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.

Welcome to Mosaic

Register now to get two more stories free

Register Now

Already a subscriber? Sign in now

Read more at inFocus

More about: Chaim Weizmann, World War I, Zionism

The Evidence of BDS Anti-Semitism Speaks for Itself

Oct. 18 2019

Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs recently released a lengthy report titled Behind the Mask, documenting the varieties of naked anti-Semitic rhetoric and imagery employed by the movement to boycott, divest from, and sanction the Jewish state (BDS). Drawn largely but not exclusively from Internet sources, its examples range from a tweet by a member of Students for Justice in Palestine (the “world would be soooo much better without jews man”), to an enormous inflated pig bearing a star of David and floating behind the stage as the rock musician Roger Waters performs, to accusations by an influential anti-Israel blogger that Israel is poisoning Palestinian wells. Cary Nelson sums up the report’s conclusions and their implications, all of which give the lie to the disingenuous claim that critics of BDS are trying to brand “legitimate criticism of Israel” as anti-Semitic.

Sign up to read more

You've read all your free articles for this month


Sign up now for unlimited access to the best in Jewish thought, culture, and politics

Already have an account? Log in now

Read more at Fathom

More about: Anti-Semitism, BDS, Roger Waters, Social media