The most salient symbol of the transformation of the status of Jews in Egypt was Operation Susannah. In July 1954, Israeli military intelligence ordered an espionage network of Egyptian Jews it had formed three years earlier to launch Operation Susannah—a campaign to firebomb the main Alexandria post office, the United States Information Service library in Cairo, the Cairo train station, and several movie theaters in Cairo and Alexandria. The saboteurs (today they would be called terrorists, especially if they were Arabs or Muslims acting against Israel or the United States) were quickly apprehended and brought to trial in December 1954. The verdicts and sentences delivered in January 1955 spanned the full range of options. Sami (Shmu’el) Azar and Musa (Moshe) Marzuq were sentenced to death along with the Israeli handlers of the network—John Darling (Avraham Dar) and Paul Frank (Avraham Seidenwerg)—who were not apprehended and were tried in absentia. Marcelle Ninio and Robert Dassa were condemned to life in prison. Victor Levy and Philip Natanson received fifteen—year prison sentences. Me’ir Meyuhas and Me’ir Za‘fran were sentenced to seven years in prison. Caesar Cohen and Eli Na‘im were acquitted. Max Binnet, a major in Israeli military intelligence apprehended with the network but not directly involved in its operations, committed suicide in jail. Armand Karmona, the lodger of Marcelle Ninio, was interrogated by the Egyptian authorities and, though apparently not involved in Operation Susannah, either committed suicide or was beaten to death by his interrogators.
One possible objective of Operation Susannah was to convince the British government, then engaged in negotiations with Egypt over the withdrawal of the British garrison from the Suez Canal Zone, that Egypt was an unstable, radical, nationalist state and therefore that British forces ought not to be evacuated. It is also possible that the activist elements in the Israeli military and the Ministry of Defense loyal to David Ben-Gurion, who retained great influence despite having temporarily retired as prime minister during 1954, intentionally initiated and then exposed Operation Susannah in order to break up secret Egyptian-Israeli negotiations then going on and eliminate the possibility of a face-to-face meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Moshe Sharett and Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser, which was under consideration.
Many of the documents pertaining to Operation Susannah have apparently been destroyed by the governments of Israel, the United States, and Britain or are unavailable to researchers. No Egyptian government documents for the 1950s are yet available to researchers. Consequently, it is impossible to construct a traditional political history of the operation addressing the perennial question in Israeli politics: “Who gave the order?”  In 1960, when some of the details of Operation Susannah were revealed in Israel, this question became the focal point of a protracted political scandal labeled the “Lavon affair” or, in the sanitized discourse of Israeli national security, ha-‘esek ha-bish (the dirty business), commonly further obscured by English translation as “the mishap.” 
Knowing who gave the order might shed new light on military-civilian relations in Israel and strengthen ongoing revisionist assessments of the possibilities of peace between Israel and Egypt from 1949 to 1956. But the lack of evidence, indeed the high likelihood that important relevant evidence has been intentionally destroyed or falsified, has led me to focus on the discursive aspects of Operation Susannah in Chapters 2 and 4. Although imposed by necessity, this strategy is justifiable in its own right because Operation Susannah has become an important symbolic marker connecting the fate of the Egyptian Jews to the course of the Arab-Israeli conflict. The uncertainty of many of the facts of the case has perhaps even augmented the power of Operation Susannah as a recurrent theme in the popular political culture of Egypt and Israel.