The Forgotten Spy

Dr. Shaul Weber tries to find out who wanted to erase the memory of the spy who committed suicide in Cairo

Meir Bineth, the Israeli spy who committed suicide in an Egyptian prison cell a day before the start of his trial in December 1954, was buried three times. The first was a covert burial in an Italian cemetery – the place where his body was transferred to. Five years later, his coffin made its way to Israel from Italy and he was buried at Mount Herzl in Jerusalem in another covert ceremony meant to blur any connection between him and Israel.

While intelligence fighters such as Eli Cohen received impressive governmental commemoration, and have become a part of Israel's heroic legacy, the memory of Bineth, an intelligence officer caught in Egypt, has vanished from the depth of the public consciousness.

Few remember Meir Bineth today. The media's historical writing defines him as a spy caught with the Jewish youths who operated in Egypt in the Lavon affair, also known as "the bad business." He was severely tortured and ended his life in his prison cell. However, he was more than just a spy. The events of his stormy life – a youth who escaped Germany after the rise of the Nazis to power, who later operated on special errands in England, Italy, Iran, and Egypt show that he was "a fighter and a dreamer."

He provided valuable information which greatly assisted the Israeli defense establishment. However, he also dreamed of peace with Egypt and operated towards improving the lives of the Egyptian people out of a vision that it was the key to peace between the countries.

"The Forgotten Spy" is Dr. Shaul Weber's fourth book. His previous ones are: "Blue Shirt on a Black Background," which deals with the attitude of the Israeli youth movements to the Holocaust; "Missing Hill," about the Battle of Ammunition Hill from the perspective of a participant and historian; and "Rabin – The Growth of a Leader," about the life of Yitzhak Rabin from childhood and until the dismantling of the Palmach.

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"The Forgotten Spy," Dr. Shaul Weber, Ma'ariv Library, 144 pages