Spies of No Country
Behind Enemy Lines at the Birth of the Israeli Secret ServiceeBook - 2019
From the award-winning and critically-acclaimed author of Pumpkinflowers, the never-before-told story of the mysterious "Arab Section": the Jewish-"Arab" spies who, under deep cover in Beirut as refugees, helped the new State of Israel win the War of Independence.In his third non-fiction book, Matti Friedman introduces us to four unknown young men who are caught up in the fraught events surrounding the birth of Israel in 1948 and drawn into secret lives, becoming the nucleus of Israel's intelligence service. The tiny, amateur unit known as the "Arab Section" was conceived during WWII by British spies and by Jewish militia leaders in Palestine. Consisting of Jews from Arab countries who could pass as Arabs, it was meant to gather intelligence and carry out sabotage and assassinations. When the first Jewish-Arab war erupted in 1948 and Palestinian refugees began fleeing the fighting, a small number of Section agents disguised as refugees joined the exodus. They fled to Beirut, where they spent the next two years under cover, sending messages back to Israel over a radio antenna disguised as a clothesline. Of the dozen men in the unit at the war's beginning, five were caught and executed. Espionage, John le Carré once wrote, is the "secret theater of our society." Spies of No Country is not just a spy story, but a surprising window into the nature of Israel—a country that sees itself as belonging to the story of Europe, but where more than half of the population is native to the Middle East. Starring complicated characters with slippery identities moving in the shadow of great events, Spies of No Country tells a very different story about what Israel is and how it was created.
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