Israel's Relations with Emerging African States

- in the Light of Some Hungarian State Security Documents from the First Half of the Kádár Era


  • Attila Novák



Africa, anti-Zionism, Israel, State security, Zionism


Israel developedits relations with African countries relatively early. The initial boom in the 1950s was followed by a slowdown in the 1960s and then, in many respects, a standstill after the 1973 Yom Kippur War. Israel was seen by many African countries as an anti-colonial power, which gradually changed over time. In 1957, the Jewish state recognized the independence of Ghana, and in 1958 it set up a separate organization, the Agency for International Development Cooperation (MASHAV), to assist the newly independent African states. In 1963, it established a new embassy in Nairobi, Kenya.

            Based on newly discovered Hungarian state security documents, this paper will give an insight into how Hungary –  as a member of the Soviet-led Eastern European socialist bloc – in the early 1960s and 1970s, viewed its relations with Israel and African countries, and the information and political-ideological patterns on which it based its approach. The state security surveillance (through the Hungarian diplomatic missions) later covered not only Israel, but also the American Jewish organizations which, according to the agencies, had been in contact with African states and organizations at the instigation of Israel. Archival sources with a strongly anti-imperialist tone and bearing the imprint of Soviet state security suggest that the treatment of Israel as an enemy occurred in this region before the 1967 break-up, i.e. the diplomatic freeze did not significantly affect the way the Jewish state's relations with the emerging African nations were viewed.


Anonymus (n. d.) Biographical note: René Larre (1915-99), former General Manager. Available at (Accessed: 29 August 2023)

Anonymus (n. d.) Meir Shahar of Tel Yosef, Israel's ambassador to Hungary visiting a Hungarian Collective Farm. Available at:$FL46331890 (Accessed: 21 August 2023)

Búr, G. (2021) ‘A szubszaharai Afrika szerepe a Magyar Népköztársaság külpolitikájában’/ ‘The Role of Sub-Saharan Africa in the Foreign Policy of the Hungarian People’s Republic’, Világtörténet 43(3), pp. 339-351. ISSN 0083-6265

Jacob, A. (1971) ‘Israel’s Military Aid to Africa 1960-1966’, The Journal of Modern African Studies, 9(2), pp. 165-187. DOI:, ISSN 0022-278X

Jacobi, H. (2023) Beyond Cement and Iron – Contextualizing Israeli Architecture in Africa. Available at (Accessed: 29 August 2023)

Jewish Telegraphic Agency (1965) ‘Israel Supports U. N. on Rhodesia; Severs Economic Ties with Colony’, JTA, 15 November. Available at (Accessed: 29 August 2023)

Jewish Telegraphic Agency (1966) ‘Eshkol Reports on Visit to Africa; Invited to Six More Countries’, JTA, 20 June. Available at (Accessed: 29 August 2023)

Levey, Z. (2004) ‘Israel’s strategy in Africa, 1961-1967’, International Journal of Middle East Studies, 36(1), pp. 71-87. DOI:, ISSN 0020-7438

Levey, Z. (2008) ‘Israel’s Exit from Africa, 1973: The Road to Diplomatic Isolation’, British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, 35(2), pp. 205-226. DOI:, ISSN 1353-0194

Népszabadság (1960) ‘A béke és az emberi haladás legfőbb biztosítéka, az egységes szocialista tábor ereje’ / ‘Peace and Human Progress, the Strength of Socialist Camp’, Népszabadság, 6 August. p. 1.

Népszabadság (1962) ‘Kállai Gyula vezetésével kormányküldöttség utazott Afrikába’ / ‘Government Delegation Lead by Gyula Kállai Travelled to Africa’, Népszabadság, 2. December. p. 1.

Novák, A. (2022) ‘Az “angol” és a “konformista”’ / The “Englishman” and the "conformist"’, Szombat, 26 January. Available at: (Accessed: 16 August 2023)

Ofry, D. (2000) Egy évszázad tanúja (A dr. Hermann Dezső-dosszié) / Witness of a Century (The Dr. Hermann Dezső dossier). Budapest: Aranymetszés Kiadó. ISBN 963-86098-0-X

Pál, I. (2022) A Holt-tengerbe fulladt kisérlet (A magyar hírszerzés Tel-Aviv-i rezidentúrájának története 1957–1967): Kézirat. / ‘The Attempt Drowned in the Dead Sea (The History of the Hungarian Intelligence Residency in Tel Aviv 1957-1967): Manuscript.

Pál, I (2018) ‘Egy magyar minisztériumi tisztviselő viszontagságai Izraelben. Dr. Záhony László hazatérésnek története’ (‘The Misadventures of a Hungarian Ministry Official in Israel. The Story of the Return of Dr. László Záhony’) Szabolcs-Szatmár-beregi Szemle, 53(2), pp. 31-41. ISSN 1216-092X. Available at: (Accessed: 12 August 2023)

Primary Sources from the Állambiztonsági Szolgálatok Történeti Levéltára (ÁBTL) / Historical Archives of the Hungarian State Security:

ÁBTL O-12/233.

ÁBTL 0-13 612.



ÁBTL 3.2.5 O-8-301/1.


Solymári, D. and Tarrósy, I. (2021) ‘A magyar diplomácia újjászületése Afrikában. Déli nyitási kísérletek a magyar külpolitikában a 19-20. században: Fókuszban az 1960-70-es évek’ / ‘The Rebirth of Hungarian Diplomacy in Africa. Attempts to Southern Opening in Hungarian Foreign Policy in the 19th and 20th Centuries with the Focus on the 1960s and the 1970s’, Külügyi Szemle, 20(4) pp. 147-183. DOI:, ISSN 1587-9089

Új Kelet (1964) ‘Hírek’ / ‘News’, Új Kelet, 15 June, p. 2.




How to Cite

Novák, A. (2024). Israel’s Relations with Emerging African States : - in the Light of Some Hungarian State Security Documents from the First Half of the Kádár Era . Journal of Central and Eastern European African Studies, 3(3), 125–138.