Talk:Operation Atlas (Mandatory Palestine)

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Not in the biography of Elpeleg[edit]

I am very amazed that this event is not described in Elpeleg biography of the Mufti : [1]. He refers to the commando of Salamah but not this would have target to poison wells.

Is this true or is this a "myth" ? Pluto2012 (talk) 19:42, 23 July 2013 (UTC)

The MI5 reports doesn't talk about 1poisoning any well but talk about sabotages... : [2] Pluto2012 (talk) 20:08, 23 July 2013 (UTC)

The great bulk of this article is unsourced, or pseudo-sourced. As far as I can determine so far, the story of a plan to poison Tel Aviv's water comes from the book of Michael Bar Zohar only. The 2005 book "Nazi Palestine: The Plans for the Extermination of the Jews in Palestine" by Cuppers and Mallmann (hardly the ones to suppress something like this) has a whole page (200–201) on the ATLAS operation without mentioning poison at all. Since they cite the MI5 documents, this is pretty good evidence that nothing much is there (though "a quanity of poison" is mentioned in the archives' summary without further comment). (That book is the English edition of Halbmond und Hakenkreuz). The thoroughly unreliable book by Dalin sources it to "Sir Martin Gilbert Archival Collection" which narrows it down to some tens of thousands of inaccessible documents (i.e., it's a crock). Then there is Wolfgang Schwaniz's explicit statement that the archives do not support the story. Zerotalk 09:41, 24 July 2013 (UTC)

Grand Mufti role and poisoning claim could be attributed to Dr. Rivka Shpak Lissak and Dr. Shaul Bartal according to source, which you've just removed. AgadaUrbanit (talk) 11:21, 24 July 2013 (UTC)
Shpak Lissak does her professional writing in American history and her extremist political activism in Middle East history. To see why I write "extremist" it is only necessary to look around her blog. No, definitely not reliable. Gives no source for this anyway. Zerotalk 13:25, 24 July 2013 (UTC)
Also, a Hebrew website, on its own, is not an ideal source for the English-language Wikipedia.     ←   ZScarpia   14:09, 24 July 2013 (UTC)
For starters, Wolfgang Schwanitz, whose writings (like those of Cuppers and Mallmann) cannot by any stretch of the imagination be read as sympathetic to the Arab side (a virtue for an archival historian), challenges the whole episode but the quote is in the bottom of the article. This means that the narrative voice of the article, in assuming poison was an element, is deeply flawed in that it accepts one source (Bar-Zohar) which has no confirmation among professional historians of that area and period. There must be a story behind this, and a paper chase is called for, to pin down on what ascertainable documentary basis Bar-Zohar wrote his story, and its reception (I can't see anything so far) in the secondary literature. We should try to nail this down, however the evidence falls out. The only work of Bar-Zohar's that Henry Laurens uses is his Ben Gurion bio.Nishidani (talk) 16:51, 24 July 2013 (UTC)
With Bar-Zohar the only source for this narrative, and no recent historian -even very critics towads Arabs or Husseini- reporting or supporting this; even more, with one directly doubting of this, it cannot be considered reliable and should be removed. Pluto2012 (talk) 17:15, 24 July 2013 (UTC)
I think we should take our time on this. It's the sort of thing Zero excels in tracking down, and I'd like to know how the narrative emerged, from what documents. At the moment it needs a rewrite. One thing that puzzled me from the outstart is, how could the water mains of Tel Aviv be poisoned without killing Arabs in that city and Jaffa? Perhaps the Templar from Sarona knew something. The sewerage system of the two cities as Tel Aviv edged towards a majority in the late 1930s was projected to be differentiated, mainly under Zionist pressure, at enormous cost. I don't know whether this applied to a separate water grid though. There is an essay, David Smilansky, “A History of Tel-Aviv's Water Supply System,” YITA 18.10–12 (1949) which would clarify that, but just for background knowledge for editors.Nishidani (talk) 17:58, 24 July 2013 (UTC)
  • Here is the text of Bar Zohar. The title of the 3rd chapter of his "The quest for the red prince" is "poison the wells!". He describes a meeting between the Mufti and "A dashing colonel from the notorious Brandenburg Division" during which he would have argued wells of Tel Aviv should be poisoned. I wonder how this testimony was reported to Bar Zohar if he doesn't know the name of the officer and if there is not other witness.
  • According to this source, whose reliability can be discussed, : "In 1944, one such squad parachuted into Mandatory Palestine. The details of their mission were first revealed in the 1983 book 'The Quest for the Red Prince' by Michael Bar-Zohar, a biographer of Ben-Gurion and Labor Party Knesset Member, and Eitan Haber, a journalist who became Yitzhak Rabin's closest aide and speechwriter when Rabin became prime minister."
  • The Quest for the Red Prince is a book written in 1982 about the hunt for Salameh for the Munich massacre.
Pluto2012 (talk) 18:45, 24 July 2013 (UTC)
I don't think we should remove this story, as it will just come back. But we can bring all the bits of it into a single section. Starting with the claims of Bar-Zohar and Haber in their popular book, the fact that a few historians do accept their story (without adding further evidence, though we might not be allowed to write that) and finishing with Schwanitz's skeptical statement. Zerotalk 09:52, 25 July 2013 (UTC)
About the plausibility of the story, it is quite impossible to kill a large number of people that way (for a variety of technical reasons) but it could create a large amount of havoc. I find it plausible that someone could try that. There was a war on and many worse things were actually done. I'm reminded of Abba Kovner's plan to kill 6 million Germans by poisoning the water supplies of German cities. Allegedly he could take enough poison for that in his personal luggage on a ship; yeah, pull the other one. In both cases the story would improve if the poison was named. Zerotalk 09:52, 25 July 2013 (UTC)
I suggest in the meantime a thorough clean-up, tagging, and control of the links, several of which don't work. Whoever wrote this even believed that the Allied Forces in WW2 did not include the Soviet Union, since (s)he linked Allied forces to the armies in the West, and excluded the Soviet pincer movement East from a similar classification, etc. Ten cartons of poison splayed about the Jericho landscape, enough to take out 200,000 people if dissolved in water. It's a dry area, but odd no report exists of widespread loss of heards of goats, or of weasels (often killed in settler poisoning of grazing lands in the Hebron Hills) or birds died off there during the spring greening.(*No. The cartons were, according to Bar-Zohar picked up and analysed by the British. Schwanitz seems to imply that the detailed British reports mention no such analysis). Still, ya never know.Nishidani (talk) 11:58, 25 July 2013 (UTC)
Zero, is it a coincidence that the purveyor of this story Michael Bar-Zohar wrote the original The Avengers (Heb 1968) English 1969 story on Kovner? The narratives are very similar. It almost looks like a balancing act. See Ehud Sprinzak and Idith Zertal ‘Avenging Israel’s Blood (1946),' in Jonathan B. Tucker,(ed.) Toxic Terror: Assessing the Terrorist Use of Chemical and Biological Weapons, MIT Press 2000 ISBN 978-0-262-70071-9 pp.17-42. Sprinzac and Zertal's article has a mass of details that might help expand the wiki article on Kovner, by the way.Nishidani (talk) 15:26, 25 July 2013 (UTC)
That's a good source I wasn't aware of. It says that Kovner obtained 50 kg of arsenic. It is hundreds of times too little to kill 6 million people even with perfect delivery. But no historian who has written on the subject seems to have noticed. Zerotalk 09:14, 26 July 2013 (UTC)
'no historian . . ' Except yourself. Nishidani (talk) 10:04, 26 July 2013 (UTC)

I have looked at the matter, but unfortunately I do not have conclusive results. Anyway, It might be interesting to read.

  1. The 1st that published the poisoning claim (long time ago), is the late "Haaretz" journalist Chaviv Knaan(Hebrew), based on an interview with Faiz Bay El Idrisi(Hebrew) who was then the police officer in charge of Jerusalem region, and commanded the hunting of those parachutists. Mr Knaan himself, was a NCO policeman at that period, and Faiz Bay El Idrisi was his commander.
  2. The Israeli journalist Gad Shimron has authored a novel based on this story. According to Atlas operation(Hebrew) He does not believe in the poisoning mission. He guess that the story source might be a powder against sniffing dogs, that was found with them. Shimron has interviewed Werner Frank, one of the parachutists. According to the news site (Hebrew): "שמרון, ששהה מספר שנים בשליחות עיתונאית בברלין, הספיק עוד לשוחח עם וורנר פרנק שגולל בפניו את המבצע שגם הוא למעשה, לא לחלוטין הבין את מהלכו. "המבצע עצמו הוא מבצע די הזוי. לא ברור מה קרה שם", אומר שמרון. "הגרמנים יצאו למלחמה טוטאלית ומבחינתם, כל האמצעים היו כשרים", הוא אומר" Translation:"Shimron, who was a journalist for several years on a mission in Berlin, during which he talked with Werner Frank who told him about the operation. Frank himself have not completely understood the operation course. Shimron says "It was a sort of a surreal story. It is not clear what happened. The Germans has started a total war, where all illegitimate means were used".
  3. According to a summary of a released MI5 old file (page 19):"KV 2/400 - papers include personal information of each individual from the 5 man team; summaries of interrogations and list of possessions, including 2000 gold coins and a quantity of poison." Ykantor (talk) 14:17, 26 July 2013 (UTC)
Thanks for those items, Ykantor. They are very useful tips and leads to follow up. Nishidani (talk) 15:21, 26 July 2013 (UTC)

Photo of the mufti and Hitler[edit]

you deleted the photo of the mufti and Hitler, Your reason:poor image to illustrate the operation ATLAS and wp:npov. But as said in the Header section: "The then exiled mufti of Jerusalem, Amin al-Husseini, was involved in consultations on, and planning for the operation". The question mark over this article is whether there was a poisoning mission and not whether the Mufti was involved in the operation. The Mufti and Hitler photo is perfectly relevant and objective here.

The removal of the photo is not neutral. Ykantor (talk) 06:32, 27 July 2013 (UTC)

Hitler didn't personally approve every tiny mission, and the sources don't suggest any involvement of Hitler. So why should Hitler have his photo here? Zerotalk 07:19, 27 July 2013 (UTC)
I agree. The idea that this photo, one of many, should be plunked on every page (to insinuate the Nazi-Palestinian theory?), and esp. here where previous editors clearly 'fixed' the text, in the face of sources, to insinuate the direct connection between the Holocaust and a trivial, bungled operation, doesn't look neutral. Nishidani (talk) 09:49, 27 July 2013 (UTC)
OK, I agree. Initially I understood the removal as a way to distance the Mufti from a possibly bad smelling operation. BTW A poisoning mission does suit the Mufti who said:Arabs, rise as one man and fight for your sacred rights. Kill the Jews wherever you find them. This pleases God, history, and religion. This saves your honor. God is with you. Ykantor (talk) 13:30, 27 July 2013 (UTC)


The mission to poison Tel-Aviv story[edit]

Hello all,

I have introduced more material in this section. It currently sounds pov to my ears because it is written such a way there is no doubt that all this stuff is just a problem linked to the usual accusation of absolute antisemitism of the Mufti and the Arabs. I could neutralize this in French but my English lacks the nuances to give due:weight to information.

Could somebody rework this ?

Nb: I don't know for you but googlebooks doesn't provide the page numbers any more (???).

Thx, Pluto2012 (talk) 07:01, 29 July 2013 (UTC)

When that happens, go back to the google results page that came up for your query, and copy the link to the page onto a word document, and it will give you in the code the page number.
I'll look at the other point and see what I can do. Good work.Nishidani (talk) 07:09, 29 July 2013 (UTC)

Title : why capitals ?[edit]

There is another operation Atlas but I don't think this justifies to use capitals in this title. I doubt (but don't know) that ATLAS is an acronym. What do you think ? Pluto2012 (talk) 06:44, 10 January 2014 (UTC)

No idea. Do we have any mention of "ATLAS" at all except the National Archives file summary? Zerotalk 12:20, 10 January 2014 (UTC)
Googlebooks doesn't send any [3]. Pluto2012 (talk) 18:34, 10 January 2014 (UTC)
Unless somebody explains an opposition on the talk page, I proceed to the move next week. Pluto2012 (talk) 18:37, 19 January 2014 (UTC)
It's in the entry for the operation in Adams's encyclopedia which I added today to the Mufti article where it is required since it is the header for the entry. I agree however that this requires attention. I've no objection to the move Pluto proposes.Nishidani (talk) 19:40, 19 January 2014 (UTC)

"This version is not supported by historians who have searched for archival confirmation, and failed to find any documentary evidence for it."[edit]

Zero: You inserted the above sentence into the end of the lede. What is your source for this? Thanks. --brewcrewer (yada, yada) 21:36, 2 February 2014 (UTC)

Oh, and also kindly explain why reverted all my edits including the copyediting, removal of deadlinks, and removal of redlinked categories. Thanks. --brewcrewer (yada, yada) 21:39, 2 February 2014 (UTC)
Proof, if needed, why many of your reverts, which are often simply reverts of issues others discuss on talk pages and research, are reverted. I was responsible for inserting that sentence, not as you distractedly concluded, Zero, because the usual edit-and-run stirrer refused the simple, obvious and elegant formulation Pluto restored. Rather than revert, I expanded because it is true some historians have repeated, without source control, the meme. The lead summarizes, and below you will find that it has been ascertained that no archival documentation has been forthcoming since 1983, that's 30 years, to substantiate the original hearsay claim. That is why even historians hostile to the mufti now ignore Bar-Zohar and Haber's story. They cannot verify it, and it survives as a pop-POV meme in inferior books. Nishidani (talk) 09:17, 3 February 2014 (UTC)
Either provide the source or remove the original research. Thanks. --brewcrewer (yada, yada) 16:07, 3 February 2014 (UTC)
This lede doesn't need to be sourced but must summarize the content of the article.
Pluto2012 (talk) 17:49, 3 February 2014 (UTC)
It can only summarize something that is sourced. Our Original Research policy is non negotiable. Provide the source here or remove the material. Thanks. --brewcrewer (yada, yada) 18:17, 3 February 2014 (UTC)
As Zero said, the lead sentence's language can be discussed in terms of its consonance with the relevant section. The formulation reflects faithfully what we have in that section. If you'd like to hazard a different way of summarizing it, suggest to us a retinkering. As Pluto notes, it need not itself be sourced. So your request ignores policy and practice.Nishidani (talk) 08:23, 4 February 2014 (UTC)
We must have a reliable source for the claim that "this version is not supported by historians who have searched for archival confirmation, and failed to find any documentary evidence for it." WP:LEDE only allows for the omission of a source in the lede where the content is sourced in the body of the article. We cannot include anything anywhere in Wikipedia that is not directly reliably sourced at least somewhere. I'm actually quite shocked that I have to explain this to you.--brewcrewer (yada, yada) 14:33, 4 February 2014 (UTC)

While in my opinion, the poison story is not true, it should not be ruled out completely, until the following solid evidence will be researched:

According to a summary of a released MI5 old file (page 19):"KV 2/400 - papers include personal information of each individual from the 5 man team; summaries of interrogations and list of possessions, including 2000 gold coins and a quantity of poison." Ykantor (talk) 15:28, 4 February 2014 (UTC)

Ykantor. Destremau's book was written from British archives long after the MI5 report emerged. He specifically alludes to the poison as capsules perhaps intended to kill local Palestinians. So he has presumably seen your ref to 'quantity of poison', specifying this consisted of capsules. By common sense, if Schwanitz in 2009, four years ago, threw down the gauntlet and asked scholars to present their evidence, and no one in a field where such stuff is eagerly pounced on, can produce the Tel Aviv poison smoking gun evidence, then the story remains third or fourth party hearsay going back 30 years ago, reporting what one investigator decades after the event is said to have said to have said, in a POV romance written by two non-scholars. One never rules out anything, but as given, the yarn is, as things stand, a tall tale.Nishidani (talk) 15:44, 4 February 2014 (UTC)
Don't make life difficult for yourself. You are, surely, contesting the wording to report the fact, on the page that two historians known for their archival work, Wolfgang G. Schwanitz and Christian Destremau says the relevant archives on the incident provide no evidence for the assertion. Philip Mattar and Zvi Elpeleg worked the literature and archives in their respective biographies, and make no mention of the poisoning incident either. A fifth historian Norman Finkelstein, also known for his scrupulous attention to sources, can find no mention of it anywhere.
There are numerous ways these details about the failure of historians who specialize on the Mufti and who practice archival scholarship to verify this story can be summarized.
(1)'This version is not supported by historians.' was challenged as not adequate
  • Some historians do repeat the story, so it has to be twigged.
(2)This version is not supported by historians who have searched for archival confirmation, and failed to find any documentary evidence for it.
'historians who have searched for archival confirmation' refers to both Schwanitz and Destremau, both of whom explicitly challenge the tale by saying 'the claim . . . is not substantiated in British or German sources' or that (Destremau) only a reference to poison capsules exists in British archives.
Offhand there are several ways of summing up the section. This is the way I myself would have phrased it. I'll replace the one you object to if my solution fits your reading of WP:LEDE, which however is not a warrant for the objection you make.
  • British and German archives have yet to reveal any evidence for this story (and his biographers ignore it).Nishidani (talk) 15:38, 4 February 2014 (UTC)
Yours: "(Destremau) only a reference to poison capsules exists in British archives.". If this means a small amount of poison, then it could not be used to poison all the Tel Aviv residents, and the poison story is proven wrong. Ykantor (talk) 21:23, 5 February 2014 (UTC)
It appears Destremau found a reference to poison capsules, of a quantity sufficient to assassinate some Palestinian opposition leaders. How this became in hearsay "ten containers with poison" sufficient to kill 250,000 is not difficult to imagine, for anyone who reads about the inflation of numbers in old historical chronicles, from the Bible to Herodotus or Josephus, or has occasion to listen to the way gossip wildly ballasts out a core detail to make it unrecognizable. I don't think we can dismiss the story as 'proven wrong',( unless we have a competent historian who looks into it and says so.) Operationally, moving 10 large containers from Jericho to Haifa in a land of hard terrain under tight military occupation, through major junctions, would have required extensive planning and presumably documentary details on contacts, times, routes, all carried out by 5 people, who would require good false documents to get past checkpoints, apparently never found either. Nishidani (talk) 13:13, 6 February 2014 (UTC)
I am quite sure Destremau and all others have the same primary documents as the ones we have (links provided in the articles.) They talk about a "quantity of poison". Everybody gave different interpretations of this information and Bar Zohar a political one. From my point of view, the fact most serious historians don't give credit to the story to poison the wheels would be enough to simply dismiss this in the lead too. Pluto2012 (talk) 17:14, 6 February 2014 (UTC)
It is technically WP:Fringe, esp. since it comes from authors with no exp'ertise in scholarship, and as such shouldn't be in the Amin al-Husseini article, and here only as a brief section. It must be here because, unfortunately, some serious scholars just took the authors at their word, and otherwise good books repeated it. As to the lead, you may be right, but we are summarizing there, and given its widespread use as a polemical meme of insinuation, it probably can be justified there.Nishidani (talk) 18:08, 6 February 2014 (UTC)
P.s. Brewcrewer. Please don't edit-war. Forcing me to revert a bad suggestion like this. Making what two archival scholars who specialize in Husseini say re hitherto a lack of documentary evidence into just 2 people (hundreds don't say that therefore...) holding a view is both overspecific as a summary, and deceptive because it cancels out the fact his main biographers, Palestinian and Israeli, never even deign to mention it- They were writing after that claim was made, and ignore it. One makes no deductions- The fact is Schwanitz has called for such evidence, and no one can provide it. Your sentence screws this up as an implicitly minority view. Secondly Zero, Pluto, Ykantor and myself find time to comb over stuff, and discuss it collegially, and the result was that, (correct me if I err Ykantor), something along the lines I proposed, as a modulation or compromise, was adequate. Just ignoring due procedures to push an unargued proposal is not collegial, and wastes everyone's time.Nishidani (talk) 07:11, 7 February 2014 (UTC)

The archives and the poison story[edit]

I have now read all 400+ pages of the MI5 files KV-2-400/401/402 (formerly known as PF 600,528 "Kurt Wieland" Vols. 1–3). These files contain the records of interrogation of the three persons captured, along with detailed descriptions of their belongings and an analysis of their connections to other persons. To cut to the chase, there were no boxes of poison, nor a plan for mass poisoning, nor even the slightest mention of anything like Bar-Zohar's story. It is clear that historian Destremau has read the files (though one detail reported by Nishidani is not correct), and also that Schwanitz is correct that Bar-Zohar's story is not supported here at all. Since no checkable evidence for the story was produced by Bar-Zohar and his coauthor, who got the dates wrong by a month and made other errors, and nobody else has produced any evidence at all for it, it is time to lay the story to rest.

The parachutists brought three types of poison to Palestine. (1) some suicide pills (capsules) for themselves, (2) six tubes of powder to put tracking dogs off their scent (they didn't realise this was poisonous and kept it with their food), (3) an envelope of "arseneous oxide". The last is the only interesting item. Wieland said that the mufti insisted it be brought for the purpose of eliminating Arab traitors. Latif denied it was the mufti's idea. There is no mention of using the poison for any other purpose (and obviously an mere envelope full would not even be noticed in a city water supply).

I'll try to edit from these files without coming afoul of NOR.... Zerotalk 05:30, 15 February 2015 (UTC)

Don't forget WP:IAR, which is appropriate here! Well done.Nishidani (talk) 10:14, 15 February 2015 (UTC)

The article has multiple citations to "Adams 2009" but does not identify it. Any idea what it is? Zerotalk 12:22, 15 February 2015 (UTC)

Ok, I see it in an old version: Jefferson Adams, Historical Dictionary of German Intelligence, Scarecrow Press, 2009. Zerotalk 12:24, 15 February 2015 (UTC)
I added that source per faute de mieux, hoping it could eventually be replaced by specialist sources.Nishidani (talk) 17:08, 15 February 2015 (UTC)