A fascinating story from the first years of Israel.
From news article:
John Roy Carlson, the pen name of Avedis Boghos Derounian, made a name of himself by infiltrating and exposing a number of Nazi and other groups in the 1930s and 1940s.
In 1948, he pretended to be an Arab fighter and observed Israel's War of Independence - from the Arab side. His observations were published in 1951 as "Cairo to Damascus." You can read most of the book online here, and it is fascinating.
From news article:
John Roy Carlson - not exactly a household name today. Sixty years ago, however, he was the nation's bestselling non-fiction writer. His real name was Avedis "Arthur" Derounian, an Armenian American investigative journalist whose career was ignited by the brutal assassination of Archbishop Leon Tourian at the altar of his church in New York in 1933. The assassins were members of the fascist Armenian, pro-Nazi group, the Dashnags. Young Derounian spent the rest of his life fighting fascism, the Dashnags and, eventually, a burgeoning Islamic Jihadism. His bestselling account of American Nazi groups in the 1930's and '40's was aptly called "Undercover." His penetration of groups like The Silver Shirts, Crusaders for Americanism, The Committee of 1,000,000 and The Amerika Deutscher Volksbund (German American Bund) made up the pages of Undercover and later provided the early House on UnAmerican Activities with invaluable evidence which it used to prosecute these hate groups. Risking his life on many occasions, Carlson was able to get close to the leaders of these often Nazi controlled groups just prior to World War II.
Then, in 1948, presenting himself as an Armenian American, he traveled to the Middle East and - incredibly - fought in Israel's War of Independence - on the Arab side! Of course, he was undercover yet again, reporting honestly - but secretly - about the genocidal nature of the war against the Jews and lauding the Zionists' courage and sacrifices. Decades before Samuel Huntington's "The Clash of Civilizations" - so demeaned today among Islamists and their fellow travelers - Carlson understood the threat of Jihad not only to the nascent Israel, but to the West as well. One of his chapter headings reads,
The World of the Koran: "Islam Uber Alles."
The book was entitled "Cairo to Damascus" published in 1951. Carlson was the one of the first Western journalists to interview Muslim Brotherhood founder, Hassan al Banna, whom he described as "a short, squat ratty-faced man with puffed cheeks and fleshy nose...He was the most loathsome man I had yet met in Cairo."
In addition to profiling the Muslim Brotherhood's "Murshid" or Supreme Guide, Carlson traveled with another Jihadi group, the Green Shirts (later absorbed into The Brotherhood) and its leader, Ahmed Hussein. He entered Jerusalem after the fall of the Jewish Quarter and photographed and chronicled the brutal expulsion of the Jews by the Jordanian Legion. He predicted the ominous march of Jihad because he experienced it from within.
Now, another, unpublished and untitled manuscript has emerged from the Derounian collection housed at the National Association for Armenian Studies and Research. It was written in the early 1960's and consists of interviews and observations on the Arab world from Beirut to Baghdad. Perhaps the most fascinating excerpts from the book have to do with Carlson's sojourn in Amman, Jordan. He interviews a number of Palestinian refugees from the 1948 war and, most importantly, UNRWA officials, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, established in 1949 exclusively for the benefit of Palestinian Arab refugees. No other refugee group since then has been assigned a special UN agency. Currently UNRWA's budget is close to half a billion dollars. All other refugees fall under the jurisdiction of the UNHCR (United Nations High Committee for Refugees). Perhaps most controversial of all, UNRWA has become the unofficial trough for HAMAS. In the words of former UNRWA General Counsel, James G. Lindsay,
"UNRWA has taken very few steps to detect and eliminate terrorists from the ranks of its staff or its beneficiaries, and no steps at all to prevent members of organizations such as Hamas from joining its staff. UNRWA has no preemployment security checks and does not monitor off-time behavior to ensure compliance with the organization's anti-terrorist rules. No justification exists for millions of dollars in humanitarian aid going to those who can afford to pay for UNRWA services."
Carlson's stay in Amman amounted to a refutation of the decades old refrain of victimhood by the Palestinians - namely, that all the Arabs were expelled by the neo-colonialist Zionists and that a life of squalor awaited the refugees. He conducted extensive interviews with refugees and with an anonymous American UNRWA official.