While Her Brother Worked to Obtain Britain’s Support for Zionism, Fanny Weizmann Spied for Germany

July 18 2019

During World War I, Chaim Weizmann and his associates sought to align the Zionist movement with the Western allies—a policy that brought enormous success in the form of the Balfour Declaration. But many Jews found Britain and France, allied as they were with viciously anti-Semitic Russia, unworthy of sympathy. So it is perhaps unsurprising that Weizmann’s own sister, Minna—who went by the name Fanny—agreed to spy for the Germans from, of all places, Palestine. Lenny Ben-David writes:

Fanny was . . . a young, attractive Berlin-trained doctor who immigrated to the Jewish homeland from near Pinsk in Russia in 1913. She was the first of her family to undertake aliyah. Perhaps her loneliness [there] made her easy prey for Curt Prüfer, a polyglot German diplomat known for his philandering. But Prüfer was also the head of German intelligence in Palestine, and he charmed Fanny into becoming one of his spies against the British. . . .

Prüfer provided intelligence to the Ottoman leaders and assisted in planning the Turkish attack on the British-controlled Suez Canal. He dispatched his recruit and paramour to Egypt in May 1915, where she was welcomed as a doctor at the overcrowded British military hospitals and as an ingenue in British, Russian, French, and Jewish circles in Cairo and Alexandria. Egypt was a candy shop for the young, attractive German doctor and spy. . . .

In Egypt, Minna ran into a dilemma: how to deliver her information to her German spymasters. She embarked across the Mediterranean accompanying a badly wounded French soldier. In Rome, she delivered her information to the German ambassador to Italy, not aware that the embassy was under British surveillance.

Minna was arrested and deported to her native Russia, but managed to return to the Land of Israel after the war ended. She continued to practice medicine there until here untimely death in 1925, at the age of thirty-five.

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More about: Chaim Weizmann, World War I, Zionism

 

With Talk of Annexation, Benny Gantz Sends a Message to the U.S.

Jan. 24 2020

On Tuesday, the former IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz, who is campaigning for a third time to oust Benjamin Netanyahu from the Israeli premiership, announced that if elected he will seek to annex the Jordan Valley. He added the important caveat that he wants to do so “in coordination with the international community”—a promise that, as many have pointed out, is nearly impossible to fulfill. While it is easy to speculate about the political calculations behind this pledge, Jonathan Tobin suggests that it is also intended as a message to American liberals:

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More about: Benny Gantz, Democrats, Israeli Election 2020, Jordan Valley, U.S. Politics