It's from a publication called "The Tablet", which I haven't read before. It's pro-Israel, as am I, so my link to the article should in no way be interpreted as some sort of dig against that country. I just found it interesting, and good entertainment on an otherwise dull Sunday evening.
A few excerpts:
In 1945, the Jewish Agency, the pre-state Israeli government headed by David Ben-Gurion, created a vast clandestine arms-purchasing-and-smuggling network throughout the United States. The operation was placed under the aegis of the Haganah, the underground forerunner of the Israel Defense Forces, and involved hundreds of Americans from every walk of life. They included millionaires, rabbinical students, scrap-metal merchants, ex-GIs, college students, longshoremen, industrialists, chemists, engineers, Protestants and Catholics, as well as Jews. One group, who remained anonymous and rarely talked about, were men who were tough, streetwise, unafraid, and had access to ready cash: Jewish gangsters.
After the Holocaust, the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine was seen by Zionists as a matter of life and death. Many Haganah people sent to the United States believed that anyone who could help should be approached regardless of who or what they were. Yehuda Arazi was one of those who held this view. Arazi, a close aide to Ben-Gurion had been a daring and resourceful Haganah underground agent in Romania, Hungary, and Italy during the war. Ben-Gurion sent him to America and authorized him to purchase the kinds of heavy armaments the Haganah had heretofore been unable to obtain. This included aircraft, artillery pieces, tanks, antiaircraft guns and other forms of heavy equipment.
At this time, the U.S. government maintained an arms embargo against Israel and the Middle East. But Egypt and the Arab countries managed to avoid the embargo and get weapons. Arazi learned that the Mafia controlled the port of New York, and he had no scruples about contacting underworld figures, He approached Meyer Lansky and asked him to help get weapons loaded onto ships bound for Israel. Lansky said he would handle it. Lansky contacted Albert Anastasia and Joe Adonis, who controlled the longshoremen’s union and the docks. They helped Israeli agents conceal the arms purchased for Israel, while arms bound for Egypt mysteriously fell overboard. Illegal consignments of military hardware, some of it brand new and still packed in oil and straw, were then secreted onto ships that happened to be bound for Israel.
When I interviewed [Reuvin] Dafni, he told me about his meetings with Jewish mobsters. His meetings were arranged by members of the local Jewish community. His first meeting was in Miami with Sam Kay, a leading Miami Jewish gangster. “The contact was made for me by a Jewish lawyer whose office was in the same building as the gangster’s. The lawyer felt it was worth seeing the man, since we had nothing to lose.” The lawyer called the gangster’s office and Dafni was invited upstairs. “When I entered, I faced his secretary. It was like something out of a Hollywood movie. She was blond, wore a low-cut dress with her bosom half out, and was chewing gum and filing her nails. She never even looked at me, but said, ‘Go in, he’s expecting you.’
When I went in, all I saw were someone’s feet on the desk, a newspaper and cigar smoke curling up from behind the paper. After standing quietly for a few minutes, I cleared my throat a couple of times. The paper was lowered and Sam said, ‘Sit down and tell me what you want.’ So I told him. When I finished he said okay, he would help. Now this Sam was good friends with the president of Panama. They were very close. And Sam contacted him for us. From then on, all our ships carrying weapons to Israel were registered in Panama and flew under the Panamanian flag. This was a very, very, big help to us.
A few months later the Haganah sent Dafni to Los Angeles. One day he received an intriguing phone call from a man who identified himself as “Smiley” and requested a meeting. When they met, Smiley asked Dafni to “Tell me what you’re doing. My boss is interested.” Smiley’s boss turned out to be Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel. Smiley was Allen Smiley, Siegel’s right hand man.
Smiley arranged a meeting between Siegel and Dafni at the LaRue restaurant. At the appointed time, Smiley and Dafni went into an empty room at the rear of the restaurant. After a few moments, Smiley left, leaving Dafni alone. Soon two tough-looking goons entered and searched the room. When they were satisfied it was safe, they left.
Shortly thereafter, Siegel came in. He sat opposite Dafni and asked him to tell why he was in Los Angeles. As Dafni relates, “I told him my story, how the Haganah was raising money to buy weapons with which to fight. When I finished, Siegel asked, ‘You mean to tell me Jews are fighting?’ Yes, I replied. Then Siegel, who was sitting across the table, leaned forward till his nose was almost touching mine. ‘You mean fighting, as in killing?’ Yes, I answered. Siegel leaned back, looked at me for a moment and said, ‘OK, I’m with you.’ ”
“From then on,” recalled Dafni, “Every week I got a phone call to go to the restaurant. And every week I received a suitcase filled with $5 and $10 bills. The payments continued till I left Los Angeles.” Dafni estimates that Siegel gave him a total of $50,000.
Later that year, Dafni was in a hotel in San Francisco. He went down for breakfast and bought a newspaper. The headline declared that Bugsy Siegel had been killed in Virginia Hill’s mansion. Dafni mused, “Thank God I took cash and not a check.”
.... In 1947, the Haganah sent [Murray Greenfield] to the United States and gave him the name of someone in Baltimore. Greenfield went to the man’s house and was told to come back at midnight. As he remembers, “I thought it strange. But if it helped Israel, I would do it.”
When Greenfield arrived late that evening, he was ushered into the basement recreation room and told to wait. At about 12:30 a.m. the door opened and “the strangest group I had ever seen entered. The men were all short and stocky with no necks. Their female companions were all blondes. The men sat on one side of the room, the women on the other.” The host asked Greenfield to tell his story. When Greenfield finished, his host said to his guests, “OK, you know why you’re here and you know what you have to do.” And then he looked around the room and said, “Joe, you’re giving $5,000; Max, you’re giving $5,000; Harry, you’re giving $10,000.”
Some of the participants complained that “business was tough because of the cops,” and they couldn’t contribute so much. One man indicated that “I can’t give you a lot of cash, but don’t forget I helped you last year when you needed guns.” Undeterred by all the grumbling, the host ignored their pleas and continued. In no time, over $90,000 was collected. The money, in cash, was put in a paper bag and handed to Greenfield. The host wished him good luck and ushered him out. “There I was,” he recalled, “walking around Baltimore at 2 o’clock in the morning holding thousands of dollars in a paper bag.” Greenfield’s host was formerly one of Baltimore’s leading Jewish mobsters.
Jimmy “The Weasel” Fratianno, a top Mafia killer who later turned government informant, attended the party. Fratianno knew Mickey very well. He recalled this event being held in Slapsy Maxie’s restaurant. “The place is packed. I’ve never seen so many Jewish bookmakers and mob guys in one place in my life. They’re all there. Famous actors, producers, bigshots in the community. It’s a full house.” To start things off, Mickey Cohen pledged $25,000. “After that, forget about it. Everybody’s pledging thousands. Even the bookmakers are pledging five and ten grand. They know Mickey’s running the show and they’re going to have to pay off.”