Israel’s cultural warfare – an encounter with ‘The Champagne Spy’

By ROBERT HERSOWITZ
July 13, 2018 13:30
Wolfgang Lotz with his third wife, Naomi, in Israel

Wolfgang Lotz with his third wife, Naomi, in Israel. (photo credit: ISRAEL SUN/JERUSALEM POST ARCHIVES)

 
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Not long ago, we celebrated the State of Israel’s 70th  birthday.  I was born 15 months after the fledgling state was declared and was fortunate enough  to witness the almost miraculous events that have led up to this momentous milestone in Jewish history. While many Jews acknowledge and recognize the divine intervention aspects of these happenings in our own times, as a nation, we must take nothing for granted. We have learned to survive by exploiting the consequences of our history. In this regard I refer to the phenomenon of what is known as “cultural warfare.” Our dispersion among the nations of the world has been both a curse and a blessing. It has afforded us certain advantages including our exposure to other cultures, the acquisition of knowledge, foreign languages and, above all, insights into how our enemies think and behave. This has been honed and perfected over the years by Israel’s intelligence agencies and especially by the Mossad. 

I first became aware of these matters during an encounter I had when I was in my early 20s and living in London.  As a South African I could not get a work permit in the UK and ended up taking a job with the British UJA as a public relations officer. In those days, the organization was known as the Joint Palestine Appeal, or JPA, harking back to the days of the British Mandate. Despite the humiliatingly low salary and not great working conditions, the job afforded me the opportunity of meeting some fascinating people. Every week I would attend executive committee meetings at Michael House, the head office of Marks & Spencer on Baker Street. The committee was chaired by the late Michael Sacher, a scion of the famous M&S dynasty.
 
There I was, a 22-year-old South African émigré with my pronounced South African accent trying to keep up with the great and the good. They were mostly millionaires, the crème de la crème of the British Jewish aristocracy. Their track record for raising money for Israel was legendary and each year they ran fund-raising campaigns with the precision of a military maneuver. The high point of each year was the JPA Dinner at London’s most prestigious venue, the Dorchester Hotel. Ironically, today the hotel is owned and managed by the Sultan of Brunei’s people.

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