X Revealed as Ranan Lurie

No secret agent ever admits freely to being spy, certainly not someone like internationally known political cartoonist ex-Israeli Ranan Lurie, who today resides in New York. So it was not surprising that in his exclusive interview with debkafile, the artist, whose finely detailed caricatures of world leaders are familiar to readers everywhere, was reluctant to part with too many details of his own undercover past.
The interview moves from questions about the Mossad’s purchase of a weekly magazine in Israel to provide the young cartoonist with a springboard to international journalism, to the training given every U.S. agent, including lessons in guerrilla warfare and parachute jumps with the 101st Airborne Division.
The conversation touches on the episode that ended in Israel shooting down a plane carrying the entire Egyptian general staff – to Claire Booth Luce, who opened her heart and the Time-Life empire to the dashing Lurie.
Q. Did the Mossad bounce up the sale figures of your first book, published by Israel’s Ministry of Defense, to make it a best seller and give your career as a caricaturist a flying boost?
A. I don’t know.
Q. Did the Mossad buy the news magazine Tevel and make you editor in chief to build your reputation as a journalist?
A. I don’t know.
Q. Is it true that the Guinness Book of Records named you the world’s most popular caricaturist for 20 straight years and that it wrote in its 1999 edition that your work appears on a regular basis in 1,105 newspapers in 103 countries with a daily total circulation of 104 million?
A. Yes.
Q. In addition to the syndicate of 1,105 newspapers, in what other publications have your political cartoons appeared?
A. Yedioth Ahronoth, Life,Time, Newsweek, U.S. News and World Report, the Los Angeles Times, the Times of London, Die Welt, Asahi Shimbun, Neue Zurcher Zeitung, Foreign Affairs.
Did you really infiltrate an Egyptian warship posing as an Australian journalist and interview and photograph Egyptian officers? And if so, why as an Australian?
A. Yes. My mother was Australian.
Q. In the novel coming out soon you describe the training underwent by its hero, “Eric Lurie”, as a paratroop and special forces commando. In the book, he commands an Anglo-French assault team. The same unit is tasked with carrying out an air drop over an Egyptian intelligence bunker in Sinai for the sake of procuring vital intelligence for the Israeli, French and British armies which fought in the Suez campaign. Were you actually in Cyprus in the weeks leading up to the war and were you in conversation about the coming campaign with the French paratroops commander in Cyprus?
A. Yes.
Q. Were you also in touch with Field Marshal Sir John Harding, the British governor of Cyprus and supreme commander of British forces in Cyprus before the invasion of Egypt?
A. Yes.
Q. You wrote in the novel that the information Eric and his unit gathered in the Sinai mission led to the shooting down of the Soviet-built Ilyushin aircraft carrying most of the Egyptian general staff. Is it true that these generals, admirals and air marshals were blown up in mid-flight shortly before the Suez campaign?
A. Yes, and for many years it was kept a close secret by the Israelis and the Egyptians too, who all that time suspected Israel was holding their generals prisoner.
Q. Did you train and perform parachute drops in the United States with the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Kentucky? In other words, did you receive US Special Operations training?
A. Yes.
Q. Did you train and parachute with the French Foreign Legion in the French Pyranees?
A. Yes.
Q. Did you train and parachute with the British 16th Paratroop Regiment at Aldershot?
A. Yes.
Q. Did you participate in British submarine exercises?
A. Yes.
Q. Were you invited to lecture to senior officers at military bases in the United States after the Suez campaign? And did you?
A. Yes.
Q. Were you the lover of Claire Booth, the legendary and beautiful editor who opened the doors of Time-Life to you, as you described in detail in your book?
A. Yes. She even talked about it to my wife when she met her years later.
Q. Did President Glafcos Clerides of Cyprus put your name forward on behalf of his country for a Nobel peace prize?
A. Yes.
Q. Did you serve in the Mossad?
A. No.
Q. Did you serve in the CIA?
A. No.
Q. If you had served in either of those intelligence agencies, would you admit it.
A. I don’t suppose so.

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