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Nahum A. Bernstein
FBI File

"illegal entry into the consular offices of certain Arab nations...."


Nahum Amber Bernstein (1907-1983) AKA Ned Bernay, AKA Meyers, AKA, Corman was a well-connected New York lawyer and founding chairman of the Jerusalem Foundation. After graduating from law school and a stint doing investigations at a law firm, Bernstein went to work as an Office of Strategic Services (predecessor to the CIA) operative training agents for "overseas operations in enemy territory" during WWII.  In 1943 Bernstein listed his qualifications as "police methods including surveillance, cover, wire-tapping, Dictaphone, sound recordings, agent's reports, records, statistics, witness interrogation and personnel."

Bernstein soon began applying his skills in service to Israel from his New York law office (with a branch in Tel Aviv) which was placed in charge of $750,000 in Jewish Agency funding after becoming that organization's attorney.  Bernstein was involved with smuggling front company Foundry Associates, Materials for Palestine and also incorporated Americans for Haganah led by Abraham Feinberg and David Wahl.  He defended the successor publication Israel  Speaks against Justice Department demands that it register as an Israeli foreign agent.

The FBI noted Bernstein's "professed knowledge with regard to establishing and directing business fronts for covert operations."   Bernstein was instrumental in providing funding for Haganah smuggling network operative Adolph "Al" Schwimmer to illegally purchase surplus transport aircraft for Israel. Schwimmer was later convicted of a felony.  Bernstein was called in as a defense witness during Schwimmer's Neutrality Act trial in January of 1950.  Bernstein confessed that he had provided Jewish Agency funding to purchase the aircraft.  In July of 1950 Assistant US Attorney Hershel E. Champlin claimed that if the US government "had known of Bernstein's participation in the conspiracy involving Schwimmer et al prior to his admission of it in court, he [Bernstein] would have been indicted along with the others."  But US Attorneys in Los Angeles, Miami and New York later declined to prosecute.

In private practice, Bernstein's law firm created another front company called "Yardley Fabrics" to aid in a wire tapping-operation conducted by a New York District Attorney investigating insurance fraud.

The FBI later linked Bernstein to sophisticated technical surveillance operations targeting Arab officials participating in UN functions, Arab consular office break-ins and classified information leaks from the US State Department.  But the Justice Department declined all FBI suggestions that Bernstein be prosecuted or registered as an Israeli foreign agent.  Like Abraham Feinberg, despite numerous alleged violations of important US laws, Bernstein enjoyed complete prosecutorial immunity in the United States.

FBI File File Size


65-59184-1 9.3 MB Funding for Service Airways, establishment of a Panamanian front company for smuggling airplanes to Israel, false testimony to FBI officials and Neutrality Act court proceedings.
65-59184-2 15.2 MB Wire tapping, Teddy Kolleck, meeting with Ben-Gurion, mail cover contact notations of Bernstein correspondence, May 16, 1951 Bernstein appointment to the US Secretary of the Army's Civilian Legal Personnel Committee, FBI objection to lack of Army consultation of Security Index or name check with the FBI..
65-59184-3 9.6 MB Wiretapping a Syrian official attending UN meetings. Setting up front company for monitoring British acquisitions of arms for and oil dealings with Arabs. Bernstein's law partner appointed District Attorney of Kings County, New York in November of 1953.  An individual interviewed by the FBI tells them that he has notified Bernstein of the interview, accusing the FBI of "investigating Zionism."  FBI plans to interview Bernstein stipulating that it "not be conducted at Bernstein's residence or office."  FBI notes that in previous interviews Bernstein was ""that Bernstein was evasive at that time, although attempting to give the impression that he was cooperative."

FBI asks Bernstein to appear in their New York office for an interview on 3/30/1954.  He accepts, stating, "the interview would have to be conducted at his office where he would have his secretary present to record the interview and where his own facilities would be available to him."

FBI notes that Bernstein's office is "equipped with all types of technical equipment...possible disposition of a recording machine...."

Contracting New York City Police Department officials for work on the "Israeli cause."

In 1954 FBI refers case files to Assistant Attorney General Warren Olney III for possible prosecution under the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938 or Internal Security Act of 1950.   In August of 1954, the Department of Justice Internal Security Division notes Bernstein's activities involved, "the establishment of technical surveillance of officials of certain Arab nations in hotel rooms occupied by such officials and in automobiles utilized by these officials.  The latter would also include technical surveillances established in automobiles utilized by certain British officials.  Over forty individuals have been identified as being involved in these operation and therefore the possible obligations under the Foreign Agents Registration Act of each of these persons will be made the subject of a separate memorandum.  These memoranda will be transmitted to you as expeditiously as possible.

The second category concerns a leak of classified information from the Department of State to Israeli officials.  The report thus far submitted regarding this phase of Israeli intelligence operations fail to identify with sufficient certainty any particular individual as the source of the leak so as to warrant a conclusion that any person employed by the Department of State or having access to information in that Department falls within the purview of the registration requirements ..  The third category involves the activities of....others, in connection with the illegal entry into the consular offices of certain Arab nations...."

Personal History Statement listing covert operation skills.

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