The Secret War That Saved the Land of Israel from the Nazis

Several times over the course of World War II, the Wehrmacht came dangerously close to overrunning the borders of Mandatory Palestine. In a new book, Gershon Gorenberg tells the story of Britain’s clandestine efforts to keep Hitler’s forces out of the Middle East. Amy Spiro writes:

As [Gorenberg] recounts in the 482-page book, there were moments in the early years of the war when “very suddenly it seemed that the Nazis could come from the west through Egypt, or the north through Syria, or from the air,” bringing them straight to the borders of Mandatory Palestine and its hundreds of thousands of Jews.

At the heart of [the book] are the men and women who spent the war not on the battlefront, but far in the background, tracing, intercepting, and cracking encrypted messages to gather the intelligence that enabled Allied forces to halt the Nazi invasion of the Middle East. Much of the action in the book focuses on Bletchley Park, a sprawling mansion in the English countryside that housed the top-secret British efforts to seize and decode Nazi missives.

It is not widely known, Gorenberg posited, “the extent to which people during that period really expected the Nazis to invade at any moment.”

Gorenberg’s book is chock-full of stories and anecdotes that may come as a surprise even to avid consumers of history of both World War II and the Middle East. In 1940, for example, Italy carried out a series of bombing raids on Tel Aviv and Haifa, killing more than 200 people. And the former IDF chief of staff Moshe Dayan received his iconic eye patch after losing his sight in a 1941 battle against Vichy French forces in Lebanon.

Read more at Jewish Insider

More about: History of Zionism, Mandate Palestine, Moshe Dayan, World War II

The IDF’s First Investigation of Its Conduct on October 7 Is Out

For several months, the Israel Defense Forces has been investigating its own actions on and preparedness for October 7, with an eye to understanding its failures. The first of what are expected to be many reports stemming from this investigation was released yesterday, and it showed a series of colossal strategic and tactical errors surrounding the battle at Kibbutz Be’eri, writes Emanuel Fabian. The probe, he reports, was led by Maj. Gen. (res.) Mickey Edelstein.

Edelstein and his team—none of whom had any involvement in the events themselves, according to the IDF—spent hundreds of hours investigating the onslaught and battle at Be’eri, reviewing every possible source of information, from residents’ WhatsApp messages to both Israeli and Hamas radio communications, as well as surveillance videos, aerial footage, interviews of survivors and those who fought, plus visits to the scene.

There will be a series of further reports issued this summer.

IDF chief Halevi in a statement issued alongside the probe said that while this was just the first investigation into the onslaught, which does not reflect the entire picture of October 7, it “clearly illustrates the magnitude of the failure and the dimensions of the disaster that befell the residents of the south who protected their families with their bodies for many hours, and the IDF was not there to protect them.” . . .

The IDF hopes to present all battle investigations by the end of August.

The IDF’s probes are strictly limited to its own conduct. For a broader look at what went wrong, Israel will have to wait for a formal state commission of inquiry to be appointed—which happens to be the subject of this month’s featured essay in Mosaic.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Gaza War 2023, IDF, Israel & Zionism, October 7