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“As you may recall, three months ago we discussed the case of a trainee who arrived at the [Israeli] embassy in Ethiopia by the name of David Mobsari who came from Rhodesia,” the letter said. “The aforementioned received training from the Ethiopians [Israeli embassy staff, almost certainly Mossad agents] in judo, sabotage and weaponry.” The phrase “the Ethiopians” was apparently a code name for Mossad operatives working in Ethiopia.
The letter also noted that the subject in question “showed an interest in the methods of the Haganah and other Israeli underground movements. “It added that “he greeted our men with ‘Shalom’, was familiar with the problems of Jewry and of Israel, and gave the impression of being an intellectual. The staff tried to make him into a Zionist,” the Mossad operative wrote.
“In conversations with him, he expressed socialist worldviews and at times created the impression that he leaned toward communism,” the letter continued, noting that the man who called himself David Mobsari was the same man who had recently been arrested in South Africa.
“It now emerges from photographs that have been published in the press about the arrest in South Africa of the ‘Black Pimpernel’ that the trainee from Rhodesia used an alias, and the two men are one and the same.”
A handwritten annotation on the letter refers to another letter sent about two weeks later, on October 24, 1962. The annotation noted that the “Black Pimpernel” was Nelson Mandela, followed by a short review that quoted from an article about Mandela in Haaretz.
This letter was kept for decades in the Israel State Archives and was never revealed to the public. It was discovered there a few years ago by David Fachler, 43, a resident of Alon Shvut, who was researching documents about South Africa for a Masters thesis on relations between South Africa and Israel at the Hebrew University’s Institute for Contemporary Jewry.
Born in Israel, Fachler grew up and received his Masters of Law degree in South Africa. “If the fact that Israel helped Mandela had been discovered in South Africa, it could have endangered the Jewish community there,” Fachler told Haaretz.