When Britain feared Zionist terrorism

British authorities, fearful of attacks by "Zionist terrorists" in the period after World War Two, monitored all Jews arriving in the United Kingdom from the Middle East.


    Zionists: once feared in UK

    Internal MI5 security service documents released today show that London feared Zionists were planning to set up assassination and sabotage cells in Britain along the lines of Irish Republican Army paramilitaries.


    The secret documents were written after Zionist fighters killed scores of people in a 1946 bomb attack on the British headquarters at the King David hotel in Jerusalem.


    "Our Jerusalem representative has since received information that the Irgun and Stern groups have decided to send five 'cells' to London to work on IRA lines," the head of Britain's MI5 domestic intelligence network wrote in notes for a meeting with Prime Minister Clement Atlee in August 1946.


    "To use their own words, the terrorists intend to 'beat the dog in his own kennel,'" he wrote.


    The Irgun and Stern groups were extremist Jewish paramilitary organisations. Irgun was controlled by "a certain Menachem Begin on whose head a reward of 2,000 pounds has been placed by Palestinian police", the note said.


    Begin, the future right-wing Israeli prime minister, would win a Nobel Peace Prize three decades later for making peace with Egyptian President Anwar Sadat.


    Monitoring Jews


    The MI5 notes also warned of possible strikes by Zionist paramilitaries on a centre set up on the island of Cyprus to hold illegal Jewish immigrants en route to Palestine.


    The notes said police would monitor Jewish groups in Britain and spy on Jews "known to have expressed sympathy with terrorist activity in Palestine, and who might be a point of contact for any terrorist arriving in this country."


    "All applications for UK visas by Jews in the Middle East are scrutinised by local security authorities," the MI5 notes said. "Immigration officers at UK ports report to Home Office, Special Branch and MI5 the particulars of all Jews, including seamen, arriving from the Middle East."


    From World War One until 1948, Palestine was controlled by Britain under an international mandate. Britain had promised in the Balfour Declaration of 1917 to help create a "national home" for Jews in Palestine.


    But British officials did not see that as necessarily leading to a separate Jewish state. In 1939 they issued a white paper which imposed restrictions on Jewish migration to Palestine, limiting entry to 75,000 Jews per year.


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