‘Anti-semitism’ or duty? British intelligence and the secret banning of Jews

“No Jewish personnel should be employed, if at all possible, in intelligence duties” – this was the verdict of a top-level British discussion of security threats in a document that remained secret for seventy years until this week, when H&D’s Peter Rushton became the first to read this file outside the intelligence bureaucracy.

More than a decade ago the first official history of MI5 revealed that after the Second World War, Britain’s Security Service banned recruitment of Jews. That book’s author Prof. Christopher Andrew called this “inexcusable” and “discrimination practised by MI5 against potential Jewish recruits”.

Prof. Andrew linked the policy to “the low-level anti-Semitic prejudice which, even after Auschwitz, was still common in British political life”.

Though Prof. Andrew is the leading British scholar of security and intelligence history, and had privileged access to internal MI5 documents, it has been difficult for his readers to follow up his research because many of the files he quoted remain classified and unavailable to other scholars.

Even though some of these documents are gradually being released, tracing the history of the tangled relationship between International Zionist Jewry and the British secret state is therefore a slow and arduous task. But one sometimes strikes archival gold. A document uncovered this week suggests that Prof. Andrew might need to apologise for his assumption that the ban on Jewish recruits was rooted in mere “prejudice”.

In January 1951 the senior Royal Air Force security officer – Wing Commander Duncan Balden – reported to his Foreign Office and MI6 counterpart Kenneth Geary that Israeli air force officers had been boasting “that they have been able to obtain from British sources whatever intelligence information they have needed”.

Balden and his colleagues had tried to track down the leaks, and had concluded that “there may be a possible source of leakage through Jewish personnel” either within the Royal Air Force or its US allies.

Though anxious to avoid any appearance of ‘anti-semitism’ – this was after all only six years after the ‘liberation of Auschwitz’ – Balden’s language was telling:
“Jewish personnel …may well be subject to a strong temptation to disclose to persons in touch with the Zionist authorities matters directly affecting the Zionist Homeland, particularly if such information seems to them to be of no great importance to their Gentile country of residence.”

In other words, Jews were likely to have dual loyalties, and even a British Jew would probably see Israel as his “Homeland”, and the United Kingdom merely his “Gentile country of residence”.

This was not a trivial discussion. Balden and Geary represented their respective services on the security subcommittee of the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC), the apex of Britain’s security system at the start of the Cold War. This was not a short-term reaction in the heat of Britain’s war against Zionist terrorism during 1945-48. That war raised other questions that I have discussed and will explore again elsewhere. What today’s document release shows is a broader assessment by senior British officials of the ‘Jewish problem’ – a problem that persisted in new forms in 1951, three years after London had surrendered to American-Jewish pressure and relinquished the British mandate in Palestine, allowing the creation of the Zionist state.

The theft in 1949 by Zionist intelligence operatives of British planes and military equipment – as well as other subversive activity – formed part of the background to the secret decision to block Jews from employment in British intelligence and security services postwar.

Geary circulated the letter among a handful of senior Foreign Office colleagues, including Henry Dudgeon who suggested on 8th February 1951:
“No Jewish personnel should be employed, if at all possible, in intelligence duties – preferably anywhere and certainly in the Middle East.”

Dudgeon’s suggestion was accepted by Geary, who wrote in similar terms on 21st February 1951 in his reply to his RAF counterpart Balden:
“There is no doubt that there are many British Jews who, while believing themselves to be entirely loyal to this country, have at the same time a second loyalty to Israel, which comes particularly to the fore when there is any question of the merits of Israel as against the Arab states. It would therefore seem very desirable to avoid as far as possible employing Jewish personnel on intelligence work at all, and certainly not to employ them in the Middle East.”

At exactly this time the greatest crisis in British intelligence history was about to break. The ‘Venona’ codebreaking project was helping American and British investigators to close in on Donald Maclean, a top-level Soviet agent inside Britain’s diplomatic service, and within weeks the story of the so-called ‘Cambridge spy ring’ began to unravel – a saga that remains partly mysterious to this day and continues to inspire a mountain of factual and fictional writing.

Zionist apologists will be quick to point out that none of the so-called ‘Cambridge five’ were Jewish: indeed the archetypal British traitor is now portrayed as an upper/upper-middle-class gentile.

Yet as H&D readers will discover, it wasn’t that simple. The document released this week after seventy years of secrecy is merely one piece in the jigsaw of 20th century subversion.

The newly released document on the Jewish threat to British security was written just as British and American investigators were closing on Soviet agents including the infamous ‘Cambridge spy ring’. We shall soon explore the complex relationship between those gentile spies (including Kim Philby, above right) and 20th century Zionist networks.

In 1955 senior MI5 officer John Marriott – in charge of his service’s personnel department – stated:
“our policy is to avoid recruiting Jews if possible unless they have very strong qualifications which are necessary for our work… As a matter of general policy Jews were not now recruited to the Service.”

More than 75 years after the Second World War, it’s now time to address such issues with due regard for the truth – without fear and without pseudo-religious genuflection.

We should not seek to justify malicious, obsessional promotion of hatred. Nor should we have any truck with those who use ‘anti-semitism’ as just one more flag of convenience for antisocial behaviour, such as petty online ‘trolling’ of individual Jews merely because they are Jews.

But the slowly emerging documentary record should lead all serious observers to look carefully (for example) at three recent cases where the criminal law has sought to circumscribe genuine, source-based historical debate.

Bishop Richard Williamson on his return to London’s Heathrow Airport in 2009.

After a Swedish television interview in 2008, the traditional Roman Catholic Bishop Richard Williamson was pilloried by his co-religionists as well as by the press, and eventually convicted in a German court for ‘Holocaust denial’, having stated:
“I believe that the historical evidence is strongly against, is hugely against six million Jews having been deliberately gassed in gas chambers as a deliberate policy of Adolf Hitler.”

The Bishop continued:
“If antisemitism is bad it’s against truth; if something is true it is not bad. …It’s not a question of name calling. This is a question of historical truth. Historical truth goes by evidence and not by emotion.”

Perhaps Prof. Andrew should reflect on the Bishop’s words and consider – in the light of the latest documentary evidence – whether an apology is due to long-dead MI5 officers and others, whose decision to avoid recruiting Jews might well have been based on “evidence, not emotion”.

Lady Michèle Renouf (above right) with her German attorney Wolfram Nahrath after their victory over Dresden prosecutors in October 2020

In 2018 the German state began a similar prosecution against Lady Michèle Renouf for her speech at a commemoration of the February 1945 bombing of Dresden in which countless numbers of German civilians were burned alive. Lady Renouf was charged under the same law used against Bishop Williamson: in her case not for specific ‘denial’ of gas chambers but for stating that the ‘real Holocaust’ was the ‘burning alive’ of German civilians in Dresden and other towns and cities; and that it was not ‘exceptionally cruel’ of the Germans to have interned Jews in concentration camps. International Jewry had after all declared war on Germany, and a substantial dossier of evidence shows that this declaration was not a matter of rhetoric – Zionist leaders including Chaim Weizmann were acting in close collaboration with Britain’s secret war of sabotage and subversion.

Eventually German prosecutors feared to discuss these matters in open court and chose to avoid the propaganda disaster of putting Lady Renouf on trial. They dropped the case in October 2020. An article by Dr James Thring in the new edition of H&D gives further details on this extraordinary case.

And now we are faced with a further attempt to criminalise the pursuit of real history. A history student from Madrid, Isabel Peralta is facing criminal charges for her speech in 2021 – in her case speaking at a rally defending the honour of the heroic Blue Division, who fought against Bolshevik barbarity in the horrific conditions of the Eastern Front, having (despite official Spanish neutrality) volunteered almost as soon as Germany invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941.

Spain experienced brutal Red terror on a scale far beyond anything seen elsewhere in Western Europe (outside 1945 Germany). And as I have written elsewhere in the magazine and on this site, the heroic self-sacrifice of the Blue Division should be contrasted with the behaviour of corrupt elements close to the centre of power in Spain, who were bribed by the gangster and British agent Juan March.

Isabel Peralta in February 2021 during a tribute to the anti-Bolshevik volunteers of the Division Azul: Spain is again in the front line of the war for real history.

If Spanish prosecutors persist with their attempt to criminalise Isabel Peralta – and if they persist with their current efforts to construct a wholly one-sided and distorted museum of the Spanish Civil War – they should expect serious opposition from those who in Spain, Britain and elsewhere are committed to the fight for real history.

Contributing one more brick to the foundations of that real history, this week’s document has established – after seventy years of secrecy – that the ban on recruitment of Jews by Britain’s security and intelligence services was based not on prejudice but on reason – on evidence, not emotion.

(The pursuit of real history will continue in the March-April 2022 edition of H&D when Peter Rushton’s review of the recent BBC ‘anti-fascist’ drama series Ridley Road will uncover the true story of political violence on the streets of 1960s London – a true story that the BBC avoids.)

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