Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Chapter 6 - Pierre Péan's "Carnage, The Secret Wars of the Great Powers in Africa" [trans from the French by CM/P]

Chapter 6 - Pierre Péan's "Carnage, The Secret Wars of the Great Powers in Africa" [trans from the French by CM/P]
[When we posted the excerpt from Charles Onana’s latest book, 'Al-Bashir & Darfur: The Counter-Investigation',
the West was in full-fête over the vote in South Sudan to secede or not to secede from Khartoum. George Clooney, current holder of the Africa desk at the Polo Lounge of the Beverly Hills Hotel, had just gotten started fondling the Emmy he was awarded for his outstanding performance as a Hollywood humanitarian. And CNN, while covering the election is the South, had just interviewed Jimmy Carter, who told the world’s first 24/7 disinformation service how his ‘old friend’, Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir, indicted by ICC in The Hague as a war criminal unto ‘genocidaire’, had not only wished the South well, however they might vote on the division of the country, but even pledged that Khartoum would assume responsibility for the full national debt of the entire Sudan—a mega buzz-kill for the STFG in Darfur and pass-the-decaf-Nespresso-on-the-left-hand-side crowd.

Now, we’re not claiming our posting—which demystified a lot of the humbug terminology of the Arab-Muslim government in Khartoum v Black African Animist outback trope—that Charles Onana’s book actually caused it, but before the vote had even been completed, CNN pulled up its cables, turned off its cameras and moved on to the next uprising in the struggle for African democracy: first Algeria and Tunisia, then Egypt. And what struck us as really curious—just like in that other Clooney vehicle, Stephen Gaghan’s ‘Syriana’—was the near total absence in any analyses of these geopolitical upheavals of any mention of the State of Israel.

Our current posting is a chapter extracted from Pierre Péan’s latest and more than usually controversial History, ‘Carnage: The Secret Wars of the Great Powers in Africa’, a monumental indictment of the West’s venal connivance in the militaristic extermination of an entire continent by turning it into a wasteland of spent ordnance and raped ecosystems—the remnants of an enormous toxic drug-testing camp and dumping grounds for the other sur-produced and humanly useless commodities forced on the poor masses of this rich land by a ghoulish multi-national Waste Capitalism.

But before we turn you over to Péan, France’s foremost investigative journalist—and deeply disliked by all the right people to prove it—your attention must be directed to one of the drawbacks of speaking Truth to Power: both Onana and Péan have been unable to find English language publishers. It is our purpose here—our hope, at any rate—to correct this grievous omission with these samples of their righteous investigations into the lies that have falsified our consciousness and pushed Justice and Peace further and further over History’s horizon, where, now, their malodorous absence is the cause of our self-consuming despair.

WARNING: This material should only be read VERY CAREFULLY. –mc]


Pierre Péan, "Carnage: The Secret Wars of the Great Powers in Africa,"
Fayard (Paris) 2010. [translated from the French by CM/P]

Chapter 6,

--For reasons of security, Israel becomes an important Neo-Colonial player on the African stage.--

From its inception, Israel has been keenly interested in Africa. The narrowness of its own territory within hostile surroundings has driven its leaders, since the early 1950s, to seek some compensation for this existential weakness by creating a military alliance with France, already an African power, while at the same time searching out political alliances within Africa, with an eye toward artificially creating a “strategic depth”, the absence of which had proven elsewhere to be such a cruel weakness, and to render aid in its struggles against the Arab enemy. So, in the years immediately following its birth, Israel went all in, on the one hand, to become a nuclear power, and, on the other, to make of the African continent that extra living space [Lebensraum] essential to its survival—two objectives that had been intimately linked for a very long time. It must be remembered that Egypt under Nasser, both an Arab and an African power, became at once Israel’s Enemy No. 1 and the symbol of the struggle against colonialism and imperialism.

So close and yet so far. Following on the Egyptian threats against the Straits of Tiran (Israel’s access to the Red Sea and the Suez Canal, via the Gulf of Aqaba), Africa became the objective of all Israel’s strategic attention. Right after the shock of the conference at Bandung[1], from which the Jewish State was excluded due to pressure from Egypt, Israel looked for a way to break out of its isolation, as much in the Near East as in Asia, by playing the Africa card.

The card was played simultaneously by the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Defense. Dan Avni, at the African desk of the Foreign Ministry, thought that the battle for Africa was, for Israel, “a matter of life and death.”[2] David Ben Gurion, who on 21 February 1955 took over the Ministry of Defense and imposed a brutal course correction on Israeli/Egyptian relations by launching, just one week later, a reprisal raid on Gaza which took the lives of 40 Egyptian soldiers[3], his strategists aiming also to come down hard on Africa as a way to counter ever-stronger Arab threats.

Crowned with the support of the Non-Aligned Nations, Nasser began to move closer and closer to Moscow after the Americans refused to finance the Aswan dam. This rapprochement was finalized, first, with a commercial agreement, and then, five months later, with the purchase of Soviet arms. . .

Israeli strategists decided to abandon certain lines of policy discussion toward the establishment of a security zone around their country: to thwart the Arab policy on Africa, to retard Arab political unity in the struggle for decolonization of the Maghreb and the Near East, to secure, first, the Red Sea, its access to Africa, and to ally itself with new and future African states. The African continent was thus to play an integral part in the developed geopolitical strategy for survival known as “peripheral peace” or “strategy for the periphery.” The main idea of this strategy was to secure alliances with non-Arab nations on its flanks or on the periphery of the Near and Middle East. So Israel was seeking to tighten its already close relationships with Iran and Turkey, but also, in Africa, with Ethiopia and Uganda. It would complete this plan by forging links with non-Arab and non-Muslim minorities: the Druze, the Maronites, the Kurds, with the Falangists in Lebanon, the royalists in Yemen, the rebels in South Sudan, with the aim of exacerbating inter-Arab conflicts and eventually destroying a country (Sudan).

After the attacks of 1 November 1954 , Israel was also particularly concerned with the Algerian rebellion linked closely to Nasser. . . The Shadow Men were to be especially affected by this essential strategic plan, which is still in effect today. We must here take note of two great figures who were instrumental in putting this plan into action: David Kimche, known as “The Plotter”, and better known in Africa by his alias, David Sharon, and Uri Lubrani, personal secretary to David Ben Gurion, who “worked” especially on Uganda, Iran, Ethiopia (particularly to bring about the emigration of the Jewish Falashas[4]) and Sierra Leone.

The tension between Israel and Egypt came to a head with Nasser’s announcement of the closing of the straits to the Red Sea. On 2 November 1955, Ben Gurion, by now once more become Prime Minister, said in his inaugural address before the Knesset:

Egypt is now trying to block Israel’s access through the straits to
the Red Sea, against inter-national principles. This unilateral war
must stop, because it cannot remain for long unilateral[5] . . .

Ben Gurion then decided to bet the ranch on France and sped up his discussions in Paris with the Ministries of Defense and the Interior, both of which scrupulously avoided any reporting on these talks to the Quai d’Orsay[6]. On the Israeli side, the key man was Shimon Peres, formerly of the Haganah and close to the “Old Lion” (Ben Gurion), who quickly familiarized himself with the mysteries of French politics and its military establishment, to the point of successfully convincing those who held the reins of command that what was good for Israel was also good for France.

The success of the Peres mission, many agree, was due to his personal charm and intelligence, but, above all else, to the ancient links between Tel Aviv and Paris, existing even before the founding of the Jewish State. Despite British pressures, 4,600 Jewish survivors of the death camps were authorized by the government of Paul Ramadier to leave from Sète aboard the SS President Warfield, rechristened Exodus 47, in the night of 10 and 11 July 1947, with the official destination listed as Columbia.

French officials knew full well that this convoy of hope was really sailing to Palestine. Thirteen days later, the ship returned, escorted by three British warships. A spokesman for the French government, François Mitterand, stated: “The French authorities would not order the passengers off the boat and onto land.”

Paris refused to go along with London’s policy on Palestine. This was actually the first time that France had taken an official position against British policies on this issue. But the part of this affair that was hidden below the water line was much more important. In the greatest secrecy, France became the rear bases for the future State of Israel.

Edouard Depreux, Socialist Minister of the Interior, enabled their emigration by furnishing the Jews with false papers. He closed his eyes to the arms shipments leaving from France or transiting the country; as well as to the training camps of Haganah, the movement for clandestine struggle. A radio transmitter was installed in the villa of André Blumel, former cabinet director for Leon Blum under the Popular Front, and friend of Jules Moch and Edouard Depreux. The Minister of the Interior had only one demand: to know the code for the transmissions.

The intimacy between certain French circles and the Jewish resistance was such that the political rifts in France were therein reproduced. The Socialists supported the Haganah of Ben Gurion, Moshe Dayan and Shimon Peres, while the MRP (Christian Democrats) backed the Irgun of Menacham Begin. The SFIO (Socialists) took part in the elimination of the Irgun during the taking of power at the creation of the Israeli State. The explosion, on 11 June 1948 in the harbor of Port-du-Bouc, that destroyed the ship Altanena, loaded with arms destined for the Irgun, was the direct consequence of a telegram sent by Jules Moch to the Haganah: the Socialist Minister of the Interior, in fact, considered the clandestine Haganah to be the only legitimate movement because of its link to the Jewish Agency.

The ties between France and the Jews in Palestine was not the concern of the Socialists only. During the war, in the Resistance, in the camps, or on the Eastern Front, solid friendships were made. To cite a few of the close friends of the future State of Israel, Christian Pineau, Diomèdes Carroux, Raymond Schmittlein and even General de Gaulle, who had greatly admired the courage and skill of the Jewish Brigades who fought with the Allied Armies in the Near East.

Pierre Koenig, who would become one of the key connections of Israeli influence and action in France, was literally enamored of the Jews in Palestine at Bir Hakeim. He would remember this when he was Minister of Defense and the Armed Forces in the cabinets or Pierre Mendès France and Edgar Faure, in 1954 and 1955.

Another man who knew Koenig in the Resistance, then after the war helped the Irgun in its struggle against the British, also played an important role in getting military aid to the new State: General Pierre Guillain de Bénouville, who went so far as to break the arms embargo ordered in 1967 by General De Gaulle against all belligerent parties in the Middle East.[8]

At the end of 1954, Peres signed an important contract for the purchase of weapons: aircraft, canons, tanks and radar equipment. This greatest of “Wires”, which focused keenly on Israeli needs, was not by chance: it was set up right after Toussaint Rouge[9], which marked the beginning of the Algerian war. Shimon Peres and all the negotiators who came to Paris after him offered their aid to those political leaders who would fight against the “terrorists” of the FNL supported by Nasser: “The Arabs are our common enemy. You are behind the lines and we are on the front. When the front is on fire, shouldn’t you transfer weapons to the forward positions?” declared General Moshe Dayan on his first trip to Paris.[10]

In 1954 a deal was struck between the Mossad and the French SDECE[11]: the French spies were expecting a maximum of intelligence on the Algerian rebellion from their Israeli opposite numbers. This collaboration went on at all levels of the Army. For their part, the Israelis demanded that their pilots be placed in various French units to benefit from their training down to the smallest details. Accepted: some officers entered the École de guerre (War College), others the École des blindés (School of armor) at Saumur. The Algerian war more and more forced the French soldiers into the arms of their Israeli counterparts. This collaboration also worked with the Place Beauvau, which was in charge of three Algerian departments.

Ben Gurion asked Peres to do everything he could to get the maximum amount of weaponry from France as a way to counterbalance Egypt’s arms purchases from the USSR, especially fighter jets capable of going up against Nasser’s Soviet Migs. But Peres had to deal with French governmental instability, a characteristic of the Fourth Republic. With each new appointment of a Defense Minister, he had to go back to the beginning of his arguments to convince yet another interlocutor that they had common enemies, and consequently . . . Peres was not too worried when Guy Mollet arrived at Matignon because he knew well the new president of the Council and had already convinced him of the justice of his cause.

The Israeli met the secretary General of the SFIO the day after Mollet’s installation at Matignon. He brought him a letter from Ben Gurion that confirmed to the President of the Council all the importance he attached to a privileged relationship of his country with France. Guy Mollet assured Shimon Peres: Israel can count on him, and, therefore, on France. The coming to power of the socialists constituted a decisive turn in French policies toward Israel. Peres would be able to lock down the greatest “lobbying” operation ever to have been pulled off by a handful of men over a State apparatus, and thus saw the benefits of History.

So, Peres had no need to repeat to Mollet that their common enemy was Nasser, whom all of Israel’s ‘amis français’ compared to Hitler, who wanted not only to push Israel into the sea, but constantly opposed France as the “enemy of the Arab nation,” who harbored the leaders of the FLN and funded and armed the Algerian rebellion; the new president of the Council was totally convinced of this. Evidence of this intimacy: Shimon Peres even moved into the Ministry of the Armies on the rue Sainte-Dominique. It must be said that the new Minister, Maurice Bouirgès-Maunoury, and his principal collaborators, previously at the Place Beauvau, were his very close friends. The only limit set by the French government to the enormous arms orders from Israel was that they should not deprive the units working in Algeria nor diminish the security of France in the case of a sudden conflict. On the one hand, impressive quantities of planes, tanks, cannons and ammunition left French arsenals for Israel; on the other, massive quantities of the Mossad’s notes on the activities of the Arab League and the arms traffic between Egypt, Libya and Algeria came in to the SDECE. The Mossad did not limit its aid to the activities of the FNL outside Algeria: it went so far as to get involved in the combat in-country.

The little “Franco-Israeli” club discussed—obviously in the greatest secrecy—the ways and means to overthrow Nasser and carry on a joint colonial enterprise on the African continent. The Egyptian leader would give them the pretext they were looking for: on 26 July 1956, he nationalized the Suez Canal, a decision that eight days later caused the US to pull its financing from the Aswan dam.

The American Secretary of State never forgave Nasser for having struck a deal with Czechoslovakia for the delivery of arms that the US had refused. . . Right after the nationalization of the Canal, Shimon Peres took advantage of Nasser’s show of force to further drag his French friends behind Israel. He spoke of the “ardent obligation” to answer the aggression of the Egyptian ruler, who “no longer went to the trouble of hiding his desire to wipe out the Jewish State.” This coercion was pointless, as Paris and London had already decided on a joint response. As a consequence of this, Shimon Peres was asked not to launch a premature offensive.

In August and September 1956, an airlift between France and Israel delivered massive quantities of weapons. Everything necessary for a joint counter-attack with Israel—from France alone or with the cooperation of Great Britain—the matter was discussed only among military officers. Within French politics, only Bourgès-Maunoury and Mollet were kept abreast of what happened at these meetings.

Israeli politicians did not get in on the show until 20 September with Golda Meir, the Foreign Minister, Dayan, Peres and General Carmel, Israel’s Minister of Transportation. On 1 October, a common Franco-Israeli General Staff headquarters was set up on the Rue Saint-Dominique. Operation “Musketeer” was launched.

At the same time, but in an even more secretive fashion, the nuclear cooperation between the two countries took on a new enthusiasm. The followers of “The Armed Prophet” were persuaded that only the nuclear bomb could guarantee the existence of Israel and stop a second holocaust of the Jewish people. In Ben Gurion’s analysis, the Arabs would never accept in their hearts the existence of the Jewish State; unless it was imposed on them by force.[12] But the word “bomb” was still taboo in Paris. . . .

On 29 October 1956, as expected, General Dayan pushed across the Sinai toward the Suez Canal, while Egypt’s air forces were ground sluiced by French and English fighter jets. But the storm of anger raised against the “imperialist aggressors” was much stronger than expected. Washington and Moscow were not at all happy and made threats. While Moscow was dousing the revolt in Budapest with blood, on 4 November, an American-Soviet front was opened against Paris and London. The UN ordered a ceasefire. The next day, Nikolaï Bulganin declared he was ready to use force to stop the Israeli-Anglo-French operation. The British Prime Minister Anthony Eden “blinked” and accepted a ceasefire for midnight, while British and French troops had already landed, at dawn, in Fouad and Port Said.

Ben Gurion and Golda Meir, his Foreign Minister, accepted conditionally to pull back Israeli troops and, at the time of the expected ceasefire, were on a plane to Paris. Before pulling out of Sinai, they wanted to know just how far their French friends were willing to go to guarantee the security of Israel. Humiliated by Washington and Moscow, Guy Mollet figured he owed them the bomb and gave instructions to accelerate the nuclear cooperation already underway. In the night of 8 to 9 November, Ben Gurion accepted the retreat from the Sinai, but France gave him the guarantees for which he had been waiting.

Thus, despite appearances, the Franco-British debacle over Suez was a victory for Israel: not only was its access to the Red Sea, that is, its access to Africa by sea, henceforth guaranteed[13], but from then on Ben Gurion had the guarantee of the French, frustrated by not having been able to honor their promise of bringing down Nasser, that they would furnish Israel with the means quickly to build the ultimate shield, the nuclear bomb, a token of its survival.

Ben Gurion’s biographer did not hesitate to speak of Israel’s “success” right after this first colonial operation on the African continent: “However, its greatest successes were won by Israel on two different fronts: that of Africa, where Ghana unleashed the liberation process for the old colonies; an that of the ‘periphery’ of the Middle East, this group of non-Arab States that Israel would try to conquer and train as counter-weights to Nasser. Is it not paradoxical? That Israel, one could believe, was isolated for many long years following its aggression . . .”[14]

The success of Israel in Africa would be sealed with a stamp of ambiguity. The leaders of the Jewish State approached the Africans, trying to free them from the yoke of colonialism, by promoting the bond of suffering that joined Blacks and Jews, while forming with imperial, and then neo-colonial, France a “tacit alliance”[15], before throwing in with the US as Israel progressively became the spearhead of the West’s struggle against Communism in Africa. Bar-Zohar recaps the strategy that was put in place, not without a certain cynicism:

The fact that the Jews had always been victims of racism, while
the Arabs had the reputation of being slave merchants, also
created a current of sympathy on the Dark Continent for the
Jewish State. Ben Gurion was prepared to use this position to
obtain, especially from the Americans, aid, capital and the
assistance that would permit the financing of its activities in Africa.
The West had to be content with the fact that Israel, by its actions,
blocked the way to Communism in the young States, and depend on
that action while giving a free hand to the government in Jerusalem.

Ben Gurion—but this is also true of the first leaders of Israel like Golda Meir—formally drew his African policy from the vision of Theodor Herzl, who believed that there was a bond of suffering between Jews and Blacks:

It takes a Jew to plumb the depths of certain kinds of suffering […].
Some men, because they are men, despite their color, are abducted,
transported and sold. Their children grow up in exile, hatred and
disdain, because of the color of their skin. I am not ashamed to say it,
though I might seem ridiculous: I, who have seen the return of the Jews,
would like to work still more to prepare the return of the Blacks.[16]

This appeal for “the return of Blacks” was, at first, welcomed by the founders of Panafricanism, who, early in the 20th century, were debating the Western occupation of the African continent. “Panafricanism is for us what Zionism is for the Jews,” explained William Edgar Burghardt (WEB) Du Bois[17], who, along with Marcus Garvey, was a leader of the Panafrican movement. After the Second World War, the movement was taken up by the Africans, who gave a messianic dimension to the creation of Israel as a return to the Biblical Eretz-Israel. But the Israeli discourse found itself constantly interrupted by the security considerations of the Jewish State.

Nasser wanted to be—and was, for many Africans—the champion of the struggle for the liberation of Africa from “the Imperialisms.” Cairo was the home-office for every progressive African movement, for the African League (in 1955), and, in the early 1960s, for no fewer than thirteen offices of nationalist organizations. Egypt furnished them with a radio station and a magazine, but also with money and arms. Cairo thus became the must-visit for revolutionaries the world over. Throughout the 1960s, Nasser also set up “offices of the struggle” for the Arab League in sixteen African capitals. . .

For its part, Israel continued to support France’s struggle against the FLN with aid, which primarily came from Cairo, and discretely set up structures in Africa to fight back Arab efforts and replace Western colonialism by supplying economic and military assistance. The New York Times called this action “the most secret theme of Israeli pride.” While Western colonialism was losing one position after another on the Dark Continent, Israeli engineers and technicians moved into abandoned fortresses, wrote Der Spiegle, which explained that the Israelis were not very happy with the Africans’ going on and on with praise for their actions. So, Mr. Giora Josephtal, Israel’s Minister of Labor, on his return from Africa, put out the following warning: “It would be better not to talk too much about our work in Africa, that will only provoke our adversaries.” [18]

Exchanges of information on African and the Arab world between the Mossad and the French SDECE continued (they would be significant until 1966). France remained, in fact, a very avid follower of intelligence on Algeria, but also on Egyptian and British intentions regarding the Suez Canal, on the relations between Nasser and Moscow, and on Lebanon and Syria. Even after its expedition to Suez, the French military were still most insistent on cooperating with their Israeli counterparts. The “Royale” (a popular reference to the French Navy—cm/p) even wished for a common strategy on the Red Sea to insure protection for the route of oil, as well as for French possessions in the Indian Ocean (Djibouti, Réunion and Madagascar). In January 1958, the two Navies actually carried out joint maneuvers.[19]

But it is around Algeria that the cooperation between France and Israel would become the most intense, because Tel-Aviv wanted above all else that France remain in Algeria, and even had very specific ideas on the future of this territory which was still at that time three French departments. Before discussing this new future, it was first necessary to defeat the FLN militarily.

In March 2005, during a gathering in Jerusalem of Jews from Constantine, Avraham Barsilai revealed his past as an agent of the Mossad in Algeria. Under orders from Schlomo Havilio, while posted to Paris in 1956, he trained and armed the cells of young Jews from Constantine to fight against the FNL. He explained that, in the Jewish quarters, there was continuous stalking of Algerian militants, and this willingly replaced the surveillance carried out by the French Army. Avraham Barsilai even stated that some armed French elements were led by cells of the Mossad.[20]

Thinking that they could be useful in Algeria, new techniques of psychological warfare came to be much in demand by a number of French officers. General Challe believed that the Israelis were “consummate artists” in their relations with the Arabs. He also hoped to use the kibbutz as models for his pacification program. As for the Israelis, they showed a particular interest in the use of helicopters in the war against the guerillas. And they planted some Israeli “civilians” in the offices of the resident Minister in Alger to help Jews living in Algeria to emigrate to Israel or to organize their self-defense inside the country.[21]

The Algerian rebellion made possible Shimon Peres’ “IPO” of a part of the political/military establishment in Paris for the cause of fraternity against a common Arab enemy. The prospects at the end of the Algerian war seemed to indicate a loosening of the bonds of the French-Israeli alliance. It was in September 1959 that de Gaulle spoke for the first time about self-determination. The following year, at their first meeting, all was still going well between Ben Gurion and Le Général, the two heads of state, except that the Israeli was disturbed and strongly insisted on touting his solution to the Algerian problem. He had a plan that he would unflaggingly explain to all the French who would listen. He proposed a sharing of Algeria, predicting a relocation of the French population, essentially along the Mediterranean coast, and the emigration of a million French from their home country to Algeria.[22] “There are three important things,” he explained to General de Gaulle: “Bringing the war to an end and assuring the existence of the French community, conserving access to the Sahara, and securing the presence of France in Africa.” Ben Gurion convinced no one. He tried his suggestion again at his second meeting with “the man from Colombey.”

“My god, you’re trying to create a new Israel in Algeria!” replied de Gaulle.[23]

While the General’s decision to grant self-determination to the Algerians was being implemented, a number of pro-Israel French military men and politicians, notably Jacques Soustelle, turned against him and committed the irreparable. On 8 January 1961, the French people, in a referendum, approved self-determination for all Algerians, regardless of status. On 30 March 1961, the government officially announced the opening of talks with representatives of the provisional government of the Republic of Algeria (GPRA). In Alger, a sudden burst of desperation forced some high-ranking military officers (Generals Challe, Jouhaud, Zeller and Salan) to organizer a putsch. . . . Salan and Jouhaud rejoined the OAS [24] where Soustelle and Georges Bidault were already enlisted. The putsch failed. On 19 March 1962, a ceasefire brought an end to eight years of war in Algeria. The OAS was made up of thousands of activists who began carrying out multiple blind attacks.

Traumatized by the “events in Algeria,” the French found out through their newspapers that the Israelis supported the tenants of a French Algeria, and even, to a certain extent, the extreme rightwing terrorist organization. Jacques Soustelle, one might read, was backed by Ben Gurion and the Mossad. It is true that Jacques Soustelle’s Committee for Democratic Defense was made up of men (notably General Koenig) close to the Herut, the ultra rightwing Israeli party founded by Menachem Begin, who had gone on to the Irgun.[25]

In March 1961, Jean Ghenassia, an Algerian Jew, a lieutenant to Joseph Ortiz, one of the leaders of the OAS, was arrested: he was suspected of being linked to agents of the Mossad and to the Stern group [or gang], and of having been dropped off on the coast of Algeria by an Israeli submarine at the end of December 1960. The Jerusalem Post of 11 January 1962 reported that Jewish commandos from Oran said they were inspired by the policies of the government of Israel, which, as we saw, wanted the partition of Algeria. The article went on to state that these so-called commandos received support from some French government personalities. Jewish groups, linked to the networks of France Insurrection and led by Elie Azoulai and Ben Attar, were effectively reorganized into the “Commandos Collines” [The Hill Commandos], assassinated Muslim elected officials, tried to burn down the prison where members of the FLN were being held, and murdered French officers, like Lt-Colonel Pierre Rançon, Chief of the 2nd Bureau in Oran and charged with fighting against the OAS.[26] Things got complicated when General Salan ordered that all non-Muslims leaving Algeria be liquidated. This threat had a devastating effect on the Algerian Jews who wanted to emigrate to Israel, and became even more terrifying when the Chief of Police of Algeria, a Jew, was killed by extremists because he was implicated in Jewish emigration.[27]

It was no surprise that, under these conditions, Mehdi Ben Barka, Secretary General of the Union nationale des forces populaires [National Union of Popular Forces] and a grand figure in the Third World, made the following statement at a conference on Palestine held in Cairo:

Israel must be considered a Western settlement in a region of
the globe that has turned its back on it. The Jewish State, vis-à-vis
the Under-Developed World of Africa and Asia, presents a way of
easing the penetration of Western influence.[28]

African decolonization then ran into serious problems because of attempts by the West at re-colonization. Israel, very quickly, found itself taking part in this Western reaction.[29]

After the failure of Bandung, the end of the blockade of the Straits of Tiran and the recognition of the Gulf of Aqaba as international waters, it was toward Emperor Haile Selassie, King of Kings, Lion of Judah, and, according to legend, the direct descendant of the Queen of Sheba and Solomon, whom Israeli diplomats and spies approached to complete their securing of the Red Sea. Emissaries from Tel-Aviv were warmly welcomed by the Negus, who considered himself to belong to the Jewish world. Ethiopia, which controlled the Straits of Aden, the southern entrance to the Red Sea, which is then the southern access to the Suez Canal, was a highly strategic country for Israel.

In 1956 Israel opened a consulate in Addis-Abeba, which became its port of entry to Africa and an essential early-warning base for all subversive actions that might come out of Egypt and, eventually, the other countries of the Arab League, like Saudi Arabia or Somalia. To cover Israel’s clandestine actions, Yossi Hamburger (former capitain of the Exodus, then chief of Unit 131 of the Aman, the Israeli Military Intelligence service) created Incoda, a meat-exporting company. From Ethiopia, Israeli agents had free rein to check out activities in Khartoum, as well as those of the whole region, but also to stake out the sources of the Nile[30], water being a matter of survival for Israel, and closely follow Soviet developments in the region. . . . Cooperation with Ethiopia turned out so positive that in 1960 the Negus asked Yitzhak Rabin to reorganize his Army. Then he solicited even more aid from Israel and the US, beginning in 1962, to combat the Eritrean resistance, supported by Cuba, South Yemen and the Palestinians.

The American military base at Asmara is also going to become
the greatest spatial and military communications center on the
African continent. Israel is training Haile Selassie’s elite troops
there. From this base, Israel also has access to all the information
on military maneuvers, with which it can help its friends while at
the same time satisfying its own strategic needs. [31]

By 1964, Israel had also begun to aid the Eritrean resistance forces, which wound up effecting their relations with Addis-Abeba. . . .

It was already evident that Sudan, because of its geographic position to the south of Egypt and its 716 km coastline on the Red Sea, was a potential ally for Israel within the framework of the “Periphery Pact”, but that it also posed a grave threat; and so it was all important to keep an eye on this country just recently—in 1956—separated from Egypt. Even before independence, the British and Israelis encouraged the mutiny of the Equatorial Corps, made up of soldiers from South-Sudan, which was first expressed by a refusal to take part in parades in Khartoum, then became an armed rebellion under the name Anya-Nya, led by Joseph Lago. At this time, Israel furnished training for officers of the Anya-Nya with Alison Manani Magaya[32], secretary to Joseph Lago, maintaining the liaison between the Israeli General Staff and the headquarters of the rebellion:

The South Sudanese, like the Kurds in the Middle East, make up
a minority ripe for manipulation by more powerful forces in the
course of regional politics.[33]

They are black, poor and, for the most part, Christian, while the Sudanese of the North are Arabs and Muslims. The tension between Black Christians and Arabs and Muslims broke into open war in the 1960s. With the aim of aiding the rebels of South Sudan, Israel brought an enduring and concentrated attention to all the countries surrounding the zone: Ethiopia, Uganda, Congo (later Zaire), the Central African Republic and Chad, through which the Mossad and Special Forces could run arms and advisors. Thus Uri Lubrani, one of the grand figures in the “Periphery Pact”, would cement very close relations with the Anya-Nya movement.

It was in cold diplomatic terms that Golda Meir made Mobutu a part of Israel’s engagement with Zaire’s neighbors:

Within the framework of our policy of sharing with the new countries
of Africa the experiences we have gained in the process of building
our own country, we have granted technical assistance to Uganda in
a great variety of areas: agriculture, public health, education, public
administration and military training. . . . In 1963, an official agreement
on technical cooperation was signed with President Milton Obote,
followed in 1964 by another agreement pertaining to the training of
military personnel and the air force, and the provision of military

This engagement by the Jewish State with Kampala concluded with the “wooing” of the infamous Idi Amin Dada. Trained in Israel, the Ugandan General would have nothing to say about Israel’s aid to the rebels of South Sudan or about the construction of secret airbases to be used against Egypt[35] . . . He would be assisted by the Mossad in fomenting his coup d’état against Milton Obote in 1971. In July, during his second visit to Jerusalem, the new Ugandan head of state compiled his extravagant demands for armaments. Israel refused. So Idi Amin turned to Colonel Khadafi. . . .

The mercenary, Rolf Steiner, who fought along side the Anya-Nya, furnished a great number of details on the Sudanese rebellion and on the external support given it by Israel, which signed, in 1970, an agreement with Uganda to use its territory in aiding the rebels.[36] He enumerated the arms recovered from the Arabs during the Six-Day war[37], and spoke of the four Israeli advisors installed in Lago’s command post in Winkibout. . . . These covert operations, probably carried out in coordination with the US[38], would cease in 1972[39] with the Addis-Abeba Accords.

Israel’s penetration of Africa was not limited to the East; from the beginning the Israelis had their sights set on Black Africa, first on the Ghana of Kwame N’krumah, who was, in the 1950s, emblematic of the continent. Full of the ideas of Panafricanism, N’krumah battled against Great Britain, spent time in prison, won independence for Gold Coast in 1956, and fervently sought liberation for the oppressed. A symbol of the anti-colonialist struggle, he was very much attracted by the Israeli experience. N’krumah secured the first contacts with the leaders of Israel in 1953, by way of the Mapaï and the Histadrut[40]. Israel then sent an official emissary to Ghana, a member of a kibbutz, with the mission of offering his aid in the development of the country; it opened its first embassy there in March 1957.

Still in the 1950s, Israel also had its sights set on the French colonies, which had been moving rapidly toward independence since the “loi-cadre” (the Overseas Reform Act) was agreed to by Gaston Defferre, French Minister for Overseas Territories in the Mollet government, in 1956. But, for the Israeli leaders, it was not in any way a question of embarrassing their principal ally and friend. They wanted rather a joint and coordinated action with France, still a great colonial power. Golda Meir took her first trip to Africa in 1958, accompanied by Jacob Tsur, Israeli ambassador to France, who had played an important role in the secret alliance between Paris and his country. The French authorities were consulted and gave their blessings to this trip. So military assistance was brought by Israel to several countries in the pré carré [the ‘square meadow’, as France’s African holdings were called]: the Ivory Coast, the Central African Republic, Dahomey, Cameroon, Senegal, and Togo[41].

Then Israeli Foreign Minister, Abba Eban, would render a great service to France and one of its African protégés, Ahmadou Ahidjo, “programmed” to become the first president of an independent Cameroon. From 1956, France, which had exercised administrative supervision over Cameroon since the end of the war, had to deal with a rebellion in Bamiléké country, a province in the west of Cameroon. The Union of Populations of Cameroon (UPC), headed by Ruben Um Nyobé, led the revolt. From 1957 to 1958, at the demand of High Commissioner Pierre Messmer, Maurice Delauney took over command in this region.

He put down the rebellion in a most brutal fashion, going as far as to have commandos destroy the head offices of the UPC, located in British Cameroon, and had some of the principal officials of this party murdered. When he left the region in December 1958, to use a euphemism of the time, he “left behind him a relaxed situation.” To fulfill his mission of “cleaning up,” he had in effect liquidated, three months earlier, Ruben Um Nyobém, thus leaving the way clear for the French candidate, Ahmadou Ahidjo, a northern Muslim trained in colonial administration and a friend of Jacques Foccart (the two men were known and admired on the benches of the Assembly of the French Union[42]). But the “job” of Maurice Delaunay would be reduced to non-existence by Félix Moumié, the successor to Nyobé, who obliged Foccart to protect his young protégé Ahidjo by signing, prior to independence, a treaty of military cooperation between France and Cameroon. It would take four more years for the officers, the Special Forces and the agents of the SDECE to drown the rebellion in blood. It was William Bechtel, a reservist of the “Action” service of the SDECE, who poisoned Félix Moumié in the Plat d’Argent restaurant in Geneva[43].

Here is Abba Eban[44] recounting how he came to the aid of Ahidjo:

I had met him on American soil in 1959; Aryeh Ilan, one of our
most talented diplomats [. . .], suggested that I play an active
role in the discussions of Cameroon’s gaining independence.
To break him out of the difficulties that were keeping him from
succeeding, Ahmadou Ahidjo, the leader of the Cameroonian
National Movement, vainly walked the corridors of the UN
building, immersing himself in a strange environment. In
Cameroon (in the view of the Opposition), some of the groups
supported by Cairo denied all legitimacy to Ahidjo. [. . .]
I was interested in the problem and, in light of the long and
rather troubled history of our relations with the United Nations,
I was in a position to give some advice on the manner in which
to present Cameroon’s case with some chance of success. [. . .]
Ahidjo was personally grateful to me for a number of years.

Being in charge of this delicate dossier, this kind of support had to go straight to Jacques Foccart’s heart. From this period on it was the Israelis who furnished security for the Chiefs of State of Cameroon, first for Ahidjo, then for Paul Biya; it was the Israelis who took care of organizing the tapping of the country’s telephones.

L’homme de l’ombre [The Shadow], Foccard would take other kinds of satisfaction from leading the Israelis into Africa, especially at the time of the Biafran rebellion. Secretly, French and Israelis lent their support to the Ibo minority of Nigeria. From December 1966, just after the coup d’état of General Yakubu Gowon, the Nigerian papers were talking about how Israel trained the Ibos, those who had seceded in the province of Biafra. The conflict between Northern Muslims and Southern Christians was waged, just as in Sudan, with the same reasoning as were the Arab-Israeli wars. A victory by Gowon would encourage the Arabs, while a victory for the Ibos (pro-Israeli Christians) would be to the advantage of the Jewish State, even more so because of the influence Nigeria had on certain other African states. This was also why Egypt and Algeria gave their support to the Nigerian federal government by furnishing mostly Soviet arms. For Gowon as for Nasser and Boumediene, the war against Biafran secession was an anti-colonial struggle that had to be supported just like the others in the Middle East and Southeast Asia.[45]

The “tacit alliance” between Paris and Tel-Aviv began, nevertheless, to unravel over the years with the development of General de Gaulle’s new foreign policy. Relations took a severe hit with the Six-Day War in 1967, in which Israel occupied the Golan Heights, the Sinai and the West Bank of the Jordan River. De Gaulle had, at that time, an expression to describe the Jewish State: “A people sure of themselves and a dominator.” The ties between Israel and France in Africa—more precisely between the Mossad and the SDECE—were not dissolved from one day to the next, but the near familial fellowship of the 1950s gave way to more objective and considered agreements, then to actions where each country had to look out for itself. . . .

It was much easier for Israel to move into Africa as the Jewish State held a very real fascination for the African elites in search of a different model from that of its colonizers. There are many explanations for this fascination:

During the 1960s, Israel, in the context of the times, seems to deliver a singular message.

In the developed countries, the struggle to live had disappeared.
Existence had lost its epic quality. In the developing countries,
the early exaltation had quickly given way to bitterness, even
despair, because economic resources were not accumulating at
the desired rate, social dynamism was slackening, they began
to realize that it would take more than just hoisting a flag to create
a State. The emblems of sovereignty might inspire an instant of
emotion, but they would not, in and of themselves, allow the bridging
of the humiliating gaps—in resources as well as in expertise—between
the rich Nations and the poor. So the modern industrial countries
admired Israel for its vitality and dynamic pioneering spirit, while the
developing countries strived to discover the secrets for its accelerated
expansion. Some envied Israel for what it had already accomplished;
others for what it still had to achieve. All this brought to the Jewish
community in the Diaspora, a feeling of pride, of close kinship, of
shared responsibility.[46]

Israel would use—and abuse—the idea of a Community of Suffering shared by the Black and Jewish peoples as a means to implant itself in Africa. On 26 June 1960, on the occasion of the declaration of national independence by the Belgian Congo, Lev Eshkol, Israeli Finance Minister, delivered an address before Patrice Lumumba, and here is an extract:

We Israelis understand (and perhaps better than any other people)
what it means to go from tutelage to freedom. It is a precious
inheritance, this national sovereignty you have just achieved. And
I am convinced that not just your leaders, but the Congolese people
as a whole, will use their energy and their strength to preserve it with
courage and dignity. [. . .] Israel, like many other young countries,
knows, from its own experience, the myriad obstacles that a young
State must overcome immediately after gaining its independence.

Recognizing the importance of the arrival of these new States on the international chessboard, Shimon Peres wrote:

The political independence of the new States in Africa and Asia
does not automatically imply an instant improvement in their
material conditions, but it does give them the freedom of
expression and the right to vote in the organizations of the UN.
Their sudden appearance in the galleries of the Global
Assemblies has raised, first, curiosity, then attention, and the
world has become aware of their statements as well as their
political positions. It was only natural that Israel would want
to give these newly independent States a true image of Israeli
society, and strive to add their young voices to those of the
partisans in the peace negotiations aimed at solving the problems
of the Middle East, rather than seeing them caught in an orbit
around Arab propaganda.

And for those who only saw Israel’s assiduous courting as a further cynical pursuit of its own interests, Golda Meir broke it down:

If I might be permitted to answer the critics in advance: If we went
to Africa, was it because we wanted to collect votes in the United
Nations? Naturally, yes, this was one of our motives, and perfectly
honorable. At no time did I hide this, not from myself or from the

So behind the promotion of the Community of Suffering between Jews and Blacks, there had always been a strategy of double détente, since the Jewish State immediately put their credibility with the Africans at the service, first, of the French, then, almost simultaneously, of the US and of the West as a whole.

Thus Israel hoped to take advantage of General de Gaulle’s involvement with the Third World by offering to be a sort of broker for French interests in certain Asian and, especially, African countries. Thanks to its programs of cooperation with developing nations, Israel could be a means of remaining in contact with former colonies without the risk of implementing neo-colonial strategies[47]. At the time of the first meeting between Ben Gurion and de Gaulle in mid-June 1960, the Third World, in general, and Africa, in particular, were the first subjects the two men discussed. Ben Gurion explained Israel’s activity in Africa and the deep understanding it had created between his country and the African States. The “Old Lion” stressed that Israel’s technological expertise could serve as a counter-balance, unto a neutralizing force, against the influences of Nasser and the USSR in Africa. “Yes,” de Gaulle said. “I know that you do your work in Africa as though you are on a moral mission, and I deeply admire your activity.” Ben Gurion effectively got the support of the Élysée Palace, and especially from Jacques Foccart, special advisor for African affairs. The following year, during their second meeting, Africa was still the question between the two heads of State, but, if de Gaulle still approved of Israel’s actions, he toned it down somewhat: The man of 18 June did not appreciate in the least that Israel furnished weapons to the new African States.[48]

He did not keep Israel from becoming the spearhead of the West in Africa and actively contributed to mitigating the effects of independence; he even slowed them down or stopped them altogether. If the Jewish State had from the beginning been trying to march hand in hand with France, it was with, and to the great advantage of, the United States that it would continue its actions in Africa. According to the African Research Group, Israel’s activities on the Dark Continent were conceived and paid for by the US and other Western powers, notably West Germany. But an important part of these activities depended on clandestine operations[49] for the CIA. Beginning in 1960, the Agency gave tens of millions of dollars to Israel, to compensate the Mossad and other Israeli agencies for their penetration of cultural, political, economic and military organizations of the new independent Black African States, and for acting in the interests of the West in the struggle against Communism. This involvement of Israel greatly amplified the actions of the CIA in Africa. The Wall Street Journal confirmed for the first time in 1977 that the CIA financed Israeli operations as “foreign aid” to Africa between 1964 and 1968.[50] Israel set itself up there with an attitude of head-on confrontation with the Third World. So it was not surprising that in 1966, the Conference on Tri-Continental Solidarity held in Havana put out a virulent anti-Israel resolution, especially denouncing aid to the Jewish State as a new form of Imperialism.


[1] Conference held in Indonesia from 18 to 24 April 1955, which brought together the representatives of 29 African and Asian countries. This meeting took a position against the politics of the Eastern and Western blocs and colonialism, and resolved to help those countries still under colonial domination to gain their independence. The Conference at Bandung marked the entry of the Third World onto the International scene. It condemned South Africa, for its policy of apartheid, and France, as the leading colonial power in Africa. Bandung, in which Nasser played a key role, began the Movement of Non-Aligned Nations.

[2] Alhadji Bouba Nouhou, Israël et l’Afrique: Une relation mouvementée, Éditions Karthala, 2003.

[3] This raid explains, in part, Israel’s exclusion from the Conference at Bandung.

[4] Known to the French as “Toussaint Rouge”, this date marked the attacks, supposedly by the FLN, on the majority Muslim civilian population of Algeria and the beginning of that French Department’s war of independence.

[5] The Falashas, the Jews of Ethiopia, whose origins are uncertain, became a marginalized minority. They came in contact with Western Judaism in the late 19th century. In 1975 the government of Israel recognized them as Jews. The Falasha then experienced a difficult emigration to Israel in 1980 and 1990. As of 2009, there were 110,000 Falashas in Israel.

[6] Michael Bar-Zohar, Ben Gurion: The Armed Prophet, Barker, 1967.

[7] For the secret relations between France and Israel, see Pierre Péan, Les Deux Bombes, Fayard, 1982.

[8] See Pierre de Bénouville, Avant que la nuit vienne,Grasser, 2002, and Guy Vadepied, Marcel Dassault ou les ailes du pouvoir, in collaboration with Pierre Péan, Fayard, 2003. Bénouville was the promoter of the Jericho missile. On 5 November 1975, Marcel Dassault revealed that his company had “created a ballistic missile with a 500 km range for Israel […] At the time of the embargo, we delivered to Israel the missiles that were nearly finished and the spare parts with which they could finish them themselves.”

[9] On 1 November 1954, the FLN carried out some thirty attacks against the civilian population of Algeria. (see note 4)

[10] Michael Bar-Zohar, Ben Gurion: The Armed Prophet, op. cit.

[11] Service de Documentation Extérieure et de Contre-espionnage, is Frances foreign intelligence service.

[12] Pierre Péan, Les deux bombes, op. cit.

[13] “From a political point of view, control of the Straits of Tiran was of supreme importance. It was the essential goal of the campaign,” as General Dayan explained in his Journal de la campagne du Sinaï (Fayard, 1966)

[14] Michael Bar-Zohar, Ben Gurion: The Armed Prophet, op. cit.

[15] An expression taken from the book by Sylvia K. Crosbie, A Tacit Alliance: France and Israel from Suez to the Six-Day War, Princeton University Press, 1974.

[16] Theodor Herzl, Terre ancienne, terre nouvelle, Paris-Geneva, Éditions Ressources, 1980.

[17] Cited in Alahadji Bouba Nouhou, Israël et L’Afrique: Une relation mouvementée (op. cit.), a work from which I have borrowed greatly in the writing of this chapter.

[18] In Der Speigel, n. 43 from 19 October 1960.

[19] Sylvia K. Crosbie, A Tacit Alliance, op. cit.

[20] Reported in Maariv and reprinted in the Quotidien d’Oran of 26 March 2005.

[21] Sylvia K. Crosbie, A Tacit Alliance, op. cit.

[22] Taking up again the idea of Prévost-Paradol, already mentioned.

[23] Michael Bar-Zohar, Ben Gurion: The Armed Prophet, op. cit.

[24] L’Organisation d’Armée Secrète [a clandestine French force in Algeria].

[25] Sylvia K. Crosbie, A Tacit Alliance, op. cit.

[26] See:

[27] Sylvia K. Crosbie, A Tacit Alliance, op. cit.

[28] On 29 January 1965, Ben Barka was kidnapped in Paris. Several historians stated that surveillance on this Moroccan opposition leader was carried out by the Mossad. In the early 1960s, Ben Barka had effectively tightened relations with Israel and the Mossad, hoping they would help in his battle against the King.

[29] Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi, The Israeli Connection, Pantheon Books, 1987.

[30] See Chapter 10, “Outline of a country so vast that it is appropriate to break it up: Sudan,” pp. 251-252, and chapter 12, “The Holy Alliance against Khartoum,” pp. 284-285.

[31] Alhadji Bouba Nouhou, Israël et Afrique, op. cit.

[32] The current Labor Minister in the Khartoum government.

[33] In Jonathan Block and Patrick Fitzgerald, British Intelligence and Covert Action, 1983.

[34] Relations between Israel and States in Asia and Africa: A Guide to selected documentation, no. 8 “Zaire”, edited by H.S. Aynor, Jerusalem, 1994.

[35] Joel Peters, Israel and Africa, British Academic Press, 1992.

[36] In Carré rouge, Éditions Rombaldi, 1978.

[37] The Six-Day war between Israel and a coalition made up of Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Iraq, was fought from 5 June to 10 June 1967. The war was started by a ‘preemptive strike’ from Israel against its Arab neighbors, following the 23 May 1967 blockade by Egypt of the straits of Tiran, which prevented all Israeli shipping from passing through into the Red Sea.

[38] Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi, Israeli Connection, op. cit.

[39] And were not taken up again until 1983.

[40] The Mapaï was the Israeli Workers Party created in 1930 by Ben Gurion and Gold Meir. The Histadrut, the great central Jewish trade union created in 1920 in Haïfa, was one of the most powerful institutions in Israel.

[41] But also to countries outside the French sphere of influence, like Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia, Nigeria and Somalia, all of which, at the time, were pro-Western.

[42] The French Union was created by the Constitution of 1946, which replaced the Colonial Empire and abolished the Code de l’indigénat [a 19th century legal structure that imposed a sort of inferiority {apartheid} on the subjects of French colonialism with regard to their French colonialists]. Within this framework, the Assembly of the French Union was made up of half the members representing metropolitan France [the French nation] and the other half the members representing the Overseas Departments and Territories and the associated States.

[43] About this repression, read the work of Mongo Beti, Main basse sur le Cameroun, from Éditions Peuples noirs, Rouen, 1984; and L’Homme de l’ombre, from Fayard, 1990: a biography of Jacques Foccart by the writer of these lines.

[44] In Mon pays: l’épopée d’Israël moderne, Buchet-Chastel, 1975.

[45] Alhadji Bouba Nouhou, Israël et l’Afrique, op. cit.

[46] Léon César Codo, in “Les elites africaines et l’État hébreu: perception, images et représentations”, in L’Année africaine, 1987-1988, Centre d’études d’Afrique noire, A. Pedone.

[47] Sylvia K. Crosbie, A Tacit Alliance, op. cit.

[48] Michael Bar-Zohar, The Armed Prophet, op. cit.

[49] Making it very difficult to come up with an overall, complete and balanced approach to Israeli policies.

[50] Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi, The Israeli Connection, op. cit., pp. 40-41.

[Translated from the French by CM/P]

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