his purchase of Berkey Pathé Humphries, a major film and photo-finishing laboratory in Tel Aviv. . . . Around 1968, he came to America with an entourage that included Saltzman and Sean Connery and managed to avoid attention [from the FBI].

Read more at Commentary

More about: Anti-Semitism, Communism, Film, History & Ideas, Joseph Stalin, KGB, Soviet espionage


Ordinary Gazans Are Turning against Hamas—and Its Western Sympathizers

In the past few days, difficult-to-confirm reports have emerged of unrest in the Gaza Strip, and of civilians throwing stones at Hamas operatives. A recent video from Al Jazeera showed a Gazan declaring that “God will bring Qatar and Turkey to account” for the suffering of Palestinians in the current war. Being an agent of the Qatari government, the journalist turned away, and then pushed the interviewee with his hand to prevent him from getting near the microphone. Yet this brief exchange contributes much to the ongoing debate about Palestinian support for Hamas, and belies the frequent assertion by experts that the Israeli campaign is only “further radicalizing” the population.

For some time, Joseph Braude has worked with a number of journalists and researchers to interview ordinary Gazans under circumstances where they don’t fear reprisals. He notes that the sorts of opinions they share are rarely heard in Western media, let alone on Al Jazeera or Iran-sponsored outlets:

[A] resident of Khan Younis describes how locals in a bakery spontaneously attacked a Hamas member who had come to buy bread. The incident, hardly imaginable before the present war, reflects a widespread feeling of “disgust,” he says, after Gazan aspirations for “a dignified life and to live in peace” were set back by the Hamas atrocities of October 7.

Fears have grown that this misery will needlessly be prolonged by Westerners who strive, in effect, to perpetuate Hamas rule, according to one Gazan woman. Addressing protesters who have taken to the streets to demand a ceasefire on behalf of Palestinians, she calls on them to make a choice: “Either support the Palestinian people or the Hamas regime that oppresses them.” If protesters harbor a humanitarian motive, she asks, “Why don’t we see them demonstrating against Hamas?”

“Hamas is the destruction of the Palestinian people. We’ve had enough. They need to be wiped out—because if they remain, the people will be wiped out.”

You can watch videos of some of the interviews by clicking the link below.

Read more at Free Press

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Palestinian public opinion