The Anglo-Jewish Grandee Who Led One of World War II’s Most Successful Intelligence Operations

Released in the U.S. last month on Netflix, Operation Mincemeat tells the real-life story of the successful effort by British intelligence to convince the Nazis that the Allies planned to invade Sardinia and Greece rather than Sicily in 1943. The team that pulled off this dramatic coup included a young Ian Fleming—author of the James Bond novels—and was led by Ewen Montagu, the film’s hero. Michael Medved explains what the movie leaves out about this extraordinary figure:

The real Ewen Montagu took special pride in outwitting Hitler in light of his family’s background. “Joy of joys to anyone, and particularly a Jew, the satisfaction of knowing they had directly and specifically fooled that monster,” he once wrote. Operation Mincemeat, based on Ben MacIntyre’s 2011 book, makes only the briefest mention of its hero’s Jewish identity—when Montagu dispatches his wife and two children to the relative safety of America, in view of “the nightmare that is marching this way that is only too real” and poses especially acute dangers for a Jewish family.

What the movie fails even to hint at is that Montagu’s family constituted one of the most conspicuous, powerfully connected, and philanthropically committed of all Jewish tribes in the realm, with members playing distinguished roles in politics, business, the arts, and synagogue leadership.

Montagu’s grandfather, Samuel Montagu (1832–1911), won elevation to the peerage as First Baron Swaythling, honored for his generosity to the poor, Jewish and non-Jewish alike. . . . In 1885, he won election as a Liberal member of Parliament for Whitechapel until he stood down five years later. He also organized the Federation of Synagogues, representing 51 small congregations in the crowded, Yiddish-speaking East End of London. While hoping to Anglicize and uplift recent immigrants from the Russian Empire, he simultaneously supported “Lovers of Zion,” promoting resettlement of Jewish communities in Turkish-controlled Palestine.

[Ewen] continued the long family tradition of Jewish service, as president of the United Synagogue (1954–62), and president of the Anglo-Jewish Association from 1949, pressing restitution claims against Germany and promoting the welfare of Holocaust survivors. He also came to welcome and support the establishment of the new Jewish state, moving beyond the doubts about Zionism that had motivated his father and the elite but short-lived League of British Jews. He died at age of eighty-four in 1985.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Anglo-Jewry, Film, Jews in the military, World War II

Hizballah Is Learning Israel’s Weak Spots

On Tuesday, a Hizballah drone attack injured three people in northern Israel. The next day, another attack, targeting an IDF base, injured eighteen people, six of them seriously, in Arab al-Amshe, also in the north. This second attack involved the simultaneous use of drones carrying explosives and guided antitank missiles. In both cases, the defensive systems that performed so successfully last weekend failed to stop the drones and missiles. Ron Ben-Yishai has a straightforward explanation as to why: the Lebanon-backed terrorist group is getting better at evading Israel defenses. He explains the three basis systems used to pilot these unmanned aircraft, and their practical effects:

These systems allow drones to act similarly to fighter jets, using “dead zones”—areas not visible to radar or other optical detection—to approach targets. They fly low initially, then ascend just before crashing and detonating on the target. The terrain of southern Lebanon is particularly conducive to such attacks.

But this requires skills that the terror group has honed over months of fighting against Israel. The latest attacks involved a large drone capable of carrying over 50 kg (110 lbs.) of explosives. The terrorists have likely analyzed Israel’s alert and interception systems, recognizing that shooting down their drones requires early detection to allow sufficient time for launching interceptors.

The IDF tries to detect any incoming drones on its radar, as it had done prior to the war. Despite Hizballah’s learning curve, the IDF’s technological edge offers an advantage. However, the military must recognize that any measure it takes is quickly observed and analyzed, and even the most effective defenses can be incomplete. The terrain near the Lebanon-Israel border continues to pose a challenge, necessitating technological solutions and significant financial investment.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Hizballah, Iron Dome, Israeli Security